How to Be Awesome at Getting a Geeky Tattoo
We at Quirk fully support getting tattoos of amazing things (just ask Eric about his epic Jules Verne tattoo). If you really, truly, ohmyGodIcan’tstopthinkingaboutit love something about your fandom (and you’re not afraid of needles,) a tattoo is the perfect way to wear your heart on (the skin beneath) your sleeve.
1. Consider design and placement
What, exactly, do you want inked onto your body for all eternity? A Deathly Hallows (or a Dark Mark)? A Fire Nation emblem? A triforce? An amazing full-color sleeve of Sonic the Hedgehog? That, of course, is totally up to you and the iconography of your chosen geeky obsession.
Placement’s a little trickier. Even in these Way Chill Timez of ours, tattoos are still frowned upon in some workplaces, so if you’re anticipating a day job punching the clock in corporate America, opt for a hideable location: upper arm (long sleeves), shoulderblade (just avoid tank tops), or anywhere on your torso (unless you’re, like, a professional lifeguard who’s in a bathing suit 24/7). Also, keep in mind that the bonier the body part, the yowchier the tattooing process will be, and that tats on frequently-flexed skin (fingers, for example) will blur and fade much faster that tats elsewhere.
Not ready to make the commitment? Take a test drive with a geeky temporary tat. But if you’re sure you’re sure, and you’ve got an inkling of the kind of design you’re after, it’s time to…
2. Find and meet with an artist
And I don’t mean just wander into a random shop with a neon TATTOO sign in the window. If you have friends with tats you like, boom—ask them and get a referral. Otherwise, you can use your Google-fu (or Yelp-fu) to look up artists in your area. A reputable tattooerer will have an online portfolio you can browse through, too, so you can browse from the comfort of your home.
Remember: your design isn’t something you bring in pre-fabricated and your tattoo artist copies—that’s why artists are called artists! Your ink will be a collaboration that you and your artist concoct together. Bringing in inspiration is fine, but seek out an artist whose original work is in line what you’re looking for. Some artists will consult for free; others will ask for a fee to make sure you’re super-duper-serious. Either way, he or she should be able to work up a few sketches with you before the actual tattooage occurs.
3. Be safe!
Take a gander around the place before you go back for your final inking session. Your tattoo studio should use disposable single-use kits to ink you up and ensure all its artists wear sterile gloves. Surfaces should be clean, with proper red “sharp-disposal” containers at the ready nearby. If your state issues licenses for body art parlors, make sure your artist of choice has one. A good, reputable studio might be more expensive than a dimly-lit hole in the wall, but it’s worth every penny. You have your whole life to wear the tattoo—it’s worth saving up for a few extra months to make sure it’s safe and pretty!
4. Plan ahead
You’re about to get stabbed many times by a tiny needle in the epidermis. Don’t make it any harder on your poor body by showing up exhausted, famished, dehydrated, hungover, jetlagged, punch-drunk, actually drunk, or hornswoggled in any way. Also, give yourself plenty of recovery time—as much as a whole day if you’re going in for some serious ink. (Don’t be like the girl I saw once with a freshly wrapped tattoo in the mosh pit of a concert. Ow ow ow owww.) If you’re worried about freaking or chickening out, drag along a supportive friend. If your tattoo has any text, proofread FIFTY BAJILLION TIMES and go over the correct orthography with your artist to ensure you don't get something misspelled on your body for the rest of 5ever. And when the moment comes—breathe, friend! Soon you’ll be sporting some gloriously geeky ink.
5. Brag like crazy
Once that sucker’s healed, snap pictures and start flooding your social media channels, because you are now the coolest person. Throw it up on tumblr and instagram with the appropriate fandom #hashtags so that your fellow fans can stop by and admire. And when out and about, display it with pride! Your fellow fans will want to approach you and express their envy.
BLAIR THORNBURGH is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in medieval studies and delivered a pretty good commencement speech. She lives in Philadelphia.