Opinion — 27 April 2018

By Ian Jones

@IDJONESPHOTOG

According to a 2012 Harris poll, 1 out of every 5 adults has at least one tattoo. According to Forbes, Americans spend about 2.3 billion dollars yearly on getting them. Until recently, I wasn’t one of them.

Until late 2015, I hadn’t really considered getting one. I just didn’t think I was “the type,” whatever that is.

Looking back, I’d bought into the stereotypes–despite having a lot of friends with them. I also felt like it’s sort of a cliché for a fan of punk music to get a tattoo, so I wasn’t interested.

Then I decided I’d get one only if I found something that really meant a lot to me.

Not long after that I saw a quote: “I’d rather have a life of ‘oh wells’ than a life of ‘what ifs.’” It isn’t the most punk phrase, but damn, was it deep. I had a temporary tattoo made, and it lasted a couple of days. I decided I really wanted it.

I saved up some money, and during that time, I decided to go with something smaller.

That quote would take up a lot of room. A few years ago, I found the logo of 3E Love, a non-profit disability group.

The logo is a take on the international wheelchair symbol, and represents societal acceptance of disabilities, something I’m passionate about. It’s also taken on a “memorial” meaning for me, honoring my friends who have died.

Then came a lengthy period of research. I talked to a few tattooed friends about levels of pain I might expect. I watched a lot of tattoo videos on YouTube.

I watched numerous Q&As with artists, and more than a few “my first tattoo” vlogs.

I did my homework on the safety aspect, because there is a small risk of infection – but attitudes are changing. Even the Red Cross has altered its blood donation requirements for the newly inked. They used to have a year-long deferment for the newly-inked, but now, if the parlor is sanitary, reputable and follows state guidelines, and you follow your artist’s after-care instructions, it’s not really a problem.

I got a little obsessed. I was seeing tattoo-related things everywhere. Coincidentally, during that period, my brother got his first tattoo.

I’ve always heard tattoos were addictive – and when I started looking around Pinterest for ideas, I realized how true that is. In the space of a week, I suddenly had seven tattoo ideas, and I hadn’t totally committed to my first one yet.

I’d decided to go small, like I said. When the artist came up to me with the stencil, the adrenaline started flowing.

It didn’t register that it was bigger than I had planned on. “Great, let’s do it!” I blurted out.

I don’t regret that, because it reminds me of the meaning behind the quote I originally wanted. In a way, it’s an ‘oh well,’ but it’s also a ‘what if.’ What if I had gotten it smaller and actually wanted it bigger?

Will I do it again?

Yeah, some day, but not all of those seven ideas I ended up with. I’ve pared it down to one, possibly two more.

I’m not sure when, because I’m going to have to work myself up for it. It doesn’t hurt too bad, but it’s definitely more than a tickle.

Overall, there’s a lot to consider with tattoos, and it’s not something I think anyone should rush into.

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