Bunny Switchblade

Prejudice against people with poorly done tattoos?

Recommended Posts

Derailing into what is most likely a can of worms. I think that having 3 or 4 tattoos and one of them looking like complete shit is a bit different than having a good 20 to 30 good tattoos and a very good understanding of them and after that getting one that you know will be like shit. Not every single tattoo is always result-oriented; chew on that and agree or disagree but I stand by what I mean in the most vague of terms. I do think that it's an 'earn your right ' (stupid fucking cliche term, but in this it has to be used) situation and in this case I really mean it above and beyond other 'earned rights' like hand tats.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not prejudiced against those with poor tattoos, I just wonder what was going their minds at the time. I don't necessarily call people out who have bad tattoos, I usually just stare at the tattoos for an extended period of time with a confused look on my face.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes to some degree, but also worth noting is that there were far fewer than there is now so the amount of crap out there is significantly greater.

I think that there was also less 'ambitious' types of tattooing going on, meaning that most scratchers were doing plain traditional tats and maybe tribal at best. I'm talking about home scratching with a machine not jailhouse guitar string style.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only time I might even remotely judge someone is when they approach me and try to compare. Sometimes I am shown things that blow me away and I'm like, shit, I need to go get tattooed by that person. Other times I feel a bit baffled that the person doesn't see the difference between some of my tattoos and theirs (not all my tattoos are great, but I learned early on enough who to seek out). So, I suppose it isn't as much judging as it is trying to understand that persons level of cognitive comparison.

That said, a lot of my friends are tattooers, and I cherish the tattoos I have from them even if they aren't great (and I will probably get more). The other day when my friend Chris tattooed a small dagger on me, he also thanked me for letting him tattoo me during his first year of tattooing. He knows I've covered up one of the ones he did, but I'll forever keep the black Viking from Malone flash. It looks spotty, but it's as much a portal to his past as it is mine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm only human, so of course I judge people's bad tattoos. Not the person, but the tattoo. If I see a poorly done tattoo, I assume it was done by their friend or a scratcher. With all the great tattoo artists in the midwest, not even including the rest of the country, there is no reason to get a poorly done tattoo. Ever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I think about people I actually know in real life with bad tattoos, a lot of them want their tattoos to be "meaningful" or "representative" of something above all else and they basically don't care about the art, history, or culture of tattooing. They have somebody they go to, they're happy with what they get, and they go back to that person. I don't really talk tattoos with them because I think that even though we're both into tattoos, that we're both after very different things. You can't make people care about art. It doesn't make them bad or stupid people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Derailing into what is most likely a can of worms. I think that having 3 or 4 tattoos and one of them looking like complete shit is a bit different than having a good 20 to 30 good tattoos and a very good understanding of them and after that getting one that you know will be like shit. Not every single tattoo is always result-oriented; chew on that and agree or disagree but I stand by what I mean in the most vague of terms. I do think that it's an 'earn your right ' (stupid fucking cliche term, but in this it has to be used) situation and in this case I really mean it above and beyond other 'earned rights' like hand tats.

I think this might relate to something I posted earlier (if not, well I guess the following is pretty self-centered). I want to clarify that I personally am not about to march out tomorrow and get a tattoo that isn't purely, uh, results-oriented, though I'm more likely to return to a good tattooer who I also feel comfortable with. But I can understand why people might get tattooed for reasons other than, or in addition to, getting a great-looking tattoo. Perhaps not coincidentally a lot of the people who get tattoos that are as much about the process as the result are often involved professionally with tattooing in one way or another, from what I see (i.e. deliberately crappy bro-tats and stuff).

No can of worms; hopefully everyone should understand where you're coming from.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do and I don't, it really depends on the person. They're people out there that can't afford to pay to get a high quality tattoo and get what they can afford. They know it's not the best but they are completely happy with it which is what really matters. That is something I can at least respect. Then they're the people that are ignorant, have subpar tattoos, and think it's the absolute best in the world. They don't know their a$$ from their elbow when it comes to tattoos and normally take selfies all day in the mirror making sure the tattoos are visible. You could show these people work from the best artists in the world and they still think theirs is so much better. They're tattoo snobs and elitists without actually having good tattoos, it's comical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel like I'm channeling Bobby Hill on this one, but I believe in the concept of Wabi Sabi. Beauty often lies within imperfections. All handcrafted art has varying degrees of imperfections, I can see them on my tattoos.

