Tattoos are meaningful, artistic, and expensive… they’re also forever, which some people fail to realize. It’s not only our friends and family that judge us for our silly tattoo choices, but the very artists themselves also poke fun at clients or despise overused designs. These are just some of the tattoos people get judged for.
#1 In Memorial
As a tattooist, I personally find it awkward when clients want memorial tattoos. Let me explain. I know everyone deals with grief in many ways, I can begin to imagine the process. But usually, they want it focused on their passing, the fact they have left this world. The date and sometimes the time, how they passed away, etc. I try to persuade them that they should maybe celebrate their life, their memories, something nice that reminds them of them. I think it’s less depressing for the client if they look at the tattoo and they’re reminded of happy times rather than the worst time that’s happened to them.
#2 Come Back Later
A little while ago, I was getting tattooed in my shop when an 18-year-old girl came in asking to get "no fear" inside of her lip before she went off to college. The artist told her if she wanted to get that in six months on a visit home that he would do it for free. Not going to lie, this is why I love my shop.
#3 You Have To
About two years ago, I was getting my first tattoo and during a break after three hours, me and my tattoo artist went outside to chat a little. This guy came at us, gave the artist a crumpled paper and said, "You have to tattoo this on my entire back” without any introduction. I watched as the artist unfolded the paper and it was a badly-drawn woman doing number two.
I tried my best to not lose it and so did my tattoo artist as he gently tried to explain that he wasn’t up for that and neither were the other artists. Meanwhile, that guy tried to convince him to do it and that he was willing to pay a lot of money for it. Eventually, he left and my tattoo artist explained that he got at least three of those people every two weeks and it wasn't even the worst design he saw.
#4 Chastity Case
My boyfriend is an artist, so I hear a lot of stories. A woman once came in and wanted an infinity symbol. Sure, easy enough. Except, she wanted it made out of other smaller infinity symbols. The artist who did it withered a little inside. Another time, my boyfriend spoke with a guy who came in wanting his girlfriend’s name tattooed on him. Stupid, yet common. But he wanted her name on his member. Her name was Chastity.
#5 On the Dotted Line
I tattooed a kid who lost a bet; it was his friend's signature on his backside. That being said, I didn't really judge him for that. He was young and dumb. When it comes to judging clients, it's a lot less to do with the tattoo they're getting than how they behave in the chair and the kinds of things they say. But the butt tattoo was definitely the dumbest one I did.
#6 Everyone’s First
So, about 10 years ago, my friends stupidly decided to get each other’s mom's names tattooed on their butts. The tattooist was an apprentice and another friend of ours. The tattooist now has a huge following and people would love a tattoo from him. The fact that these were some of his first tattoos amuses me.
#7 Remove the Hand
I had a guy message wanting a portrait of his son. His kid was about five years old in this picture, and he was putting his middle finger up and covering his mouth and nose with this hand. I thought it was different but showed some uniqueness to it, so fair enough. I agreed to do it. Before his appointment, he asked if I could remove the hand. I explained I couldn’t guess what his mouth and nose looked like, but he never got back to me with an alternative picture.
#8 No Part Of It
A buddy of mine is a traveling tattoo artist. This one time, he was in Thailand and an older white couple came in. The husband seemed to have had a few too many and wanted to have his wife's name tattooed on his private parts. My buddy straight up denied the request, but another artist decided to go through with it. The next day, the couple returned and were arguing on the way in. Apparently, it was an “if you do it, I'll do it too” kind of agreement, but the wife wanted no part of it.
#9 Pinup Girls
We had a guy come in who wanted a pinup girl on his arm, except he wanted the girl to be super heavy. He then went on to talk about how much he loved overweight women. At one point, he looked at the owner's daughter who was (I'm guessing) around 250 pounds and said, “Sorry, but you're too small for me. I like them heavy.” After some back and forth, we came up with a design he liked and we did business. As long as the artist had some creative license with what they were doing, they never actually judged.
