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Tattoo Culture: Real Advice From a Really Tattooed Girl.

Updated on May 21, 2016


Only One Piece of the Full Work

Love at first ink.

Today most people have at least one tattoo or in the least know one person with a tattoo. For myself I have (as of 5/12/15) have about 21 tattoos. They range from large pieces or tiny 'basic' tattoos.They start from the backs of my ear and go down in the my legs. Some are unfinished and some need to be fixed. Each stroke of my artist's gun has been a mark on the living book that is my body and life's journey.

I started getting tattooed when I was 20 years old. For myself the idea of getting a tattoo was a natural one, and started young. I grew up with a biker father who, himself has two tattoos. (A dragon fighting a panther and the pink panther dressed as a traditional US sailor. I can remember my dad talking about the pink panther tattoo and how it use to be pink but the color faded.), and my grandfather (who served in Korea) had a 'old school' (although back then it was just 'school') navy tattoo. My biker father in true fashion had many biker friends, who also had many tattoos. So I grew up with the culture and honestly assumed all adults had tattoos. At least male adults.

The first time I brought up truly wanting a tattoo was when I was a freshman in high school, I was hoping to convince my parents to take me to a tattoo shop when I turned 16. This did not work, and I really thanks my parents for that. I wanted cute little anime style angel wings on my back. My dad told me (and still fallow this advice) "If you want it after you turn 18, then get it." after I turned 18 my dad changed it to "If you still want it after 6 months or even a year, then get it"-very solid advice fyi.

Now as for my first tattoo I had tattooed on me 2 guns. And no I have no clue what type they are, I honestly found them on the internet. I thought they were cool, (not every tattoo needs a big meaning!) I was 20 years old and in college. I picked the shop because my friend Kelsey went to it. It was "Expressions Ink" and the artist was Guy Daniels. (If you're every in Wausau, WI stop by him, he's great) Facebook had just become a thing so while I posted pictures all over facebook it was still just for college students, so my family didn't know. My family drove to the University I was attending, to see a play I was in. Clearly while out to eat was the best time to show my family my new tattoo.

My grandmother, true to her nature, licked a tissue and attempted to remove my tattoo. Much to her discomfort, it was for forever, and not the last. Much to everyone's wishes I would end up getting far more tattoos. I'm still not done.....

Before and After.

Trashy Vs Classy

I remember once when I was a bartender, right after I got my chest panel done, a woman came into my bar. I remember it clearly, long dirty blonde hair half done up, over sized men's grey hoodie, men's jeans, work boots, no makeup. That night I wore what I normally wore tending bar, shorts-shorts, 2 bras and a low cut tee shirt. I'll admit it, I dressed cheap when I tended bar.

However the combination of a daisy dukes, barely there tee, and many tattoos, I didn't look like a gal anyone was bring home to momma. But that's the rub of it, I made money dressed like that and I was at work to in fact make money. So I looked "trashy".

However the fore mentioned woman, made this point clear to me, her words burned into my mind "I mean its your body, but really you look like a whore. That big thing on your chest, sure you're great for a night but don't you want to get married. No man will be attracted to you dressed and look like that!"

I often had to bite my tongue working at that bar.

A year later I started as a manager at a Vanity, if you've never been that's cool, its just a women's clothing store. Its kinda like Aeropostals' older sister college aged sister. The way I dressed at Vanity and dressed bartending were two different animals. At Vanity I wore cardigans, and layered my clothing, accessorized. Basically one giant game of dress up. I always worried though, with having a sleeve, chest panel, and back tattoo would the older ladies absolutely hate how I looked. Would I get told to constantly cover them.

The answer kiddos. Nope. Why? Presentation kids, PRESENTATION!

When I bartended, I looked easy, and because I dressed like I was super easy, my tattoos looked ugly and trashy. However at Vanity, because my tattoos were often pairs with cardigans, scarfs, layered shirts and necklaces, my tattoos looked brighter more professional, classier.

I also want to have, and I'm currently guilty of it, half finish tattoos look rough. So while I'm waiting for the tattoo to be finished I like to do everything I can to represent myself as a well dressed, young woman..

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Inked and Employed!

