Think Before You Ink: A Man’s Guide to Getting a Tattoo

by Chris on June 13, 2011 · 207 comments

in Accessories, Dress & Grooming

“Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.” -Jack London

Tattoos. Few art forms have such a long history, and even fewer evoke such a broad spectrum of opinions. Revered by some as a sign of honor or distinction, by others as an outward expression of creativity and personality, and by others still as the mark of criminals and lowlifes, the perceptions of tattooing are vast indeed. Perhaps you are considering getting a tattoo in the near future. After all, most men have kicked around the idea at one point or another. While a great deal of information involving tattoos is subjective (design styles, coloring, size and visibility), one thing is certain: the better informed you are, the better your experience and final result will be. Let’s take a deeper look into the ancient art…

Tattoos Throughout History

Archaeological evidence from around the globe has confirmed tattooing to be one of the oldest forms of art and self-expression. Tattooing has been practiced either as decoration, as a mark of high station, or for healing or protective purposes throughout the history of mankind. From Neolithic ice men to Polynesian Maori warriors to the guy in front of you in line at the grocery store, tattoos have become a timeless art form that knows no cultural boundaries.

“Not one great country can be named, from the polar regions in the north to New Zealand in the south, in which the aborigines do not tattoo themselves.” -Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

While many cultures throughout history are known for their prominent tattoos, such as the ancient Picts of modern day Scotland, the culture most widely associated with tattooing is the Maori of Polynesia. Indeed, the word “tattoo” originates from the Maori word “tatau,” meaning to mark. The Maori people practice two different yet easily confused forms of bodily modification, the tattoo as we know it, and another form of tattoo known as Tā moko. Unlike common tattooing, which repetitively punctures the skin while embedding ink for color, Tā moko involves the literal carving of the skin using a chisel known as uhi. This process leaves permanent grooves on the surface of the skin (usually the face, buttocks and upper legs), giving the tattoo a unique texture. Such marks were a sign of honor in pre-European Maori society, to the extent that those who did not have them were considered to be of a lower class.

“The marks in general are spirals drawn with great nicety and even elegance. One side corresponds with the other. The marks on the body resemble foliage in old chased ornaments, convolutions of filigree work, but in these they have such a luxury of forms that of a hundred which at first appeared exactly the same, no two were formed alike on close examination.” -Captain James Cook, on the Maori Tā moko

It was Maori influence that most likely led to the popularity of tattooing among sailors, which has continued well into modern times. Captain Cook’s men, like all travelers, were always on the lookout for artifacts and mementos of their travels. And what better way to bring home a bit of the exotic than by taking the marks of the native culture you had encountered on your trip? Tattoos blended well with the freewheeling culture aboard ship and the life of a sailor in those days, and the tradition quickly took hold.

“A sailor without a tattoo is like a ship without grog: not seaworthy.” -Samuel O’Reilly, tattooist

As the practice grew in popularity, tattooing among seamen took on its own unique characteristics. Whereas the Maori and other cultures used tattooing to signify one’s standing in society, sailors used the art form to mark various seafaring accomplishments and to invoke good fortune. For example, a tattoo of a turtle would mark a man who had sailed across the equator. A fully rigged ship represented a sailor who had made passage around the treacherous Cape Horn. The ever popular anchor represented a man who had sailed the Atlantic. Other tattoos, such as a pig on the top of one foot and a rooster on the top of the other, were said to protect the sailor from drowning; since neither animal can swim, they would help the sailor find dry land as quickly as possible.

Tattoo Taboo

Sailors historically had a reputation for being quite rough around the edges, and so the tattoo’s popularity with seafarers helped secure its reputation as something practiced by those on the fringes of society. This was true in other cultures as well.

Tattoos became so widely associated with criminal activity in 19th century Japan, for example, that the practice was outlawed completely and remained that way until the mid 20th century. This was a direct result of the popularity of tattoos among the Yakuza, Japan’s organized crime syndicate, who are clearly identified by prominent, often full body tattoos made in the traditional Japanese style known as Tebori. Unlike machine-drawn tattoos, Tebori involves the use of multiple large hand-held needles and a steady artist’s hand, resulting in more artist control of fading and coloring.

While tattooing has surged in popularity in American society over the last few decades, the art form is still considered taboo by many who continue to associate it with gang culture, prison life, and various off-putting subcultures. That being said, the negative connotation around tattooing is slowly fading as the idea of the human body as a canvas once again moves into the mainstream. In fact, tattoos have become so common–there are probably fewer celebrities and professional athletes who don’t have a tattoo than do–that for some, they have lost their appeal as marks of real rebellion.

Tattoos may now be much more mainstream, but they should never be something a man rushes into getting. So let’s take a look at just what you should know before you consider going under the needle, and what to expect when you do.

Think Before You Ink

We can skip the “it’ll be there foreeeeever” line that you have probably heard from most everyone you shared your tattoo plans with. You’re a big boy, and you can make this decision for yourself. The worst case scenario is that you will have a permanent reminder to make well informed and wise decisions in the future (in the form of barbed wire around your bicep). My recommendation to you regarding the choice to tattoo is this: If you’re going to get a tattoo, pick out your design, make sure it is original and has personal meaning, and then wait a year. Thank God I didn’t get some of the tattoos I wanted so badly in my late teens and early twenties. Usually, within a few months of having my heart set on a certain design, I was bored with it and had moved on to something else. When I finally found a design that I loved and knew I was comfortable with having on my body the rest of my life, I still sat on it for months before making my appointment to get it done. Remember, tattooing is a timeless art form. If you are in a hurry to get it done, you probably are not in the right frame of mind to get the most out of the experience.

As a more practical note, really consider where on your body the tattoo is going to go. Odds are, no matter how much you think to the contrary, you will want to cover your tattoo up at some point. Maybe it will be the first time you meet the father of the love of your life, or land a big job interview, or something else totally unexpected, but you will almost certainly want to have the option to cover it up. That being said, go ahead and rule out Mike Tyson-esque facial tattoos, and pretty much anything else you can’t cover up with your standard dress shirt and slacks.

Finding the Right Design

First, a thought on the design of your tattoo…BE ORIGINAL. There is nothing worse than unoriginal tattoos. With that in mind, avoid the flip boards full of tattoo ideas at all costs. They are nothing more than a compendium of tattoos that other people already have. The goal of tattooing (at least in modern Western society) is to express yourself. If the best expression of yourself is something you found on a flip board, you might want to do a little more soul searching before going under the needle. Of course, if your tattoo is signifying something important in your life, such as your unit in the military, you’ll likely want to stick to the design the others in your unit have as well.

An excellent example of originality blended with personal history is a tattoo a close friend of mine, Dave Forest, recently had done. Dave, who tragically lost two grandfathers to suicide in his childhood, wanted a tattoo that commemorated both the time he spent and the time he lost with them. After consulting with a local artist, he finalized a design which so clearly symbolizes his time with them cut short:

My own first tattoo had significant personal meaning as well. I knew that I wanted to get a tattoo done in Scotland, to commemorate the year I spent living there in graduate school. So for me, it is not only what the tattoo is, but where I got it that is significant. I designed a tattoo of the word “If” as a reminder of the Rudyard Kipling poem of the same name, in which Kipling invokes the virtue of stoicism and a “stiff upper lip” among men. Kipling’s words in “If” always struck a deep, resonant chord with me, and I wanted a permanent reminder that they were words to live by.

Doing Your Research

First of all, don’t even consider getting a tattoo anywhere except a clean, reputable tattoo shop. Remember, the tattoo you will get in some stranger’s basement will be permanent. So will the Hepatitis C you contract from his dirty equipment. A clean shop should have several sanitary measures in place to ensure a safe procedure. For example, artists should be gloved and needles should be new and taken out of a sealed package right in front of the client. Inks and any other equipment should also be new. All needles should be run through an autoclave, an equipment cleaning machine which utilizes steam and pressure to sterilize equipment. The work area will likely be separated from the shop and should be sanitized after every use.