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#10 Lost Irony
I judged one girl hard when she came into my dad's shop. She had just turned 18 the day before and wanted three tattoos at once. The first was a hand holding a cigarette, the second said something along the lines of "no regrets" in French, and the third was a lip print on her butt cheek. The irony was lost on nobody.
#11 Complete Refusal
My artist told me a story (one of the only tattoos he ever refused to do) was about this patchy creeper dude walking in the shop and asked for a tattoo of himself, naked, with clown makeup on. He would also only have a sock over himself standing next to a little crying kid. That sounded like the most uncomfortable proposition I could imagine. That dude is probably dead or in prison by now.
#12 Story for the Ages
I know a girl who got an Eiffel Tower tattooed on her ribs as a reminder that she slept with two dudes at once. I was there when she got it tattooed and she was explaining to the artist why she was getting it. The artist was not amused at all; he didn’t even smile or anything. He just asked, “Is that right?” a lot. He clearly didn’t want to hear about this. I’m friends with a few artists who worked at that shop at the time and they said everyone made fun of her. They still talk about her sometimes if a story like that gets brought up.
#13 Ow Face
I once got a tattoo on my foot. I didn't make stupid sounds when it happened, but apparently I couldn't control the looks of agony and horror. The artist had to stop several times because he kept giggling. The shop owner took a Polaroid towards the end of the session so that everyone could remember my "ow" face.
#14 Sid the Sloth
I was stationed at Fort Gordon for a short period of time and two of the other guys in my platoon were betting against each other and the loser had to get a tattoo. While standing in formation a few days later, a drill sergeant told one of the two to walk in front of the whole formation and show off his new work. The dude marched out front, pulled his shirt up and turned around. Staring me in the face was a full back tattoo of Sid the sloth from Ice Age . Not just Sid, but Sid in baggy pants, wearing a gold necklace and throwing out gang signs.
#15 Never Come Back
An artist who used to work at the shop I frequent had a story. Some time ago, a guy came into the shop, begging for a tattoo on his chest. "Everywhere else refuses to do it! Please, you have to!" he pleaded. This is normally pretty foreboding, but the artist took a bite. "Well, what are you looking to get?" It was a German insignia from WWII, a giant one that would sprawl across the guy's entire chest. The artist declined, but the customer was persistent. He kept saying things like, "I'll pay double, triple what someone normally would!"
So, this meant that the artist could make around 600 dollars to embed a needle into a guy's chest thousands of times, so he got an idea. "Fine, I'll do it, but you pay all of it upfront." The customer agreed, paid, and they set up to work. The artist deliberately pressed as hard as he could into this guy's chest. The guy had to stop his tattoo about a third of the way through to take a break, where he promptly left and never came back.
#16 Sebastian Buttmunch
When I was 19, I got my bum tattooed. The artist, who's a friend of mine, looked at me and said, "I have to be honest, this is one of the stupidest tattoos I've ever done. Don't get me wrong, it's going to look great when I'm done, but still, you're an idiot". I had to agree with him. Three years later, I love my dumb dragon and have affectionately called him Sebastian Buttmunch.
#17 When Words Fail
I’m not a tattoo artist, but I spoke with one and he said he rarely judges his clients' choices except for one. He once told me this woman requested to have flies and maggots tattooed around her private area. He didn't even want to ask her why she wanted that. He just copied her drawing, took her money and she left.
#18 Zero Out of Five
I was in the chair getting part of my sleeve done when one of the dudes came into the back room. He told my tattooist that there was a young woman at the desk who wanted some stars tattooed on her arm. He sighed loudly and just told the other guy to tell her, “Sorry, but we’ve run out of stars, so no can do.”
#19 Mom’s Name
My uncle was once a tattoo artist. Not too long after my parents got together, he convinced my partied out dad that it would be romantic to get my mom’s name tattooed on him. This led to her name ending up on his butt. But, they’ve been happily together for 38 years now. Sometimes weird tattoos work out, I guess.
