Saturday, October 18, 2014

Do You Really Want His or Her Name as a Tattoo?

Love makes people crazy...
 This happens more frequently than I care to admit.  Someone walks into the tattoo studio. They are on Cloud 9.  They have found THE ONE, and they want a way to demonstrate their love and devotion to that person.  They have decided that proof of their unending passion for their lover would best be expressed through having that person's name forever tattooed into their skin.

 We artists happily take the commission.  We may offer some small words of advice; asking if the client is certain this is what they want, but that is all.  Secretly, we are shaking our collective heads.  The name-tattoo is almost always the death-knell of a doomed relationship.  Generally, we can expect to see the client back within six months for a cover-up.  Perhaps it is that passion that burns fiercest dies the fastest, or perhaps their partner questions the validity of being with someone who would make such an irresponsible choice.  Whatever, name-tattoos are probably not the way to express your love.

Hopefully Patricia is okay with you having trouble finding work.
 You should never get a tattoo for another person.  A tattoo is a personal statement, one you hope to take with you to the grave.  Tattoos gotten for someone else, whether going along and getting a tattoo during Girls' Night Out because your friend wants one and doesn't want to be alone or to express you love for another, will almost always be tattoos you will regret.  Before you get that special-someone's moniker inked into your neck, consider the following:

 How long have you been with your lover?  It is shocking the number of people who are willing to do something crazy like get a name-tattoo after being with someone for just one week.  A tattoo is a bit of a commitment, so keep in mind that over half the marriages in the US end in divorce, most marriages only last 8 years, and one third of the people who marry at the age of 20-24 get a divorce.  Maybe you should wait to see how this relationship works out a little while before you get under a needle for the one you love.

 Names and portraits are meant to memorialize and celebrate someone who has had a major impact on your life.  Typically this is your parents or your children.  While this is not so much the case anymore, traditionally these kinds of tattoos were reserved to commemorate the passing of someone you cared for.  The Art of Tattoo is chocked full of weird little superstitions, and one such superstition is against getting a name or portrait tattoo of someone who is still alive.  It is akin to the taboo about laying down in a coffin.  

They deserve each other.  Best of luck!
 If you are coming to get that tattoo as a testimony of your love for another, are they coming along with you?  What does it say that you are willing to make that commitment, and they are not?  Don't buy the "I don't like tattoos" excuse... Or, do, because if they don't like tattoos they are going to LOVE seeing their name etched in your skin everyday until they leave you.  When a relationship is obviously lop-sided with one person being far more invested than the other, the other begins to question whether they should be in that relationship.  First, they may question whether they deserve you, but this quickly turns into whether or not you deserve them.  If you are getting that name-tattoo, don't be the only one.  If your partner is not interested, heed their sound wisdom.

 Again, as you should never get a tattoo for another person, have you considered what you are trying to say by getting that tattoo?  The tattoo is on you, not your lover.  It is akin to saying, "Baby, I love you so much that I bought myself a new watch/necklace to show you, and your picture is on the face/in the locket!"  You may think you did it for them, but clearly this is about you.  Maybe you should embrace that feeling.  If you feel that this relationship is a milestone in your life that is worthy of celebration, then get a tattoo that celebrates that feeling.  Maybe get your birth-flowers intertwined, or have your artist work your Zodiac symbols into a design.  Make the tattoo about that moment in your life, and not the other person.  You will regret the tattoo less if it is about your moment, and not someone else.  If not, have you considered taking that money and maybe getting away for the weekend with that special someone?  The memories made will probably mean more to them than your tattoo.

It is almost guaranteed return business...
 Speaking of other people, ask yourself this question; if your lover had the name of their ex tattooed on them for you to see everyday, how would you feel?  Would you be okay with it, or would you want them to get it removed or covered up?  If it is the latter, this is what you will put anyone who dates you after this relationship through.  Now, I know right now you KNOW this relationship will last forever, but if you think that your lover having his or her ex's name tattooed on them is a bad decision, then YOU MUST question the decision you are making now!

 The bottom line is this: Think before you Ink.  In a tattoo studio, artists are there to give you what you want, no matter how ill-advised what you want may be.  Getting that name tattooed may be the moment in your relationship that seals the deal, but it will more likely be the nail in the coffin.  And, if you go through with it in spite of all that you have read here, remember what your artist tells you as you leave the shop.  I will bet money it is a mention of what he or she charges for cover-ups. 

 Jason Sorrell is a writer, tattoo artist, satirist, artist, and generally nice guy living in Austin, TX.  He loves answering questions about tattoos.  Shoot him a message at

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