Finding a good shop is just the beginning, however. Just as important to the quality of your tattoo is finding the right tattoo artist. Not all tattoo artists are alike. Most experienced artists will be capable of tattooing in multiple styles, but they will most likely have a specialization such as photorealistic work, vibrant coloration, or a certain cultural style. Make sure your artist understands exactly what you want and is capable of bringing it to life just like you imagined it.

Next, figure out what this is going to cost you. If you want a quality tattoo, you better be ready to pay for it. Depending on size and level of detail, tattoos can range from a 30 minute sit-down to several multi-hour sessions. Most artists will give you an upfront estimate, though this may need to be adjusted as the work progresses for larger tattoos. Remember that you are essentially hiring an artist to create a unique work of art for you, so be prepared to pay accordingly. A tattoo is not something you should bargain shop for. As the sign in one of my local shops notes, “Good tattoos aren’t cheap, and cheap tattoos aren’t good.” Also, it is customary to tip your artist, with a range of between 10-20% being a good standard depending on your satisfaction with their service.

Finally, find out what is included in the price. Will you be given a tattoo care kit, or will that have to be purchased separately? Most importantly and often overlooked, find out if touch-ups are included in the price. Often as a tattoo heals it will fade slightly, or uneven shading will appear during the healing process. Many shops will include free touch-ups down the road on any work they have done. It’s the tattoo equivalent of a powertrain warranty.

The Tattooing Process – What to Expect

We’ll offer just a brief outline of what to expect here, since the artist should orient you with the process in more detail before you get started.

The tattooing process involves several steps.

First, the artist may put what amounts to a temporary tattoo on you using a stencil made from transfer paper and a thermal printer. This will allow you to confirm the precise location and angle of your design, and will give the artist a basic template to work with. Now, let the tattooing commence.

The first needlework will be the outline, which will be done using a tattoo gun loaded with a liner needle and thin ink. Because a liner needle covers less surface area, this will be the sharpest pain you experience, particularly over sensitive or boney areas. Once the outline is completed, and following a soap and water rinse, the artist will begin to work on shading the tattoo. Depending on the design, the artist will likely use shading needles (multiple needles known as magnum needles) which deliver more ink to a larger surface area on contact. With the shading complete, any necessary color is added by way of shading needles as well.

With the tattoo completely inked, the area will be cleaned with soap and water, patted (not rubbed!) dry and covered with a sterile bandage. You can expect the tattoo to bleed slightly during and immediately after the process, so don’t be alarmed later when you remove the bandage and find a little blood or ink soaked into it. Over the next several days, you should apply a very small amount of antibacterial ointment to the tattoo to ward off infection and keep the area clean. You can expect redness, irritation, and a little swelling, but keep an eye out for more serious signs of infection. If there is any indication of infection, call a doctor without delay. Healing time will vary from person to person, but you should expect to wait about two weeks before exposing it to significant sun, salt water, or other abrasive elements.

Have a tattoo? Have twenty tattoos? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. Or better yet, show off your ink in the Tattoos Group in the AoM Community.

{ 207 comments… read them below or add one }

101 tyler June 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

i want to get a barbwire tattoo of a butterfly choking a chinese unicorn on my lower back.

102 -Rick N. Toms- June 15, 2011 at 11:34 am

I am a 24 year old tattooer that loves manly traditional tattoos. Bold lines, heavy on the black. Tattoos you’d see on sailors and know what it is all the way across a dark bar. Im currently working out of Charleston SC but do lots of tattoo conventions up and down the East Coast. Here is some of my work. If you are ever in the Charleston SC area shoot me a message.

103 Bill June 15, 2011 at 11:55 am

I got two tattoos, first one as a sort of wedding gift for my wife. It’s a simple crusader’s cross shield. Story is that the crusaders would tattoo or brand themselves with a mark of the faith, so that if killed in battle, their body could be identified for proper burial.

Second is a death card.

Oh, and a third one I got when I was 9. A kid in the desk next to me stabbed me in the leg with a pencil and the graphite colored my skin. I always called it a veiw of the earth from Pluto- just a little dot.

I didn’t read it in the article, and didn’t read all the posts, but I’ve been asked what the tattooing feels like. I would say it feels like you’re letting someone slowly peel all the layers of your skin off with a razor blade for 30 minutes or more (depending on the tattoo size)

104 Zach June 15, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I really appreciate everyone sharing advice and wisdom. The most manly tatoo I ever saw was the word “Purity” tatooed on a man’s inner wrist. Two words come to mind: sincerity and guts.

105 Jason June 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I got my only tattoo when I was in the Marines. I’m a big fan of the Suikoden video game series and have been since I was 17. I have a tattoo of the Rune of Life and Death in the middle of my back. There was some uneven fading on it and I need to get it touched up. It was an impulse purchase, but you know what? I do not regret it. I don’t have any symbolism behind it. I just thought it looked cool. I’ve never seen anyone else with it.

106 Doug D June 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I’m really, really surprised, like many people here, about the comments I’m reading! If you don’t like tattoo’s don’t get one! But respectfully accept that some people do, and more so, to some people they mean a lot. I’m not one to hold personal meaning in objects or trinkets, but I understand some people hold sentimental value in different things than me. As for my view on my tattoo’s…. I’m not covering up my body… it’s as though it’s always been there, I just had to get someone to help me show it.

107 Alejandro June 16, 2011 at 1:11 am

I got my first tattoo in 2001 – a simple outline of the state of Texas in black ink with the term “First Americans” above it and “First Texans” beneath it. It’s homage to my paternal ancestry; we’ve been in Texas since the 1580’s. It almost always generates a lot of discussion because I end up discussing my heritage. I got my next tattoo just last year for my 47th birthday: a wolf’s head. It’s a reflection of my love for dogs, since all contemporary canines are descended from wolves. I intend to get more tattoos, including one of the North American bald eagle across my upper back, which would be emblematic of my national pride. I don’t care what anybody says; tattoos are truly an art form. They symbolize something important to that particular individual, and no one should be judged harshly or demeaned because of them.

108 Red June 16, 2011 at 10:30 am

Tattoos are not manly, they are a sign that you cannot be a leader and must therefore be a follower as you follow with what everyone else is doing. Getting one screams out for attention…”Look at me” please somebody look at me. If I get looks I want it to be for me, for my natural manliness not a tattoo. They are fake, they are cheesy and they are trendy..not classic in anyway. Since when did showing all your skin naturallly go out of style. I am unique with out ink. I am me….with my own DNA, my own fingerprints that no one else in this world has..I don’t have to ink myself up for attention. Think before you Ink folks..unmarked skin is beautiful..Peace

109 Nathan June 16, 2011 at 11:10 am

I made a mistake by getting tattoos. I have several and I regret each one… I don’t want to demean anyone but I would not suggest getting one. The most important fact is that it says in the Bible that we are not to get tattoos.
In Leviticus 19:28 “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”
Tattoos began as tribal and heathen worship. God doesn’t want His children to have such things.
I say this with all meekness and kindness, please really consider what you are doing and why before you put that ink on your skin. It’s not worth it…

110 Marshall June 16, 2011 at 7:39 pm

It is EXTREMELY disheartening to see so many people in the year 2011 casting judgement on complete strangers for outdated religious or social mores. A good man is a good man regardless of whether or not he has a tattoo. I have a Master’s degree and I work for the largest think tank in the world. And yes, I am COVERED in tattoos. That hasn’t stopped me from rising to the highest ranks in my field, and my bosses (who care about performance and results, not something like a personal choice that is covered by my suit each day), couldn’t care less because I am damn good at my job. It raises an important question…who is more ‘Christian?’ Someone without tattoos that casts judgement on complete strangers, or someone with tattoos who doesn’t? @Nathan, you are picking and choosing the parts of the Bible you want to pay attention to and that is and will always be a cowardly and hypocritical thing to do.

