Thinking of getting some work done? Already picked out a cool place that doubles as a jewelry story and an artist whose particular style draws you in? Not so fast, jack. You’ve got one last major issue to consider: where that shit goes on your body.
To pretend that the location of a tattoo on your body can be incidental is somewhat naïve*. Sure, the design itself should be most important, but oftentimes poor placement of a tattoo can demean the design. Nothing’s worse than a really good tattoo that loses its luster because it’s creeping around someone’s nipple or the like.
For newbies, my rule is always no tattoos where a judge can see them. If you don’t yet know that you’re going to be a Very Inked Person, then get zapped somewhere that can be easily hidden by formalwear. This is a good rule to live by even with later ink; to this day I do not have a tattoo that cannot be covered by a suit.
But if you’ve decided that you’re in it to win it, here are a few tips on tattoo placement. For the record, [CJ] means ‘Conjecture’—as in, I don’t have a tattoo there, but this is from what I’ve heard. Any place you feel I’ve misjudged? Please let me know in the comments section.
Pain level: 5/10. Usually enough fat and muscle here to keep it from being super painful.
Unspoken message: I put an emphasis on strength and/or hard work. I love that Schwarzanegger/Weathers interaction in Predator.
Pain level: 6/10. Not bad either, but close enough to the hand to get lots of tasty nerves involved.
Unspoken message: It pleases me for you to see that I have tattoos in the amount of time it takes to shake my hand.
Pain level: 8.5/10. Basically getting tattooed where all your nerves meet.
Unspoken message: Outlaw or non-mainstream culture is part of everything I do. Advice on how I should live my life is extremely unwelcome.
Pain level: 6.5-7/10. Definitely a nerve cluster, though not a terrible one.
Unspoken message: I hold things close to my heart, literally. Soldiers appeal to me, somewhat. I like being seen without my shirt on.
Pain level: 9/10. A big ball of nerves in the middle of your body. Either over organs or ribs. Have fun.
Unspoken message: This message is central to who I am, and I was to display it accordingly. I do not intend to gain a ton of weight anytime soon. I’m out of room elsewhere.
BACK – SHOULDERS/SHOULDER BLADES
Pain level: 6/10. Some pain radiation, but surprisingly not that bad.
Unspoken message: Angels interest me to a certain degree. I am okay with larger tattoo designs, but don’t want anything too massive.
BACK – CENTRAL
Pain level: 8-9/10. Pretty bad, though different depending on what part of the back is being tattooed at what time.
Unspoken message: Being tattooed is enjoyable to me. So is sex.
Pain level: 6.5/10. Definitely sucks, but not the end of the world by any means.
Unspoken message: Large de
Pain level: 10/10. Really bad. All that soft tissue? All those nerves? Yeah.
Unspoken message: Tattoos, and I the bearer of them, should be provocative and challenge the normal world at large. I do not want to be a lawyer.
Pain level: 9/10. From what I’ve heard, it’s really bad, but given your average person’s lifelong use of cosmetics or facial cleansers, your face has been trained to take some considerable pain.
Unspoken message: I’ve given myself entirely to the art. Worrying about the world at large is ridiculous—the presentation is all. I do not want to be president.
*That said, if you’re getting ready to get tattooed, you should also be ready to say, ‘Nah’, or, ‘Fuck you’ to a dude like me, so take all of this with a grain of salt.