What a great discussion! As a new guy on the block - first tattoo 6 months ago and second 3 weeks ago - I can comment on this from both sides. I was always fascinated with tattoos - don't think I ever consciously stared but definitely looked. I was intrigued by the designs, the colors, the placement. I didn't ever approach someone to ask about them though - I knew nothing about the culture or the process and so I didn't intrude. I also never judged someone based on their having tattoos. My father had one that he got while in the Marines at the end of WWII - he went on to be a college professor and electrical engineer so I learned as a kid that having tattoos doesn't tell you who a person is.
Now at age 61, retired from the Army and serving as the president of a college, I work with many people on my staff who have tattoos and see many students with them as well. I have a mix of friends, family, students and colleagues both past and present on my FB page and I openly post pictures the show my tattoos. I wear sleeveless shirts that expose them so now I get the stares. Although I've had a few negative comments from friends along the lines of "What were you thinking?" the majority of reactions have been positive. I enjoy a bit of breaking the mold of expectation of what an Army Colonel or College President are "expected" to be. And, when I see someone with great tattoos I compliment them and ask who did their work. I'm always looking for an interesting design or great artist.
I hate the question "Did it hurt?". Pain is relative and everyone experiences it differently. How do you explain your own pain to someone that makes sense or know that the person has the same level of pain tolerance? So, I always just answer that "It feels like being kissed by a baby unicorn."
At my age, I don't have to worry about what my tattoos will look like in 50 years. I'll be happy if I'm still here in 30.
I like the stares,and questions and comments,and just general tattoo conversation with other tattooed people or plainskins,I don't even really mind cost questions.I like the attention my tattooes get me.