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Why are bad tattoos so popular?

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I think that text tattoos, like any other kind of tattoo, can be done well or it can be done poorly. I'm on my phone right now so I can't post a picture of it but a couple of days ago the Frith Street instagram posted a whole block of text that Stefano put on a guy's ribs and it looks great. Would it be cooler if the guy got some kind of image to represent those words instead? Probably, and I'm sure that possibility was talked about, but at the end of the day the guy wanted text and he got a tattoo that was clearly done with care and skill, and the dude who got it probably thinks it's the greatest thing in the world. That's good tattooing to me, whether or not it's something that I like or would personally get.

I will agree with that. I would call that good tattooing as well.

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Well then what is it about people these days that they walk around with so many sob stories that they absolutely have to put on their bodies with typewriter font? I mean, my cats and dogs have all died, my grandparents all died, and in my 20s I walked around with dysthymia like nobody's business but I never once wanted to tattoo a word on myself about it. I went to meetings instead.

Well I would say everybody is different? Some like to have a lot of meaning to it, some don't care at all.

I like a mix of meaning and designs I like from the looks. Many people might be quite sensitive about their "sob stories", so I won't question or ridicule them. Afterall, I usually won't know what truly is behind these stories.

I think fonts can look great, but they are harder to adjust to the body's shape. Placement is key and of course clean lines.

As to why a lot of people like them - well, why do people like different things than you? Different music, movies, clothing...it is all just a matter of taste. I listen to Black Metal, my friends like Pop. I won't think too hard about why they like pop or critisize their choice ;).

Text can also be a smaller, more subtle or minimalistic option for people who are concerned about work or just like something minimalistic. There are many forms of art and minimalism and typography/ calligraphy are some of them.

I plan to get a small poem that can in no way whatsoever be described by images. I have been staring at this poem on my wall for years, I like the exact words, the sound, the old language

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Text is hard for me to see as a bad tattoo idea I guess. Words can be so descriptive, and can bring a different..I don't know how to put it exactly, a different vibe, maybe, to what you're trying to express? If I wanted to have something to represent my husband and myself, I could have a heart w/JD in it, or I could use text "they loved with a love that was more than love"-which is how I see us. I'd do the lyrics of Rainbow Connection instead of a tattoo of Kermit, just b/c to me, I can hear the banjo immediately in my head, I can see Kermit singing, and I feel bittersweet over my intense love of all things muppet and Jim Henson's brilliance.

I had text added to the inside of my engagement ring (As you wish-b/c he is my Westley) and to my wedding band (mawage is wot bwings us togevah today) b/c when I see it, I feel good.

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The only thing I have against script is that I think it is meant for signs, typographers, signmakers, etc. I feel like it degrades the craft of people who devote their life to letters.

The above isn't really a complete thought or argument; moreover, just a brief thought.

Edit: I came back to this post later and laughed at my half-assed disclaimer. lol

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I plan to get a small poem that can in no way whatsoever be described by images. I have been staring at this poem on my wall for years, I like the exact words, the sound, the old language

You should definitely get whatever you feel is right for you, but please first read through this article written by an artist with a lot of experience, on some of the negatives of large areas of text on the human body.

The Letter of the Law: Laws for Lettering and Tattoos | Occult Vibrations

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I am curious why bad tattoos are so popular. I mean, I can understand that someone who knows nothing about tattoos goes to a bad artist and gets a badly done tattoo. I did that myself. What I don't understand are why tattoos lacking any creativity or art are so popular.

For instance, why do people want to put typewriter text on themselves? Why do they want so much text but no images? Why do they want flowery, descriptive text but not an image of what that text is describing? This makes absolutely no sense to me. I've been as dumb as anybody regarding tattoos but one thing I've never had pop into my mind is to want words describing beautiful things rather than the beautiful things themselves.