#20 Making an Exception
My husband and I got non-matching but… coordinating (I guess) tattoos. They let us share our deposit because I'd used the artist before but said they normally don't do that because so many couples come in to do matching tattoos and break up before their appointments. They also proceed to harass the shop over which one gets to use the deposit.
#21 Okay… Okay… Oh, No
One night, a pretty out of it dude came into the shop and wanted a tattoo on his arm of Tinkerbell. Okay, not so bad. But underneath it, he wanted the phrase, “my little flirt.” Again, a little strange but overall it was fine. And then, underneath that, he wanted his sister’s name… They told him that they don’t tattoo people who are out of it, so he left.
#22 Significant Potato
I wanted to get a potato tattooed on my ankle since I was a little kid. I'm 34 years old now and I still want one. However, when I inquired, I had a tattoo artist flat out refuse because he thought it was stupid. I tried to explain the reference but he wouldn't listen. So, I'm pretty sure there was judgement there.
#23 Common Mistakes
When I was an apprentice for a short time, we had a few that we used to make fun of, such as dandelions blowing away and turning into birds or having typical phrases tattooed on you. Japanese dragons around the arm were common as well. Not that any of the above are bad tattoos, but they're such common, fashionable ideas and the number of people who come in asking for them thinking they're the first to ever think of them, was quite funny. Also, if your opening question is, "How much for a full sleeve?" you probably shouldn't be getting tattooed and you will be made fun of as soon as you leave the shop.
#24 Some Originality
Not a tattoo artist, but my dad is one and has been for 15 years. I can tell you for sure, every artist I know hates unoriginality. If your tattoo is something they do five times that week, they probably don't enjoy your tattoo one bit. They may enjoy your company if you're a fun person. But they hate doing that tattoo.
If it has a purpose for you, they may not even judge you for getting it. But they hate the tattoo itself. Tattoo artists are just that, artists. They enjoy creativity and uniqueness. At least this has been my experience. My father's personal answer is, "Anything religious on someone who isn't. A cross on an atheist or anything of that nature."
#25 Unreasonable Requests
My husband is a tattoo artist and he doesn’t judge anyone unless they’re being unreasonable. For example, you cannot expect a tiny tattoo with a ton of detail; it will blur together with time and my husband cares about how his work will age. Some dude actually had his sister message him and aggressively ask why he refused his idea. People are dumb and they don’t think about the big picture.
#26 Big Black Blob
I’m not an artist, but I worked the counter in a couple of shops. Someone came in asking for a ghost but like someone wearing a sheet over themselves type of ghost. She wanted it without any of the human parts, though, and wanted it filled in. We let her know that it was essentially going to look like a big black blob with the eventual ink blowout and she adamantly disagreed, so we did it. I still wonder what that looks like now.
#27 Lame, Overdone Symbol
The artist I frequent has explicitly said he will refuse doing anything tribal or those infinity symbols. I asked him why he wouldn't do the infinity ones and he said, "Man, I spent my day tattooing creepy possessed dolls and creepy stuff on you. The last thing I want to do is bum myself out tattooing that lame, overdone symbol." It gave me a chuckle at the time.
#28 I’m a Vegetable
My wife can read Kanji. We were walking through Honolulu one day and a guy passed us with some big Kanji characters on his chest. She burst out laughing after he passed because his tattoo said (something along the lines of) "I'm a vegetable.” If we had to guess, we thought he wanted it to say, "I'm a vegetarian.”
#29 Different Experiences
I don’t judge people for the tattoos they want to get, sometimes I just don’t understand it, really. I just chalk it up to different life experiences and tastes. A lot of tattooers talk smack about “normal” people for getting common themes they pulled off Google, but I often don’t see these tattooers offering the people an alternative or trying to show them something that’s maybe more timeless or unique.
