Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Concert review: Rockstar Mayhem Festival, Atlanta, GA 2013

I went to the Rockstar Energy Drinks Mayhem Festival in Atlanta, Georgia on July 30, 2013.  The event started at 1:00 pm and lasted until 11:00 pm, and was held at Aaron's Amphitheater at Lakewood.

We got to Lakewood at 10:30 with the intention of tailgating and grilling only to find out they don't open the parking lot until noon.  Luckily there is a park right across the street.  We parked there and done our grilling.  At noon we found our parking spot and made quick friends with the 4 guys next to us.  We had an hour to drink before the concert started and we wasted no time in doing so.  We caught a bat in the parking lot.  That's probably the most random thing ever...

Once we went in the venue, there was close to 20 bands that played, on 4 different stages.  3 stages were set up in the usual parking area, with 4 bands playing at the actual amphitheater.  In addition to the bands, there was a motocross area with bikes jumping back and forth and doing tricks.

Rockstar had a tent set up with free "energy water" and regular energy drinks.  With the price of a regular bottle of water at $5 and $11 for a beer, these free drinks were a big hit.  Being under their tent, with the fans running really helped with the heat for the few minutes you were in there.  Kudos to Rockstar for that.

Free stuff is good!

There were multiple vendors send up, some for the bands, and others for great causes like "I <3 Boobies" and "F*ck Cancer."

Of the outside stages, Machine Head was my personal favorite.  All the bands actually did a good job, I can't remember hearing any of them being really bad this year.  A few years ago there was a band so bad the crowd started booing them and everybody moved over to a different stage where nobody was playing yet.

The four bands on the headlining stage were, in order of appearance: Amon Amarth, Mastodon, Five Finger Death Punch, and Rob Zombie.  You can tell these bands were further along in there career, as progressively more and more money was spent on their stages.

Unfortunately I don't have any good pictures of the main stage.  My iPhone can't handle all the flashing lights and the staff kept making me put up the better camera I had with me.

Five Finger Death Punch was my overall favorite for the evening.  They started off strong with "Under and Over It."  After a few songs they invited up a group of soldiers, thanked them for their service, and told a story about the last time they were in Iraq.  They played a couple more songs then invited up several kids from the audience to stand on the stage during a song.  They really rocked all their songs, and had great crowd interaction.

Rob Zombie was the last to play.  I'm pretty sure he was either drunk or high as hell on something.  He put on a good show but couldn't seem to remember the words to the verses of the songs.  I guess if you are Rob M-Fing Zombie you get to do whatever you want to.  Any words he missed was made up for with the super elaborate stage.  Several large screens played various scenes from his movies, cartoons, and videos.  There was lots of pyro and flash going on, and Rob came out on stage on several large stage props during some of his songs.  After a (staged?) spat with security the show ended.  One of the bad things about the Lakewood venue is a strict 11:00 pm shut off time due to noise ordinances.

Overall it was a really long day.  We had a lot of fun like always, although I do think this was the hottest concert I have went to.  I love live music.  Metal concerts have a way of bringing people together that wouldn't normally be friends.  Young, old, white, black, skinny, fat, non of that matters here.  It's all about the music, and having a good time.

Check me out on Facebook!

~Tattooed Gunner

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tattoo Artist Interview: Stan from The Tattoo Shop in Albany, Georgia

Today I have an interview done with Stan from The Tattoo Shop in Albany, Georgia.  Stan's website can be found at

So, Stan, How long have you been tattooing?

Going on lucky 13yrs.

What did you do before you were a tattoo artist?

Graphic arts

What got you interested in being a tattoo artist?

My Grandfather had some pretty gnarly WWII Navy tattoos. Always was interested in them after seeing those.

Did you do an apprenticeship? If so, how long?

About 2 yrs

How old were you when you got your first tattoo?

18. It was some tribal shit, yay 90's!

Who would you say influenced you as an artist, tattoo or otherwise?

Skateboard art, Traditional tattoo art mostly

What do you like to do besides tattooing?

