When it comes to the question of adorning your body with a tattoo, there is no doubt that it causes interesting debates both with other people and inside your head. Especially if it is your first tattoo. The question you will be asking yourself is “where do you make the first mark on a blank canvas?” and there is a lot to take into account when deciding this. First of all, your body is generally split into two distinct parts – the area covered by clothes most of the time, and the bits that people will see.
The area of your body which is usually covered by clothes is – for many people – the safest part to have tattooed. Going for a job interview or getting married, or any other such formal occasions – could make you curse the decision to get a tattoo on your neck or on your face. For many, the first tattoo will be one on their shoulder blade, their back or their chest. For those with exhibitionist tendencies, the tattoo being seen is more important than anything – but then again, the area not covered by clothes will usually be larger.
As a compromise between hidden and blatant, the biceps are often a place where a tattoo will be seen by those who should be seeing it, hidden from those who should not, and a pretty conventional place to get one. Most people on the pro-tattoo side of the line agree that the bicep, upper arm area is as good a place as any to start.
A craze has cropped up in the last decade or so for people to get corporate logos tattooed on their bodies. This is one of the more controversial styles of tattoo, given that the previous reputation surrounding tattoos was that they were somewhat of a counter-culture statement and anti-corporate. The idea of tattooing the logo of a major global corporation that has a perfectly good advertising budget all by itself seems to go counter to all that. Whatever the company, it pays to think: “If they spend $800 million a year on advertising, do they really need my help getting their logo out there?”.
If it is the logo for your own company then there is more reason for getting it etched on you. The old saying, that no publicity is bad publicity, is true to an extent. There are two caveats here – will your company logo be recognisable to people who see it from a distance on your bicep? Secondly, if that company should go bust at some point do you really want a reminder of it inked into your skin?
Some people get these tattoos just because they think the logo looks cool, or because there is a certain amount of retro glamor to the look. Sometimes they are right. One must however be careful when getting anything corporate inked on their body – if you are impervious to scorn there may not be any cause for concern, but otherwise you will have a hard time living it down.
If there is one thing worse than getting a tattoo that you grow to hate, then it must be getting a tattoo that you think is absolutely perfect right until somebody tells you that it is spelt incorrectly, and/or means something radically different from what you thought it meant. This is something that has happened to more people than enough when they get a tattoo in another language, and even though the majority of the people around them will never be able to tell that it is wrong, for them and the percentage who do know it is at best a standing joke.
The best celebrity examples of this mistake include the tattoo Britney Spears has had on her torso, supposed to depict the Japanese symbol for “mystery”. The perils of poor translation are exemplified perfectly here, for what it actually says is “strange”, which sounds a bit less cool. If you want to get a tattoo of a Japanese symbol, ask someone with a grasp of the language (if you do not have a friend who can read Japanese, ask around on a suitable Internet forum) to translate for you.
Other misspelled foreign language tattoos include David Beckham’s tattoo on his right arm, which spells “Vhictoria” in Hindi. Unfortunately his wife’s name is simply “Victoria”. Hayden Panettiere meanwhile has a tattoo on her back saying “Vivere Senza Rimipianti” – which would mean “live without regrets”, except that regrettably the Italian word for “regrets” is “rimpianti”.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last two years, it will be hard for you to have escaped the book and film that has been the subject of conversation both positive and negative for much of that time. Twilight, the book by Stephanie Meyer, has become absolutely enormous and has spawned a crowd of fans who go beyond the normal realms of obsession and come out the other side in their own reality. These people are known as “Twi-hards”, and they have been known to immortalise their love for the story by getting it indelibly inked on their skin.
As Twilight has been both a book and a film, there has been no shortage of possible subjects for a tattoo. The popularity of the book inspired the film to be made, but it was the release of the film that saw the fan-base rise both in number and obsession. The results are tattoos with quotes from the book including “and so the lion fell in love with the lamb”, a reference to the story of the book’s central characters, a vampire and a late-teenaged girl.
There is an interesting story to all of this. Twilight and its sequel books are absolutely the kind of story which grasps an audience in its spell and keeps them spellbound for months, even years, but is scarcely present in those aged thirty-five and above. So as the next few decades pass, it will be interesting to see the reactions of those who realize they don’t actually like Twilight that much anymore.
There are no end of people who get tattoos to back up their love of music. Whether we can play or just have the sound in our hearts and on our CDs and MP3 players, music means a lot to many people. Listening to a favorite song in the right setting can make a good day into a great day, and can cheer up a bad one too. For some people it is all about how it sounds, while for others lyrics are more important – with poetry not as fashionable today as it once was, people are now finding song lyrics to be the closest that we have.
Of course, song lyrics do not have to be poetic to be popular. It could be argued that for many people that would be a drawback, in fact. In 2009, one of the most popular lyrics to get tattooed on one’s skin is from Britney Spears’ controversial single “If You Seek Amy”. Said quickly, this sequence of sounds makes up a fairly lewd invitation, and this has led to many people thinking of it as a suitable tattoo. Others would choose instead to have a lyric that was more of a personal inspiration, with many going for “Above Us Only Sky” from John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
A song lyric can be a worthwhile tattoo for more than a few reasons. The singer may be an inspiration to us, or the lyric itself be an illustration of something we believe strongly or have been through.
One of the most famous tattoo-related news stories is a pretty recent one, which took place in the Belgian town of Courtrai in June of 2009. It concerns an 18-year-old girl by the name of Kimberley Vlaeminck, and more specifically the 56 stars she had tattooed on her face at the parlor run by tattooist Rouslan Toumaniantz. Within days the story was on news wires throughout Europe and the world, with a seemingly furious Vlaeminck announcing plans to sue Toumaniantz, insisting that she had asked for three stars and that the rest had been put there when she fell asleep.
