Friday, April 3, 2009


I don't like the fact my kids are getting older. I have a 12 1/2 year old daughter that wants to gauge her ears and I keep trying to make her think, "What is the FIRST thing I want people to think when they see me?" Because, baby, if you gauge your ears then you will NEVER get the chance to recover from the instant judgment that will be passed upon you by most of society that is OUTSIDE your own age bracket.

But this isn't about ear gauges; it's about similar expressions of creativity and individuality.

It is both a Rant AND a Rave. And it's long. I have a great combination going on right now of passion for the subject and total boredom with whatever else I should be doing.

So for what it might be worth to you, here is the same advice I give EVERYONE that's contemplating their first tattoo.

1. Be sober. Stone. Cold. Sober. Period!

2. Research beforehand. Meaning, watch the artist work, check out samples of their work. Make sure their place is clean. If you wouldn't sit down there and eat a burger, leave immediately.

3. If you're going to get something written in a foreign language, have someone of that nationality (someone that you TRUST) write what you want FOR you and bring it to the artist. Alternatively you can have that person go with you so they can translate what you see before you get inked. Otherwise, you could end up with a tat on the back of your neck that you THINK says "I love my mother" but you're constantly getting your ass kicked because it really says, "I Banged Your Mother".

4. Make sure you chose something that means something to you, not some trendy thing you're constantly going to have to explain once that fad passes. For those of you old enough to remember imagine if you had...say...Jem from Jem and the Holograms in portrait style...across your back. Yeah. SEE!?!

5. I used to make this "point #4A" since it is so closely related. But about 5 years ago I decided it is probably THE single most important thing I say to prospective ink recipients so it gets its very own number now. In regards to things that REALLY mean something to you...and this is IMPORTANT: ***never, never never never NEVER NEVER NEVER put someone else's name, initials, portrait etc. on your body to whom you are not related BY BLOOD. EVER. Never. Did I say never? Okay, we covered that.

6. Put it someplace that the whole world isn't going to see it, because later, you may not be so thrilled (now proceed to #7 because it's relevant, I swear).

7. Most people find that once they get "my first tattoo" they either regret it instantly and start wondering "is there a way to get rid of it?" OR they love it and almost instantly start thinking "my next tat's gonna be...." So become comfortable with the notion of having multiple tattoos before you get your FIRST tattoo. Or don't get any at all.

8. Make sure you have plenty of money and a high tolerance for pain. A good tat shouldn't BE cheap, man. You are paying an artist for a permanent piece of art. If that person is doing the drawing for you then it's twice the work of art. If you want a cheap mass production, then by all means, go to the Wal-Mart of tattoo studios outside the back gate of the nearest Basic Training camp and pay $40 for the same thing that FOUR THOUSAND other dudes JUST LIKE YOU have *See caveats before you jump on me about Unit Crests and the like. Anyway, the reason you need to have the money and the tolerance for pain is not necessarily for GETTING the tattoo, it is just in case you fall in the first group from #7. Because, for you folks, removal is an option but it is not cheap, it is NOT pain free and it will probably leave a scar that ranges in severity from " that a scar right there? I've never noticed that before" to somewhere in the neighborhood of, "Holy SHIT! Were you NAPALMED as a child!?!" (As a bonus, though, IF you followed the advice in #6, no one ever has to see the scar unless you let them because YOU were smart enough to put your first tat someplace discreet.)

Okay, for the caveats: No, I am not a tattoo artist. Yes, I have multiple tattoos. 6 have been inked but one's a cover up (that's how #5 got its very own number). For those of you sporting the Double A's of the 82nd, or the Head of the Screamin' Eagle or something similar, ROCK ON. That doesn't fall into the "cheap mass production" category it falls into the "means something special to me" category. (For the record, YOUR double AA's, Screamin' Eagles, Ranger Tabs, etc. mean something special to me when I see them also.)

The thing about MY tats though is that NONE OF THEM is in a readily visible area. I have none on my hands, wrists, neck, face, etc. I have 2 on my upper arms, 2 on my legs, and 2 on my back. I wear pants, and rarely the sleeveless shirt. You wouldn't know I have tats unless I want you to know.My point is, unless you want to spend your life working with inanimate objects, or you are Blessed to be talented as a clothing or interior designer, or capable as a chef, blah blah blah...then you better LIKE living in squalor because you're going to have slim pickings in the job market because people ARE judgmental. If you have studs in your face and tattoos across your neck and are up against an equally qualified candidate that appears "Clean Cut" the dude may very well be a scum bag, but he'll win because all they see is your adornments.

Being the Father of a teenage daughter these days, is challenging, to say the least. You can be a free spirit and you can be an individual without compromising your ability to make a good first impression. READ THAT AGAIN!!! You can be a free spirit and you can be an individual without compromising your ability to make a good first impression.

So, to my baby girl, when you're 18 you'll be allowed to do whatever you want. And I will just have to hope that you heed my words and you make a good decision. If so, we'll go see if ADRIAN is still working at FANTASY TATTOO in THE U DISTRICT and if he's there, then I will leave you in his highly skilled hands and you will be free to get whatever ink you want. But until you are 18 NO INK and NO GAUGING.

And that's my take on Tattoo decisions. Now excuse me while I go beat my head against a wall....Just yesterday my children were small, and cuddly, and they only wanted cartoons and food


Lisa Larson said...

OMG...Is this what happens after you give in & allow them to get a cell phone at 11? Not that I'm about to do that or anything ;)

You ROCK, Dad. Keep up the good work.


Randy said...

I think it's the progression scale LOL. More expensive clothes, cell phone, ipod, gaming system, body modification.....but who knows. LOL

LoraLoo said...

I am standing here applauding right now... that is the BEST advice list for tattoos.

Interestingly, I never regretted my first tattoo but it took me 14 years to get my second one.

On #5... I could never put someone's name on me in any fashion. Isn't that branding? LMAO

Nik said...

Awesome advice! If only people would listen before they do this shit. It's a pet peeve of mine when people get something ink'd that means absolutely nothing to them. I know it's their choice/body, but the "Oh, I just thought it looked cool" response about a tattoo annoys me. RE: inking a person's name,etc. I have someone's name on me who isn't blood related and I don't regret it one bit. He was like a brother to me and it's in memory of him. So there are a few exceptions to that rule, but in general, totally agree with you.

Good luck with your girls over the next few years. Sounds like you're in for a lot of fun. lol