Spend time with my Wife, and twin boys, Shoot guns, and collect Star Wars and horror props.

What is your favorite “style” of tattoo to do?

I like it all really. Have the most fun with horror themed.

What is the strangest tattoo you have ever done?

Would definitely say a butt with a pirate hat, and a patch that says "Swab me poop deck"

What is your favorite part of being a tattoo artist?

Being able to enjoy what you do.

What is your least favorite part?

Dealing with the occasional asshole.

What do you think about “scratchers?”

Broken hands can't tattoo.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Still tattooing?

Damn sure hope so. It's a riot, makes going to "work" not such a bad thing.

Seeing as how my blog is Tattooed Gunner, how do you feel about firearms and the 2nd amendment?

I think they are essential to the country, and for our freedom. 'Merica!!!

What is your favorite gun (that you actually own or otherwise)?

Probably my Glock 30s, it's always with me.

Thanks to Stan for doing the interview.

Feel free to comment, and share!

Check me out on facebook at

~ Mike the Tattooed Gunner

Friday, July 19, 2013

Interview with Randy Harris: Suarez International Staff Instructor

 I believe that if you are going to carry a gun for self defense, or even use a gun for home defense, you should get some professional training.  I am a country boy, I grew up around guns my whole life.  However, I have found the saying, "You don't know what you don't know" to be true.  After taking some training I realized I didn't know half the stuff I thought I did about shooting.  It took me about 4 years after I got my carry permit before I actually got training.  I kept putting it off, making excuses, it was too expensive or I just didn't have time.

That being said, when I did finally get around to taking some training I had researched all the different schools within a 2-3 hour drive.  During that research I found Warrior Talk, Suarez International's web forum.  After reading for a few months I really liked what I found and finally got around to signing up for my first class: Defensive Pistol Skills through Suarez International.  Randy Harris is the closest Suarez instructor to me, and had a date coming up.  Randy ended up being a great instructor, and a good guy to talk to.  I bet I asked him 1000 questions whenever we had a break, or lunch.  I reviewed that class here.

I asked Randy to do an interview for Tattooed Gunner and he was kind enough to give me his time:

First off Randy, thanks for doing this interview for Tattooed Gunner.

Thank you for the invitation.

Randy, tell us what you do?

In my day job I work for a shooting sports wholesaler. Most weekends I'm either teaching Concealed Carry, Self Defense, or Weapons and Tactics classes or shooting matches. I'm a Tennessee state certified Handgun Carry Instructor, NRA certified Pistol Instructor, and Staff Instructor for Suarez International.

Can you tell us how you got started as an instructor with Suarez International?

Back in 2003 when Warriortalk went online I was one of the first 125 members. It was a different place than most other "gun forums" on the web because SERIOUS students of the art could go there and discuss and develop things without constantly having to deal with the silliness on some other sites. In 2005 Gabe Suarez decided he wanted to hire some instructors and put out the call for resumes. He knew me from the forum and told me to send a resume and to come to the 4 day Ultimate Combat Skills class he was running in Nov of 2005. So I went to Atlanta to the class and when it was over I asked him what he thought....he asked "When can you start"? So I guess I must have done something to make him feel like I'd be a good instructor and representative for his company.

Have you been around guns your whole life? If not, what got you into them?

Yes and No. I was always playing with toy guns as a kid and watching westerns and cop shows. Gunsmoke was on every night in syndication and was my favorite show. But my parents were not into guns really. My dad had served in the military and by all accounts was an excellent shooter, but that was just not something he did as a hobby or anything. It was pretty much bb guns for me. So I really did not get into shooting real guns until I was about 20. But I was the kid reading all the gun magazines at the grocery store while my mom was shopping. I already knew quite a bit about it , just did not have the opportunity until I was a little older.

I know you have shot a lot competitively, tell us a little about that. What all types of matches did you shoot?

 I'm a Master class IDPA shooter. I've done Cowboy Action Shooting, 3 Gun, Subgun, and GSSF (Glock Sport Shooting Foundation). I've probably won more than my fair share of matches. Now though, due to my teaching schedule, I don't get to shoot nearly as many matches as I used to.

