What advice would you give a young person who plans to get a tattoo?

As of Thursday, state law will bar anyone under age 18 from getting a tattoo, even with a parent’s permission. Today’s Question: What advice would you give a young person who plans to get a tattoo?

  • Gary F

    I can’t afford to get a tattoo. People that get tattoos must have a lot of disposable income.

    If it is visible while wearing normal clothing, I say to you….. “Many people in this world will judge you by your tattoo. Right or wrong, it’s reality. By doing so, you may be limiting yourself to career possibilities in the future. So, when you are under employed or unemployed and wonder why you don’t have any money, well tough luck. So many people complain and think they are a victim and that the system is against them, well, the big sword tattoo on your neck wasn’t my fault.

    If it’s concealed, well, I think it will be funny in 30-40-50 years from now when some old lady in the nursing home lifts up her saggy breasts and says “Hey, it used to be a butterfly! But now it looks likes a pterodactyl!”

  • Dianne

    Before you get your tattoo, find 10 people older than 40 years and ask them how they feel about their tattoos now.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Tatoos are like thoughtless, insensitive comments (e.g., sexist jokes). They reveal something significant about you and, once done, can’t be undone.

  • James

    The idea that tattoos are intrinsically bad (as expressed by Steve) is absurd. As Gary points out, visible tattoos will affect your career prospects, usually negatively (unless you plan to work in the body art industry or the adult entertainment industry).

    When I went to my first nudist event, I was surprised how many people have tattoos that we don’t normally see. They didn’t seem overly upset about them.

    As someone without any tattoos, I may not be the best source of information or advice, but I would suggest that the prospective tattooee think considerably about their choice of content and placement before setting needle to skin.

  • Mary

    Think how it will look faded and on sagging wrinkled skin when you are 70…..it will still be there. That rose on your breast may be long stemmed; the butterfly blurring on your butt may look more like the cocoon. Think about a droopy snake flopping around your arm.

  • Jessica

    I have two tattoos, I got both in a short period of each other, when I was 20 1/2 and on my 21st birthday. I knew I wanted a tattoo before then, but I knew I didn’t want just anything. I researched and asked questions and waited until I had an inspiration or connection or whatever you want to call it; for a particular design and its meaning to me. And I put it in a location where I can show or hide it when I want. My second tattoo I designed myself. I think with a lot of thoughtful consideration, tattoos are not a bad thing.

  • Bonnie

    I’d just like to know where young people get all of this money…the dang things are expensive! You can’t afford to support yourself or put yourself through school…you shouldn’t be getting a tat.

  • Lisa Letourneau

    I worked with dementia patients for 12 years as a therapist. One of my patients, a woman in her 80s, was functioning at the level of an 18 month old. She was nonverbal and required a great deal of care, including needing to be fed, not knowing what a spoon was for, and changed as she was incontinent. She had a kewpie doll tatooed on her knee, and seeing this I thought “she was young once, and has stories to tell we’ll never hear from her!” It prompted me to get my first tattoo, fourteen years ago and at the age of 36; I now have 5. If I am ever so impaired that I need to be cared for by others or am not able to speak for myself I want my caregivers to be reminded that I was also young once.

  • Kristina

    I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday, with my own money. I am 28 with nine tattoos. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, if you have exposed tattoos doesn’t relegate you to industries like porn. I’ve met several professionals that have visible tattoos and they have successful office jobs. So far I can cover all my tattoos if I so wish.

    Also, I’ve met many people who have friends who are artists and they have exchanged goods and services (I met a guy who painted his friend’s house in exchange for quite a lovely and large tattoo) for tattoos. I have personally saved my money to pay for mine and will continue to do so for future ones.

    I always wait a minimum of one year before getting a new one. If I still want one after a year, and I can afford it, I’ll get it.

    The other argument about what will it look like when you are 70? I think when I’m 70, I’ll have different priorities and hopefully my tattoos will look fine, but just as long as I’m healthy, who cares?

    “Tatoos are like thoughtless, insensitive comments (e.g., sexist jokes). They reveal something significant about you and, once done, can’t be undone.” – Some can be, but most are very personal and thought out. I just got a tattoo in memory of my grandpa and grandma – is that a thoughtless and insensitive comment? I don’t think so.

  • http://www.simplethrift.wordpress.com Wendy Thomas

    A bit of advice for all cool people out there considering tattoos.