111 Steve June 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm

What Red said. (Tattoos not manly. Attention seeking, followers.) And really, just plaln ugly. “Unique without ink”…great phrase.

112 Marshall June 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Yes Steve…the people who have tattoos that are covered all of the time are just after attention…

It seems that you’re just a judgmental person who feels manly by casting judgement on complete strangers. What is it about your life that makes you act this way?

When you consider the fact that people with tattoos are a minority, why would you associate someone with a tattoo as a follower? Seems to me that it’s the other way around…

113 Scott June 16, 2011 at 10:18 pm

“I am unique already,” “I don’t need to decorate myself,” “Unmarked skin looks better,” etc.

No car NEEDS racing stripes, but sometimes racing stripes make a car look really cool.

114 Marshall June 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm

And sometimes a person NEEDS to insult and belittle a complete stranger based on a personal choice to make themselves feel better…

Sometimes this type of behavior makes a person feel as if they’re better than those who disagree with them, but all it shows is that someone casting the first stone is insecure and hypocritical.

115 Julian June 17, 2011 at 12:09 am

Marshall,

What makes being judgmental so wrong? Being great at your job makes you a good person? What is good and who defines it? Or are you just following blindly the current social norms regarding what makes a good person? Stating what is right and wrong and disapproving of such actions in others has been elevated to the ultimate wrong? It just seems all logical contradictions.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with tattoos, but I just think tattoos have a connotation with low class and low intelligence. And no, class is not determined by your education and wealth. Just because “everyone” is doing it does not mean its now classy. Read Class, A guide to the American Status System by Paul Fussell.

116 Marshall June 17, 2011 at 12:24 am

Julian…blindly judging someone without taking the time and effort to get to know the person is most assuredly wrong and short-sighted. If you think that engaging in that type of behavior is respectful or the right thing to do, you have another thing coming. You should absolutely be ashamed of yourself for doing so. My point is that you can’t see a tattoo on a person and assume they are of low class and intelligence. Your words seem to suggest otherwise. If I’m wrong in that assumption, please correct me, because it seems like you’re prepared to see a tattoo and cast judgement without any attempt to know that person.

Associating the decision to get a tattoo in this day and age with low class and low intelligence makes you no better than the supposedly low class people you’re judging with no warrant. Again…people with tattoos are still the minority, so don’t assume that just because you’re not doing something, that ‘everyone’ else is.

You can quote Fussell all you want, but if someone can attain the professional status I have with as many tattoos as I currently have, it doesn’t matter. Most of my colleagues have at least one tattoo, and we will be running the institutions we work for in another decade. To be blunt, you come across as someone willing to assume that someone is of lesser worth just because they have a tattoo….and that is a patently small-minded worldview.

117 Marshall June 17, 2011 at 12:38 am

Let me just put it this way….

You either think that it’s ok to judge a book by its cover, or you don’t.

I’d like to think that I’m a bit more openminded than what you’re advocating for….

118 Alex June 17, 2011 at 1:34 am

This post is something I could not agree with more.
Tattoos that natives get are something they probably never regret, its a form of discipline. The tattoos westerners get, a lot of us probably regret a few.
I once heard someone say if a person doesn’t regret a single one of their tattoos there probably not being honest.
A lesson that many of us learn later.

119 Jason June 17, 2011 at 9:38 am

I just do not find tattoos aesthetically pleasing. I wouldn’t date a woman with them or hire someone with them.

120 Jason June 17, 2011 at 9:45 am

A lot of these comments are ridiculous. “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Are you serious? I don’t have time to get to know everyone’s heart and soul and am going to use the limited information available to me, such as your appearance, to make initial conclusions about your beliefs, socioeconomic status, etc. and decide whether to avoid you (i.e., if you are heavily tattooed, pierced, decoratively scarred, etc., I am – in the absence of countervailing info – going to reach negative conclusions about your intelligence, judgment and values and avoid you).

121 Matt June 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

Marshall, why do you care so much about what people think about tattoos? Some people (like you) like them; some hate them. Deal with it. Some people who don’t judge people on their skin color or other characteristic they’re born with, do judge people on how they choose to appear, either in fashion or in ink. People analyze and classify based on their experience…it’s one of our evolutionary survival skills.

Tattoos will signify negative characteristics to some viewers. It doesn’t mean that it’s a first impression that is correct, or one that can’t be countered by additional interaction; but it is one of the data points that some people use in developing an opinion. Now get back to your very important Think Tank role, content in knowing that you’re an okay guy, even if some people think your tattoos are tacky.

122 Bill June 17, 2011 at 10:56 am

Toughest tattoo I’ve seen was a combat soldier (don’t recall the unit) in Iraq. He has a dashed line on the back of his neck. Under it read “Cut on dotted line”.

Ballsy and in the face of the enemy.

123 Claude June 17, 2011 at 9:01 pm

When soccer moms started getting em i knew the idea went from obscure to cool to fad to saturation. Tattoos are about as cool as saggy pants and mesh tank tops.

124 Sean McCabe June 18, 2011 at 6:36 am

Tattoos are popular in the forces because the define individuality between people,particularly in the armed forces. I served in the British army and almost everyone I knew had tattoos. My own ones are religious and I have a crucifix on my leg. While serving in Northern Ireland we weren’t allowed to wear any jewellery so I couldn’t wear the crucifix given to me by my mum. Instead I got a tattoo on my leg. This was basically to reassure my mother as she was convinced it was a bad omen if I didn’t wear a crucifix and I would be killed!

I’m a professional person now working in an office. I don’t regret getting my tattoos but then again I got them in sensible places on my body which can’t easily be seen. I would never have got them on my forearms or neck as I’ve seen many people with these. At least on the upper arm or leg you can’t see them when wearing a short sleeved shirt.

Tattoos define who you are and bring back some really good memories for me.

125 tibor June 18, 2011 at 7:01 am

I was in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years, twenty years ago, and I’m proud of it. I didn’ t get one single tattoo, although I thought the simple USMC tat was cool, as was the Eagle Globe and Anchor, or even some of the bulldogs with various covers and helmets. My reasoning, was, since everyone gets them, I’ll assert my individuality by not getting one. Other reasons were; they are permanent, and one day as a civilian again, I’ll vacation on a beach in Spain or Greece or Europe in general frequently, and I certainly wouldn’t want to draw attention to myself as a U.S. Serviceman/Veteran.

126 jordan June 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Nathan, please dont qoute the bible unless you also include the passages surronding it. This fashion of qouting the bible for ones personal point is un-informitave and often confusing to people. This particular passage states many guidlines before the mention of “tattoo’s” (the word used in this translation) including: “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material” and “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” (which is stated directly before your tattoo qoute) So if you, which i most certainly know you have, ever cut your beard or trimed the sides of your hair your are doing the exact same thing, according to this scripture, that anyone compleatly covered in tattoo’s is. I do not think tattoo’s are “right” or “wrong” in gods eyes or in society. I happen to have over 60% of my body covered in tattoos, most of them being an outward expression of my faith, and NO i do not want your attention! im am a bit of an introvert and most people have no idea i have so much of my body tattooed. I can cover all of them and agree that that is an important factor to keep in mind when getting a tattoo. I have talked more about god durring tattoo discusions with complete strangers that would ever be comfortably possible without my tattoo’s. Tattoo’s are not for everyone and should not be gotten to look cool or be trendy! I wouldnt feel normal without them, they are just meant to be on MY skin as much as my freckles. That being said please be carefull and think long and hard about yourself and reasons for getting tattooed.

