There are one or two other concerns some people have which prevent them from taking the step from thinking about getting a tattoo to actually doing it. I’ve addressed those I can think of and will update them when I think of or come across more.
…what if I pick the wrong thing?
We’re dipping into the pool of regret here. If you follow the advice on this website and listen to people who are long time devotees of skin art, along with the advice of any good tattoo artist, the chances of you picking the wrong tattoo should be minimal. This is the one thing above all others nobody else can do for you, they can suggest things, recommend ways to find what you want but when the sun sets, only you know what you are passionate about and how deeply that passion runs within you.
The Pool of Regret.
As I mentioned in the “Life of Regret” post, one thing you truly do not want to get is the name of your significant other. Some people get away with it but it really does seem to be the death knell for many relationships. There are numerous tales I could tell of people I know getting a name tattooed on them, only for them to later have to have it covered up. If Romeo had got himself a “Juliet” tattoo it’s more than likely that they’d both have lived to a ripe old age and their families would never have got on.
…God will damn me to hell!
Well, no he won’t. I’m not going to dive into a theological debate and it’s probably not as big a concern in the UK as it might be in the US but the fact is, The Bible does not prohibit tattoos. “Thou shalt not get a tattoo” is not a commandment and none of the seven deadly sins mentions ink in skin. There are a few references to tattoos within The Bible and with the exception of one, none of them prohibit tattoos. The only one that suggests a divine objection, is the most commonly used reference to tattoos being on God’s shit list, it’s also misinterpreted 100% of the time.
Leviticus 19:28 states; "You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD”
The important part here is “for the dead”, without those three words it would seem fairly clear that He’s not a fan of body art however, those words are there and they are crucial. At the time this instruction is alleged to have been given, the Hebrews (bear in mind Leviticus is Old Testament stuff) were enslaved in Egypt. During their time there they had adopted the Egyptian practice of cutting and/or tattooing themselves in a effort to gain divine favour for their loved ones in the afterlife. Leviticus 19:28 is an instruction to the Hebrews to stop this pagan practice.
However you get there...tattoos won't take you.
How seriously you take “The Good Book” is up to you but consider that Leviticus 19:27 effectively says that you shouldn’t trim your beard in an ungodly fashion and Leviticus 19:29 strongly advises against turning your daughter into a prostitute. What the hell was going on in those days gone by where people needed personal grooming tips from God and prostituting your offspring was commonplace enough that the Almighty needed to step in and stop it.
Your tattoo will cost what it costs. If you don’t have the money, save up. You won’t find me too sympathetic on this point, I’m afraid. I’m not going to tell you to find a cheaper tattoo artist, nor will I ever suggest haggling. Good tattoo work isn’t cheap and cheap tattoos are never good. It’s that simple.
Consider it this way. Your body is your very own personal Sistine Chapel, do you want a Michelangelo or a Paul the Painter from down the road? Michelangelo was a millionaire by today’s standards and he was a millionaire for one reason and one reason only. He was rather good. Now Pope Sixtus IV could have got his ceilings done on the cheap, but he wanted something a bit special…so he paid for the best.
You may need one of these.
You can find any number of cheap tattooists, they are ten a penny but they seriously are not going to do a good job. They may conform to all the rules and regulations on hygiene and the standard of equipment used but if they aren’t very good at what they do your tattoo is going to absolutely suck.
My first tattoo cost £225, 16 years ago (you’ll read more about this when I talk about finding a tattoo artist), shortly afterwards a friend of mine popped round while I was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt. Naturally he asked about it as I hadn’t had it the last time I’d seen him. As people do he asked how much it was, his reaction was shall we say…one of surprise. He then announced he’d had the crest of his favourite football team tattooed on his arm and as he rolled up his sleeve he announced, “…it should have been £80 but I got him down to £45!” What he revealed was £45 worth of an £80 tattoo, or half a job.
You literally, get what you pay for.
…I don’t know what I want?
