I love a good tattoo... but when I see a really bad one, it makes me cringe.
What Is a Bad Tattoo?
A tattoo can be considered "bad" for many reasons: bad art, bad cover-ups, bad ideas, and misspellings are just some of the ways a good tattoo can go bad.
1. Bad Cover Ups
Getting a cover-up of a bad tattoo, by a bad tattooist is probably one of THE dumbest things I have seen get done.
It happens time and time again, once you have had your bad tattoo covered by another bad tattoo you're probably out of luck and will find it really difficult to rectify.
Moral of the story, you will have paid three times to get one tattoo... just pay the money and do the research in the first place.
Miss spelled tattoos are unbelievably common and so easily avoided.
Grammar can also be a tattooist's biggest downfall, as the saying goes it can be the difference between knowing your shit, and knowing you're shit.
You're ultimately responsible for the spelling of your tattoo, your artist should always ask you to check a phrase or quote tattoo before it's inked on the skin. So check, doublecheck, Google, and check again.
3. Ridiculous Tattoos
Any decent tattooist won't just put any old crap on your body to make a quick buck. If you wanted a pair of glasses tattooed on your face, any decent artist would tell you to go home and think long and hard about it.
If you're covered in tattoos, the chances are you have a few fun or cheeky ones, but it's the job of any decent artist to distinguish between the ridiculous and the relevant.
These examples are pretty extreme, but there are plenty of ridiculous tattoos out there.
4. Bad Design
Some tattoos are simply badly designed, or as I like to call them—crap!
These are usually regretted and are among the first tattoos a person gets, most people I know regret their first.
A tattooist will usually design you something if you ask, don't be shy to tell them if you don't like it, or want it changed in any way, it's your body!
Also, if you take in a design and your tattoo artist tells you it wouldn't make a good tattoo, take their advice, they are the artist, after all, they have been doing it for a long time and know what works well as a tattoo (in most cases).
5. Scarred Tattoo
Inexperienced or heavy-handed tattoo artists can, and will leave you with a scarred tattoo.
The appearance will be raised and they will take a lot longer to heal, a lot of the color may fall out, and the lines will appear fuzzy.
These are impossible to rectify, cover over or remove.
This badly scarred tattoo has had 3 sessions of laser treatment, and will ultimately leave a permanent scar.
6. Portrait Disasters
So you want a portrait of your little angel? A memorial piece of a loved one that's passed away? Whatever the circumstances, portraits must be done to perfection.
You really need to do your research here, as you might get stuck with something that makes you want to cry, and not in a good way.
Some artists are better at portraits than others, ask about, and always check their work!
How Can I Avoid Getting a Bad Tattoo?
- Do your research: Every credible tattoo artist will have a Facebook profile or page, Instagram, Twitter accounts, etc filled with pictures of work they have produced. You can see for yourself the type of work they produce.
- Don't be tight: A tattoo is permanent, it's on your body for the rest of your life, don't try to save money by going to someone cheaper, they're cheaper for a reason.
- Don't be blinded by reviews: You will often stumble across a Facebook page or website full of 5* reviews and recommendations, but just remember, the page owner has the ability to remove any negative review, which they 100% will. A lot of the reviews will be from family and close friends who are blinded by love. Not forgetting the 'sheep' people who have no idea about tattoos, wouldn't know a good one if it punched them in the face and get their first tattoo and think it's fantastic.
- Always use a studio: Thankfully the law is finally clamping down on tattoo artists that aren't registered and that tattoo from home. This is highly illegal, they have often never been through an apprenticeship, have no license and are not tattooing from a clean environment.
- Check out the studio: Cleanliness is key, look around and if the studio doesn't seem up to scratch, run for the hills. Tattooists should never have their pets in a studio, if you see any unhygienic behavior you should always report them to your local health and safety department. You might just save a life.
- Ensure they're licensed: All tattoo artists should be licensed to work, their license should be on display, but if it's not, don't be afraid to ask them to see it. If anyone offers to tattoo you without a license, report them to the police.
- Check their background: Have they actually been through an apprenticeship? Would you trust a surgeon that hadn't been through medical school? No.
- How long have they been tattooing? The longer the better, if they're still going and not doing deals, cheap rates and offering freebies then you can put your mind at ease. The best artists have been doing it for years and charge £50+ per hour.
- You might see a tattoo on someone's page and think its brilliant...
- But on reflection when you put it next to a similar tattoo, you start to see its faults a whole lot clearer.
- Google is your friend, if you think a particular tattoo is 'epic' then try having a search on Google to find similar tattoos, only then will you see it's true 'epicness'.
What Can I Do About My Bad Tattoo?
- Laser tattoo removal: This is a costly option that will take time, a tattoo has to be removed in sessions, over a period of time, depending on size and placement. Laser removal is no good for scarred tattoos as the lump will always be there.
- Go back to the artist: If you're not happy with your tattoo you need to go back to the artist, they will happily rectify any colour that's fallen out (provided it's not due to your negligent aftercare)
- Refuse to pay: Now I don't say this lightly, but if you're unfortunate enough to have a really bad tattoo, you need to leave, do not pay and seek advice.
- Report them: All tattooists need to be licensed, if they're not, they could face a huge fine and a jail sentence. If your artist works from a studio and left you with a bad tattoo, report them to the licensing board at your local government office, include photographic evidence.
- Small claims court: If you're unfortunate to get a really bad tattoo, you could take the artist to small claims court to get your money back and some compensation to try and rectify your tattoo.
Always remember, you must give your artist an opportunity to rectify once healed before you go slating them and giving them a bad name for no reason of their own, half the time it's your aftercare that can lead to colour loss and gaps, etc, some people pick the scabs and wonder why they look awful once healed.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Money Saving Central
jenny on March 11, 2015:
I went to rebellious addiction tattoo the artists was doing great until his hr late appointment showed up then he startedto rush within 6 days the one color of my tattoo had disappeared all together and now 9 days later I have indented skin on my tattoo all in the areas he did after she showed up I looked at his table and saw a picture kinda hidden behind some jars if I would have seen that first I wouldn't have let him tattoo me it was a naked I mean totally naked picture of the girl who was an hr late for her appointmentI did a lot of research on tattoo artist and according to everything I saw he was going to be a perfect match but I was mislead note I have to go to someone else to get the colors refreshed the green is totally gone that was the worst $120 I have ever spent and mind you this is my tenth tattoo so I am not an amiture on the subject
A and L on December 05, 2014:
We offer a laser tattoo removal service and some of the things that we see are beyond stupid !
Joe Young from Blyth, Northumberland, England on May 26, 2014:
The detail in modern tattoos is amazing, and some I've seen are bordering on works of art. But mistakes happen, and the permanency of tattoos means that errors are magnified. There's no excuse for poorly drawn or mis-spelled work though.
Great post as ever.
Rajeev r on April 21, 2014:
I can't believe the silly things people do these days, just wow! lol
Anyway love your blog, keep up the great work.
Luvtoo Write from Chicago, IL on February 20, 2014:
This is a very useful hub, I only wish my daughter had read it before she got her tattoo. She has terrible scarring, and even if she had someone removed the tattoo, it will look like she slashed her wrist. Looking at the bright side, at least the artist could spell.
Harriet tutton on February 20, 2014:
Rite my tattoo is featured above. I am not happy with it I never was. Yes I did complain at the time and no I would not go back to get it fixed as he fucked it up te first time. An yea I give my permission for the photo tht I took I'm my house (private property) to be used by this tattoo blog as it is a shit tattoo and people need to be aware of the risks
Danny jones on February 20, 2014:
Excellent piece Claire very informative keep up the great work :)