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Tattoo Artists And Customers Share Their Horror Stories And The Cringe Is Permanent

5.1k votes 812 voters 65.7k views17 items

List RulesVote up the stories that will permanently scar you.

Tattoo artists, human canvases, and folks who work in studios share their stories of tattoos gone terribly, terribly wrong. From simple spelling errors to an unfortunate slip of the hand, here are the stories that would make anyone rethink their life choices. Vote up the most tragic tattoo tales. 

  • 5

    One For The Money

    Posted by u/tattooerdasfrank:

    I spent the better part of the work day freehanding and outlining a dragon backpiece on a woman in her early twenties. She had several pieces on her back she had received from a kitchen wizard that we were covering as well so that raised the difficulty level a couple notches. Her boyfriend and best friend hung out, chatted and watched movies all evening while we worked. All in all not a bad time... until it was time to pay.

    As we finished up and put the bandage on she turned to me and said, “So I get paid next Tuesday... is it ok if I come back then and pay you?” I laughed because obviously she was joking. She had to be joking. She better be joking. When I realized she wasn’t I said, “No, that’s not how this works. Somebody is going to pay before any of you leave.”

    She turned to her boyfriend and asked, “You’ve got this, right?” He laughed and said, “You know damn well I don’t have any money!” She looked to her best friend who conveniently found something interesting on the ceiling so she was no help. The client then turned back to me, puffed up a bit trying to look more serious than I did and asked “Well what are you going to do if we just leave? You can’t keep us here!” I figured this was going to be her next course of action. She was right, I couldn’t detain them... it gets into a grey area near the border of kidnapping and not something I wanted to chance but what I did do was point out to her that I had her release form with all of her information and a photocopy of her ID. I let her know the second they walk out the door I would contact the police and report them for “theft of services.”

    Thinking it over for a few minutes they sat back down and she started making phone calls trying to scrape together the cash to avoid police involvement. About an hour later, a half hour past closing, a guy shows up with a fist full of bills for me and that’s when all hell breaks loose! Her last ditch effort it seems, was to call the guy she was cheating on her boyfriend with...

    The guy throws the money on the counter and starts a screaming match with the client and the boyfriend, while the best friend just stands there yelling at everyone! Their use of adjectives was impressive. Somehow I mange to wrangle this herd of cats out the door so I can lock up the shop. By the time I got everything closed down the screaming match had turned into a fist fight in the parking lot and someone at the fast food joint a few doors down called the cops anyway. Shop locked up, money in hand, I noped out and let the cops do their do. Thankfully I never saw any of ‘em again.

    Tragic tattoo tale?
  • 6

    Mid-Session Spelling Lesson

    Posted by u/gnitelove:

    My ex did a large scarification on the client's abdomen. The client had brought in a piece of paper with the stylized word "perseverance."

    I was invited in mid-way to see the progress and had to tap my ex on the shoulder for a spelling lesson.

    Tragic tattoo tale?
  • 7

    Lost Bet Becomes A Tragic Tat

    Posted by u/Mars_The_68thMedic:

    A few years ago I was tattooing a client who had apparently lost a bet, his buddies were allowed to tattoo something behind his shoulder as long as it wasn’t racist or offensive.

    Turns out the guy drew up a design of “a leprechaun throwing up on a book.” Sure, why not, everyone was sober and they were paying pounds upfront.

    Easy work. The drawing was really simple and the shading was easier than I thought it’d be.

    Turns out everyone liked it...except the guy with the tattoo of a leprechaun throwing up on a book. He picked at the scab, trying to get rid of it, completely took it from bad to worse.

    Comes in about ten days later, demanding a refund of money HE didn’t pay or the studio, not me, cover it up. Nope, management said you signed for it in your right mind and than damaged it yourself, personally I was yelled at and told NEVER tattoo anyone like that, it only works in television series or film.

    Did I make a mistake? Yes and no.

    The lesson here is don’t get involved in others drama when permanent body marking are involved.

    Tragic tattoo tale?
  • 8

    Asleep At The Wheel

    Posted by u/JoshSidekick:

    I was working at a place when a guy came in for a full back piece of three different cars. It took like 4 visits to finish and each visit he'd look at it and say it looks awesome and then he would take off. On the last visit, they call me in to look at it to show me how awesome it turned out. Well, all the steering wheels were on the wrong side and the reason no one caught it was because the dude was looking in a mirror to check his progress so they looked correct.

    I'm pretty sure the guy was super chill about it when they offered a bunch of free work and they fixed it in another session.

    Tragic tattoo tale?