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No Regerts: Tales of Tattoo Regret and Ink Anguish

No Regerts: Tales of Tattoo Regret and Ink Anguish
Stories6 min Read

We talked to some of our Tattoodo Facebook followers about their experience with tattoo regret and how they handle it!

In October of 2019, Tattoodo asked our Facebook followers to share their tattoos that they regret, and boy did you deliver! Stories range from being young and making questionable decisions, scratcher set-ups, prison tattoos, poor designs, and bad placements. But don’t worry, if you do end up regretting that ink, you can always get a sweet cover up or laser that sucker off as some of our followers did!

According to a recent study, 3/4 people who have a tattoo that they regret, say they only thought about getting said tattoo for a few weeks. Moral of the story? Think before you ink! Age is also a major factor in tattoo regret. Out of 600 tattooed people who were interviewed about their tattoo regret, 46% were under the age of 20, 45% were in their 20’s, 6% were in their 30’s, and only 1% were in their 40’s or 50’s when they got that regretful piece. Style is of course another huge factor, as tattoos are a visual art form.

No regret here! Work sucks tattoo by Dean Violante #DeanViolante #worksucks #snakepit

No regret here! Work sucks tattoo by Dean Violante #DeanViolante #worksucks #snakepit

According to these 600 people with tattoos that they regret, script or lettering was the number one for bad tattoos. No surprises there, as many “bad tattoos” feature spelling mistakes, names, or tattoos in a language not spoken by the wearer or tattooer. Content is a little different than style. For example you can have a skull done in a realistic style, American traditional, Neo-traditional, blackwork, etc. When asked about the kind of content people most regret in a tattoo, tribal took the gold trophy. We’re all familiar with the 90’s trend that looked as horrible then as it does today, yet for some reason people continue to get them. Tribal in this case being very different than Polynesian, as the two are often mixed up.

While many people regret getting other people’s names tattooed on them, one also might not like having their own name! Luke unfortunately let his drunk friends choose his tattoo, and they chose his own name, massively scrawled across his stomach. Fortunately he’s getting it covered up, but that’s not a fun process!

Not all coverups are created equal as we can see by these designs. According to the wearer, Marc, the first piece is supposed to be a Ying and Yang with an added sunrise and sunset, but the artist completely botched it. In an attempt to make it better they added more of a night and day scene to it, and on the third, completely scrapped those ideas into one much bigger nature landscape. It’s unknown if the same artist did all three, but it looks like they may have been.

Brad’s piece was done freehand, in prison, as a tribal piece. One might call it the trifecta of tattoo regret. According to Brad there are plans for a cover up, who is leaning towards blacking it out, which has become a popular way for people to deal with their unwanted tattoos.

Don’t be discouraged by bad tattoos though. There are artists out there who can cover them with true works of art! This artist, Macoy Flores was able to cover a poorly done and badly aged rib piece with a beautiful realistic owl head and some great popping background colour.

Unknown artist #tattooregret #ribtattoo #regrettattoo
Cover up by Macoy Flores #tattoocoverup #owltattoo #ribtattoo #regrettattoo

Some people might only regret a tattoo because of placement. For Ozelle, this aged dolphin piece has significant meaning, so she doesn’t regret having it, but wishes it was in a more private place on her body. While Alice only regrets the placement of this gorgeous piece because of how painful it was! The back of your upper arm is a tender place and a tattoo with this much black and this amount of detail would have been quite painful to say the least.

Artist unknown #tattooregret #tattooaging #placementregret #regrettattoo
Artist unknown #tattooregret #placementregret #spacetattoo #regrettattoo

Anabella was at least able to laugh about her tattoo, and is thankfully able to look back on the memory with some kind of fondness. At the age of 15, she and her 17 year old friend (off to a great start here), purchased a tattoo machine off of Amazon. As both of them were frequent users of cannabis, they of course decided to tattoo a pot leaf on her. What goes with a pot leaf you might ask? A pocket watch that is supposed to read the time 4:20 of course! Of course one should always go to a reputable artist in a clean and safe environment, but for two stoner teenagers tattooing with a machine bought off of Amazon this could have been a lot worse!

