Unsolicited Advice – What Should I Get Tattooed?

I regularly receive emails both directly to me and through a website that essentially ask the same question:

What Should I Get Tattooed?

Here are a couple of excerpts:

i want a tattoo but i dont know what i like what are some creative ideas?

i dont want what everyone else has.. and i dont really have anything i have liked my whole life so its hard to figure something out… i dont really want a butterfly or flower or the typical stuff

i know that i want a quote but cant find any decent ones or ones i can relate too

Ide like to get a tatoo of a really amazing life saying, when someone reads it or when I see it every day it reminds me why I should live life and enjoy everything.

I’m getting my first tattoo, and i am just wondering what’s a good starter tattoo location, and object.

Ladies, What would be a good looking tattoo?

What are some ideas for a meaningful tattoo? Im a 19 yr old guy that is looking to get a tattoo. nothing popular, and i want it to be something that is meaningful. Something that causes thought, even deep thought. Im pretty picky when it comes to stuff like this and am going to get the tattoo on the inside of my right bicep. Right now i am leaning towards something composed of just one word, or a small phrase. Any ideas?

I want to get a memorial tattoo for my friend who died. What would be a good one to get?

As a business owner I try to respond as tactfully as I possibly can to these inquiries. It is of course my “business” to sell tattoos. But more importantly than taking someone’s money and giving them what they think that they want is the responsibility of it. As a business owner it is also my responsibility to try to ensure that my clients are happy with the product that they receive and unfortunately to some degree this involves trying to help think for them. If you don’t know what it is that you would like tattooed on you – then there is a very good chance that you are not ready to get one.

Sometimes tattoos aren’t about the image – they are about immortalizing a moment or a transition. Symbolizing something that is happening or has recently happened to change the person’s life. I understand that. If the client can’t articulate that (or even know it themselves) than there is no way that I think a tattooist should be given the choice to try and pick someone’s tattoo out for them. Especially via email or forum post. In person, there can be a back and forth dialogue and sometimes we can help coax out an idea which was there all along… but (there’s always a but) if you really have no idea what it is that you would like tattooed on you…. don’t get one. Wait. Please do not count on your friends or some stranger online to decide for you what you should have permanently placed on your body. Would you come on the internet to ask what you should wear today or where you should go to eat without more background? How can I make that decision for you?

I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I do want you to think for yourself. If you get a tattoo, I want it to be something that you can be comfortable with for a lifetime. So if the choice is mine, I will hurt your feelings rather than try and take your money and make a decision for you. That’s a decision that I can live with.

~ by justteejay on June 2, 2010.

4 Responses to “Unsolicited Advice – What Should I Get Tattooed?”

  1. Hiya Teejay,

    I’ve been checking out your truly amazing work on check out my ink and I’m struggling to find an artist that appeals to me more.

    However, I live in Australia.
    So my question…. Are you considering visiting the land down under any time soon?


    PS After 20 odd years of contemplation, I finally know what I want and where 🙂

    • HI Kylie,
      I do not have any immediate plans to visit Australia, but I would love to. If I had a good reason (or found a cheap flight) I would love to see your country.
      So if you hear of any conventions or a shop looking to host a guest artist – let me know.

  2. Hi Teejay,

    I’m yet to get a tattoo so I don’t have any contacts myself. My girlfriend and her hubby are big tattoo fans and go to a studio near Melbourne (which, selfishly, is where I live), called Chapel Tattoo. Their website is here…http://www.chapeltattoo.com/
    They often have guest artists – they even have link on their site – although its a bit out of date. My friend had some great work from a visiting artist. He was booked out by his third day in town.

    There’s an annual Tattoo Expo in Sydney. Next year its the 11th – 13th of March, http://www.tattooexpo.com.au/. There’s usually one in Melbourne too, but it looks pretty crap from what I can see puddling around online.

    Happy to do some liaison or help out with any details if you’re keen?


  3. […] Do not ask your tattoo artist to decide for you what represents this person to you. (See previous post) […]

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