Hand/neck/finger/face tattoos and why we won’t do them on you.
We get LOTS of people asking about why we do not tattoo the hands/necks/fingers/faces, rather than respond to each we will put a little something here. We would like to clarify that this is our shop’s professional opinion and would like to make it a point to say that this in no way represents the thoughts/feelings of the industry as a whole.
The science behind it
Tattoo ink remains a liquid underneath your skin, that’s how it is able to move/grow with you (any hard/raised parts of your tattoo are scar tissue) the ideal placement for this pigment is right between the epidermis and dermis, seems simple right? It’s really not. The tissue on your face/hands/feet is so thin it takes skill and practice to “float” the pigment in the perfect spot.
Too shallow and pigment will fall out when your skin naturally regenerates, too deep and your tattoo will appear blurred, blobby, or permanently bruised. Many people don’t realize this is also why only certain pigments will be bright on certain skin tones, your tattoo is under your skin, not on top. It also accounts for why white ink tattoos heal very poorly. Either of those mistakes are easy for any artist to make, even a very experienced artist can misjudge depth since everyone’s anatomy and skin is different.
“What about all those awesome hand/finger tattoos I see on the internet that look absolutely awesome?”
Like white ink tattoos these pieces typically look fine right at first, what you should be looking for is how these turn out when they’re healed. Very few people will post an after photo because the reality is they generally heal extremely badly. The tattoo below was well done, clearly by an experienced artist, but then look at the healed picture. This is an unfortunate but very typical outcome in the finger tattoo epidemic people are becoming obsessed with.
Any experienced artist should sit you down before your hand/neck/finger/foot tattoo and not only explain the healing issues but also the societal repercussions and the limits we are bound by when it comes to your body healing the art. You should be warned about the frequent touch-ups you will need throughout your tattoo’s lifetime and take those into consideration. Do you have the time/money to take a few days off work to stay off your feet or try not to use your hands?
In the past we have lectured these points, but often clients will still come back irate that their tattoo healed rough. They want someone to blame and they often want their money back because their tattoo didn’t come out how they imagined (how they saw it on pinterest) this isn’t our fault but becomes our problem rather quickly. Irritation, infection, fallout and blowout are all very typical on those areas. This is some of the many reasons we choose to avoid them and recommend against them..
The responsibility doesn’t solely fall on your artist to warn you though, it is our jobs as professionals to try to guide you to the best tattoo but in the end if you’re getting tattooed you’re an adult and the research/repercussions are yours to deal with. Know the location you want to get tattooed, know your artist and their capabilities (as mentioned, not just anyone should be tattooing necks/hands/fingers) and listen to THEIR aftercare advice since it’s THEIR work you are healing.
Let’s talk Society.
Now we can talk about the obvious. Employment – does your current job and also your desired lifetime career allow visible tattoos? No this does not mean “I work at Taco Bell and they don’t care.” unless your life plan includes working at Taco Bell for the long haul, think towards the future, tattoos are permanent. What is the dress code for your career? How may a hand/neck tattoos effect you applying for a business loan from a bank?
Law Enforcement – you have your neck tattooed? Congratulations you are now an object of interest for every cop you walk past. Police may stare down your tattoos checking for gang/criminal imagery and excuses to mess with you, because lets face it, cops are trained to notice these thing and it happens. You may notice routine traffic stops are no longer so routine as well. Again it 100% happens.
Living Arrangement – You and another person put in an application to rent an apartment, think the little old lady landlord wants to rent to the tattooed sideshow or the more ” normal” looking person? Even if it’s a subconscious decision, our money is on the second choice. We have experienced this ourselves trying to rent locations for various things even with a good credit rating and references, so rest assure this type of discrimination is alive and well and will happen to you.
Culture – Though tattoos are now more widely accepted than ever before in modern times there are still PLENTY of folk happy to assume you are a prostitute, drug dealer, or gang banger because you like to wear your art, and you’re more likely to draw these negative assumptions with hand/head/neck/face tattoos. That’s just a fact. Are you the kind of person who can handle these kind of shitty stares and snickers on a near daily basis? What is the culture like where you live? You may live in the most liberal of cities and still overhear “nice neck tattoo, have fun making minimum wage the rest of your life” and other lovely day enlightening and unsolicited blurts from people. Lots of people stare, but you can’t tell which ones are doing so out of disgust/disdain and sometimes you just want to buy some milk without being judged as a human being. The just as horrible flipside to that is having a permanently visible tattoo means every person that ever got/wanted a tattoo will feel the need to approach you in public and tell you about tattoos they want, invade your personal space by touching your tattoos, or remove their clothes to show you theirs (when you didn’t ask). We should point out, if you are that person, tattooed people really hate this so please stop. As mentioned, sometimes you just want to buy some milk and get out of the grocery store without seeing Johnny Whitetrash’s ass crack when he lifts his shirt over his head to show you his hatchet man tattoo he got in Craig’s kitchen. But this will happen to you. A lot.
There are plenty of tattoo artists that don’t care whatsoever about how the work they put on you will effect your life, unfortunately/fortunately we are not them, We are not going to put something on your neck or fingers for the rest of your life so we can make a few dollars. If you’re hell bent on doing it no matter what and find a shop to do it that’s fine and your right to do so as an adult. That simply means we don’t get a call or complaint when it heals badly and you want your money back because of the poor outcome.
We could probably double this list but feel like this should be sufficient for most people to get a decent understanding of some of the main reasons we will not do these areas for you. We hope this helps some people get some insight as to why an artist might turn you down for a tattoo you have in mind.