This kind of overlaps with the whole regret thing a little, but it’s better to not get a tattoo because you don’t know what you want than to get the tattoo you think you want only to find out later that it wasn’t right, alas there is nobody but yourself that can tell you what you want. If you truly know that tattoos are in your future, if you genuinely feel the need to get tattooed you WILL find that inspiration somewhere and when you find it, you’ll know.
All I will say for now (because I’ll go into more depth on this later) is, if the one thing stopping you getting a tattoo is because you don’t know what to get, you are doing exactly the right thing in not getting one….yet.
…my parents will freak!!
Oh, this one I know and I know it well! Both my parents are/were anti-tattoo. My dear departed dad was as narrow minded a person as you could possibly ever wish to meet. If I shaved my head I was telling people I was a hooligan, if I dyed it blue I was telling the world I didn’t want a job, tattoos meant criminal and so it went. At the age of 15 I had my left ear pierced while was on lunch break from school. Six hours later my dad came home. I knew he wouldn’t be happy but nothing prepared me for the fury he unleashed. I swear storm clouds gathered over our house, the birds stopped singing and small mammals huddled in cramped spaces for miles around to avoid the shock wave. He wasn’t just unhappy, he went nuclear on me. The upshot was I was given an ultimatum, “Take it out, get a dress or get out!”
Now I’m no fool, I knew that if I called his bluff and got a dress, I’d be kicked out for cross dressing so it was either take out the ring or take the chance he didn’t really mean it about finding somewhere else to live. In the end…the earring came out.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “What a tyrant!”, “How unreasonable!”, “All of THAT for an earring?!” and they are understandable reactions. However, my dad was just an old fashioned bloke with, old fashion views who’d had not the easiest of upbringings. My dad was oblivious to the passage of time, changing attitudes and had no concept of tolerating that with which he didn’t agree. In his youth the people he knew with tattoos got into trouble with the law, men with earrings either got into trouble with the law or were gay (which was illegal in the UK until 1967 when he was 22 years old), as he got older football hooligans emerged and they all had skinheads as far as he was concerned (not true but, this is my dad we’re on about) and of course the punk era came along and well you can imagine, can’t you. In short….his golden era had come and gone and he didn’t think much of the new one. I think it confused him, baffled him and in a way scared him. In his own way he wanted to protect me from what other people thought of me and didn’t like how it would reflect on him. So, before you judge my dad too harshly just remember that for all his faults I loved him dearly, and I miss his cantankerous arse every day.
Oh Lordy! He's mad about something!
Had I gone home with a tattoo at the age of 18, I really wouldn’t have had a home. To be fair I’d also have gone on to have a number of really crappy tattoos, I shudder at the things I wanted at 17 and 18. Fear of my dad’s fury saved me from crap tattoos…see, every cloud really does have a silver lining.
So how did I end up with tattoos in the face of this? Well, he got ill….terminally ill and shortly afterwards my best friend since childhood got a brain tumor. The two most important male figures in my life were alive but not well and neither looked to have much of a chance. I decided then to finally get the tattoo I’d chosen 8 years before done. Tomorrow could be too late.
By the time it was finished my dad was too ill to really waste his diminishing energy reserves on tattoo fury. A year later at the age of just 58, he was gone and 18 months after that so was my best friend of 21 years, at the age of 34.
I’m not going to tell you to defy your parents, I could sit here and write how it’s your body and to do what you want with it and to hell with what other people think, no matter who they are. I could tell you that if your parents truly love you they’ll accept you no matter what. I’ve been where you are, it’s all true and it doesn’t make on scrap of difference to the fact that you’re going to feel like you’ve disappointed them, no son or daughter wants the guilt of that on their conscience.
All I can say is talk to them, tell them how you feel. Tell them why you are so passionate about getting tattooed, make it clear that you aren’t doing it to hurt them or disappoint them. You WILL still be the same person afterwards, but maybe a more confident and happy you. Make sure they know you love them, but that you don’t agree with them. They will not ever understand your reasons, they can’t, they don’t have it in them, but maybe if you can make them understand that it’s important to you, maybe you can convince them to accept it without them having to like it.
Of all the fears and concerns and obstacles to me getting tattooed, this was far and away the toughest to overcome. If this is where you are…I feel you, really I do.