127 Hm June 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Tattoos are bollocks. Everyone and his dog has a tattoo these days – you stand out more by NOT having one. Besides, I’ve never seen a tattoo that I’ve liked and though “That would look good on me forever”. Good luck to those who get them, but I’ve never seen the point myself.

128 James June 19, 2011 at 12:08 am

Amen Jordan! I’m tired of people quoting the bible only when it helps them to discriminate against others and then ignoring the rest!

129 James June 19, 2011 at 12:11 am

Also…Hm….not the case. People with tattoos are still very much in the minority. Any statistical study will show you this. Maybe you just hang out with a mostly tattooed crowd, but that is not representative of the general population.

130 Robert Black June 19, 2011 at 5:01 am

Thank you for your clear headed statement Jordan. We need more men who can examine scripture in an exegetical manner rather than tattooing their personal interpretation all over the web and bringing dishonor to the name of Christ and the message of the Bible.

Men, we all share varying opinions on any number of subjects. This is the beautiful diversity that God has created within in us. Keep it Kind. Keep it Simple. Keep it accurate.

131 Ben David June 19, 2011 at 10:42 am

Why shouldn’t tattoos be used to form an opinion of someone – just like their grooming and clothing choices?

The folks complaining about “judgmentalism” are unrealistic and not a little hypocritical. A tattoo in a visible location is at the very least a most purposeful visual communication with the rest of us – and very likely a bid for attention.

So:
A few years ago you wouldn’t be caught dead getting a tattoo, you did it under influence of prevailing fashion – it seems vaguely rakish, rebellious, and “counter-cultural”. You got the tattoo in a visible location.

And the rest of us are not supposed to judge your character or judgment based on that?
Why the @#$ not?

… have the balls to walk your “counter-cultural” talk.

132 Jimmy Chomsky June 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

As the article points out, getting a tattoo should be a reflection of your unique self. Those who choose examples “off the shelf” because of trendy designs will be marred with these forever. In our disposable world, perhaps some of us forget that with all of the laser tattoo removal technology in existence, tattoos are indeed permanent. I admire any person who expresses him or herself in the way they want without hurting others. I have one, small, classic, “Mum” tattoo. Other, carefully-chosen designs will appear in the future as well. Great article.

133 Steph June 19, 2011 at 11:43 am

I am not a fan of tattoos. There, with that said, for those who are, esp the ones with large body covering tattoos, please be cautious in the sun. It will be very difficult for you to find changes to your skin that should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
I know it isn’t manly to worry about skin cancer, so this message is brought to you by a mom. :)

134 Lowell Neal jr. June 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I’m a born again Christian, I got my first and most likely only tattoo a couple of months ago. I thought long and hard as well as prayed before I did it, and it is not a “tattoo mark for the dead” or any such thing as some on here have been complaining about and it is not there for attention. It can easily be covered by a shirt sleeve and is there for me, it is the cross of my living Lord and Savior on the shield of faith from Ephesians 6:16 and is there as a visible reminder to me of Him who I serve and represent in this world. I am a man, my God made me so and I need no justifications or validation from anyone to know it. I usually don’t post much, this is my first here and the only reason I did is because the shallowness of some of the posts I found really annoying.

135 Steetian Azdan June 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm

The choice to have a tatoo is of course a free decision to be made by the individual.Unfortunatley,most people who get Tatoos are either trendwhores, attention-cravers and pseudo rebels(who are actaully a combination of the two).If you are identified more by your tatoos than by the strength of character(which your tatoo is supposed to symbolize )then one of those three titles belong to you.

136 Paul June 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Tatoos are so disgusting and repulsive to the sight of any gentleman, personally I think they are vulgar and low class. Especially the ones that idolize something or someone, so ridiculous, the only exception I would consider is the military, tatooing your platoons name and logo, things like that. I would never in my life get a tatoo but then again everyone is free to make their own decisions like Steetian said. I have nothing against people that have tatoos either, my ex girlfriend had 3 three tatoos and I never mentioned anything about it, would it be that I see tatoos as something dreadful because I was raised in a society that were taboo about it, I don’t know but sure as hell I will never get one. By the way the other day I saw a girl with a tatoo that said ” Chris Bitch “, probably the most original and creative tatoo I’ve seen in my life.

137 Ken June 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm

ya know, this used to be one of my favorite websites, i THOUGHT it was full of GENTLEMEN, or heck even just MEN in general, but based on the comments it seems that its only children that hang out here and don’t have the maturity to discuss topics in a civilized fashion without resorting to insults, bigotry, and judemental talk about their fellow man. It like this is high school all over again and everyone just wants to wave their wang around and show that theirs is bigger. I think i’ll stick to the articles and avoid the comments from now on.

138 chris June 19, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Tattoos can either be really cool or really dumb, but usually really cool. Anyone who wants to get one or has one; dumb or cool should be proud of it your a piece of art. You should never let a decision about getting a tattoo be effected by any kind of religious crap. If you really believe in a 2,000 year old book then you should be able to realize that tattoo or not the kind of person you are will effect your entrance into heaven more than anything else. So go ahead get as many tattoos as you want just be sure your OK living with it

139 James June 19, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I agree with Ken. The type of close-mindedness and outdated ways of thinking about the art of personal expression exhibited above is disappointing. Anyone who makes a snap-judgement based on a decision by a stranger that they couldn’t possibly know the reasons for is not a gentleman. I can only hope that these ‘men’ are themselves the victim of unwarranted discrimination so they can see the error of their ways.

140 Kevin Francis Burke June 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm

People here who say tattoos are low class are idiotic :

“Between 1766 and 1779, Captain James Cook made three voyages to the South Pacific, the last trip ending with Cook’s death in Hawaii in February, 1779. When Cook and his men returned home to Europe from their voyages to Polynesia, they told tales of the ‘tattooed savages’ they had seen. The word “tattoo” itself comes from the Tahitian tatau, and was introduced into the English language by Cook’s expedition.

Cook’s Science Officer and Expedition Botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, returned to England with a tattoo. Banks was a highly regarded member of the English aristocracy and had acquired his position with Cook by putting up what was at the time the princely sum of some ten thousand pounds in the expedition. In turn, Cook brought back with him a tattooed Raiatean man, Omai, whom he presented to King George and the English Court. Many of Cook’s men, ordinary seamen and sailors, came back with tattoos, a tradition that would soon become associated with men of the sea in the public’s mind and the press of the day. In the process sailors and seamen re-introduced the practice of tattooing in Europe and it spread rapidly to seaports around the globe.

It was in Tahiti aboard the Endeavour, in July of 1769, that Cook first noted his observations about the indigenous body modification and is the first recorded use of the word tattoo. In the Ship’s Log Cook recorded this entry: “Both sexes paint their Bodys, Tattow, as it is called in their Language. This is done by inlaying the Colour of Black under their skins, in such a manner as to be indelible.”

Cook went on to write, “This method of Tattowing I shall now describe…As this is a painful operation, especially the Tattowing of their Buttocks, it is performed but once in their Lifetimes.”

The British Royal Court must have been fascinated with Omai’s tattoos, because the future King George V had himself inked with the ‘Cross of Jerusalem’ when he traveled to the Middle East in 1892. During a visit to Japan he also received a dragon on the forearm from the needles of Hori Chiyo, an acclaimed tattoo master. George’s sons, the Dukes of Clarence and York were also tattooed in Japan while serving in the British Admiralty, solidifying what would become a family tradition.

Taking their sartorial lead from the British Court, where Edward VII followed George V’s lead in getting tattooed; King Frederick IX of Denmark, the King of Romania, Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Alexander of Yugoslavia and even Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, all sported tattoos, many of them elaborate and ornate renditions of the Royal Coat of Arms or the Royal Family Crest. King Alfonso XIII of modern Spain also had a tattoo.