Another one are the fads like the inifinity symbols, the text on the wrist and the exploding birds thing. Back in the 90s when I first got a tattoo the fads (the fairies, the curly tribal stuff on the lower back) at least were flattering. The current fads are so ugly. I saw a girl with the exploding birds and it looked like someone had attacked her with a marking pen. The small crap on the wrist thing looks like you're trying to sneak crib notes in to the test. The straight lines of text tattoos are so unflattering to men and women alike. I just don't understand.

Am I just an old fuddy-duddy complaining about the youth of today? Has there actually been a real change in the culture to prefer ugliness over color, shape, texture and art? Any ideas?

because people don't know shit. getting a bad tattoo can be traced back to customers not trusting their own instinct (walking out of a shit shop when they don't get a good vibe and getting tattooed regardless), not trusting/listening to their tattooer or just getting a design theyve seen repeatedly before whether it's good or not. people will get what they see. tattoo flash used to help in some cases for the undecided.

The google image search feature has harmed the customer/tattooer relationship.

it gives people the idea that they can get whatever they want as long as they like it, but there's so much more to that equation. I mean of course you can and you should, it's your tattoo but listen to your artist when they tell you it's gonna look like crap 10 years from now, that it needs to be bigger or to simply not get an upside down tattoo just cos youve seen it on your best friend or some blog on tumblr. it doesn't make it right.

I dont really see anything wrong in the designs people choose to get tattooed today, i just think it's much more important that they get a better version that will look good in years to come rather than the attitude i've seen tattooers take, such as doing exactly what the customer requests without advising on size, placement and clarity of design.

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You should definitely get whatever you feel is right for you, but please first read through this article written by an artist with a lot of experience, on some of the negatives of large areas of text on the human body.

The Letter of the Law: Laws for Lettering and Tattoos | Occult Vibrations

I have read this article before and I don't fully agree with it.

I still see it as a matter of taste and how well done a text tattoo is. I myself am not a fan of all over text, but I don't find it horrible either.

Guess in the end it still comes down to taste.

I studied Typography and Calligraphy in school and their place in past and modern art. Not only have they always been added to art on canvas to give it a certain edge but they are also used on curved and odd shapes.

I used to see museums from the inside every week, I have seen more than enough art ;).

I am open to a lot of types of art, modern and abstract too.

I don't think I am in the position to say "this is the only true form of art", because I prefer Boticelli over Picasso or whatever ;).

Artists have been argueing about this since the beginning of time and not gotten to a conclusion (heck, caveemen were probably even argueing about cave art lol).

So why would tattoo artists and fans of tattoo art want to claim that only certain types of tattoos are art and good?

I am just trying to look at the bigger picture here.

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I have read this article before and I don't fully agree with it.

I still see it as a matter of taste and how well done a text tattoo is. I myself am not a fan of all over text, but I don't find it horrible either.

Guess in the end it still comes down to taste.

I studied Typography and Calligraphy in school and their place in past and modern art. Not only have they always been added to art on canvas to give it a certain edge but they are also used on curved and odd shapes.

I used to see museums from the inside every week, I have seen more than enough art ;).

I am open to a lot of types of art, modern and abstract too.

I don't think I am in the position to say "this is the only true form of art", because I prefer Boticelli over Picasso or whatever ;).

Artists have been argueing about this since the beginning of time and not gotten to a conclusion (heck, caveemen were probably even argueing about cave art lol).

So why would tattoo artists and fans of tattoo art want to claim that only certain types of tattoos are art and good?

I am just trying to look at the bigger picture here.

You make several good points. I think maybe it is time for me to re-evaluate my thoughts on lettering in tattoos. In the past, no matter how hard I think about it, text always feels wrong to me. I can't exactly pin why though. Even without thinking about any other reasons than my own, I still can't figure out why I don't like text. shits weird...

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You make several good points. I think maybe it is time for me to re-evaluate my thoughts on lettering in tattoos. In the past, no matter how hard I think about it, text always feels wrong to me. I can't exactly pin why though. Even without thinking about any other reasons than my own, I still can't figure out why I don't like text. shits weird...