A classic example of mistranslation on Daniel here! Asian characters are widely tattooed, and while the languages are beautiful, it’s important to know what you are having inked on you permanently. Daniel wanted the tattoo to read something about an “immortal being”; it instead reads something about a “fairy”.

Unfortunately there is no “before” picture for reference, but Tracey is another example of a happy customer with a tattoo cover up! These beautiful flowers are pretty tightly packed and quite large, making this what I assume would have been a fairly painful cover up.

If you don’t want to cover up your regrettable tattoo, you can always laser it off Like Vuu is doing! But keep in mind that the bigger and more dark or colourful the piece is, the harder and more painful it will be to remove it. Vuu is having quite a large crocodile lasered off his upper arm. This picture was taken after his first treatment, and he’s got many more to go!

No story behind this one posted by Rico. Just a couple of goofy goobers hanging about…

There’s a reason reputable shops will only tattoo people aged 18 or older, 16 year olds aren’t the smartest, let’s be honest. We’ve all done some questionable things when we were in high school. These two pieces come from Kane, who had not one, but both forearms tattooed at “a guys apartment” at the age of 16. To make matters worse, this scratcher was also doing shots while tattooing! Though at the very least, he apparently used clean supplies. Thank God for small mercies!

This “fly” (see what I did there) leg script was done on Lester, quote, thanks to, “being 18 and making great decisions, and lots of PBR.” Any tattoo that starts with drinking copious amount of Papst Blue Ribbon is bound to be a disaster! Though apart from the questionable content, the script itself was done pretty decently. Silver linings can usually be found if you look hard enough!

Spot the tattoo! This tiny one comes from Ivy, who tattooed herself, though it’s unclear if she is a professional or not. While tattooing herself, a nearby fan blew the saran wrap covering her work station. Left with nowhere clean to put the machine, Ivy rested it against her leg while cleaning the mess up, foot still on the peddle, and, well you can figure out the rest… She’s got a sense of humour about the whole thing though, calling the spot, “planet earth”, and having plans to cover it up.

 Homemade tattoo #tattooregret #regrettattoo

Homemade tattoo #tattooregret #regrettattoo

A good artist will talk you out of a bad idea, but in this case, the artist apparently talked 19 year old Connor into a design entirely different from the one he wanted. While it’s not known what Connor actually wanted, it clearly wasn’t Calvin and Hobbes. Fortunately he covered it up with something he enjoys.

Artist unknown #tattoocoverup #backtattoo #regrettattoo
Artist Unknown #tattooregret #calvinandhobbestattoo #regrettattoo

And finally, we have an example of what an amazing first tattoo can look like when you put the thought, time, and money into it! Antoine has zero regrets about his first tattoo, and we can see why. What a crisp and classic design!

While many people have tattoos they regret, you can usually do something about it, whether it be covering it with something you love, or removing it altogether. But the best thing you can do for yourself is make sure you put some thought into the piece you’re getting, and go to someone you’re sure can give you a piece of art that you’ll love your whole life.

If you're looking for more cringeworthy tattoos, check out our interview with Snake Pit: Where Funny Tattoos Are So Bad They're Good!

Unknown artist - image from Snake Pit IG #snakepit #tattooregret #facetattoo #regrettattoo

Unknown artist - image from Snake Pit IG #snakepit #tattooregret #facetattoo #regrettattoo

Jonathan Van Dyck
Written byJonathan Van Dyck

I am a film major and ESL teacher, having taught in China for one year and now back in Canada (2019). I have been getting tattooed since 2013 and have been tattooed in Canada, England, Japan, Hong Kong, and mainland China. I'm most interested in American traditional styles (with a lot of black), and Japanese work.