    I have a total of 4 tattoos. It’s not a big deal after you break down and get your first, I mean where’s the objection? I’m morally opposed to them? I think not.

    This past winter after struggling with a surgery that had gone bad and spending too much time doing far too little, I decided to get a small tattoo on my back of my wrist to remind me of three character attributes I should always be aware of, Gratitude, Faith, and Grace.

    My plan was when the pain returned (as it seems to a lot even today) when the walking got tough, I could look at my tattoo and remember that things could always be worse, I must be grateful for what I have. The tattoo would be in a spot where I could see it when I type, reminding me that (worst case scenario) even without legs, I would be able to have a job and write. Every day I don’t reach the bottom is nothing but gravy.

    I got the initials “ GFG” inked into my skin forever.

    I came home from the tattoo shop all pleased with myself on my life decision to go forward and be positive.

    When my high-school son got home from school that afternoon, he looked at my freshly inked tat and then raised his eyebrows and asked:

    “Mom, why did you get “Good F***ing Game” put on your wrist?”

    Prolonged silence followed by a loud Homer Simpson “Doh” self head slap.

    According to the all knowing Urban Dictionary (and more importantly my member of the High School community) GFG is a phrase that is often used to show extreme frustration, disappointment, or sarcasm.

    And this is on my wrist for the rest of my life.

    Here’s the bit of advice for anyone contemplating a tattoo: For the love of God, use Google before you make the commitment.

    This is not exactly what I had in mind as my personal inspirational and motivational message.

    However, as one who doesn’t believe in coincidences, I’ve discovered it was a pretty strong unanticipated life lesson that was thrown my way. Relax, lighten up, there is a plan – just be still enough to hear it, breath – don’t take it all so seriously. Now, when I look at my wrist, I remember the original intent followed by the cool-kid meaning and I laugh. I smile and laugh.

    I can think of worse ways to spend my time than laughing about an unintentional (and let’s face it pretty good) joke on a regular basis.

  • Bill A

    I would say the following should be avoided. Names of girlfriends, boyfriends, band’s books, movies, tv shows, comic book charecters, etc.

    Now if when your 35 and you still like that band or book or what ever then go for it.

    I may still like the bands of my youth but i’m still glad I didn’t get them emblazoned on my body.

    A tattoo should not be gotten on impulse, ever.

    I got my first and only (so far) at 32. A circle of bike chain with my wife’s initals, I’ll be adding my 2 boys to it this summer.

    I’m going to paraphrase Brian Setzer here.

    “One should alway be able to cover up their tattoo’s. Not because of a job, but just in case you ever have to go before a judge.”

    Now with that being said, do what your going to do. Latter on in life you can always chalk it up to youthfull indiscretion.

  • Bill A

    One bit of advise I forgot to include below is, Research your artist. Get someone who you like their work and you feel comfortable with.

    Remember a bad tattoo is not like a bad hair cut. Hair can grow back, and while you can get bad work covered up it’s better to have it done right the first time.

  • Noel

    I decided at a young age that I would do no body modification or tat’s until I was at least 30…mostly because I did not want to regret it. That said, I got my first one at 32 and at 40 I have got 5 more. All on my tats are on my legs so that they can be concealed for work purposes. I would suggest that before you get a tat wait for about a year if you still want it after that then get it. I have yet to regret any of the tats I have.

  • David

    My advice would be “don’t”.

    When my kids are older and they aquire an interest I am going to show them aged people with splotchy tats as a deterrent.

    If they were going to do it either way then my advice would be get it where it can’t be seen, go to a great artist, and be original.

  • http://www.fark.com Onan T B

    >>Before you get your tattoo, find 10 people older than 40 years and ask them how they feel about their tattoos now.

  • H

    For a first tattoo, I really like the “year rule”. I did it this way, and was very pleased with the outcome. I think that for many people, the intrigue and excitement of getting a first tattoo can easily overshadow the thought that should go into a design. Furthermore, I would really recommend researching artists and studios (especially their sterilization techniques) before settling on one to create your tattoo. It is all to easy to end up with a botched piece of art because you are too excited to stick it out for a beautiful one done in a clean environment. Also remember that good work doesn’t always come cheap… if you go looking for a bargain basement price, you may end up with an unfortunate looking tattoo.