Tattooing spread among the upper classes all over Europe in the 19th century, but particularly in Britain where it was estimated in Harmsworth Magazine in 1898 that as many as one in five members of the gentry were tattooed. There, it was not uncommon for members of the social elite to gather in the drawing rooms and libraries of the great country estate homes after dinner and partially disrobe in order to show off their tattoos. Aside from her consort Prince Albert, there are persistent rumours that Queen Victoria had a small tattoo in an undisclosed ‘intimate’ location; Denmark’s King Frederick was filmed showing his tattoos taken as a young sailor. Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, had a tattoo of a snake around her wrist, which she covered when the need arose with a specially crafted diamond bracelet. Carrying on the family tradition, Winston Churchill had an anchor tattooed on his forearm.” —wikipedia.org

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with tattoos, but I just think tattoos have a connotation with low class and low intelligence. And no, class is not determined by your education and wealth. Just because “everyone” is doing it does not mean its now classy. Read Class, A guide to the American Status System by Paul Fussell.” –Julian

Oh, yeah you retard ? I read that book by Paul Fussell and I don’t recall him mentioning tattoos at all. What I do recall though is that he said the middle and upper classes think that education and wealth and the kind of job you do does have to do with what social class you belong too. I also recall the book saying that the upper and middle classes think that anything British is superior. Did you read that Wikipedia entry above about the British upper classes and tattoos you moron ?

141 Kevin Francis Burke June 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Ooops, sorry I realize I made a mistake or two in my post (I’m only human after all) so I will correct my last statement to Julian :

Oh, yeah you retard ? I read that book by Paul Fussell and I don’t recall him mentioning tattoos at all. What I do recall though is that he said the middle and upper middle classes (no the upper classes) think that education and wealth and the kind of job you do does have to do with what social class you belong to. I also recall the book saying that the upper and middle classes think that anything British is superior. Did you read that Wikipedia entry above about the British upper classes and tattoos you moron ?

*Ok the above is fixed now and is the absolute truth*

142 Shane June 19, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I’m 25 and thus far have 7 tattoos with another not yet finished. All of mine were designed and had a home for at least 1 year before I got them done. 5 of them are spiritual and/or marks of passage for myself, one is a display of heritage for my cousin and me, and the last is commemorative of a friend who died that had gotten out of drugs at the same time I did. I made sure that they’re all in discrete locations that can easily be covered should the need arise. I still have plans for a good many more, they’re all simply waiting for the time and money to have them done (or in the case of one, for my grandfather to pass). The most important point that I think you made with the article is the need for individuality. They should be a piece that’s personal and you take pride in rather than getting one simply because you can and it’ll look “neat” or “cool”.

143 Kevin Francis Burke June 20, 2011 at 12:41 am

Oh, also since that entry from Wikipedia was about the past times in Britain I guess I should mention that in that book by Paul Fussell he said the principle of anachronism is classy. For instance the upper classes feel more comfortable with past times than the present and the future. For instance the book says that the upper classes downplay cars because they consider them nouveau. The book also says that the middle classes are Victorian (especially in regards to sex) and it is worth mentioning that tattoos were popular among the British upper classes during Victorian times. Unfortunately Paul Fussell’s book is the only one of its kind so we cannot compare many books on the issue. Anyway, in otherwords it is classy to look to the past and say that tattoos are classy based on the 19th century rather than current trends. It is all the more classy since Paul Fussel says that the upper classes and perhaps upper middle classes think any thing British is superior (it has been a while since I read the book and I read a lot of books so I’m glad I remembered this much about it). I also remember he said the classy food is bland and resembles British food in that regard and that spicy food is low class. In otherwords British things are inherently classy and superior to the upper class as well as past times. So saying tattoos are classy based on the principle of British cultural anachronism is uber supremely classy. It is clear that Julian is a moron with reading comprehension problems otherwise he wouldn’t have mentioned that book to support his vacuous statement.

144 Sean June 20, 2011 at 2:29 am

My most recent tattoo has the virgin marry above a sailing ship and reads bellow “calm seas”. It commemorates my relationship with god and whatever trials and tribulations life might throw at me. It’s a very traditional style tattoo and I’m very proud to have it on my body for the rest of my life. I find it pretty rediculous when I hear people say it’s against what god wants but I have my own personal relationship with god and I’m pretty sure he’s not gunna stop me when it’s my time to go through the pearly gates. Great article guys!

145 Chris B June 20, 2011 at 7:10 am

I have 2 tattoos. 1 is a design of the oroboros which is symbolic of everlasting life. and the other is a design used by a musical artist for a tour poster which covers my right bicep. I am a correctional officer, and both of my tattoos are covered while I am working. I wouldn’t trade either of these tattoos for anything, and I will thank the religious for being the most judgemental people I have ever met, thus negating the ideals taught by their own religeon. I’m a respected law enforcement official with tattoos. Deal with it.

146 nmrosycheeks June 21, 2011 at 12:02 am

When I lazily roll my fingertips down the rough, slightly hairy skin of my military husband, the last thing I want to see staring back at me is a mottled-colored eagle, or anchor, or some unevenly-fading, once-catchy, used-to-be-meaningful slogan or phrase. I just want to see HIM, his perfect skin, his beauty, his loveliness, unmarred by the touch or stain of another. Scars earned are a different story. Tattoos…. no thank you.

147 Rocco June 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Very thought provoking article – I’m tattooed from my many years in the Army and I don’t regret them as such. However, these days I work in an office for a respectable company and it amuses me on hot days when the pencil necks glance at my forearms when I roll my sleeves up; they must think I am a wild and dangerous man. I was once.
Whatever anyone tells you, a tattoo is not supposed to be fashionable or cool; it’s supposed to reflect something significant and important to you and serve as a permanent reminder of that thing. A physical mark to mirror the emotional one.
Covering yourself in those faux tribal designs like you see on the guys on Jersey Shore just makes you look like an idiot.

148 Rich June 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Wow, are people really so narrow-minded that they don’t understand different people have different tastes?

If you don’t like tattoos thats fine but don’t demonize those that have them. I think you’ll find most of us are pretty nice and intelligent people. Heck, you might be demonizing some people you care about and don’t even know it.

149 KLW June 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Interesting and not surprising comments, topics like this show a lot of the close minded attitudes out there… I’m pushing 50, have 5 tattoos I’ve gotten over the last 30 years and yes the first one was when I was young and stupid, but it now stands for that phase in my life. The second was gotten at a time of turmoil and I always say it was to remind me of the mistakes I made that got me into that situation and to protect me from making the same again (it’s a Celitc shield). The last 3 were gotten following the sudden death of the woman I planned on growing old with. One for her, one for my friends who kept me alive and one a quote a 12 year old gave me that defined how I thought of life… only the first is regularly visible.. These were for me and as I told my friend who I got the one in honour – it was the only way I could think of to show how much what they did meant to me by getting this permanently etched in my physical body.

I could care less what others think of them I did not get them for the rest of you.

They do I will admit give me a quick way to size up if I want to spend time getting to know someone, if you get my drift :-)

150 Chris Homan June 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

What do we gain from tearing down each other’s opinions?? As has been said, if you don’t like tattoos, stay away from the topic. If you find yourself pulled in by the topic like a fly to a sticky strip, at least have the common decency to present your position in a respectful manner. We all aspire to be gentlemen (except for the ladies, of course), and our conversation should reflect that goal.

I’ve considered a tattoo before, but haven’t got one yet. I’m considering it again. If I do, I’d like it to be a memorial to my late grandparents, all of whom touched my life immeasurably. I’d like to be able to present it here, because I’d be proud of it. Don’t know if I can, though, with the strength and vitriol of some of your opinions. Will I be less of a man?? Will I be unapproachable? A loser?? A redneck?? Uneducated?? Some of you may think so, judging by your opinions here.

