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It really depends on the mood I'm in that day, but usually I'll just make something up on the spot. A lot of times it's a straight up BS story but they buy it every time. I think I get more annoyed with people asking about the price of my work because it leads to a lot more questions. Usually I'll just tell them my artist's hourly rate and if they keep pushing it I'll tell them sitting times and sessions. They can do the math on their own.

Honestly, the thing that bugs me the most is when people touch my tattoos. I've had two people already touch fresh tattoos without thinking and that is quite possibly the most irritating thing anyone can do. Other times, people will point while touching some of my tattoos and then ask questions. Hey bro, I don't grope your crotch and ask if this is all nature gave you, so please back off and don't touch.

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i give the standard "some mean something personal, some mean i like tattoos" line. although explaining the straight edge praying hands to little kids at the pool can be fun... since they seem to always think it means something about how i hate Jesus. so, they get a quick rundown on what it really means, then probably go back to thinking it means i hate Jesus in five minutes.

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I love the way you described this lol, I get it A LOT! because most of my tattoos are so visible....usually I get, "omg did that hurt" I want to tell them, no, it was a walk in the park I felt nothing at all, but usually I just say, of course, anyone that says tattoos don't hurt is lying, then they say, but isn't it expensive and I ALWAYS say 'yea but you get what you pay for!!' , o what do they mean, 'they all have their own meanings, significant or not' by that time I'm usually walking away, if I haven't already. Lol it gets tiring especially when older more criticizing people try to lecture me on how I'll regret it blah blah blah I always just say when I'm 80 I'm going to enjoy being able to say I didn't hold back and did exactly what i wanted to do.

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Like @Graeme said, I rarely get this one anymore because we live in a neighborhood where it's more common to be tattooed than not. I also keep my tattoos covered up a lot of the time.

Usually when people do ask, it's because they are friends or acquaintances who know I've recently gotten tattooed and want to see and are curious. I would say that most of my tattoos do have meaning to me, but not in the literal, very specific way that they're represented on TV. For example, when I recently got a dragon on my thigh, it was because I'd been feeling really drawn to dragon imagery for how it depicts both luck and strength, and I'd been feeling like I needed a bit of both on me. I think of my dragon tattoo as my little good luck charm. Also I just really loved the design and couldn't get it out of my head! It was the right thing at the right time.

I think when serious tattoo folks talk about tattoos having meaning, it's often in that way--some really beautiful imagery that just speaks to you and feels right on your body, like just what you need. Even my less obviously meaning-laden tattoos are still meaningful because they serve as reminders of the time/place I was in when I got them, and who I was at that time. These meanings are often pretty ethereal or abstract. When we make fun of the LA Ink style meaning thing, it's often because people go so literal, rather than letting the power of tattoo imagery speak for itself.

All that to say that when folks ask me about what my tattoos mean, I am happy to get into it if it's close friends, but it is pretty annoying if it's people I don't know very well. Because there's no good answer. If I say it doesn't mean anything, then that's alarming to the tattoo noob (I think they mix up meaning or lack thereof with how seriously you took the decision to get tattooed, as though if it isn't obviously meaningful, then you must not take tattoos very seriously. So misguided.). But if the tattoo is super meaningful to me, then why on earth would I want to share such super personal stuff with someone I don't know very well? Part of the tattoo TV problem is that it assumes that even if we are getting tattoos that are profoundly meaningful, that we're also all super confessional exhibitionists who like, want to announce all this shit to any stranger we meet. Nope.

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I think when serious tattoo folks talk about tattoos having meaning, it's often in that way--some really beautiful imagery that just speaks to you and feels right on your body, like just what you need. Even my less obviously meaning-laden tattoos are still meaningful because they serve as reminders of the time/place I was in when I got them, and who I was at that time. These meanings are often pretty ethereal or abstract. When we make fun of the LA Ink style meaning thing, it's often because people go so literal, rather than letting the power of tattoo imagery speak for itself.

This is how I feel. My tattoos empower me and are an extension of myself/my personality and therefore, have more meaning than if they referred to a meaningful time in my life. The tattoo I go for my grandmother is my least favorite tattoo, not that I regret it, but trying to be so tedious about getting it right lost the meaning behind it somewhere. It probably would have been a better tattoo if she gave me the tattoo as a gift and we came up with ideas together and made a day of it.