    If getting tattooed is something you are genuinely interested in and passionate about, don’t let other people instill fear in you when they talk about aging with tattoos or not being able to get a “good job” (or any job) because you are a tattooed person. If you take care of yourself, and you work hard these things will fall into place. I have many visible tattoos and piercings and hold a “normal” job that supports me more than sufficiently. Also, would you really want a job that discriminates? I sure wouldn’t.

    Finally, getting a tattoo should be your decision- because after all, it is your body, and you alone have to live with it for the rest of your life (or until you get it removed).

  • B

    I’m 31 now and I got 2 tattoos when I turned 18. One I had wanted for a year, the other was done somewhat impulsively (after about a month of planning). Both meant a lot to me at the time, and I was certain that meaning would hold forever. But after many years went by, I found out that some people are very picky about tattoos. The second one I got was subject to derision because it wasn’t perfectly done and because it was considered “unoriginal” (it was a Celtic knot, to honor my heritage). It was also on my lower back, and when I was about 7, I learned some people call those “tramp stamps.” As someone who waited to have sex until marriage, I was horrified to hear that a small tattoo I got when I was 18 sent untrue messages to the world about me. I got it removed pretty soon after learning that. I would get the other tattoo I have removed if it was cost effective (it’s small, easy to hide, and removal costs a lot – not worth it). The lessons I learned from this whole thing is that even if you think, at 18, that you’re making a smart decision and that this will mean something to you years later – you might be wrong. 18 is a young and headstrong age, and what matters to you then might not matter in 10 years. Plus, you still have a lot learn about the world and what message your tattoo will send to them. 

    Two other things to add: I highly encourage any young person considering a tat to see what one looks like on 80 year old skin. It’s quite startling. Also, keep in mind that if you think it hurts to get it – it hurts ten times more to remove it!!!

  • B

    Oops, that one line should read “…when I was about 27,” not “…when I was about 7.”

  • Philip

    Cartoons are for TV, not your body.

  • James

    Get a great big one one your left forearm (Preferably name and DOB). It makes my job easier. I work in Search and Rescue…. more like Search and Recover:-)


  • Christopher

    As a parent with a lot of tattoos, I’ve passed on the advice I held to for my own tattoo considerations; Pick exactly the artwork you want, consider where you would put it on your body and then wait two years. If you still want it after that period, go right ahead and do it.

  • Christine

    I am 32yrs and have 5 tattoos – the first of which I got at 19yrs. I am currently 33yrs, my advice would be that once you find a design that you want, wait 3 years. If you still want the same design I say go for it. Hind sight being what it is; I would have done two of mine a bit differently. I would not get them removed or covered up, however I wish I put more thought into them..

  • Anna B

    Invest money in it. Don’t go and get the cheapest tattoo you can because you “really like the design” and that was the cheapest way that they would give it to you. Also, get them done in Wisconsin or a different state the regulates their tattoo parlors. I haven’t had any issues with mine, but I couldn’t donate blood this year because apparently MN salons are regulated.

  • Jenny N

    One thing to consider is allergies. I have a strong sensitivity to nickel and was advised by my doctor (who had several tattoos herself) that it would not be a good idea for me to get a tattoo.

    Never pick a design off the wall or from the books. Those are there to inspire you and show off the artist’s style, but they are not a menu. Be creative and make it your own.

    Your skin is valuable real estate, and I agree to pick a design, research artists, and then wait at least a year. You will have your whole life to enjoy your tattoo.

  • http://Www.obsessiveink.com Luke

    Before getting any tattoo done see what it will look like on obsessiveink.com! It allows you to create tattoos from your fAvourite images and then apply them to an avatar that looks like you!

  • Joe Vampire

    I’m 28, have several tattoos (I think that it’s technically nine or 10 including a full chest piece, but so many blend together that an accurate count no longer matter), have professional tattoo artist friends, and have studied the history and societal implications on tattoos. I know a couple things about tattoos and here are some of the most important things that I can think of:

    First off, make sure that you have a good idea of what you want and what message you are trying to convey with your tattoo. If you are still excited about the idea at least six months to a year later, go for it, but make sure to save up your money. Tattoo artists can cost $100 per hour and over, plus tip. Always tip your tattoo artist. You are putting something on your body that will be there forever and it’s worth every single penny that you pay for a seasoned professional to do your tattoos.

    Secondly, never ever think of getting tattoos in a non-sterile environment. If you see animals running around, visible garbage in the area where you are to get tattooed or just get the feeling that the place where you are going to get tattooed is dirty: run! Run away fast! Hepatitis isn’t worth it.