Tattoo is/ and should be more than the comparative yours is better than mine, but within each culture you will find the elitists that point at everyone else. Even if you have the money for a world class bodysuit, it doesn't make you a better person.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When I think about people I actually know in real life with bad tattoos, a lot of them want their tattoos to be "meaningful" or "representative" of something above all else and they basically don't care about the art, history, or culture of tattooing. They have somebody they go to, they're happy with what they get, and they go back to that person. I don't really talk tattoos with them because I think that even though we're both into tattoos, that we're both after very different things. You can't make people care about art. It doesn't make them bad or stupid people.

What Graeme says gets to the heart of the issue for me, the undeniable correlation between 'meaningful' and just plain bad. I think many people (myself included) when they first decide to get tattooed feel that they have to get something 'meaningful' or 'original' in order to justify to themselves getting tattooed in the first place.

The classic and beautiful iconography of Japanese and Western tattooing does not appeal to them because they cannot see how its personal to them. So instead they want a bunch of knives and forks down their arm to represent the fact that they're a chef, or the silhouette of a Matisse painting that they remember from their childhood. I fell completely into this trap myself and its an understandable attempt to reconcile the permanent with the personal. But its a recipe for terrible tattoos the world over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What Graeme says gets to the heart of the issue for me, the undeniable correlation between 'meaningful' and just plain bad. I think many people (myself included) when they first decide to get tattooed feel that they have to get something 'meaningful' or 'original' in order to justify to themselves getting tattooed in the first place.

The classic and beautiful iconography of Japanese and Western tattooing does not appeal to them because they cannot see how its personal to them. So instead they want a bunch of knives and forks down their arm to represent the fact that they're a chef, or the silhouette of a Matisse painting that they remember from their childhood. I fell completely into this trap myself and its an understandable attempt to reconcile the permanent with the personal. But its a recipe for terrible tattoos the world over.

I understand and, in the global sense, agree with what @Graeme wrote, but I don't agree with the notion that there is an "undeniable correlation between 'meaningful' and just plain bad" and that going for personal is a "recipe for terrible tattoos." Maybe I'm misreading your comment, but those knives or Matisse painting may be amazingly designed and executed. Now, if the "recipe" is that the tattoos are done in the chef's kitchen, then you're on to something. But meaningful and original IMHO doesn't imply a terrible tattoo.

@Graeme made the point that just because two people are into tattoos, he's not going to chat it up with someone who doesn't share his aesthetic. I'm into music and listen to a lot of classic rock and "kids these days" just can't appreciate the amazing talent of bands and composers in the 60's/70's, and I'm not going to chat it up with someone digging hip hop on the beach next to me. Not my thing, but I've listened to some that I really enjoy. I'm not going to slam the entire genre as crap.

Anyway, my $0.02.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeh I do understand what you are saying man, I didn't mean to say that 'personal' tattoos were necessarily. or even likely to be terrible. But I do think that a lot of so called 'bad' tattoos are not just the fault of incompetent tattooists (although of course this is the case too) but on the insistence upon personal meaning and so called originality, over and above the design.

Many paintings look wonderful on a canvas but do not work when copied onto someones forearm because they are not readable and don't flow with the contours of the body. Similarly with the knives and forks down the arm example its not that that idea couldn't be incorporated into a really solid tattoo, but that it needs to be grounded in something, solid lines, framing, background etc which has its roots in the traditions of tattooing. I guess you could say that is the job of the tattooer, but I think sometimes people don't make it easy.