#30 Really Like Olives
This one guy came in, humming and hawing. He finally approached the counter, eyes sparkling, and said, “I want… an olive.” He got a green manzanilla olive, red pimento and all, the size of a baseball on his bicep. It was his first and only tattoo. We asked why an olive and he said, “Well, I’m dating a woman named Olive. Sort of. But it’s kind of going south. But that’s okay, I really like olives!” We judged him to be of less than average intelligence and taste, but it was awesome.
#31 Dollar Store Books
I have one regular tattooist who I go to and he complains whenever he tattoos the kind of stuff you see in those dollar store tattoo books. But then says it's how you make the money. The people of the place where I come from are pretty homogeneous and their tastes are pretty much the same across the whole town.
#32 Trashy Ideas
I’m not a tattoo artist but I wanted to get a tattoo on my chest. I went in and the artist said it wouldn't look good. I'm so so glad my tattooist changed my mind — he got me to draw a line where I wanted it (with a Sharpie) and see how long it lasted throughout the day. It didn't. Besides, it was such a trashy idea!
#33 Golden Palace
I had a lady ask me to tattoo GOLDENPALACE.COM on her forehead, which she had sold on eBay. I said no. She went across the street and got it done. Naturally, it looks stupid as ever, which is what I figured. Seriously, Google it. I judged her, for sure. It made the whole industry look stupid. I judged the person who tattooed her more, though.
#34 Cryptic Numerals
My brother has huge roman numerals on his calf that read “16.9.” He doesn't tell anyone what it stands for because he’s embarrassed. I, being his older sister, tell everyone what it's for. 16.9 is the fluid ounces in a standard bottle of Aquafina water. My brother really liked Aquafina when he was in high school and decided it would be his first tattoo. I judge him a lot.
#35 Go-To Stories
I always ask this question to the tattoo artist that I have doing a piece for me. One responded that he had a guy who wanted an old man with no clothing fighting a king cobra. Another tattoo artist joked describing the exact tattoo he was doing on me. I thought it was really professional how he didn’t want to throw any of his clients under the bus.
#36 Spoiler Alert
I went into a shop to have my girlfriend’s name tattooed on my wrist. I asked the artist, “Have you ever done this before?” (Because, at the time, I believed that I was indeed very original) He said, “Sure.” So, I asked him what he thought of my idea and he just responded with, “Sometimes it works out.” Spoiler alert: It didn’t.
#37 Big Market
Back in 2014, I had an adult star come into my shop with two big men. She explained how she needed a tattoo that read: “free parking” on her lower back. While I was in the middle of tattooing her, she initiated how this tattoo came about. She went on to explain that she was getting paid $120,000 to get this tattoo for future shoots. Apparently, there’s a big market for adult stars with degrading tattoos on them. The things some people will do for money.
#38 Not My Area
I was having a tattoo done a few years back and a middle-aged, extremely obese woman came into the shop to talk to an artist about a piece she wanted. I can still hear the voice, "A sexy fairy, curvy and without clothing. I want her head tilted back as she is drinking the nectar of the gods." Where did she want it? Inner thigh. I've never seen such a big guy so uncomfortable in his life. He didn't book her and said something about being bad at doing fairies.
#39 Ugh, I Guess
When I went to get my nose pierced, my friend and I were talking to a tattoo artist and this guy walked in. He went straight up to the artist, showed him his phone and went "I want this." The artist looked at the phone, back at him, at the phone, and back at the guy. He then went, "Just that? Is that just your name?" The guy went, "Yeah I want my name tattooed on my arm" and gestured that he wanted it down half his arm. The artist confirmed and the guy was adamant. The tattoo artist rolled his eyes and said, "Okay, man. Fill out this paperwork."