Bottom of the line, people who ask "what does it mean" or "did it hurt" or "how much did it cost" really don't give a shit about tattoo community or culture. They just think its a "cool" thing to do. To me, its so so much more...

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I am a fairly social person but do not like talking about my tattoos with those that I feel are just being nosey.

My standard answer...

Them," Hey where did you get those tattoos?"

Me, "prison"

Although my work I think is exceptional and def not prison work(Ive never attended!) this response typically pushes people way from me while they make sure they still have their wallet and/or purse.

If you want to be flat out mean and are in a bad mood....When they ask "Did it hurt"....just reply, "not as much as the sex I traded it for."

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I love the way you described this lol, I get it A LOT! because most of my tattoos are so visible....usually I get, "omg did that hurt" I want to tell them, no, it was a walk in the park I felt nothing at all, but usually I just say, of course, anyone that says tattoos don't hurt is lying, then they say, but isn't it expensive and I ALWAYS say 'yea but you get what you pay for!!' , o what do they mean, 'they all have their own meanings, significant or not' by that time I'm usually walking away, if I haven't already. Lol it gets tiring especially when older more criticizing people try to lecture me on how I'll regret it blah blah blah I always just say when I'm 80 I'm going to enjoy being able to say I didn't hold back and did exactly what i wanted to do.

When they ask me if it hurt... the standard answer is, "no.. it was an iron-on". That stops them sometimes. I really never give out what they cost unless they are thinkin' about using the shop I go to. Most people who ask are generally cheapskates. You can tell them it cost $20 and they'd still want it done for $10.

Rob

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This is the biggest question I get all the time. And the most annoying. Everybody expects some deep meaningful story about it so its just almost awkward when I say "uhh there is no meaning behind it. I really like Alice in Wonderland and I wanted a half sleeve..."

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Stock replies for silly questions:

"yeah how much did that cost?" ...side note, this is a pretty rude question from a stranger and i usually

-pretty rude question buddy

-sorry buddy they are not for sale

-A LOT

-you don't want to know

-$50...for everything ;)

-140 hrs @ $150/hr...you do the math..."that's really expensive/waste of money"...eh thanks Dad! buddy, that's over 10 years. how much have you spent on blow and fast cars over the last decade? really it's a piss in the bucket.

-respond with "hey how much did your <house/car/diamond ring> cost? yeah pretty rude question isn't it?"

"what is the meaning/symbolism" ...side note, there is nothing more boring than crappy tattoo with overt contrived meaning.

-it means something different everyday.

-meaning? it's a fucking <tiger puking blood>. do i need to explain further?

-sorry lady, i don't really feel the need to explain the personal meaning of all my tattoos to a stranger in the grocery store line

-it's just a fucking tattoo.

"did it hurt?"

-no, i didn't feel a thing

-yes, it is the most horrible pain you will ever imagine

-yeah it hurt, so gnarly, i barfed in my mouth (true story)

i especially like this one in the tattoo shop..."i bet that hurts eh"...yeah a bit eh, but not as bad as that upsidedown script on your wrist is going hurt! yikes i don't envy you.

"yeah man my tattoo took like 8 hrs"

-dude, you got ripped off.

how do i deal with the stock retarded questions? i don't ;) i wear long sleeves all the time and keep my gentleman art below the collar and above the wrist line. that way i don't advertise the unwanted attention and i don't get called out for being a total tattoo snob haha

- - - Updated - - -

oh and my personal fave (i've had this same conversation multiple times):

"sick tatts brah. you do time in the pen?"

"haha you think you can get colour like this in prison"

"no doubt brah. RESPEK"

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I just sat for a solid 4-hour session the other night. My kids and wife know better than to ask what it cost... but they are aware of shop rates.

Nobody else has been it yet, but the questions will surely come. My standard answer this round will be, $50 and it took 45 minutes.

Rob

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$50? My boy can do it for $7 and some whip-its. You should hit him up.

Yup... someone always says they know where it can be done for virtually nothing. These idiots have no knowledge of shop minimums and hourly rates... at least in a real shop and not a corner of someone's kitchen.

Rob

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Cost questions.. Not cheap.

Meaning.. Depends who's asking. Strangers get the standard anchors generally mean this or that.. Etc

My answers have evolved if you will as I get more tattoos. My left arm is home to all my tattoos(wrist to shoulder) and I can say that the more covered the arm becomes the questions have tapered off drastically, now it's generally just stares.