I really hope I don't come over like i'm judging people, as I say I've done exactly the same myself, and if someone is pleased with their tattoos and it gets them through the night then who the hell am I to judge! But to follow your music analogy, I'm not saying that because I like 1970's rock music someone else is dumb for listening to hip hop. But if I've only ever listened to Donny Osmond (the musical equivilent of my own early tattoo choices!) and the guy down the street is blasting out 'Exile on Main St.' its obvious to me that only one of us is interested in art.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, I get what you're saying - we're cool. "Bad" in terms of construction/design is also bad, but in another sense of the word. It's unfortunate to see something very well done, but not readable. I was watching (I think) Tattoo Nightmares last night (I know, I think it's fun...) and there was a coverup that in my "less enlightened days," would have loved. It was this funky old player-type piano in the desert with clouds and mountains in the background. But when they showed a finished shot from about 10 feet away, it was unreadable. Poorly placed, not enough black, etc. Sad thing is, it was the ARTIST who designed it without dictation from the client (who just wanted a piano in the desert with mountains). Even if the client had dictated more of the design, it was still up to the tattooer to try and make it work, but this tattooer, when given a nearly blank canvas in terms of guidelines, did something that wasn't a solid tattoo. That's a bummer. (But the client loved it, is it was a coverup for a horrible experience of involuntary tattooing.)

Anyway, I digress - we're on the same page. Up close I really liked it, but it wasn't a good tattoo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like this thread!

I've been guilty of judging and therefore also guilty of hypocrisy. I only have a few tattoos and like most from my generation, my first one was/is....uh, lacking. Just a stock piece picked from a board. The artist was fine and did OK work with the design she was given, so I don't blame her; only my limited imagination at the time. The tattoos that followed got a little bit better each time. Some of that is due to better artists working on me and some of that is due to me thinking beyond the stock stuff. The tattoo I'm currently in search of, should be the best quality to date and certainly the most complex. I imagine there are flocks of folks like me out there. I know I've seen a lot of generic ink over the years.

I think the ones that bother me are the early tattoos that people get, but put them in an obvious place. I'm a tinkerer at heart. I love to take on new hobbies and fascinations. My first few attempts at anything are generally obvious as novice-work. I don't put those things on display. It doesn't mean they hold any less meaning to me, but I wait until I've created something worth viewing before I put it out there for the world. I guess I feel the same way about tattoos. If you're going to have a piece of art put where I have no choice but to see it, I'd just prefer it be something worth seeing. That said, I don't look down on someone with bad or mediocre work....I've got some of my own. I've thought about having my first one covered, or worked into a larger design, but there is something about that boring tattoo that I like; because it was my first.

As for this site; marvelous! I got my first in 1989, when the internet was still in diapers. There were three studios in the town where I lived. I went to the first one that could get me a seat. So yeah, I had mediocre work coming. This site is a treasure trove of information and opinions. I'm thrilled to have it as a resource, so thank you. I moderated a niche forum for years whose biggest bragging right was that it was a 'different' place when compared to other forums. There was little hostility and a ton of group brain-storming and engineering. The vibe was great! This place reminds me of that place. Keep helping each other and maybe we won't have to look at 'bad' tattoos on the upcoming generations. :cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me add this dynamic to the whole conversation I started......

Over the years....30 of them now....I have had to deal with the judgement of others....and have endured true discrimination at places I have worked....and "circles" I have traveled in! Even my kids paid the price a little because other parents didn't want their kids going to "their house....their parents are tattooed" LOL

It was fine because I look back now and see how far I have come compared to most of those people and I am far better off than they are on just about every level as are my kids! ;)

Here is my point though......

I made the conscious decision to alter my body at the time in a way I KNEW was not accepted by the society around me and as fucked up as this may sound.....I never blamed society for their ignorance or the discrimination!

I took what they threw at me and turned their garbage into my gold!

Yeah....I had to work twice as hard to get where I am in life....but it made me a much stronger person!

My point being is.....people can cry about discrimination all they want.....BUT it's not like they were born deformed or a certain race....sex...genetic factor.....or some other thing beyond their control! WE have chosen this....knowing inside there are people who do not agree with us....and full on knowing that there could be some backlash for doing it!

So me personally......I have never taken it too personally when people have placed discrimination upon me! Is it ever right? Hello No!!!

But I personally do accept some responsibility only because I knew society wasn't going to agree with all of my decisions!

Much like @TatsNCats......I just never gave a shit....LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^^^ Good points. I knew when I started on my arm that I was gonna be looked at more frequently, and asked about it's meaning - yada yada. I don't mind it at all, I knew what I was getting into. Most of my other tattoos can be covered up, but it's fucking hot in So. Cal and I pretty much live in tank tops year round.

I just throw a 'bitch please' look when I am being stared at my scurdy cats at school. Never had a problem with my sons' friends coming for play dates though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.