The worst tattoos local artists have seen over the years

by Amanda Push

Look. We’ve all made mistakes, and many of us have made bad decisions when it comes to permanently inking ourselves in a tattoo shop. Or a basement. Or a garage. Hey, we don’t know where you like to get your tattoos.

Unfortunately, sometimes you have to live with those forehead-slapping tattoos for a while. On the other hand, technology has advanced to where there’s more access to laser removal, and there are lots of shops that are willing to do cover-ups. But, in order to get that laser removal or cover up, you have to show yet another soul the embarrassing decision you made when you were 18 and wanted to show your parents what was what by getting a giant spider on your back.

And, while we aren’t ones to judge, we certainly do love a good (bad) tattoo story, so we asked this week’s cover story subjects about a few of the worst, most questionable, or just plain old weird tattoos they’ve seen, done, or been asked to do over the years.

Joshua Barela (Graceful Eye Tattoo): One day (when I was 17), my buddy was tattooing at my house, homemade machine and everything. We were just hanging out and I had seen him do it (tattoo) and was like, ‘Let me try that,’ and he was like, ‘I don’t know man, you gotta ask her.’ And the lady said, ‘I’ve never seen you tattoo,’ and I was like, ‘Well, me neither – let’s go for it.’ And she said, ‘Well, let me see something first.’ So my buddy James volunteers. We were sitting out back on my porch. One guy was holding a lamp, the other guy was holding the wires on to this battery, and I was standing on this chair. My buddy was sitting underneath the porch lamp. I did one on the back of his neck. She was like, ‘Cool, let’s do it.’ So I went in and tattooed her. I messed her up so bad. Everything about it was not OK. … It was supposed to be angel wings wrapped around this baby or girl. … The lines were just so squiggly. It was horrid. I felt bad for that girl. I fixed it a couple years later.

Flip Martinez (Animas Tattoo & Body Piercing): I had a lady when I lived back east that came up with a stroller, and she had triplets. She wanted me to tattoo a dot on one, two dots on the other one, three dots on the other one, so she could tell them apart. I mean, they were baby babies. And I’m like, ‘I’m not gonna tattoo your babies.’ They’re going to have personalities. You’re going to be able to tell them apart. Get a Sharpie.

Doug Patrum (Durango Tattoo Company): It’s not so much the tattoo as the spot (that hurts). Some spots are sneaky, and what I mean by sneaky is you wouldn’t think it hurts but it hurts pretty bad. I would say the butt is one of them. I was really surprised. … I worked in Daytona, Florida for a few years, and I did tons and tons of tattoos on butts, like little vacation tattoos or memento tattoos on all these people’s butts who put it there because they thought it wouldn’t hurt. As soon as I got tattooed in that neighborhood of my body, I was like, ‘All those poor ladies who thought they were getting off light putting it on their butt.’

Bill Peoples (Animas Tattoo & Body Piercing): So I came out on the porch and was having my lunch and one of the counter girls and was like, ‘You need to talk to this couple.’ And I’m like, ‘What’s up? How you doing?’ And they’re like ‘Yeah, I got this tattoo I need you to look at.’ That’s what he says. She’s like, ‘Would you look at this f*cking tattoo on him?!’ and she pulls up his sleeve. You know the Cleveland Indians baseball … when it’s been smacked? This ball is not round. The teeth – oh my God. … These teeth are f*cked up. It’s bad. The stitching on the baseball is all scars. I mean, it’s hideous. It’s just a wreck. And she’s talking like she’s not happy with it like, ‘Would you look at this f*cking thing?’ So I take a look. I’m thinking, ‘What can I do to fix it and still give him the same tattoo without covering it up?’ So I made my assessment. ‘You know the old saying, you can’t polish a turd?’ That’s where I started with it. And her head went sideways like I’d slapped her sister, like she was about to attack me. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ And I’m trying to say my bit about how I could fix and do this and that. ‘What the fuck?! Who are you talking to?!’ ‘You asked me a question and I thought I was answering your question and I guess I’m speaking to you, ma’am.’ Everybody on the porch is looking over. … So I say, ‘What’s the situation here? I thought you wanted me to give you an assessment on fixing it?’ And she goes, ‘I did that tattoo! I wanted your opinion!’ I tell her, ‘It sucks. Throw your tattoo shit in the trash, and, by the way, get the f*ck off our porch.’

Robert Smith (Black Mountain Tattoo): If it’s really f*cking something that I know the person’s gonna regret (I won’t do it), especially depending on their age. Definitely young kids we steer out of a lot of ideas. But if it’s somebody that knows better I don’t give a shit – I’ll tattoo it. This one guy got ‘f*ck off’ across his arm.

Matt Blachley (Skin Incorporated Tattoo and Body Piercing): (This customer I’m working with is) doing a cover-up nobody else would touch. I do a lot of those. I get it that artists don’t want their work out there to be dumbed down. My thing is, as a person, what are you supposed to do with that? You made some mistakes and you’re stuck with it because I don’t want to dumb my work down? No. So I’ve always stepped up to the challenge of trying to do awesome cover-ups that other people won’t do. It takes a lot longer because it’s a hard cover-up but, morally, I think it’s the right thing to do.

Amanda Push


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