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Getting a gaming tattoo? Here are four things to keep in mind

1:00 PM on 05.04.2014 // Gray Times

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[Dtoid community blogger Gray Time shares his experiences with gaming tattoos. Heed this man's word! Want to see your own blog appear on our front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon]

Okay, first a disclaimer: I have some shocking tattoos. Take this example:

That's "The Ugly One" from Homestar Runner's "Teen Girl Squad"... from the Internet.

So really I'm in no position to judge anyone over their choice of ink. But in my ten years of getting tattooed I have two sleeves, full back and chest and have begun on my legs. So while we all make mistakes (not me; Teen Girl Squad is the best!) I have learned a lot about the craft and wanted to pass on some advice for those who are considering a new tattoo. This is especially worthy advice when considering a gaming tattoo, as gaming, like music and film, will provoke a mixture of responses from those in the know as well as those who have no idea what you've marked your body with. I've had great reactions from London gangsters all the way to being mocked by 14-year-olds.

So I implore those considering work to heed my advice, not as judgement but as words of warning and things to consider. Trust me: it's worth knowing.

There is no such thing as a cheap good tattoo

Sorry folks! You're gonna be dropping some serious chedda on this piece of artwork. Some get lucky and get tattooed by an artist whose star is on the rise and you get a good rate, and some know the artist well, so "mates rates" might apply. But for the other 99%, we're going to spend a lot of money. Think about it: this is going to be on your skin forever, and speaking from personal experience it will cost three times as much as the cheap version to have that shoddy mess fixed by a real artist.

A good artist will work through the piece with you, offering additional ideas or concepts. A good artist will NEVER judge, but a good artist will warn you if you're about to do something stupid. You're not just paying for 'ink in skin" time; you're paying for consultation, advice, artist time, and materials. So it is much better to have it planned out. Da Vinci could draw freehand, but we have no idea how he was at a Mario mushroom with a tattoo gun, so embrace and enjoy the planning process. Remember it won't be cheap, but 100% worth it.

Think about the natural curves of your body

Alright, stop giggling at the back, it is a valid thing to consider. Each of us has a different body shape, and if you incorporate the curve of your hip/bicep/ankle/bum into the piece it will add distinction and action to the piece. It will add emphasis to the artwork, but also it will emphasize aspects of your own body if done correctly.

Also, this save you from the "cookie cutter" look. Or worse, the complete dominance of your body. Would you rather the next person who sees you naked to think "damn, all I saw were Pikmin!" or "they had a sweet Pikmin tattoo... I want a closer look!" Where rather than a graceful price of artwork you've adored yourself with, you run the risk of looking like you've been branded with a corporate logo. Which brings me to my next point...

Avoid logos; subtlety for the win

I understand the allure of logos so much. You adore something and there is this awesome pre-made symbol of it that you can adorn yourself with with minimum fuss. But be careful. Logos with the name of the game in should be ruled out first; the obviousness of it will increase your regret factor by 10. Furthermore, it means the questions you will be asked (and you will) will be far more direct. Gaming, like movies, is a visual art from, so you have a wealth to pick from. You can show your love for Mega Man with the blue bomber's energy tank or his jump posse. Having MEGA MAN written on you will take away from the artwork, and thus the tattoo (and you may also have you love making skills thrown into question).

There is nothing better than to have someone spot the subtlety of your tattoo. I have Murray the Evil Demonic Skull [Yes! -Andy] hidden on my arm, and when someone spots it the glee for them and me is beyond words. If it's too obvious, you may run the risk of feeling alienated or uncomfortable. This can surprise you, as having a tattoo (particularly a large one) will be a deciding factor in how people identify you and remember you. I've been known as "Halloween Chris" for ten years, and I'm still not 100% okay with it. Do you want to be "Dishonored Girl", "Final Fantasy Floyd", or "Choose Your Character Guy" as I'm sure the fella above is now known? Maybe you're cool with that, but a tattoo is a far quicker and easier label than any haircut or shirt you will ever have. Keep it in mind.

Size matters

It really really does. Something that is naturally small will make more sense remaining small. Whereas if you want something complicated and highly detailed it will take up significantly more space, or at least it should. Your artist will help out with this and do consider what they suggest. Remember that a good tattoo isn't just about the focus point: it's the shading on Cloud's sword; it's the detail in Bowser's scales; the light coming from the Triforce. So make allowances for shading, background, and additional detail. Also don't try and stuff too much into one piece; a solid single character will look better (and age better) than several smooshed together.


I hope my humble advice has given you something to consider when getting a tattoo. They are a beautiful form of artwork and I love mine. Remember above all, though: it's your body, so do whatever makes you happiest. I offer you this advice as I wish I had read it when I was considering my first tattoo.

Note: No disrespect is intended to those whose tattoos are shown above!

Gray Times,
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