Tattoos: is the writing on the epidermis?

HTWB tattooI got into a whole lot of trouble recently. My son turned up with a new girlfriend who is a tattoo artist and who has been working on his various body art extravaganzas including some which involve written words.

Tattoo artists and their responsibilities

Face it: you’re sitting or lying there enduring not inconsiderable pain and discomfort. You are entirely in the tattoo artist’s hands, potentially skewered down to the chair or table if you so much as sneeze. When being in such mortal danger, do you dare stop the artist now and again to check for spelling mistakes? I know I wouldn’t.

Mind you in the case of my son when he was having his first tattoo aged 16 – a range of card suits running across his upper chest – his tattoo artist was an extremely buxom young woman wearing a sleeveless, V-necked T-shirt the neckline of which dipped several miles south. Needless to say my son would have put up with her writing the entire Gettysburg Address on his chest and not worried about anything other than his inappropriately romantic feelings.

Not so easy for some other tattoo recipients as far as I can gather, who have been inked for eternity with the most embarrassing mistakes.

If your spelling isn’t so good, and your tattoo artist’s isn’t either, now what?

Not for me to point fingers: much as I love my home country of Canada I’m still too old and too chicken to have a Maple Leaf tattooed somewhere about my person.

But I have seen a few screamers on other people’s tattoos. Names spelled wrongly. Images wrongly drawn.

And always, always, always … no matter how good the colours maybe to start with, after a while they all turn to this depressing blue-gray sludge hue.

Why did I get into trouble over my views on tattoos?

Because after the girlfriend and I had chatted for a while over several coffees, she asked me what I thought her future might be in her art – and without doubt, her drawings and resultant tattoos are stunning.

HTWB PWW main in-post logoI said, “much as tattoos are the rage right now, there will come a day when they are no longer fashionable. So do yourself a favour: while perfecting your tattooing art, also learn how to remove tattoos.

Because one day when the fashion has ended that will become a seriously in-demand skill and you’ll make a fortune if you can get in before your competitors do.”

My son’s reaction? “Mum, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

And the girlfriend’s reaction?  “You could have a point there, Suze.”

We women are so much more pragmatic…

What do you think? Do you have tattoos? And if so, do you think you will want to keep them forever, or might you want to a) get rid of them or b) change them eventually?

I really would be fascinated to know, so please share your views here.

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family (don’t forget the Holiday Season is coming soon)…

photo credit: the_girl via photopin cc




  1. I don’t have any tattoos and can’t see it ever happening. People are free to do what they want with their bodies but the problem seems to be that tattoos are addictive now! Are they putting nicotine or cocaine in the ink or something? Gone are the days when one would get a little butterfly on the shoulder and that was it. Now, I hear people talking about what tattoo they are getting next, like they are buying a new CD or something! Okay, I’m showing my age, I know nobody buys CDs anymore, but you get my drift!
    What I find really disturbing is the young teenagers who are marking up the permanently exposed parts of their bodies, such as their hands, necks and faces. Not knowing yet, which direction they will want to take in life, I think it’s a big mistake.
    Suzan, I think you were spot on when you suggested to your son’s girlfriend to learn how to remove tattoos. The time will come when ‘Tattoo Removalists’ will be all the rage!

    • That’s a very good point, Ann-Marie – tattoos have become an addiction. After getting the four card suits across his chest my son went on to have various things done on one leg, one arm and a shoulder. However his dad and I made him promise that he would never get a tattoo on a body part that shows when he’s wearing a business shirt / tie / suit … and he sees the sense in that. It may seem old-fashioned and uncool, but there are still many people in the workplace who frown on tattoos and with young graduates finding it hard enough to get good jobs as it is, going for an interview with a squiggly red snake sticking out of your shirt cuff ain’t going to get you to top of the shortlist. Tell you what – let’s you and I both retrain as “Tattoo Removalists….” get ahead of the band wagon! 😉

  2. i would love to have tatoos but temporary ones. i am kind of person who loves temporary craziness and not lifetime craziness.

    • Temporary tattoos would be a great idea, Amar – you’re right there. I know there are “stick on” types of tattoo but they just haven’t taken off. Not sure why – does a permanent tattoo have more meaning, somehow?

  3. Tattoos I think are a bit of a fashion fad right now. They used to be so transgressive, and now anybody can get them without most people even batting an eye. A young friend of mine got a band symbol tattooed right in her upper center chest. It’s an abstract kind of symbol, simple and kind of elegant, but I still cringe. What band symbol would I have had tattooed on met at 19? Would I have Led Zepplin’s ZOSO? Or Meatloaf on his motorcycle? I can’t even imagine. I am SO glad I’m not living with a constant reminder of my musical choices of 30 years ago, though. Yeah, I still love the Zep, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I once owned a Toto album. . . ;-D

    • LOL Theresa … what you’ve described is all the more reason for us to start up a “Tattoo Removalists” business … right, Ann-Marie? … so are you in, too? We could charge premium prices for people who wanted removal of tattoos that give away their age … 😉

  4. Hi Suzan I was a teacher of adult literacy for 13 years. One website my colleagues and I used regularly has a fab resource in a PowerPoint presentation. The site is Skills Workshop and unfortunately your comment box won’t let me post the link, but if you go to their site, search under “tattoo spelling” you will find a page. Click on its title, and then scroll down the page a little, to the Resource subheading and click the link. We’ve loved showing this to our students, to explain in (literally) graphic detail just how serious an impact poor spelling can have. Enjoy! My opinion of tattoos? I have one, my husband has 2 and my younger son has loads. We’ve gone for pictures rather than words. It’s far safer!

  5. Pictures rather than words are a very good choice when it comes to tattoos, Marianna. Thanks for your input!

  6. Suze, I’m seriously considering the retraining thing. You are so onto something there. Theresa, get in there quick! 🙂