In your cowboy action shooting, you go by Cruel Hand Luke, is there a story behind that?

In SASS (Single Action you Shooting Society) everyone shoots under an alias. I probably agonized over an alias for a month before joining SASS. I wanted something cool. I finally came up with Cruel Hand Luke. I wanted something cool but also maybe a bit sinister. A "cow hand " or a "ranch hand" was a cowboy. So Cruel Hand Luke is actually a bit of a play on words and it fit my Cowboy shooting persona.

What would you say is your favorite thing about training, whether instructing or as part of taking classes yourself?

I enjoy taking classes and the camaraderie of hanging out with like minded people. But probably the biggest thrill is, as an instructor, taking someone who is not very confident with their abilities and making them more competent and confident with their ability to defend themselves and their families. That also translates into other areas of their lives. They become more confident and I believe that enhances their overall quality of life. We are not just teaching people to shoot. We are teaching people to think and to take control of their lives.

What is your favorite gun that you own or have owned?

Wow...where to start??? Maybe the M-60 I used to have? That is a tough question.....a couple of favorites would be the 1911 my great grandfather used in a gunfight in 1920, my RMR equipped Glock 17 with custom grip work that I carry, and my Colt 653 (that is a factory M16A1 carbine). Those are few of my favorites. 

(TG note: I have shot the Glock 17 mentioned.  It is a sweet pistol.)

Any insight on what your EDC is?

These days I generally roll with a G17 with custom grip work done by my friend Jeff Bishop at Grimm Brothers Armory carried in either a Blade Tech or Dale Fricke IWB holster, a single spare mag in Blade Tech mag pouch, Ka Bar TDI LE knife on my belt and Spyderco Delica in my back pocket, Surefire E2D flashlight, and Cav Arms Tourniquet.

I use the Spyderco to open boxes, cut rope , and other mundane tasks. The TDI is a fixed blade accessible with either hand to get me out of a clinch or grounded problem if I can't get out of it with empty hands. The TQ is there because there is no guarantee that we or a loved one will not be injured in a confrontation (or a car wreck for that matter). Being able to stop massive hemorrhage is a good thing.

What do you enjoy besides shooting?

You mean there is something to do BESIDES shooting? Just kidding. I like to read , mostly historical stuff, and I like to travel with my wife. We love a good trip to the beach either here or abroad. We really like the Caribbean.

If you could give only ONE tip to improve somebody's shooting, what would it be?

Take a class from ME. Just kidding....

Seriously, my one piece of advise is get professional training as early on as you can. That way you do not waste time learning bad habits and then have to unlearn them. I pretty much taught myself to shoot pistols, but it was a process of trial and error in shooting matches that could have been quicker if I'd had professional training earlier on. It took me years to come to the same conclusions about grip and trigger control that I could have learned from a good instructor. That is part of why I teach now. I can teach people how to do it right from the beginning and save them the frustration of figuring it out on their own.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just like to thank you for the interview and hope to see you in class soon! If anyone is interested in what classes I have coming up you can check here.....http://www.suarezinternationalstore....px?find=harris

Thanks again Randy!

Thank YOU. 

If you are looking for some training I highly recommend Suarez International, and Randy Harris in the Chattanooga, TN(and other) areas.

Thanks for taking the time to read this interview.  If you like what you read, check me out on facebook at

Pictures courtesy of and

Monday, July 8, 2013

Getting tattooed: What to expect during and after.

So you have found a great artist, decided on what you want to get and where. Good for you!  Here is what to do next:

  • Go talk to the artist.  
    • Stop by the shop and discuss with the artist what you want and where.  He will give you feedback and you can come to a conclusion.  This needs to be done in person, not over the phone or on facebook. Calling ahead to see if the artist is free is ok.  If you get there and the artist is busy, ask how long until he is done or taking a break.  Tell the person at the counter you are wanting to talk to the artist about a tattoo.  If he is busy you can wait or come back.  The best time to go is during the week, generally as close to when they open as possible.  You are going to have this for the rest of your life so there is no reason to rush this.
    • This is also a good time to discuss price.  Ask what the artist thinks the piece will cost.  If it is a big or detailed piece he may not be able to give you a definite answer but should be able to put it in the ballpark.  Do not try to haggle the price down!  Do you really want somebody to permanently mark on you who you implied wasn't worth his price?
    • After you talk to the artist you can set up an appointment.  You may also need to pay a deposit to hold your time slot, especially if you are using a busier artist.