Either way, doesn't matter to me really. I usually refer ppl to here to learn or to visit as many shops as they can before getting tattooed. Ppl spend months looking at cars they keep for 5 years but won't spend a week or two or a month or year on researching for something that will last longer than they will.. The light doesn't always come on though.

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I rarely get asked if my tats have a meaning, since fhey're pretty much covered, only when I'm on the beach,usually just who done it and how much it cost.They do ask about the things I have written since its in Latin, but I always lie about the meaning because its more fun like that ;). Most of the time, people just stare and comment on how I've ruined my body, and how I'll be sorry when I'm old and shrivelled.

Sent from my GT-N7100 using Tapatalk

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I am a fairly social person but do not like talking about my tattoos with those that I feel are just being nosey.

My standard answer...

Them," Hey where did you get those tattoos?"

Me, "prison"

Although my work I think is exceptional and def not prison work(Ive never attended!) this response typically pushes people way from me while they make sure they still have their wallet and/or purse.

If you want to be flat out mean and are in a bad mood....When they ask "Did it hurt"....just reply, "not as much as the sex I traded it for."

haha!!! my husband told his hoity toity cousin once that his was a gang tattoo he got in juvy :) she felt really bad for him and he lead her on this bullshit trail for ages before telling her the truth. he just liked it. so funny :)

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I'm loving some of the answers in this thread, great stuff :)

After getting really tired of trying to explain my choices to people I shouldn't have to explain them to, I've recently started responding with the "Because I like ____" when asked about my tattoos. (Bear on ribs, and swallows on my foot) and it's fun the see the wheels turn in their heads while they try and process the simplicity of that answer.

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.... Ppl spend months looking at cars they keep for 5 years but won't spend a week or two or a month or year on researching for something that will last longer than they will.. The light doesn't always come on though.

I give all my ink some real thought... as long as 6 months or more if I'm working on a bigger piece or having old and new ink connected. Cars... I'll give it a month to pick one out. Those I can trade in at any time.

Rob

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I was at work one time and a lady I was helping spotted one of my tattoos and asked what it meant. I told her the reasoning for it and she just straight up told me, your going to regret that in ten years. I replied with, that's one of the absolute rudest judgements you could possibly make without personally knowing someone. That's about the time I just started telling people it has a personal meaning to me and only me.

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The one on my back can only be seen if I am shirtless since tank tops cover it up but when I posted it on FB, people did ask what the arabic script said so I explained. The one on my arm, so far, no one has really asked at all.

A lot of people, especially ones with tattoos, I think, don't really care much unless they see a tattoo they really like and comment on it. I was and still am the one who will look at someone's tattoos and compliment them on it. I might ask more but I think it's nice for someone to hear something good about their tattoos, make them feel good about them. Cuz who knows what backlash they may have gotten from family, etc

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We've all made the slightly unusual choice to embed words, symbols, and images onto our bodies until the day we die. It's barely accepted by the mainstream in liberal western countries let alone other cultures. People are going to be intrigued and ask questions just as much as they are going to be offended or mesmerized. That's part of being (visibly) tattooed.

It annoys me sometimes too but hey it's part of the package.

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I get both of those questions a lot. Mostly because of the town I live in. There are a lot of tattoo shops in town but not a lot of "Tattooed" people. I have a full lower half sleeve and almost a full sleeve on the other arm. I always have a thermal on, one because I am always cold but also to protect my tattoos from sun. When its warm i push up the sleeves and thats when people always ask. They will first ask who does my tattoos, and it depends on what tattoos they are looking at. My lower half sleeve I did myself, the others are artists from all over. Then the next question is how much was that. And I tell them nothing. Most of them are in shock over that answer but then I explain to them how shops work, in shops we trade tattoos with the other artists. I haven't paid for a tattoo in years, I do tip however but we don't charge each other. Then everyone asks what does this mean and that one, Well if I was going to take the time to explain what each tattoo "means" to me then we would be there for a long time as there are 63 tattoos on my body thus far. I also get the question, "Which one is your most meaningful?". That question I have a genuine answer and I just lift up my shirt and show my ribs, I have a portrait of my grandmother. I dont say anything I just show them.

These questions do get annoying, but it comes with the territory. Being a tattooer I hear about everyones tattoos and the meaning to them. I never ask they just share, probably because they see it on the TV shows that your supposed to spill your guts to your artists but it is what it is right?!?

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