Americans spend over $1 billion annually on tattoos and there are hundreds – if not thousands – of web pages around the ‘Net devoted to curating the most devastating of tattoo failures. However, let’s face it: You find these sites hilarious mostly because that’s not your arm in that poorly focused picture that somebody ripped off someone’s social media account. If you intend to avoid a lifetime of mockery and embarrassment, consider this list fair warning.
5 One Night in Bangkok
Perhaps you’ve been there. You’re in a foreign country (or Las Vegas), the drinks have gone down easy, and you find yourself saying to your friends, “Let’s get tattoos!” To be fair, a reputable tattoo artist would refuse to tattoo someone who was inebriated. But, you saw “Hangover Part II.” Don’t be a Stu. Best-case scenario, you can get your monstrosity covered up—like the fortunate man named Marshall, who enlisted the help of an artist at the shop “Tattoo Nightmares” to transform an embarrassing tribal he acquired one drunken evening. But it wasn’t easy – artist Jasmine Rodriguez admitted the work of turning the horrid mass of black ink into an image of the four horsemen was the most difficult cover-up she’d ever done. Most people forget drunken debauchery fairly quickly, but absent painful laser treatments or expensive cover-up work, that tattoo is with you for life.
4 Lost in Translation
The simplicity and beauty of Chinese and Japanese characters makes them popular tattoo choices, especially if you’re getting your first tattoo—but they do require a little research. Double-check the character’s meaning with a reputable source, as Chicago Bulls center Tyson Chandler did. He ran the character he thought meant “love” by Chinese NBA star Yao Ming before getting it tattooed on his skin. Otherwise, you risk ending up like Dallas Maverick Marquis Daniels, who thought he was getting his initials in Chinese characters. Turns out the actual translation of his tattoo is “healthy woman roof.” It’s your tattoo, and you have to live with it—surely you don’t want to be a laughing stock to the billions of people fluent in the language.
3 ‘Til Death Do Us Part
Sure, love can make you do crazy things. When you’re in the throes of it, there’s no doubt in your mind that this is it—you’ll be with this person forever. But what if you’re not right? Just ask Johnny Depp, who had his “forever” dedication to Winona Ryder indelibly inked. Sadly, forever ended and Depp dutifully had a couple letters of her name lasered off so he could proclaim himself a “Wino Forever.” On second thought, this is not the most terrible idea, provided your love’s first name is something like “Bacon.”
2 Amateur Hour
If you’re telling someone about an idea you have for a tattoo you’d like, and that person says, “Oh, my cousin has a tattoo gun, come over to my house he can do that for you real cheap,” your response should be, “No.” Actually, you should probably decline before the person even finishes their sentence. Tattooing is subject to a number of state health regulations, and there’s just no way proper sanitation can be provided in such a situation. An illegal tattoo could expose you to any number of blood-borne illnesses—just ask actress Pamela Anderson, who contracted hepatitis C from sharing a tattoo needle with then-husband Tommy Lee. At best, you end up with an ugly tattoo—just say no.
1 How Do You Spell That?
Tattoo guns don’t have spell-check, so if you’re getting a tattoo with words, two things are of paramount importance: First, make sure you know how to spell the words; and second, make sure your tattoo artist also knows how to spell them. You don’t want to end up like Jerri Peterson. As a torchbearer for the 2012 Olympic Games, it’s understandable she’d want a tattoo to commemorate that experience. Unfortunately, the tattoo she got labels her an “Oylmpic Torch Bearer.” Oy!