Whether you are getting your first tattoo or already have half your body covered with tattoos I am sure you will find some valuable information here. As a tattoo addict and someone who spends most of his waking hours coming up with tattoo ideas I would like to share some of what I have learned over the years.
I have spent a great deal of time amongst tattoo artists in tattoo studios around the world and have encountered a wide variety of different people coming through the doors of the tattoo studio to permanently mark their bodies. Many times I have questioned why it is so many people go under the gun to get inked.
People get tattoos for lots of different reasons. Some people simply because they love them and think they look good or enhance their appearance, others to be a part of a 'tribe' or group, while others to mark a significant event in their lives such as a bereavement or to express love for another Person. You could say that there are as many reasons for getting tattooed as there are human experiences. Because of the uniqueness of each persons life journey no two reasons are ever the same.
In these situations the person wanting a tattoo has probably put a great deal of thought into the tattoo and sometimes the tattoo itself will have some kind of psychological meaning; For example when someone gets a portrait tattoo of a loved one who has recently died that psychologically they want to keep close to them for the rest of their lives. Or maybe a person has been jilted by a spurned lover and wants a tattoo of a broken heart or caged bird to signify their loss.
Human beings have been modifying their bodies with ink and steel for many thousands of years. Many people see tattoos and body modification as a spiritual practice. Before the advent of modern pain management, pain was seen as a natural part of life carrying a variety of spiritual and social meanings. But as time roled on we began to deny the very existence of anything beyond our physical bodies.
As a result many people without tattoos can not see past the image etched onto the persons body to the deeper meaning or symbolism behind the tattoo. It can often cause a wide variety of reactions in the 'uninitiated' from mild curiosity to extreme disturbance resulting in fear and mistrust of the person. Tattoos by their very nature cause a reaction especially on those who do not have them.
This begs the question on why anyone would want to get a tattoo without considering the wider implications and deeper meaning behind the tattoo. So many people wander into a tattoo studio and have no idea why they want to get a tattoo other than seeing their favorite rap artist or basketball player and thinking it looked cool. So they waste the tattoo artists time by saying they want a Nike swoosh on their butt or a tattoo the size of a button on their back. Many tattoo artists will just put up and shut up because they see this as 'bread and butter' work.
The implications of this are two-fold. Firstly the person is left with a really 'dumb' tattoo that most likely will be regretted at some stage in their life. This can lead to many years of regret leading leading the person to be forced to cover up their bodies as a result. Ot it can result in many hours of painful tattoo removal costing ten times as much as the original tattoo.
Secondly getting a tattoo without due consideration can often lead to a poorly placed tattoo or badly thought out tattoo design. The results of this are obvious but this is the number one reason why people get tattoo removal in worst case scenarios or tattoo cover-ups. Some tattoo artists are becoming renowned for their cover-up work as they are for their actual artistic skill. Yet people do not realize the placement of a small unambiguous tattoo may have later on if they want to get another tattoo or the social restrictions it may bring.
Finally before getting tattooed (either for the first time or the twenty!) Is important to deeply consider the design as well as the placement of the tattoo and how it may interact with other tattoos further down the track. Many people have gotten tribal armbands (when they were cool!) And later decided that tribal tattoos carry no meaning to them and that traditional style tattoos or celtic tattoos may have been more suitable. I myself have been guilty of this and as a result had a poorly thought out tattoo covered up.
Do not make the same mistake!