Dear Kids.

A couple days ago I posted the research for how to extend my tattoo. It reminded me that I wanted to jot down a couple of thoughts which have served me well over the years.

Tattoos are awesome. They have great power. And with great power comes… you get it. Don’t take it lightly.

For one you are hurting and slightly traumatising your body. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you know why you’re doing it and what it means to you. What is the goal? Unless you can write down a single sentence that explains it, it’s too early.

Second, they come with a history and that history will rub off on you. The more visible the tattoo is, the more it will rub off.

  • Don’t get a tattoo before 25. You will not like totally different things in later stages of life. But they might shift in meaning.
  • Make it something personal. A tattoo should be a guidepost, not a decoration or even fashion. Simple rule of thumb: if somebody else already has it, it’s not personal.
  • Don’t get a tattoo in summer-visible areas before 35. You don’t know yet what will happen. You have all the time. Leave some space for your future self.
  • Test ink for allergies. A friend of mine in school nearly lost his leg because of an allergy to white ink!
  • Yes, you can go into a MRI with a tattoo. Yes, there is a slight chance of getting light burns (1st degree) in that area. The risk is low though, probably much lower than not getting the MRI.
  • When you locked in on a motive, paint it on for a couple weeks. Every day. This will a) keep you with a simple thing to get started and b) will you see how it feels to look at it every day.
  • Follow the care directions given by the studio and the artist!
  • Don’t get anybody’s name tatooed. You don’t know what they will do in future. Or what they did in the past and you do just not know yet.
  • Don’t anything’s name tatooed. Rally, a punkband is great thing, but why exactly do you need to look at their name every day? That also goes for your own band!
  • Don’t tattoo your hands, your neck, your head. Ever. This would be closing some doors, while it is not opening any other doors. And that in turn is always stupid.
  • To have it done ONLY by a professional artist in a professional studio with high hygiene standards should be a given. Don’t let friends do it, don’t do it yourself, don’t do it at home.

Do your research. Don’t be stupid. I know you’re smart, so don’t be stupid by lazyness.



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Fabian Fabian is an Interaction Designer at Costa Digital. He is a speaker at international conferences, an avid sketchnoter, and co-founder of community events like the UX Camp Hamburg, Github from Scratch or the Agile Design Camp.