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Tattoos: Significance vs. Vanity

By April 10, 2004

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Many times when we talk to someone considering a tattoo - especially their first - we will encourage them to get something that has significance to them. A special meaning or personal significance certainly makes it more likely that you will still appreciate it even years in the future. There have been a lot of news reports lately about the rise in tattoo removal, and how the "fad" of getting tattooed has now been replaced by a new trend of getting them taken off. I believe the reason for this rise is directly related to the rise in the tattoo's popularity and the fact that impulse decisions are also on the rise. In order to avoid regretting a tattoo you're going to regret, it is highly recommended that you give it some real thought - not only to ensure that the design you have chosen will continue to be something you can love, but also to make sure that you even want the tattoo at all. If you're only getting it to fit in, be cool or follow a fad, chances are you're going to resent your ink when it is no longer "in" to be inked. As much as I would like to say that tattoo fever is here to stay, I think I would be very deluded to actually believe it.

However, that being said, let's face it - we like our tattoos to look good. If you have decided to get a tattoo and are positive on the design you have chosen, for goodness sake get it done right. Get it done by an artist that really puts pride in their work. There is nothing wrong with wanting a tattoo that you can show off with pride. Your tattoo should look like a piece of art when it is completed - not a piece of scratchwork someone scribbled just for the sake of saying it's a tattoo. If you want to know what your tattoo should look like, pick up a few tattoo magazines. I think it's pretty safe to say that most of the tattoos you are going to see in these magazines are above average, if not exceptional pieces of tattoo art. Why are you worth anything less than what you see in tattoo magazines? Why shouldn't you get a tattoo that looks so good it belongs in the pages of a tat rag? I get a lot of fabulous tattoo work submitted to me here for the site, but I also get a lot that is substandard at best - and some of them are just plain horrible. And I'm guessing that the people who sent them in are honestly proud of their tattoos or why would they send them to me? It's kind of sad, really, especially when the tattoo DOES have significance. Is your tribute to your mother or brother or child not worth more than a jacked-up handmade poke-job you got really cheap from that guy who tats out of his kitchen?

Granted, usually "vanity" is a term that comes with a negative stigma and with good reason, but in moderation can actually be a good thing. Getting a significant or meaningful tattoo is great, but have enough vanity to want it to look good, too! This is the kind of pride we should all want to have in our tattoo work, even if the cost is a little higher.

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