Tattoo Etiquette & Answers to Your Questions for Tattooed People
Tattooed people are an enormously diverse, interesting, and eclectic bunch. You'll see tattoos peeking out underneath sweatshirts on the middle-aged lady down the road, colorful sleeves at cash registers and behind many counters, chest tattoos on hipsters, and of course, the stereotyped fully-tattooed rough guy.
Remember: People with amazing tattoos have often paid a lot of money for their artwork. It's for their enjoyment, essentially. In no way was anyone else's opinion considered for a moment during the process.
Use this guide with a dash of sarcasm and a pinch of salt! It's intended to be applied to the random people you come across in the streets. The friends of friends, the ones you speak to at parties and those tattooed people you work and earn with. Anyone with tattoos. Please use it wisely.
Tattoo Etiquette and Rules
- Never touch someone's tattoo without consent. In fact, stay out of their personal space altogether, it's just more polite that way.
- Keep your fidgety fingers from reaching out to feel, rub or pinch a tattoo. Don't rotate someone's limb to get a closer look—it's damn creepy and can freak people out.
- Refrain from asking to see ink that is partially covered by clothing. That means don't go tugging at someone's clothes. You don't go round undressing random strangers, do you? Well, this is kind of the same.
- Hold back from pointing out any imperfections, mistakes, or spelling errors you might find. Believe me, they haven't missed them either and they know they're there.
- Keep your stories of your dad's, your friend's, or your second cousin twice removed's tattoos to yourself. They don't really want to know about them... they have their own tattoos to talk about. They may be interested in your tattoos if you want to share, but there's no need to show every single tattoo you have and tell its backstory.
- Don't ask if they only date other people with tattoos unless you're about to ask for a date. That is a damn weird question. A tattooed person's main criterion, just like everyone else's, is to not date an idiot.
- "Did you catch HIV from getting a tattoo?" Seriously, what the hell?!
What Is Okay to Ask and Do
- When did you get your tattoo?
- Does your tattoo have a meaning to you?
- Where did you get your tattoo?
- Do you plan to get any more tattoos?
The above general questions are polite and not too stalker-like. If you are not too over-the-top, most normal people won't mind a quick chat about their body art. After all, tattoos are not meant to be hidden from the world! Just remember, "look but don't touch."
Avoid Asking These Questions: The Answers Are Here
Did it hurt?
Yes, of course it did. Anyone who says getting a tattoo didn't hurt is a big fat liar!
When a person gets a tattoo, hundreds of tiny needles pierce that person's skin and deposit ink underneath it. What is unique to every person is their pain threshold and how they handled the pain.
What about your tattoos when you get older?
They will be an older person with tattoos, it's simple! As over 50% of people have tattoos nowadays, they will be hanging out with the rad 50% of older people who also have tattoos.
Yes, tattoos are for life, and they get old, wrinkly and saggy. But they will still be a picture story of a person's life. Besides, who lives their lives thinking about when they get older?
Do you have a job?
The tattoos had to be paid for somehow! Tattooed people come from all walks of life, and in most cases, yes, they will have a job or have held a job at some point.
A good tattoo is not cheap and can cost hundreds of dollars. Many workplaces are tolerant of tattoos, in particular when the staff members do not interact directly with the customers. When there is customer contact, often the person is asked to be discreet, or is anyway, and covers them up.
Tattoos are literally everywhere nowadays!
What about when you get pregnant and have kids?
Then they will be beach-ball shaped and walk like a duck, while growing a small human inside of them—all while having a tattoo. Since tattoos don't rub off or fall off when a person gets pregnant, your acquaintance will be both pregnant and tattooed. Then they will be a tattooed parent.
In answer to the real question, yes, tattoos stretch when you get pregnant and they do not always go back into shape.
Do you regret your tattoos?
If they did, they probably wouldn't be telling you! Although yes, people can regret their tattoos.
This can be for many reasons: it didn't turn out right, it was too big or small, in a spot too visible, the list could go on. Whatever that reason may be, it's rude to ask!
What You Might Ask
- How much did your tattoo cost?
- How did you find the pain of getting a tattoo?
- Did you like your tattoo artist? Would you recommend them? Word of mouth is paramount with tattoo artists and their reputations.
- What does your boss say about your tattoos?
Be socially aware before asking these questions because they are a little more personal. If the person has told you to "get stuffed" or looks like they're going to bop you in the nose, don't ask.
People with tattoos are the same as anyone else, they just have some pictures tattooed on their skin.
Some tattooed people like to chat, others not so much. Same as everybody else on this earth.
They are not experts on tattoos and can only give you information about their own experiences. If you want to know more about getting a tattoo, read some of the links on this page.
Are you thinking of getting a tattoo one day?
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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.