Respect, gentlemen. That is the key. Far, far better than tearing down people you don’t even know. In that case, are you really a man???

151 Justin June 23, 2011 at 11:09 am

@Nathan You are correct with you quote of Leviticus 19:28 but you are incorrect in your interpretation and application of that verse. The previous verse to 19:28 basically says that men shouldn’t trim their beards. I’m sure no one would argue that men who trim their beards are ungodly and disobedient. Levitcus is part of the old law and covenant. But Christians today are not held to the old covenant, but the new covenant that Jesus established. I suggest you read Hebrews chs9-11 for more info. God doesn’t care if you have tattoos. In fact He has one: Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.

152 Matty June 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Congratulations men of AOM you have proven to me that as a man I am an island unto myself because most of you are judgemental assholes who would rather piss on your fellow man about his personal choice.

153 Chris June 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm

@Matty
For certain, many of the comments here are unfortunate. As the author of this post and a contributor to AoM, however, I can ensure you that the 150 or so comments here do not reflect the views of the 100,000+ followers of this site. Keep the faith!

154 RICHIE June 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm

It would seem that a nerve or two has been struck here. Funny how those who do not care for tattoos are viewed as “close minded” and “judgemental.” The problem is that most of the tattoos are so ugly and obnoxious that they can’t help be noticed even if I don’t want to look at them. I’d be much happier if those people would show some consideration and wear a long sleeve shirt out in public and not harsh my view. Please. Thank You.

155 Marshall June 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Richie….people who simply don’t like tattoos are not being viewed as close minded and judgmental here. The people who are accusing a complete stranger of being of low class, low intelligence, etc. are. There’s a big difference.

Also…what’s a good email address that people can submit tattoo ideas, or for that matter, hairstyles, ties, suits, etc. for your approval? Lord knows I wouldn’t want to wear something you don’t approve of….

156 RICHIE June 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Perhaps, Marshall, that is the question here. At what point something has gone just too far, beyond good taste and decency. If I were to run naked with a bone through my nose and real human heads draped around my neck, would you also be OK with that? My question is, where or at what point do we as a civilized society stop or hold the line? Or do we just go with the flow and let it keep sliding?

157 Marshall June 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm

That depends….are you equating a tattoo with “running naked with a bone through your nose and real human heads draped around your neck?” Because if you view the two things as comparable, then I think that speaks volumes about the extent to which you are an intolerant, close minded, and judgmental.

Better yet, why not pose your question to the tattooed service men that have commented above who have laid their lives on the line to give you the freedom to make such ridiculous statements? Or while we’re at it, why not find your moral and societal counterparts in Saudi Arabia who would echo your sentiments practically word for word when it comes to the demonstrations there lately demanding that women have the right to drive a car?

158 RICHIE June 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Marshall you’re twisting and spinning. Please go to http://ugliesttattoos.failblog.org/ view this nut case “So THAT’S Where My Coasters Went” And then try to tell I don’t make a valid point.

159 Marshall June 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm

You’re not making a valid point. You’re using a joke website to justify your intolerant nature. Your line of reasoning is no different than someone using that cake wrecks website to argue against having cakes at birthday parties. You’re looking at the exception, NOT the rule.

160 Marshall June 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm

But you’re avoiding the question…are you equating a tattoo with running around naked with a bone in your nose or not?

161 RICHIE June 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Marshall, I was simply making a societal observation. Or in other words, where or what is right or wrong? Would you want your daughter to marry Mr. “So THAT’S Where My Coasters Went?” Would you want her to marry any guy with creepy pictures anywhere on their body?

162 Marshall June 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm

If you were simply trying to make a simple observation, you’re going about it in entirely the wrong way. The way your comments read is that you equate all tattoos with the person in that link. Is that true, or is it not?

If you think that guy is the same as someone with a meaningful tattoo that’s covered up by the suit that he wears to work, then you ARE judgmental and intolerant.

If you don’t, then you need to put more thought into the things you say and type, because you’re coming across as someone for whom subtlety and gray area does not exist. You’re treating the issue as if the only thing that exists is someone with no tattoos at all, or that coasters guy, and that is simply not the case.

163 RICHIE June 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I’m sure there’s many fine misguided people in the world who sport a tattoo. I don’t have to like looking at them, not that anyone cares what I think. I’m curious if Mr. “So THAT’S Where My Coasters Went” will soon pursue the shrunken head, spear thing so he can better stand apart from the crowd. You know be a trend setter.

164 Marshall June 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Alright, well you’ve clearly staked out your intolerant position and refuse to acknowledge the subtleties that exist in this world. I just hope that you come around on your own and that neither you or a loved one doesn’t have to be on the receiving end of unjustified discrimination in order to stop this type of behavior.

165 Phil June 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

Maybe it’s agist to say so, but why not at this point?

I’m willing to bet that the older a person is, chances are, the bigger the problem they have with tattoos. It’s most likely a combination of clinging to old-fashioned religious and social traditions, coupled with the fact that most tattoos 30 or 40 years ago were fairly low quality compared to what is possible today.

166 Mike June 27, 2011 at 11:40 am

First off, I’d like to say that is an awesome tattoo Chris. You get mundo points for originality.

I definitely agree with Chris on designing your own tattoo. I made a deal with my tattoo artist that he would not use my design for anyone else. Who wants to see random people sporting the same tattoo as you? It is awkward enough when someone else is wearing the same shirt as me.

Also, if you are going to get something in another language, verify with a native speaker that it means what you think it means. Words in chinese for example, might mean one thing individually, and mean something completely different when combined.

167 frank June 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm

The thing I don’t understand is the people who get a tattoo, like the man in the article, to commemorate his time spent with his grandfathers & the time he lost. With a tattoo. Your memories so bad that you need a constant reminder on your forearm. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get one I just can’t wrap my mind around the why anyone would.
Do you just want to be different like everyone else? I don’t have a tattoo. NOW that makes me a rebel. No piercings either.

168 Tim June 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Frank…most people don’t have tattoos. You can look at any demographical study and confirm this. Not having one doesn’t make you a rebel….you’re just trying to use your misinformed nature on the subject to make some sort of point….

169 Joe June 29, 2011 at 2:59 am

One tattoo that is some what useful (if thats possible) is a wedding band. I had my’n done because I hate wearing rings but want to clearly denote my marital status. It has also kept my ring out of harms way. I simply had the artist fill in my tan line so that I can slip on my band and not have the tattoo be too noticeable.
side note: hand tattoos aren’t cheap and often artist won’t do them because they fade faster than other areas of the body

170 Mark June 30, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Can’t believe some of the comments here – if you don’t like tattoos, fair enough but judging people because of a choice they made that has zero affect on anyone else seems immature and slightly ridiculous.

I have lots of tattoos (a full left sleeve, a three quarter right sleeve and a full chest piece) and plan on getting more. I work in a large public hospital in Australia where a good percentage of staff, nurses and doctors included, have significant ink. Sure, there are still those who see tattoos as something indicating the person is an undesirable but this opinion seems to be restricted to narrow-minded individuals anyway. Most people these days understand having tattoos is a personal choice, more often driven by the individual’s desire to treat their body as a canvas, not because of some dated notion that being tattooed equates to be tough or hard (in my case, so far from the truth, it may as well be another galaxy).

Some of my tattoos have significant meaning, while some are simply because I like the art and the subject matter. As a few have commented, there is no need to attach great signficance to every tattoo you get. Being inked these days is all about enjoying the art work not because you’ve ‘earned’ the right. To those who think the tradition has been softened or diluted because it has become popular, I say this is an incredibly narrow-minded viewpoint. If you believe this, fine, but don’t judge others because they see it differently.

