Trends come and go. Ink on the other hand…well, it may not be forever, but with the cost and complications involved in getting it fixed or removed, it might as well be. Thankfully, we're your friends. That's right, folks: Spike.com cares about you. That's why we've compiled this list of tattoos you should avoid getting at all costs.
THE BUTTERFLY ON THE ANKLE
Image: WireImage/Getty Images
This one is so common it's almost become like a rite of passage, except this is one that you can definitely skip. It's not particularly expressive, isn't rebellious, and rarely looks exceptional. Besides, don't butterflies only live for a few hours or days anyway? That's what Wikipedia says. Hey, say what you want about citing Wikipedia as a source, but it's still a better idea than a crappy butterfly permanently inked on your ankle.
TRIBAL MARKINGS ON YOUR ARM
Nothing says "spends more time looking at himself in the mirror at the gym than actually working out" quite like a tribal tattoo. They're big, they're ugly, and they're meaningless. What tribe, exactly, is this supposed to be from? Is there a tribe somewhere that spikes their hair well into their forties? Guys, just stop. JUST STOP.
THAT TRIBAL SUN THAT RESEMBLES THE GODSMACK LOGO THAT DUDES GET ON THE UPPER CENTER OF THEIR BACK
Some guys ended up with this because they were kind of into that band when they were 17 (more on that later), but others seem to just see it on the wall of a tattoo shop and decide it looks cool. Trust us first when we say that it doesn't, and the placement is also troublesome because it's become referred to in recent years as the "male tramp stamp." Speaking of which…
THE TRAMP STAMP
We hate to even use this phrase because it's sort of icky and a bit misogynistic, but there's a point to be made about proper placement for a tattoo. Like, getting a tattoo on your butt is kind of dumb since you're always sitting on it. Anyway, it's not a flattering association, and for the most part the tattoos you see in this area aren't great shakes.
BARB WIRE AROUND YOUR BICEP
George Carlin put it best when he commented that if guys really want to appear tough, they should put REAL barb wire on their bicep. This tattoo just says you're trying too hard. It's also been done to death, and by that I mean it was groan-inducing as far back as fifteen years ago. It's 2013. It's time to stop getting a tattoo that says "I want to keep prisoners from climbing over my shoulder and escaping!"
YOUR OWN NAME
Nothing says "self-involved narcissist" like a guy who has his own name tattooed on his stomach or ribcage. A lot of fighters and wrestlers get this done, but many of them actually do it for logistical purposes: it's a way for them to advertise who they are at all times and get people to remember their names. Not the most proper use for a tattoo, but it (sort of) makes sense. But if you're just a regular guy like us who works a 9 to 5, you don't need to do this. Also, it's not as if you're going to forget your own name.
IRONIC/INTENTIONALLY AWFUL TATS
The problem with irony is two-fold. One, it might be passé (as someone living in New York and having to occasionally take the L train, I can only hope this is the case). Two, it's only funny once. A single time. Yet you and others will have to see that intricately detailed tattoo of Don Knotts as Barney Fife in "The Andy Griffith Show" for the rest of your lives. One day that won't be funny. May not be today, may not be tomorrow. But someday.
"Hey, man! Check out my barcode tat! It's because we're a CONSUMER SOCIETY. Isn't that deep?!" No, and you're a fool. They also never come out good. Trust us on that one, or ask any artist worth their salt and they'll tell you the same.
QUOTES FROM POETRY OR LITERATURE
Tastes change, even personally speaking. The books you loved as a teenager are not the books you'll love as an adult. The novel you were obsessed with at twenty-five may be unbearable at forty. It's the nature of expression: if it speaks to you, there's a chance it may only be speaking to where you are. That's why getting a quote from a favorite piece of writing probably isn't a good idea. Especially if you get a bad artist or even a good artist having an off-day. Then it'll just look like someone scrawled a grocery list on you. There's also the problem that a lot of great writers were usually terrible people, and many will associate those words with them instead of the work. For instance, did you know what a truly awful human being Charles Bukowski was? Well, the person looking at your tattoo does, and they think you're awful by association. Is it fair? Maybe not. But them's the breaks. Speaking of changing tastes…
ANYTHING AT ALL BEFORE YOU TURN 25
We may catch some heat for this one, but trust us when we say that just because you can legally get a tattoo doesn't meant that you should. Let us put it to you this way: do you know how many forty-year-olds are walking around right now with tattoos of the rabbit from "Donnie Darko?" We don't have an exact number, but too many.
CHINESE CHARACTERS & OTHER CULTURAL APPROPRIATION
This trend may have started when white guys started taking martial arts and decided that the whole of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other Southeast Asian cultures were defined primarily on what style of martial arts developed from them. That's objectively incorrect and subjectively racist. Getting a Chinese character tattooed on you when you're not actually Chinese may not be intentionally racist, but it sure is dumb. Hey, if you saw a guy that walked around with the word "WATER" tattooed on his forearm in Times New Roman font, wouldn't you think that was stupid? Well that's what some of you have, and trust us, it is. We are all laughing at you.
ANY OTHER FLASH TATTOOS
Getting a tattoo is a means of expression. It may express the wants, needs, desires, and hopes of the person wearing the tattoo or it may be a means for the artist doing the tattoo to express himself using a willing canvas. Or, in an ideal scenario, it's a combination of both. Unfortunately, too many people see it as buying a shirt off the rack. But you should have more respect for it and the form. Not just because it's permanent, but because of the work and expertise that goes into a truly good tattoo. A good rule of thumb is if you can see it on the wall of a tattoo parlor while walking by outside, you shouldn't get it on your person.
Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!