    Third, don’t bother with tattoo flash. You know all those books that they have at tattoo shops and all the premade stencils that they have on the internet? Forget about them. Your tattoo is supposed to be a visible representation of yourself, why would you want the exact same thing that dozens of other people have?

    Which brings me to my fourth point, take your time to find a good artist. With so many tattoo shops having internet sites, it’s easier than ever to look at the portfolios of the artists who work at the tattoo shops. You will eventually find an artist whose work resonates with you in some manner.

    Next, when you come to make an appointment for your custom tattoo, remember that the artist knows best. If he says that the design is too intricate for the size, believe him (unless you want a tattoo that looks like a random blotch in 10 years). If he says that what you want to add to the design would look stupid, he’s probably right and you’ll end up regretting it in a couple years.

    Another thing with getting a tattoo, if you want a design that a tattoo artist does all the time, you’re going to end up paying a lot more than you probably should. Tribal pieces, fairies, crosses, stars, Kanji, butterflies, Zodiac signs, and Taz will all cost way more than they should because tattoo artists do them all the time and they get sick of not being able to express creativity. Of course, this is not true across the board as there are some who specialize in those types of tattoos, but those artists are few and far between.

    Conversely, if you have an idea and the artist that you have talked to is really excited about tattooing that image, you will often get a discounted price. For instance, I have a tattoo of Christopher Lee that was taken from the poster from Horror of Dracula that was done by Basil Gogos. That tattoo took a good 10-15 hours, but because the artist really wanted to do it, I ended up paying somewhere around $400.

    When determining placement of your tattoo, you’re going want to think about how much pain you want to actually go through and whether you want to be able to cover up your tattoo with your regular work clothes. I know that it’s tempting to want to show your tattoos off whenever possible, but your boss might not agree with your choice. For your first tattoo, I’d suggest something that can be easily concealed.

    If you are considering getting words tattooed on you, remember to make them large enough so that they won’t turn into a mess later on (you may have to tone down the flourishes with fancy lettering) and MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS SPELLED RIGHT! Have several people at the shop check it if you are not sure something is spelled correctly.

    Don’t get a tramp stamp.

    Don’t tattoo your girlfriend/boyfriend’s name. You will break up.

    As for the pain factor: yes, tattoos hurt and those endorphins tend to run out by the end of the first hour of your session. That being said, anywhere with a fair amount of fat and muscle are good places to get tattoos with minimal amounts of pain. Places with a lot of bone and nerve endings hurt the most. So for your first tattoo I’d stay away from the chest (sternum and clavicle area in particular), ribs, elbows, spinal cord, knees, genitals, skull, hands, and feet (you should probably stay away from those last four anyway because the skull and hands are often impossible to hide, the hands and feet are notorious for not holding ink very well, and the genitals are well, the genitals). After you know you can handle the pain, then you can try for some of the more painful areas.

    Remember that ink is addictive and you will probably go back for more tattoos after that first one. So with that in mind, think about how your tattoos might flow together with one another. Your body is a canvas and you’ll want it to look like the work of a master painter, not a collage made by a second grader

    Finally, remember that your tattoo is designed to be permanent. Yes, there is laser removal, but it is incredibly expensive, incredibly painful, and not guaranteed to completely work. There are also coverups, but if your tattoo is big to begin with and has a lot of black in it, it’s probably not going to happen. Any coverup will be difficult for the artist to do, your options for a coverup will be limited, and the tattoo will be much bigger and darker in color than the original tattoo.

  • loaliowLica

    so informative, thanks to tell us.

  • Lynda K.

    First off, I am not your normal college student. I am 67 years old, and I am majoring in psychology.

    I love all my tatoo’s. My left leg is nothing but butterflys and faries, and all in color, with a beautiful vine climbing up my leg. On my other leg I have a beautiful garter belt. Which you likely never see on another another lady but one other in this are. I get completments where ever I go for the artistic abilibity from my artisc.

    So a word of worning for those who want a tatoo on their body … it is there for life….make sure of the artist!

  • cassie

    all i can say is make sure its what you want and be prepared for the pain i have my lower back done it hurt so bad i wanted to stop half way through and i couldnt and i cant sit right cant lean up against anything cant sleep good so just make sure its what you really want this is my second tat and the first one was not so bad but the 2nd is a killer