I think you should go with your gut. Anything can be art I suppose, but not everything can be a good tattoo. Tattoos are a mixture of art and craftsmanship. This isn't vietnam there are rules here, mark it zero.

Whatever the client decides to get is fine, but if you don't know or pretend there are no rules, how can the client get the best tattoo. You have to at least have professional input. People often want professional advice on tattoos, and want to elevate there ideas beyond their literal interpretation, even if they don't come into the shop saying that. People have to wear these tattoos forever, you can sell a shitty painting or better yet donate it.

The everything is art thing is a cop out and excuse for people to do shitty tattoos IMO.

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You make several good points. I think maybe it is time for me to re-evaluate my thoughts on lettering in tattoos. In the past, no matter how hard I think about it, text always feels wrong to me. I can't exactly pin why though. Even without thinking about any other reasons than my own, I still can't figure out why I don't like text. shits weird...

It is not all that weird. Certain things I just will never like no matter how hard I try to see why it might appeal to others. It is nice to know likeminded people to share my interests with, but I accept that not everyone likes knitting, sewing, medieval stuff, black metal etc. I can still have a great time with people that like different things :)

Aaaand in this case we all like tattoos, so we at least have that in common...and whether we prefer lettering, symbols, portraits, flowers, birds, skulls, minimalistic /simple tattoos or really complicated art and lots of color should not matter so much imho.

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I think you should go with your gut. Anything can be art I suppose, but not everything can be a good tattoo. Tattoos are a mixture of art and craftsmanship....

The everything is art thing is a cop out and excuse for people to do shitty tattoos IMO.

Not sure if that was also referring to my above post, but I just wanted to make clear that I did not state that "everything is art", but "there are many types and forms of art that are abmatter of taste".

Meaning lettering, like I noted above, can be done well or not so well, or placed wrong. But so can all tattoos. Even something very elaborate and complicated can be done badly and not harmonize with the body's curves.

Whether it is art also depends on the execution. I know a tattoo of a fantastic very simple triangle (only outlines), that I find looks great because it is just so well done and not misplaced.

I do agree that customers should take the advice of the artist regarding placement and things like that, just the artist should not say "you want font? That is not art, how about a skull instead?"

There should be a compromise that makes the client happy and incorporates the professional advice from the artist.

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It is not all that weird. Certain things I just will never like no matter how hard I try to see why it might appeal to others. It is nice to know likeminded people to share my interests with, but I accept that not everyone likes knitting, sewing, medieval stuff, black metal etc. I can still have a great time with people that like different things :)

Aaaand in this case we all like tattoos, so we at least have that in common...and whether we prefer lettering, symbols, portraits, flowers, birds, skulls, minimalistic /simple tattoos or really complicated art and lots of color should not matter so much imho.

- - - Updated - - -

Not sure if that was also referring to my above post, but I just wanted to make clear that I did not state that "everything is art", but "there are many types and forms of art that are abmatter of taste".

Meaning lettering, like I noted above, can be done well or not so well, or placed wrong. But so can all tattoos. Even something very elaborate and complicated can be done badly and not harmonize with the body's curves.

Whether it is art also depends on the execution. I know a tattoo of a fantastic very simple triangle (only outlines), that I find looks great because it is just so well done and not misplaced.

I do agree that customers should take the advice of the artist regarding placement and things like that, just the artist should not say "you want font? That is not art, how about a skull instead?"

There should be a compromise that makes the client happy and incorporates the professional advice from the artist.

I 100% agree to this statement. I was speaking more to the general mindset of art or expression by some. I think for the most part we see things pretty much the same way.

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I 100% agree to this statement. I was speaking more to the general mindset of art or expression by some. I think for the most part we see things pretty much the same way.

Well yes, there will always be the stubborn ones that don't really have a good concept of art and tattoos and still want it done their way.

If you don't like lettering, don't get it! BAM.

lol, as with all things in life.

