Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thoughts on Tattoos

Tattoos have been coming up a lot in my conversations lately. I guess it could be in part because I live in the most tattooed city in America (that's probably not literally true, but sometimes it seems that way). Maybe it's because people are curious. I assume so since I get tons of questions about mine- Did it hurt? How long did it take? How much did it cost? Are you going to get more? Why did you choose that for a tattoo. I honestly don't mind the questions, though I know some of my inked friends find it overly-personal. My feeling is that if you're going to wear art on your body, you should expect to be asked about it. When I wear a concert t-shirt, people ask me about the show; when I wear my Surly t-shirt, people ask me if I have a Surly (yes, I have two, thanks). I don't see why it should be different with ink. But that's just me.

I also get asked about the locations. I have four tattoos, three of which are on my forearms. I can't believe how often people ask me, "Why didn't you get them higher up where they'd be easier to hide?" I find that funny, but I usually try to humor them and answer. The reason is that I don't want to hide them. I want them where people can see them. They're art, not some dirty little secret. I really like my tattoos and each of them says something about me, so why would I want to hide them?

As I'm sure you're aware by now, I really like my tattoos. I enjoy having them and have no regrets about them. Still, I never encourage or discourage anyone from getting tattoos. I tell you this because often people who don't have tats will ask me if I think they should get one. And the answer is, "I don't know." I only know my experience, which is that I love my tats. But that's me. Here are some things I do tell people though:

  • Don't get something trendy
  • You will have it for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, so make sure it's something that will still be meaningful to you in 50 years. Or at least not embarassing
  • They cost a lot, so make sure you can afford it (i.e., don't shirk other responsibilities to pay for it)
  • On that note, tattoos are not something to go cheap on
  • Don't get it impulsively
  • Go to a reputable shop
  • Get an appointment if you have to. And be patient. It won't kill you to wait a week or two for something you're going to have for the rest of your life

Those are just my thoughts and things I like to tell people. I know some people who have gotten inked spontaneously and love the tat still; others who don't. I know some people who won't do it if they have to make an appointment. Again, these are just my thoughts. But it's my blog, so...

As for the questions I get, here's an FAQ.

Q. Does it hurt?
A. Depends on where you get it and your tolerance for pain. In my case, not too bad, but mine are on fleshy parts of my body and I have a high tolerance for pain -or so my dominatrix tells me (joke, people...).

Q. How much does it cost?
A. Depends on the shop and the artist. Seems like in Portland $80-120 per hour is pretty standard. Some might be more. Celebrity artists cost more- you ain't gettin' inked by Kat von D for $120. Don't go cheap. You're dealing with an artist, not getting your car washed. And TIP! Which leads to...

Q. Should I tip the artist?
A. Yes. How much, I don't know what the standard is. I tend to tip about the same as in a restaurant- %20 or in that neighborhood. (Note: if anyone is more knowledgable on this, please do tell.)

Q. Why did you get them somewhere where everyone can see them and they are hard to hide?
A. Because I want everyone to see them and I don't want to hide them.

Q. Do you ever regret getting them?
A. No, absolutely not.

Q. Why did you get a Black Flag tattoo?
A. Because Black Flag is the greatest fucking band ever. EVER.

Q. Are you going to get more?
A. Yes.

I have more thoughts on this, and I will add to the FAQ soon, but right now it's time to go meet my friends for drinks. So we'll talk more later.

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Sunrise over Little Tohama, from Ingraham Flats, 2007