This version of the story was hotly denied by Toumaniantz. Not only had Vlaeminck specifically asked for fifty-six stars, said the tattooist, but she had been wide awake when he was putting them on and showed every sign of being happy with the job he had done when she paid and left the parlor. At one stage, he offered to pay for half of the treatment for Vlaeminck to have the tattoos removed. The news spread far beyond Courtrai, and beyond Belgium as people debated whether Vlaeminck was the unfortunate victim or just trying to shift blame, and then the story reached its conclusion.
Speaking to Dutch TV, Vlaeminck confessed that she had asked for all fifty-six stars and had loved the job Toumaniantz had done. She had not been asleep (this bit would come as no surprise to anyone who has had a tattoo – it may not be agony but it is hard to sleep through 56 tattoos being drawn on your face.) and she had panicked when her father had reacted furiously. Toumaniantz has since withdrawn his offer to pay for the surgery.
The most important thing to remember about adorning one’s body with a tattoo is that the ink is at least semi-permanent. Even if it is possible to remove the tattoo you will be fortunate if the most that you are left which is a patch of scarred, sensitive skin. Typically, this is not something that many people want to happen, but if for some reason you find yourself with a tattoo you can’t stand the sight of it will ruin part of your life. Either way it’s a pain, so think before you ink. There are some tattoos which look great and demonstrate something important, but you’d better be sure your reason is permanent before you go for it.
A lot of people like to get a loved one’s name, but relationships end. Some people will reflect the name of a band they really like, but if they then release a few bad albums and are found to be horrendous people then you will want to disassociate yourself from them rather than carry around a permanent reminder. As people, we change and our tattoos can not change with us, so it is important to find something that is permanent before reflecting it in a tattoo.
Things that are permanent include kids – a tattoo with their name is good, or a star representing each child – and ancestry. A flag representing your home country can be a good way of demonstrating your allegiance, and something to remember it by if you move away.
It is not at all uncommon for people to commemorate their love for a boyfriend or girlfriend, wife or husband by getting a tattoo with their name on it. However it has to be remembered when considering such a tattoo that while love can fade and relationships end free of charge, removing a tattoo takes time, and often a lot of expensive surgery – and even then traces can be left, causing any number of problems and possibly making you rethink your entire outlook on tattoos.
There are many different ways to go about demonstrating your love in ink. By far the most obvious and indeed the most common is to get the name of your love tattooed somewhere prominent. David Beckham for example has his wife Victoria’s name tattooed on his arm – mis-spelt and in Hindi, incidentally – and this may be part of the reason why they have stayed together for so long despite trials and tribulations.
Johnny Depp was not so lucky, having got the phrase “Winona Forever” tattooed on his right bicep during his relationship with actress Winona Ryder. Their relationship ended, so Depp, a keen wine enthusiast, had it amended to “Wino Forever” – possibly placating his present wife Vanessa Paradis.
Then there is the troubled British singer Amy Winehouse, who has a tattoo on her chest over her heart, of a button pocket with the legend “Blake’s” above it, symbolising that her heart belongs to Blake Civil-Fielder who she married in May 2007. Their divorce came through in July 2009, and she hasn’t yet had time to change it.
Among the most popular types of tattoo for an individual to get are sporting tattoos. These are common just about everywhere in the world that has tattoo parlors and sports teams. There are many potential variations as well, thanks to the nature of team sport which has uniforms, players and competitions which can all be depicted with a little bit of ink and an expanse of skin. Getting a tattoo to reflect your love of your team is in some ways a rite of passage, as the permanence of the tattoo is testament to your strength of feeling for a club.
There are ways this can go wrong, of course, because players have been known to change team. Robert Nesbitt, a fan of English soccer club Newcastle United, got a tattoo of their free-scoring star player Andy Cole on his right thigh. Two days later Cole was sold to English champions Manchester United in a British-record transfer, leaving Nesbitt with a permanent reminder of his own hubris.
It is perhaps wiser if you wish to demonstrate your support of a club to stick to a depiction of something that cannot be moved to another club. The date of a significant victory, a depiction of the club’s uniform or stadium would be good examples of this. Although a club can move to a new stadium or change its uniform, there will always be an historic link with the old stadium or uniform, and this connection with the history of the club can even win points in the “true fan” contests that sports fanatics are prone to have between them.
Most of us either have at least one tattoo or we know someone who does. Whether they are ours or someone else’s, tattoos can say a lot about the person who is wearing them – and not just if the tattoo says “Slayer Rules!”, there can be some subtle hints hidden there too.
It is not rare, for example, to see someone with a Celtic band tattoo. These are usually quite intricate patterns of lines and curls in a style reminiscent of the ornamental crosses and engravings of the Celts, a race which predominated in Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as much of the neighboring part of Europe. People with Celtic – usually Irish, but not always – ancestry often get tattoos in this form to symbolise their Celtic blood.
The concept of ancestry is a big deal in tattoos. You can represent your ancestors with a simple design that can be as large or as small as you like it to be. Among the most popular designs are characters from another alphabet – Japanese being particularly popular even for people with no Japanese background, who either like the mysticism associated with China or the aesthetics of the characters.
It is also not uncommon to see people with a date tattooed on them, often without an accompanying explanation for why. This will be a significant date for them – it may mark the birth of their child, or equally may mark the death of a loved one, or just about anything else. It is wise not to ask about it unless you know them really well, however.