171 Abram July 1, 2011 at 3:37 am

I have one tattoo (for now), it’s my wife’s name…. I know I know… A chicks name. We have been married for ten years and have 4 kids. My job takes me away from home almost 5 months a year. Some of the time my family gets to travel with me but not always. I spend a lot of nights I spend alone. I work in my state capital, there are a lot of young interns and… Well we’ll just say eye candy… The truth is I love my wife, and I wanted something for me to see (my tat is on my hip) to constantly remind me of me covenant to my wife… I wanted something more than just my wedding ring. It’s not for my wife, it’s for me. Im not saying that my tattoo is keeping me from cheating on my wife or that with out it I would. My wife and i where seperated for two mon eight years ago. It was two months of hell and so help me God it will never happen again. I wanted to prove to myself that my comitment to her was a part of me. That may sound corny, but its true. The Bible says a lot on a whole lot of different topics… One that comes to mind it the “if you hand offends you, cut it off”. Is it saying that you should cut your hands off? No. But it is saying that sometimes you need to make drastic change in your life. And for me, it was etching my wife’s name in my body. It was a truly profound experience for me. Only a few people that know me even know that I have a tattoo, thats ok it’s not for them. It is one of the best decitions that I have ever made. And I will have it for the rest of my life, every morning when I get dressed, and every night before I go to bed I look in the mirror and smile… Because it challenges me to seek a deeper relationship with the woman I love. Mo it doesn’t bother me for my kids to see it, because I want them to know how passionately I love their mother. Guys tattoos are a serious thing. If you are going to get one it better be for an equally serious reason. The writer is dead on with his advise to think looooong and hard about what to permanently put on your body… (speaking of being judgmental) there have been plenty of times when I have pointed someone out to the kids and laughed… Out loud… And ya I know I probably shouldn’t …. But I have also complemented plenty of people for their incredible art work. One that comes to mind was a great talk that I had with a guy AT CHURCH about his new tattoo sleeve… It looked great! His wife also was covered in tats… But guess what… They don’t go to our church anymore.. Why? Because a bunch of the older folks at chuch treated them like crap and looked down thier noses at them because of it. I lost a friend because some people couldn’t deal with the way they looked. You could spend hours online laughing your ass off at stupid tattoos that people have gotten…. But at the end of the day, you will have to live with the result of your decitions. Hopefully if you decide to get some ink, it will have as positive an impact on your life as mine. I will get more tattoos, someday.
As for the rest of the children whining and arguing on these post… If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out. Plain and simple. Some people are dead set one one way to look at life, and some are just as hell bent on the other end. Sorry folks … But there are a lot more importaint things in life a tattoo.

172 Abram July 1, 2011 at 3:40 am

Correction:
There are a lot more importaint things in life to argue about than tattoos.
Sorry I hit the “publish” button before I corrected ….

173 Bret Miller July 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm

When I read these comments about God’s Word it truly angers me. God does not like religion at ALL. Have a relationship with Him. For the lawman who says that religious people are the most judgmental, God Bless you.

174 Allen July 5, 2011 at 9:34 pm

I am a sailor with tens of thousands of miles at sea, whose mother was also a sailor (now an Admiral) and has around 10 hours of ink with plans for more. Tattoos are not for everyone, but they are for me. Being judgmental about pretty much anything tends to be a sign of insecurity. If you don’t like ink then don’t get any, but don’t judge those that feel otherwise. Nothing manly about being intolerant in any way.

175 Jeff October 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Well, I do have to say first off, I have no tatts yet! But both of my brothers do and most of it is something that means a lot to them and to the family! Yes, to some people it looks very unprofessional and disgusting, but to some tatts look very unique, a work of art, or have significant amounts of meaning in every needle that touched their skin! I also wanted to ask, If tatts are so disgusting and stupid, then what are piercings? Are they art too?

176 Ankit Katyal October 12, 2012 at 7:24 am

on which side of my hand should i get tattooed “words fail music speaks”

177 Henriette October 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

@ Joe. The coolest explanation from a guy about his tattoo, was simple. ‘My marriage is permanent.’ Although he had to cover up the rest of his tattoos for work, his boss agreed to not covering up this one. It is small, doesn’t stand out much, and when people did look at it, he simply gave that explanation.

178 Cal November 5, 2012 at 8:23 pm

The fact that people are saying a tattoo makes you look ‘lower class’ in a way that expresses disgust is quite frankly… disgusting!
How can you classify people like that without having a sense of superiority?
If getting a tattoo will make me of a ‘lower class’ then I’d rather be down there than up with some of you ‘higher class’ bigots.

179 Matthew November 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm

remember the New Testament, Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is life more important than food, and the body more important than cloths? Matthew 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? God will give you these things if you have faith in him. i dont have a tattoo but plan on getting one. Jesus said dont worry about your body. In my mind he means its just an earthly body, its not your soul.

180 Matthew November 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

to Ankit, words don’t fail if you say the right ones.

181 Erin November 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Never regret something that once made you happy. I heard that phrase and love it.

Also if you’ve ever READ Leviticus which obviously you haven’t it’s full of rules applying to Judaism Jesus put most of those laws to rest. Christians do not follow Jewish law.

Also people say “when you get old and wrinkly –blahblahblah” I work with elderly people and they’re nothing to look at so either be old and wrinkly and tattooless or be old and wrinkly and have tattoos that no one will see because you’re old and cold all the time. Plus if you’re old and all you have to worry about is your tattoos then you’re a lucky old person.

182 Matthew December 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I don’t quite understand what you are trying to say. i absolutely respect Judiasm and other peoples belief. I am obviously stating the New Testament (Christian). I am just tying to remind people of Jesus’s word. Also i am curious, what makes you so certain i have never read Leviticus ? One more thing in my above post i do say i plan on getting a tattoo. I would just like to understand better what you are saying. please reply

183 Abraham December 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Real gentlemen are not classist and are not racist.

In that regards, most of the older men complaining about tattoo’s are not gentlemen.

Signed,
A guy with ZERO tattoos

184 Mikkel December 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I myself, only have one tattoo, but that has to do with the high pricing of these.
I have a tattoo on the inside of my lower left arm that simply says “sister.”, and it serves as a reminder that I always have my family, namely my sister. It was to be made before she left for the United States ( We live in Denmark), but it was made after she returned but it still serves the purpose, and in turn she has one that says “brother.”
It might not be the manliest of tattoos but it serves the purpose of being meaningful tattoo which I love.

185 Ed January 1, 2013 at 7:16 am

I had mine just when I turned 16.
It’s a tribal on my inner forearm, I’m 17 now and I don’t regret it… Probably never will.

186 Jacob January 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I have no tattoos yet. I have always had the idea in the back of my mind that something as permanent as a tattoo should not be done on a whim, and I like the author’s suggestion to wait a year to see if a design is still something you like. I just haven’t found any designs that I want to have permanently affixed to my body.

187 Maria January 27, 2013 at 7:59 am

I was hoping to see an article here about how unmanly tattoos are. How disappointing to see one promoting this sad fad. When I see a tattoo on a person it just makes me think they have issues, poor judgement, poor taste and that their priorities are messed up. Yes I know that this isn’t the case necessarily but that’s what I feel when I see a tattoo. Before anyone jumps all over me for being judgemental, the fact is that a person wouldn’t get a tattoo if they didn’t want people to see it. If you’re going to put yourself out there by branding yourself with a message, then expect to be judged for good and bad and don’t complain when others jump to conclusions about you.

188 Stephen January 31, 2013 at 7:02 am

I was born and raised in Hawaii, which has a rich history of tattooing similar to the traditions among the Tahitians, Maori, and Samoans. Here we call it Kakau, and the process used to be done by cutting the skin and pouring ink made from ash into the wound. Tattoos were done across a man’s life to mark significant events – fighting in a battle, having a child, losing a loved one – as well as where we came from – who our ancestors were, and which spirits watch over our families. Nowadays, we do it in a sterile environment with modern needles and ink, but the designs are mostly unchanged.