So you got an appointment, and you wait and wait and finally the day comes!  What should you do, and what can you expect once you get to the shop?

  • Take a shower before you go!
    • This should be common sense.  You are going to be spending time with your artist leaned over close to you, you shouldn't stink.  Also, a fresh tattoo is technically an open wound.  You do not want it to get dirty and get infected.
  • If you are getting inked somewhere with a lot of hair, shave the area before you go.
    • The tattoo artist will shave the area again anyway, but there is no point in him having to spend 10 minutes trying to clear your jungle of arm hair off.
  • Show up early.
    • Show up before your appointment to have time to fill out the paperwork and get ready.
  • DON'T drink, do drugs, or take any sort of pain medication that may include blood thinners.
    • You WILL bleed when you get a tattoo.  Don't do anything to make yourself bleed more.
    • In most(if not all) places, it is actually illegal to tattoo somebody that is drunk.  Don't do it.
  • DO eat before you go.  Being stabbed thousands of times with a needle is a shock to your body.  It is fairly common for your blood sugar to drop and you can actually pass out.  This is more embarrassing than anything.  NOTE: While you are being tattooed on, if you start to feel woozy or lightheaded AT ALL, TELL THE ARTIST!  This happens, and he will know what to do.  Nothing wrong with taking a break and drinking a coke or eating something.
  • Go over any last minute updates, or any questions or concerns you may have before you get started.  Once you start, you are committed.
  • The drawing will be put onto your skin via transfer paper.  This gives the artist a "stencil" or guide for doing the outlining.  Unless you are really brave and let them do it freehand!  
  • The artist will get you situated where he can get to the area easily.  Then he will get out all of the supplies he needs to do your tattoo.  All of your needles will be brand new, taken out of the pack in front of you.  They then get disposed of when you are done.  The artist will usually use two separate tattoo guns, one for outlining, and one for shading.  All ink used will be put in small disposable ink cups so the main bottle does not get contaminated.
  • GO TIME!!

  • About the pain: IT HURTS, REALLY REALLY BAD!!!!  Actually, depending on your pain tolerance and location of the tattoo it really isn't that bad.  Generally speaking, the closer to the bone the location is, the more pain there will be.  Also, the more detail in the piece, the more times the same spot is going to be gone over, the more it will hurt.
  • Actually getting a tattoo is my favorite part.  I love to watch the art come out of nothing.  Even if a stencil is used, the skill is in getting crisp lines that aren't jagged or crooked.  The shading and coloring is where the great artists are distinguished from the good ones.
  • During the tattoo, the artist will wash the excess ink off with antibacterial green soap.  This stuff has a distinctive clean smell.  I can't smell it without thinking "tattoo shop." 
  • When the tattoo is done you get to check it out.  If you notice anything you don't like point it out.  Sometimes a spot may need touched up.  
  • Congratulations, you have your first tattoo!  The artist will bandage the spot up, you can pay anything you didn't pay for before you got started, and you are ready to go.  If you like it, Tip The Artist!
  • If you decide you want to use any special creams or lotions made just for helping tattoos heal, you can also get them at the shop at this time.  Ask the artist if you aren't sure.  He will give you instructions on how to care for the tattoo.
  • After you leave the shop, leave the bandage on for at least a few hours.  4-6 is usually sufficient. 
  • It is normal for the tattoo to burn a little during the first day or two.  To me it feels like a sunburn.
  • When you take the bandage off, gently wash the tattoo with antibacterial soap.  You should wash the tattoo 2 or 3 times a day for the first several days to keep it clean.  You don't want any hard spray of water to hit the tattoo, let the water run onto it.  Don't soak the tattoo for at least a week, preferably two.  This includes swimming, hot tubs, long baths.
  • Keep the tattoo moisturized, but not too much so.  You can use the cream you got at the shop for this, or just regular unscented lotion.  Don't let the tattoo get dry but don't put so much lotion on that it clogs up your pores.
  • Don't wear tight clothing over the tattoo for a few days.  Don't re-bandage after you take the first bandage off.  The tattoo needs air to heal.
  • Don't use petroleum jelly based products, this can actually make your new tattoo fade, or pull color out while it is healing.
  • Use caution in the sun.  The sun is the number 1 thing that will cause your tattoo to fade.  It is always a good idea to use sunscreen over the tattoo if you are going to be exposed for any length of time.
  • Don't pick at any scabs that may form.  Pulling a scab off before it is ready can pull color/ink out with it.  If you do get scabs, it is normal for them to be the color of the tattoo, just don't rip it off.
After a couple of weeks, your tattoo will be fully healed.  If you notice any spots that need touched up, stop by the shop and show the artist and he will usually be happy to touch it up for you.  Your tattoo artist wants your tattoo to look good as much as you do.  Happy customers are repeat customers, and happy customers tell(and show!) their friends.  Enjoy your tattoo! Check me out on facebook at