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The only thing I have against script is that I think it is meant for signs, typographers, signmakers, etc. I feel like it degrades the craft of people who devote their life to letters.

The above isn't really a complete thought or argument; moreover, just a brief thought.

Edit: I came back to this post later and laughed at my half-assed disclaimer. lol

I hope when you complete that thought it isn't total nonsense like it is here. When I look at the lettering tattoos that people like Tim Hendricks, BJ Betts, Katie Sellergren, Anderson Luna, to just name a few, I don't think for a moment that lettering as a craft, or tattooing as a craft, is being degraded. That is melodramatic garbage and I don't think you care enough about non-tattoo forms and ways of lettering to even believe that yourself (and if you do, you're still wrong about it). Even getting away from people who have made their names doing lettering, there are so many more tattooers who work hard to improve their lettering maybe not because it's the area of tattooing that they're the most excited about but because people ask for lettering, and they want to give their clients the best tattoo they can. This isn't just a new thing...read George Burchett because he writes about doing huge amounts of text on his clients. Obviously a lot of text-based tattoos aren't done well, but that doesn't mean that text is bad as such.

Also, for the purposes of this forum and our attempt here to actively promote good tattooing, I think that completely dismissing text in tattoos as being bad is counterproductive.

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Lettering is an art. It has to be drawn, not written.

I have lettering, and want some more. But, I think the negative we are voicing isn't about the good artful lettering, but more in reference to "Pinterest" tattoos and mutiple paragraphs on ribs.

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I hope when you complete that thought it isn't total nonsense like it is here. When I look at the lettering tattoos that people like Tim Hendricks, BJ Betts, Katie Sellergren, Anderson Luna, to just name a few, I don't think for a moment that lettering as a craft, or tattooing as a craft, is being degraded. That is melodramatic garbage and I don't think you care enough about non-tattoo forms and ways of lettering to even believe that yourself (and if you do, you're still wrong about it). Even getting away from people who have made their names doing lettering, there are so many more tattooers who work hard to improve their lettering maybe not because it's the area of tattooing that they're the most excited about but because people ask for lettering, and they want to give their clients the best tattoo they can. This isn't just a new thing...read George Burchett because he writes about doing huge amounts of text on his clients. Obviously a lot of text-based tattoos aren't done well, but that doesn't mean that text is bad as such.

Also, for the purposes of this forum and our attempt here to actively promote good tattooing, I think that completely dismissing text in tattoos as being bad is counterproductive.

I just don't think lettering belongs in tattoos. It ruins them. No one wants to read someone else. Script does not really flow with the body and compliment the figure. There are already people who dedicate their lives to lettering, and putting lettering that isn't meant for the body into a tattoo is degrading their work. If you use lettering that you made yourself then I see less of a problem.

You are entitled to have an opinion and I am as well. I know text is popular and it has been done forever, but that doesn't mean that I need to agree with it.

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Man I thought this thread was about bad tattoos (difficult enough to define as it is without entering douchey territory), not about tattoos I don't like. That distinction seems pretty crucial to me. I can't stand black licorice, but that doesn't mean I'd call it a "bad" food (although I definitely have done that when my husband has eaten it because I'm a jerk).

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^^

I am afraid this thread was encroaching on the douchey.

I'm kinda guilty as well. Yeah, I think tons of lettering on ribs looks silly, and it's a pain in the ass to tattoo, but oh well, charge accordingly.

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Can I just point out that there is a gigantic difference between script tattoos and typographical tattoos?

You can, but I will still add that typographical tattoos aren't necessarily bad ones either. Stephanie Tamez being an example of somebody who has done pretty spectacular large scale type-based tattoos.

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Can I just point out that there is a gigantic difference between script tattoos and typographical tattoos?

I've got a small, simple typographical tattoo. "breathe" is all it says, but shoot! I think that tattoo is a lot wiser than I am. It continues to teach me so much. People usually don't tell me what a cool tattoo it is, but then that's not why I've got it! It's there to help me and whoever else out.

Remember to breathe!

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