My kids go to a dual-language school where they are learning to speak the language we almost allowed to die. All of the teachers have Kakau on their arms and legs, and I respect them more as professionals for it. One of the administrators is a dignified and genteel lady in her 60′s, highly intelligent and well educated, and her tattoos are amazing – they tell so much of her history. Who her parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were, tracing her lineage back to the days of legend. Who her children are now, and her grandchildren. There are shark’s teeth, which mean strength, wrapped around her left arm and half her chest to signify her struggle with breast cancer. There are markings which show her pride in being a teacher, and others that show the prosperity and success of her school.

I personally can’t have any due to health reasons, but when my son is 18, it is my sincere hope that he will mark his coming of age with a traditional tattoo.

189 Beufl January 31, 2013 at 11:23 am

Its very necessary to think twice before you ink tattoo , because after that its not possible to get it down easily.I am also a fan of tattoos.

190 Mark Wiz February 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I guess we can assume that tattoos are polarizing. The truth is, they are becoming more popular among men and women. I think a good thing to remember is something I read recently: people are horrid at imagining who they will be ten years from now. Think about it: aren’t there things you have changed your attitude about over time? For me at age 61, that ranges from my taste in wines to my beliefs about God. The message is tread lightly while trying to avoid the irreversible. Now, I got my first tattoo at age 60; I now have one on each calf. One is the Poish Falcon, the other is a combination of my family crest, the crest of the village my ancestors came from, and a symbol of the meaning of my surname. They mean a lot to me, and both women and men have admired them. They also do not show at formal events. Even my wife, who does not like tattoos, has said they are quite beautiful and meaningful.
LOL… best story I’ve heard was a guy at the gym who had a tat for each of his three kids but refused to get one representing his wife. His rationale: “S*** happens: who know if she’ll be premanent.” Now, there’s a guy just begging for a major tattoo-induced fight!

191 Jeff February 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm

i got my tattoo freshman year of college. its a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus-Rex that i drew myself. i got it to remind me of my childhood and my love for dinosaurs. right after i got i started to regret it and considerd getting it covered up but that soon passed and now i really do love it.

192 MarZ February 9, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Although i will probably never get a tattoo in my life, i am a firm believer that a tattoo should represent something you have experienced.

193 Archer April 6, 2013 at 7:08 am

I considered getting one for a long time before eventually having it done.

I spent several years training in muay thai and once life changed and I moved on, i wanted something to remind me of how hard I worked during that time and how far I learned I could push myself. In lieu of getting a traditional sak yant tattoo (which would require travel to the far east), I found a thai design on a buddhist temple called a “kranok” (also: “kanok”), which I redesigned a little and had tattooed on my left shoulder.

I couldn’t be happier with it, because it has meaning for me. While I can certainly appreciate why some styles of tattoo have become popular, I don’t think I would be ultimately happy with a design simply because it looked cool.

But to each his own…

194 zack May 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm

How about this? A tatto of different cross going down my right arm like chain mail connected by vines(or something like that. And on my left arm a armour shoulder plate with a cross and the cross chain mail coming out of it. Im going for the religion thing and im getting wings going down my back

195 Ramiro May 9, 2013 at 6:57 am

So, what about a women style tattoo for a manly man? are those banned here? like this one:
http://tatuajesparamujeres.org/fotos-de-tatuajes/

196 Louis May 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I have seen some awesome tattoos, very artistic, colorful, some small and some quite large. I have also seen some really silly tattoos, cheap tattoos, ugly tattoos; from very small to disgustingly large. Tattoos are like so many things (furniture, speech, cars, shoes, education, stride, voice, etc.) they can be elegant or ridiculous. But if the individual rocking a cigar smoking woody wood pecker is happy with his tat, why should I care? We are not all followers of the Judeo-Christian religions and they therefore are under no obligation to do as some obscure verse in the bible says they should do (although it had a very pragmatic reason for stating what it did when it did as Israel was trying to differentiate itself from its polytheistic neighbors). But even if we’re of a Judeo-Christian tradition, as Paul taught in the New Testament, either we keep the whole Law or we are guilty of the whole Law if we break a single commandment (Paul’s argument was that no one can keep the whole law, we’re all guilty and the only rescue from the guilt of the law lays in the belief of the Savior). But this is a not a theological response to the topic under discussion, it is only my opinion that what we do, whether we turn left or right, it is between ourselves and our deity, all others need not comment (unless criminal). As far as tattoos are concerned I think that just as we are free to wear whatever we want (although our choices will limit us in some way, for example, if we only wear jeans, we might have a difficult time getting hired by a law firm) we have the freedom to ink ourselves although doing so may have social consequences that we have to anticipate and not later complain. Jeans can be traded in for wool slacks, tattoos are more permanent. Tattoos in the wrong place will limit us in certain circles if our feeling change as to where we want to work, or who we want to associate with for example.
if I had a law firm I wouldn’t care if my attorneys had visible tattoos–but clients might, and many judges might mind too. So in certain professions it is best if our ink is not visible. prejudice, ironically in law of all places, is inescapable.

I for one have met some of the most hardworking, honest, faithful, sincere, bad ass, fun, truthful people who happen to sport some ink somewhere in their bodies, some quite extensively. Yes it might be trendy, but we all do this to some extent, don’t we? Why should I care if they want to be viewed as more carefree/artistic/”dangerous” than traditional or business uptight?

I have a tattoo. Most people don’t know of it because it’s over my heart in plain black ink. I got it for my own reasons, but I don’t mind showing it off when the opportunity arises (a pool party, a day at the beach, getting familiar with a new lady friend…)

I think they’re awesome if done right, and I think that some are ridiculous but either way it’s not my life but I at least value that people are trying to set themselves apart from the herd, even if it is by following yet another trend.

197 Serafin Nunez July 20, 2013 at 12:04 am

I’ve always wanted to get a tattoo of an angel (my name, Serafin, refers to a type of angel), but I have never been able to find a design that I really like.

198 jordan August 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm

My sister is getting me my first tattoo for my 18 and this has helped me on getting a design and location of my tattoo just got to wait those 3 months till I get it done

199 Isabel August 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I want a tattoo so freaking bad :( :( i might get one on my back or wrist.. don’t know

200 Mr Sagan October 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm

The comments on this article are some of the saddest examples of humanity for people who are supposed to be ‘enlightened’. Classifying someone as unintelligent, uncultured and from a low social standing because they have tattoos is wrong and you should feel ashamed for doing it. I have a MENSA tested IQ of 145, I am not rich nor am I poor and I certainly have more culture then most people my age; however whats this I also have tattoos, how could this be? Also to those preaching the words of Jesus, its quite bold to assume everyone is religious, cause for those of us that aren’t the words in a fictitious book hold no meaning.

The modern tattoo gun was based of a design created by some dude named Thomas Edison, you have probably heard of him, and guess what he had a tattoo. George Orwell, Teddy Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Sir Winston Churchill, Tsar Nicholas II, King George V, Kind Edward VII, King Frederick IX, Kaiser Wilhelm; all of these people share two things in common one is they are all historical titans and two they were all tattooed. Un-intelligent and low class you say?

I can understand some people don’t like tattoos and some people do. I personally appreciate the artwork, and yes unfortunately there are bad tattoos because people didn’t do their homework. They certainly aren’t a trend or fad in western culture at least, possibly in the UK as they have the highest inked rate in the world; however in the US its about 23% of women and 19% of men. Tattooing if a form of expression, if any of you naysayers asked a person what one of their tattoo’s meant to them they probably have a great reason and it most likely wasn’t stabbing someone while they were in prison.

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