Friday, July 5, 2013

My tattoos.

I have five tattoos.  They range from crappy to really good.  It took me awhile before I found an artist I really liked that does great work.

Pictures are posted in order that I got them.  Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

1. Dragon

This was my first tattoo.  I was 18 and just went to a local shop and picked something off the wall.  This tattoo is on my upper left arm.

2. Rattlesnake

Second tattoo.  Saw one similar to this in a tattoo magazine while I was at the shop when my stepdad was getting a coverup done.  This took about 6 hours to do, all in one sitting.  It really needs to be re-done or covered up.  Upper right arm.

3. Tribal Dragon

Third tattoo.  This one a good friend of mine did.  It was either the 2nd or 3rd tattoo he ever done.  Will eventually be covered up by a Space themed half sleeve with stars and planets and aliens and stuff.  Located on lower right leg.  He still does tattoos, and has gotten a lot better.

4. Wizard

Fourth tattoo.  I had this one done in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  My first color tattoo.  I recently had it reworked by my current artist.  It wasn't horrible, but some of the lines didn't line up, and the color wasn't blended very well.  Oddly enough, this is the tattoo that most people say is their favorite of mine.

What it looked like when I got it:


After I had it reworked:

5. Mad Scientist

My favorite by far.  I love this tattoo.  This took 3 sessions.  About 9 hours total, including doing the design.  This design was never on paper, and was a collaboration of two artists.  "Nails" drew the design on my arm with sharpie markers and started the line work, and Wes Lingerfelt did the rest.  Nails was supposed to do some more of the work but when I went back for my second session he was working on a huge backpiece.  This was done at Eternal Expressions in Rome, Georgia.  I completely recommend this shop for anybody wanting to get anything done in the area.  Wes and the guys do good work.  Check out their facebook page here.

I really need some better pictures.

This picture was taken right after the second session, all of the tattoo was done except for some stuff on the sides and at the top.  Really shows the tattoo better:

And just the line work:

All in all, I love my work.  Some of them are pretty crappy but I still like them. Thanks for checking out my ink.  Check me out on facebook at

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gun class review: Suarez International Defensive Pistol Skills with Randy Harris

I took this class in August, 2012 and wrote the review right after.  I figured I would add it here as well.  I added a few things for this post from the original review.

I took Suarez International's Defensive Pistol Skills class with Randy Harris in Chattanooga, TN.  This is a two day class. I have been around guns my whole life, I'm a country boy, but this was my first real training.  I have a concealed carry permit, and carry a pistol on a regular basis.  If you are going to do this, you need to take a training class to be more effective and be ready in case you ever actually need to use your gun.