So the hardest part, for me at least, of being very tattooed is looking for employment while tattooed. First impressions are everything, and as I started before presentation is everything, you can go from the unemployment line to you're hired in a single look.

I remember when I was 18 years old and looking for a job it was hard to find the right outfit, the right look, the right thing that said "Hey I'm great for this job!" Once I started getting tattoos it became harder.Some places I would go to would often notice one of my tattoos and point out I needed to cover it, or they had a no visible tattoo policy. When I was 21 years old I had a really hard time finding a job because of my tattoos. While I found employment, that linger thought floats in my friend when I start sending my resumes out.

"Will they notice me, and my experience or just my tattoos."

Many of my tattooed friends will often say to this statement "While I want my employer to know I'm INKED AND PROUD!" or "They should accept it!" I honestly do not see it that way, but I also think to the jobs I want vs the jobs they want are very different things.

I received my undergrad in Theatre, Stage Management, Set Design and Costume Design. When I'm looking for work, I want my work, and promp scripts, and designs to be the first thing my would-be employer sees. Not get dead stopped by the mermaid on my chest. I want to be seen as Nikki the professional, not Nikki that tattooed chick.

I think with tattoos, there is a time and a place. And with post college life, well "JOB ME NOW!"

My advice

  • Try to cover your tattoo while at the interview
  • Ask what the policy is on body mods and tattoos
  • If the job is something you really want spend the money on work related clothing.

Tattooed And Dating

In my dating experience (and lets face it if you know me you'd know, its poop) when guys respond to my tattoos its in one of a few ways:

  1. They'll want to talk about their, explaining every meaning, every detail and how their tattoo is slightly better than mine.
  2. They'll ask the meaning behind my tattoos, then get bummed when its not that deep
  3. Think I'm a crazy sex driving biker chick who operates solely on Jack Daniels and broken dreams.
  4. Ruined my otherwise nice body
  5. They want a blow job

Look, again this falls into I'm me and my tattoos are just one part of the over all person. The older I get the more I want to not so much 'hid' my tattoos but rather pull the focus and attention to me, the person. Plus I like the surprised look I get from those dates when we've reached sexy time status and they see all the ink. It's a nice 'WTF' face.

Does this Hurt..Yes, but not that much.

Tattoo Location
"Amount of Pain"
My Experience
Behind the Ear
High Pain Levels
Ugh the gun is so loud
High Pain Levels
Annoying mostly
Mild and High Pain Levels
Not so bad
High to Extreme Pain Levels
Mix of Low to High Pain Levels
Fell Asleep
Mix of Low to High Pain Levels
Also Fell Asleep
High Pain Levels
Fuck that
Upper Arm
Mild to High Pain Levels
Lower Arm
Mild to High Pain Levels
High Pain Levels
Yes it hurt

Tips to improve your tattoo experience!

Anyone who has been tattooed will tell you the same things. They'll talk about the smells, and how addictive it is. Here are some tips to have your shop experience better.

  • NO CAFFEINE. No energy drinks, no coffee, no soda.
  • Be ready to wait, for a long while because you're artist has gotten get it all ready
  • You're artist is paying for where they're tattooing you. They live off their tips. So really tip them. I wait until my tattoos are finished and give one big tip. As for how much, that depends on your artist. Most are pretty cool and really work with you.
  • If you love are artist really promote them!
  • Tattoo pain sucks but you'll get over it.
  • Don't lie to your artist. That paperwork you fill out is for both of you. For their legal safety and your health

Tattoo Trends

Images found on Pinterest
Images found on Pinterest

Tattoo Trends I love

So while I've left myself to the world of the very tattooed, there are still tattoo trends that I'm in love with.

  1. Small cross tattoos, especially on the hand and the neck. I love little tattoos like that, its like when you see the tattoo, its like a tiny secret and a little mystery.
  2. Random Things in Victorian Frames (animals, people, ect)
  3. Animals like bucks
  4. Sir Animals
  5. I will forever love Squid and Octopus tattoos
  6. Any sort of nature/tree tattoos

Wanna Watch Me Say This Same Stuff?

© 2015 Nicole Graf


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    • Nikki Graf profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Graf 

      3 years ago from Appleton, WI

      Thanks for Reading!


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