#40 Call Me a Hypocrite
I wanted a Venom tattoo and I've wanted one for years, but when the movie came out, I didn’t want the artist I visit to think I was just jumping on the latest fad. I silently judge people who get new movie tattoos, so I'm hesitant to be judged in the same light. So, everyone can call me a hypocrite I suppose.
#41 Can’t Make This Up
A guy I know has the word “poison” and a vial of poison tattooed on his wrist. He dated this girl for a few years, but they’re still together and it's been a long time. She started nursing school and decided to surprise him with a tattoo on her wrist of a syringe that read “antidote.” Instead, the tattoo reads: “anecdote.” I couldn't make this up and I wish I had a picture.
#42 To Each Their Own
I have my car’s VIN on me and I don’t regret it. When the time finally comes and no more can be done and I have to part with them, it will be a memorial. I’m attached to my car, it’s like a good pal to me. I’ve been through a lot with me and it was always a constant. I’m sure the tattoo people thought I was an idiot, which is fine. To each their own.
#43 Be Cool
My best friend had just broken up with her boyfriend and moved back in with her mom. She was ecstatic and wanted something to remember her strength. So, she spent nearly 200 dollars to get "Be cool hunny bunny" above her knees. Dude, it's so bad. There's no balance to the tattoo. She got kicked out and got back with that guy within a month, so I stopped being friends with her.
#44 The Goat Hag
I had a friend who got his girlfriend's pet name tattooed in the middle of his back. They broke up and he started dating someone I labeled “the goat hag.” They got matching Chinese symbols for loyalty tattooed on their wrists. He went behind the back of the goat hag with the first girl and got her pregnant. Whenever anyone asked what his wrist tattoo meant, he would have to sigh and say, “loyalty.”
#45 Taz’s Tats
This gang of trashy people showed up one night, all wearing cut off jean shorts. Who appeared to be their leader was a guy that looked like he teleported straight from the ‘90s. He introduced himself as "Taz" and pointed to his pec tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil. I noticed his other pec had six names. Five of them have been crossed out. They were his ex-wives.
#46 Butt Baby
When I got my last tattoo, I asked the same question. The tattoo artist said a guy once came in and wanted him to tattoo around his butt so that it looked like a baby form of him was being born from his rear end. As you can imagine, my tattoo artist ultimately declined the job, which we can all be thankful for.
#47 Always Judging You
I can't speak for every tattoo artist, but of the ones I've met I have come to the conclusion that every tattoo is judged. Not only that but your attitude or reasoning for the tattoo is heavily judged and ridiculed. The weird part is that the people who were confident in their tattoo idea and what they wanted weren't judged as harshly. Something about the adult decision of, "I like it, so who cares what you think” was much more highly respected than the people who came in saying, "This tattoo is super meaningful because of X event or Y person."
#48 Little Princess
I used to read a tattoo artist's blog and he said that he hated the cliché ones like tribals and Chinese symbols (it was around 2005). But the one he hated the most was "Princess" or "Daddy's princess.” Basically, anything including the word "princess." He said that it's because a princess is a King's daughter or a prince's wife, not a spoiled little brat.
#49 A Fair Trade
I was with some friends and our artist had to take a call shortly before we began. He told us it was from a guy who had been calling all day trying to trade him a PS4 to pierce his member. This was right after the console came out. He told us he'd rather not cup a man tonight, but it was a fair enough trade that he'd do it. He also told us he wasn't sure if it was an elaborate prank. I often wonder if he did pierce that man later that night.
#50 Gavin’s Banner
I had a guy who wanted to get a tattoo of a clock with three banners around it for his kids’ names and their birthdates. The only catch was he wanted me to leave off the date under "Gavin's" name because he had still not been born yet. I asked, "Are you sure you wouldn't rather wait until after your wife has the baby, you know, just to be safe? How long until he's due, anyway?" He then explained, “No, she's not pregnant. We haven't conceived him yet. But we know we want a third and we plan to name him Gavin when we do." I told him he should probably wait.