First thing, this class was listed as a Chattanooga class, which is Eastern Time, but the class was actually held in Alabama, which is Central Time. I showed up the first day about an hour and a half early because I was thinking eastern time. The class was clearly listed in CST on the website. So that is my bad, better early than late.

Ok, so the actual class: First thing after signing waivers and going over safety rules we spent a while discussing mindset, and Randy's PESTS EAT FAST.  This is a long, but excellent article on everything from situational awareness to after a gunfight. Then we went over the 4 stupids.  Don't do Stupid things, with Stupid People, at Stupid Places, at Stupid times.  Basically, don't go to a gas station in the hood at 2 am. Then we all showed clear chambers and mags and did some dry work, Randy showing us the techniques we would need for the weekend and we spent until lunch working dry practice.

After lunch we went to the range and started working on putting our dry practice to work with live fire. We started with slow, take all the time you need to get it done right shots on a 3" circle from ~4-5 yards away. Then Randy showed us that with a proper grip and draw stroke you don't have to get a perfect sight picture to get good shots if your are up close. After some more drills(including variations of a "dot" drill and "ball and dummy") we got to take turns shooting at a COM size steel target from ~5 yards back to about ~25 yards. Randy explained that starting with the 3" circle gets you used to hitting more accurate, consistent shots than starting out shooting a full size COM target. Aim small, miss small.

After we were done the first day we all pitched in and got pizza and I took the opportunity to pester Randy with all sorts of questions about guns/defensive related topics. It's not everyday that you get to hang out with a SI Instructor with the amount of knowledge Randy has about this stuff, and I took full advantage of that.

The second day started with a sit down discussion including review from the first day and Randy read several excerpts from various articles, studies, and newspaper stories, and shared some of his own experiences. Then we went to the range and did a few of the drills from the first day to get warmed up then we went to the realistic looking "70s mustache guy" target. This is where we started speeding our shots up, shooting with or without actual sight alignment depending on how close or far we where from the target. We also included a simple single step left or right get off the X as part of our draw, and started doing after shot assessment as part of every shot string. After doing the "scan for other people that need shot" several times Randy noticed everybody not really paying attention, just turning our heads but not really looking. After one drill he asked, "what did I just have in my hand when y'all turned your head to scan?" After getting blank stares he drew his knife again and told us we all just died. Everybody actually scanned after that. At the end of the day after a few more drills(including a multiple adversary drill) we got to try out the steel target again, back to about 40 yards this time. Everybody showed a marked improvement over the previous day. Then Randy got out his TSD modified Glock 17 with Trijicon RMR red dot sight and everybody got to try it out.

Overall I was really happy with the class. I had a blast and came out shooting much better than I went in. I used my EDC 2nd gen Glock 17 in a Dale Fricke Archangel holster worn at 12:00 for the class. I did not shoot myself in the femoral artery or blow my junk off. Suarez teaches a "reluctant reholster" and emphasized that there is never really a time where you would need to reholster fast, so you can take plenty of time for that part.

Thanks for checking out my review!  Check me out on facebook at

Make your first Tattoo great.

I have always loved tattoos.  An older cousin had a few when I was a young kid and I fell in love with them then.  When I turned 18 I couldn't wait, I had to have some ink.  If only I knew then what I know now, I would be a lot happier with the ink I have.  I want to put a few pointers out there for people looking to get their first tattoo, or even getting their second, third, etc. if they haven't been truly happy with the ink they have.

