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The Importance Of Researching Your NEW Tattoo 2023


Researching was done when Leah planned out this arm tattoo.
art by Leah Pinkerton

Researching your tattoo can be more important than you may realize. Sometimes a person wants a particular symbol, or something in another language, or a collection of images as a tattoo. Perhaps you are looking to get some historically traditional tribal work done. The symbolic nature of tattoos can be different than what you expect. You may want to spend a little time researching what you are looking to get so that you don’t accidentally get a tattoo that means something completely different than what you want to express.

Regarding another language, these are the most common to get messed up. One sure fire way to avoid mistakes is to show a native speaker of the language what you are looking to get and ask them if they would mind translating it for you. If what they say pretty much matches what you intended, then you’re good to go. However, if you are looking for the Kanji for “Courage” and the translator says it means “Ham Sandwich”, you may want to research again. Finding a native speaker may be a little difficult in some circumstances, so reverse image searches in Google can often times help alleviate that problem. It just takes a little patience.

Another tricky one can be traditional tribal work, particularly Polynesian. You may not be aware, but each little symbol, line, angle and so on means something. You could very easily get your Polynesian sleeve done, sat many hours in the chair and spent a lot of money just to have a piece that means absolutely nothing, or worse, means something completely unintended. Researching these meanings can be crucial and it’s a good idea to find an artist that has done their own research and knows what they are doing.

What if your sleeve symbolizes that you are a criminal? An outcast? Or of the opposite gender? There are many possible things that tattoo could translate to, to someone familiar with it’s symbolism. It’s best to see an artist that knows the meaning, to actually give you your tattoo (as it happens to be, we have one here at Lucky Bamboo!).

Sometimes someone will see a symbol somewhere either online or on someone else and decide they want to get the same thing. Understandable, you see something you like, and you want it. However, maybe you should still do a little research into it. This reminds us of a situation where a guy saw a tattoo on his rescue dog and thought out of solidarity with his new friend, he would get the same thing. It ended up being the symbol for “neutered”. Others have gotten symbols or lettering only to find out later on that it was something racist. There was someone that got two squared off “lightning bolts”, and found out it was actually the Nazi “SS” symbol.

Most people would probably be shocked to learn that got something that offensive without intention. If that were to happen, sometimes a cover-up on that tattoo is your only option to save yourself embarrassment on your mistake.

The symbolic nature of our tattoos can be quite personal and important. Think of memorial tattoos. Whether for a loved one or a lost pet, we want to make sure that everything in that tattoo is perfect and how you envisioned it from the beginning. It can just be important as a portrait tattoo, which no artists should try and tackle without 100 percent confidence in their ability to make sure you can do it perfectly.

As you can see, knowing what you are looking to get done can be very important to the message you intend to send. It’s a good idea to spend a little time researching so that you can avoid mistakes and need a cover-up. Researching is key!

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