I recently paid homage to the city I love and got it tattooed across my wrist. A big commitment for some people but not me – you see I already have a lot of tattoos – two quarter length arm pieces, the backs of my legs, the back of my neck, and my right ankle. I used to have a lot of symbols – but I got so sick of people asking me what they meant, that I got them expertly covered. Now none of my tattoos mean anything in particular (other than the Los Angeles one), but people still ask me what they mean so I guess that plan sucked.

Just because my tattoos don’t have some deep symbolic meaning doesn’t mean they are any less personal – after all I did permanently mark them on my body. Regardless this seems to frequently bug people – why? I do not know – perhaps they have watched too many episodes of Miami Ink. It’s fine that your tattoo is a homage to your undying love for your dead dog / Batman / Ketchup etc – mine are just art that I liked but it doesn’t make them any less special to me.

If you do not have any tattoos – then fine that is your decision to make. If you think they are gross too – that’s fine as well – I am not a big fan of body piercing but each to their own. What makes us unique is what makes us special surely? However don’t expect me to be as understanding if you ask me;

“But what about when you are old?”

When I am old, I will be an old tattooed lady – my untattooed boyfriend is aware of that , I am aware of that, and we are both fine with that. Yes I will be wrinkled and tattooed – so what? I have never understood the pointless obsession of fighting old age.

“Why did you do that?”

I don’t have to justify to any one why I chose to cover a large percentage of my body with tattoos as much as you do not have to justify the reason you may have dyed your hair a certain colour.

“It’s not very good is it?” or stoney silence.

This is just plain rude. Do I point at your face and say “Wow that’s not good – you are kind of ugly, you should get that fixed?” No. Do I suggest you get plastic surgery? No. I probably wouldn’t even say your taste in clothes sucked because I have manners and consideration for your feelings. I have people show me some horrifically done tattoos or terribly cliched – but I would not dream of telling people that their tattoo blows. Instead I sweetly smile and say ‘that’s cool’.

“Did it hurt?”

Yes – although I guess working out whether having needles jammed into your skin at rapid speeds hurts is a tough one.

I think the thing that bugs me the most is when people touch my tattoos. I am not weird like I can not be touched, but I think its rude to go up to a stranger and run your hand down their arm. Seriously, it’s creepy when they touch you. I have had people lift my shirt sleeve to look at my tattoo better, and I have a friend who had someone in the queue for the bank teller lift up the back of her t-shirt to see her tramp stamp. Over stepping boundaries? Most definitely.

So if I haven’t put you off for life with my rant then I have some gentler words of advice. I used to own a tattoo salon and whilst I would hate to be so bold as to talk anyone out of getting a certain tattoo.. I would urge you to follow some tips before getting a new tattoo – especially your first.

# 1 Rule of all time – Don’t be cheap. It amazes me how cheap people are when it comes to putting something on your body for the rest of their lives. I am not saying find the Gucci of tattoo artists but don’t go to some back alley shop with poor hygiene and poor skills just because it will save you 20 bucks.

# 2 Choose your art then seek out a tattoo artist who is really good at that style. Example.. my first tattoo was a thick tribal arm band which I got done by an multi-award winning portrait artist. It wasn’t a bad tattoo but I would have been better going to a tribal tattoo artist.

# 3 Avoid large black pieces like tribal unless you are REALLY into it. Should 10 years down the line like me you decide you want to cover this – it will not be easy without laser surgery because its a solid black shape.

#4. Use the internet.. there are some amazing artists out there who can give you a tattoo that you will be proud of for the rest of your life.

#5 Lastly.. don’t get a tramp stamp. Please.

Not Goth, 34, Redondo Beach, California, USA

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