  • Find a great artist.
    • Tattoos are expensive.  Tattoos from great artists can be more so.  My current artist's quoted rate is $150 an hour.  The thing is, you are going to have this forever.  Unless you go through the expensive and painful laser removal process.  Finding the right artist is absolutely the most important thing you can do to get a tattoo you will truly love.   Before you commit, go to every shop in your area and check out their work.  When I go into shops I also look around for trophies or awards from tattoo conventions.  Ask every person you see with a tattoo who did it, and if they are happy with it.  Ask enough people and you will see a trend.  You may be lucky enough to have a few great artists in your area, if so go talk to them and tell them what you are thinking about getting. See which one you connect better with.  Also some artists specialize in certain styles, such as portraits, oriental, color, black and grey, etc.
  • Don't get your first tattoo somewhere where you can see it with a short sleeve shirt on.
    • It is a lot better today than it was in the past, but most people WILL look at you differently with ink.  I currently have a tattoo on both of my lower arms.  They are well done ink, they aren't trashy or in bad taste.  I noticed when I got the first lower arm tattoo that some people at work instantly started treating me just a little different as soon as I had it done.  Mostly people assume I am either dumb or will be a bad worker or other things.  I don't really care, I didn't get them for other people.  This could bother some people.  Just something to be aware of if you are a sensitive type.  Some places won't hire you if you have ink showing.  Also, if you end up not liking your ink you don't have to look at it constantly if it's under your shirt or on your leg or something.
  • Don't get "flash"
    • "Flash" is the name for the pre-drawn designs hanging all over the walls of the shop.  It's ok to get ideas from flash but you don't want to actually get one of those for a few different reasons.  One is that you are getting a tattoo that several other people have.  Not a similar one, pretty much the exact same thing. The second reason, and this is a big one, is the tattoo artists don't want to do that.  Every tattoo artist I have talked to is actually an artist.  They enjoy drawing, painting, and otherwise creating art besides just doing tattoos.  If you tell them you want to get the super awesome dragon off the picture on the wall they are not going to enjoy it.  They are going to be thinking the whole time, "great, this one again." It's like giving Michelangelo a color by numbers to do.  Sure, they will do it, and it probably will turn out good.  But if you go talk to the artist and just tell him what you are wanting and get something custom made up, they are going to enjoy it and they are going to put more effort into it, and it will turn out better.  Some of the really good artists won't do flash at all.  If you come to them wanting something off the wall they will make you an appointment with one of the lesser, usually apprentice artists in the shop.
  • Get a decent size
    • A lot of people, especially ladies, want to go in and get a tiny tattoo.  That's fine if that's what you want, but you need to understand a few things.  The smaller the tattoo, the less detail you are going to be able to get.  Tiny tattoos don't age as well as larger ones.  If you get a heart the size of a pencil eraser it might just be a pink blob in 10 years.  This is especially true if you try to get something small with a lot of detail in it.  I'm not saying you have to get a full back piece for it to look good later, just that you should talk with your artist about it if you want something small.
    • For guys, if you go and get a tiny tattoo on your upper arm it is just going to look dumb, even if the piece itself is good.  It needs to fit.
  • If you think you may want sleeves or something big, get it designed that way from the start.
    • A sleeve needs to be designed as a sleeve.  Getting a bunch of smaller tattoos and tying them together later is doable but won't look as good as a tattoo designed as a sleeve from the beginning.  You can still have it done in sections and it look good as a stand alone tattoo if you do decide not to go that route later.
  •  Think of what you want, then wait a month, 6 months, or a year before you get it.
    • Especially for your first tattoo, you should wait a while and make sure you still want the same thing later.  If you just go to the shop and get the first thing you see that you think looks cool, you will probably regret it later.
  • Tattoos are addicting!
    • Once you get one, you will probably want to get more.  This is especially true if you follow all of my advice and get a quality piece of ink done to begin with.  I actually enjoy getting a tattoo as much as having it.  I love watching it go from blank skin to a piece of art.  You may even get disappointed during the tattoo, thinking it's going to look bad and then the shading and color starts being done and all of a sudden it looks so much better.
  • Tip your artist!
    • After you spend all that time trying to find a great artist, making an appointment, and getting your first great piece of artwork, be sure to tip your artist.  This shows your appreciation for the art you now have, and gets you on good terms with the artist.

And to end off with, I will leave you with the dumbest reason to not get a tattoo I have ever heard, "When you are 70, it's going to look like crap!"  Yeah it probably will.  Most 70 year old people look like crap.  When I am 70 I am not going to care what I look like, I am going to be wearing cut off sweat pants with a ball hanging out and an old shirt because it's comfortable.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps you get a quality tattoo that you love.  Check me out on facebook at