Tattooing has been around for a long-ass time. That much is probably common knowledge, but the popularity of tattoos has definitely grown in this post-Miami Ink era. I don’t have television, but from what I hear when the guys at the shop bitch about tattoo shows, there are five or six on the air right now, everything from LA Ink (which, for the love of god, Dear Reader, do not believe that bullshit. It is so contrived.) to Ink Masters (not as contrived, and Oliver Peck is in fact The Shit, but what the fuck is Dave Navarro doing judging tattoos? He’s got fucking playing cards and tribal tattoos and he looks like what would happen if Prince fucked a puma. And he’s responsible for that “Soul to Squeeze” album.) to that Tattoo University or whatever it is. I don’t know much about that, but the idea sounds pretty jacked anyway. Learning how to put on a good tattoo takes a long time, and I don’t care how much money TLC throws at you, you can’t learn it in six weeks.
So, anyway, I could go on forever about this, but I don’t want to blow my load too early. In this episode, we’ll look at a couple types of tattoos I see in the shop on a regular basis, talk about why they’re wrong and you’ll look like a chode, and figure out how you can get something similar but make it awesome.
A little on this column first: I’ve worked at a tattoo shop for a couple years and have been hanging around them for way too long. I’m not an artist and I’m not an expert, but I hear people talk about them all day long and most of my friends and past-roommates have been tattoo artists, so I’ve picked up a couple things along the way. Too, this is not an attack on any artist’s skill level or the quality of the tattoo. It’s more a discussion on the aesthetic of design and placement. And yeah, there will be a fuckload of cursing, but I don’t do it very often and I felt like channelling the Nerd of Noir and, anyway, aren’t tattoos are supposed to be outlaw?
Crosses on the Wrist.
The subtitle of this could be ‘Really Anything on the Forearm.’ There are a couple things to keep in mind with this. The tattoo should always be viewed from the viewer’s perspective, meaning when they put on the stencil, you should look at yourself in a mirror to see how it will look to everyone else. This means that the tattoo should be facing forward (like, if you have a sparrow or koi or elephant on the outside of your left bicep, it should be looking to the left.) Same goes with wrist tattoos. A lot of tattoos that go here, you don’t really need to worry about, because they will be large enough to take up a lot of your forearm and it won’t be an issue. This idea is especially important, though, when getting words or a cross. Why, you ask, can’t it face me, like when I’m looking at it? Good question. It can definitely face you when you’re looking at it, and it will look awesome while you’re looking at it. That is, until your arm gets tired and you put it down and now everyone who looks at you sees an upside-down cross on your wrist and your ole Catholic Granny keels over and you have to live with that burden on your soul because you didn’t listen to the artist when they told you it was upside down.
These are Australian Sparrows, because they’re flying upside down. Geddit?
How to avoid it?
Just get it the proper way. As much as the tattoos are an expression of your deepest artistic soul and they show how deep and thoughtful you are (We’ll get to that later. If not today, then in another column. See above, re: blowing wad.) you already know what they are and it’s mostly other people who will see them. So, there’s nothing at all wrong with getting a cross tattoo. They’re awesome and they look good for a long time. Just make sure you get it pointing the right way.
Kind of an obvious example of forearm orientation, but it illustrates the point perfectly. Flames would look weird upside down, yeah? Unless it’s Australian fire. (If I tell the joke enough it’ll eventually get funny. Just ask my wife.)
Next time we’ll talk about declarative tattoos and why they never mean what you’re trying to say.