We’ve all seen some weird tattoos here and there, but not as close as to what tattoo artists have seen walking in their shops or even out. These tattoo artists reveal the weirdest tattoo they’ve ever done. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
“I was a piercer for a few years at a local shop. During the first year of my apprenticeship, we had a younger, 20-something male who had come in to get his forehead tattooed. I handled the majority of the paperwork for the tattoo artists at the time as well and he had requested the word ‘FUBAR’ to be done.
So he went back into the booth with the artist at the time and was told to come back the next day after he slept on it because you know, it’s permanent and we wanted to make sure he was 100 percent certain.
To all our dismay, he returned the next day to proceed with the tattoo. He had told us while getting tattooed that it was payback to his mother for favoring his older brother their whole life and he wanted to ‘return the favor’ of how much she messed up his life.
I’ll never forget the smile on his face as he walked out the door.”
Not Our Beloved Childhood Cartoons
1. “People ask for all sorts of unusual things but one of the strangest things I had to do was ‘Gary the snail’ from ‘SpongeBob’ on some lady’s ‘snail trail.’
You know, the space between the belly button and her private area with the whole joke behind the ‘it’s a snail on a snail trail.’
I did that one pretty early on in my apprenticeship and honestly, I still think about that tattoo sometimes. Oh, and just last week, I had a lady come in asking for a guy’s genitalia on the bottom of one of her toes, Just as a fun joke piece.
We did it and got very technical with the whole thing. She was super stoked with it. And to be honest, I’m pretty sure that’s been the highlight of my career so far.”
2. “I’m a good friend of a guy who has some questionable tattoos. He, his brother, and his wife wanted to get matching tattoos and they decided on getting one of each ‘Powerpuff Girls’. My buddy got Buttercup, but not the innocent version you’ll remember. She for some reason had her shirt off, and a huge chest with a sword. No clue why so I asked him.
He said, ‘I thought it was funny.’
Mind you, this was on his leg so it was very visible, and he also has two small kids.
It gets better though. I recently talked to his brother and he said his brother got a newer tattoo.
In general curiosity, I asked him,’ What it is of?’
His brother sent me a picture. It was of the Pokémon Blastoise, on his other leg. It was not only shooting out from a weapon on its back but had a gigantic uncircumcised thing dangling from the Pokémon. I wish I knew the thought processes that lead to these tattoos.”
“His Name Was ‘Pirate'”
“When my artist was tattooing me, she told me about a guy she tatted named, ‘Pirate. No joke, his name was ‘Pirate.’
So, Pirate apparently wanted basically his whole face tatted in black ink, just big blocks of ink all over his face. Well, she did it for him. She even had to call in a few extra people to the room because this guy was a weirdo and she didn’t want to be alone with him while she was working on his face. Once she finished the tattoos, she never saw him again, until he hit the news.
He was arrested in Alaska for kidnapping and holding some girl hostage. If you look up ‘Pirate Alaska arrest,’ it’ll show up with this guy’s mugshot and all his tattoos. Super creepy.
I’m in Reno, Nevada too so it just adds to the weirdness I guess. The guy got his whole face tattooed in Reno, then most likely flew to Alaska from here, and kidnapped a girl. Just why? Also, imagine getting on a plane with that guy or being that guy getting on a plane.”
“I had to tattoo ‘Sleazy’ in big letters on the lower back of an older woman. But I also had to put ‘grandma smells like rainbows and sunshine’ at the top of her back. It was a quote from her grandson. Individually, fine. But both together just made it a bit weird.
Also, I had to tattoo a guy’s thing with his mate’s name. And let’s just say his mate was not happy.
There was a guy who had his leg removed and wanted his old tattoo copied onto his other leg. This was fine but I got a weird vibe and wasn’t comfortable with him. Found out just before the appointment he was being charged with an assault. That was messed up.”
He Wanted To Surprise His Soon-To-Be Wife
“When I was apprenticing, I had to do some number of free tattoos in order to get licensed. I was hungry for work, accepting anything that was a reasonable size/difficulty level for me to be doing. I was telling everyone I knew to tell everyone they knew that I could give them a tattoo for free. This way I could finally get my state license.
This 18-year-old kid walked into our shop, and he told me he wanted a tattoo of a heart around his urethra. He had no prior tattoos. So he had no idea how it would feel.
He was engaged, and he wanted to do something to surprise her on their honeymoon.
I was like, ‘You know what? Why not! This will be a story for everyone involved.’
So I sat him down and tattooed just the black linework of a little heart around the tip of the area. He sat like a champ but was pretty well done after just the outline. We called it good, and he was on his way.
He came back after his wedding and said his wife wanted me to color the heart in, so that happened.
Once I was licensed, I had a few more guidelines about the work I’d do. There were some people that want some really stupid things. I was lucky to work in a shop that was popular enough to be able to afford to turn people away if their ideas were just too bonkers.”
“I worked at a shop on the edge of the quarter in New Orleans when I first started tattooing. There were lots and lots of wasted folks.
One of the tattoos I still think of often was this ‘Turn down for what’ on a dude’s butt because he lost a bet. It was also his first tattoo.
After giving him and his buddy (who was also supposed to get it) a time out for about an hour and a half to think it over, his buddy chickened out and got a gospel verse on his ribcage instead.
While inking the butt dude’s tattoo, I made sure the lettering was nice and open so hopefully, if he ever got it covered, it would be an easy job.”
“A guy who came in wanting the words, ‘Bridget, I’m sorry. I was wrong. I love you.’
Apparently, this 38-year-old guy was dating and living with his girlfriend of two years. She wanted to get married, but he was reluctant because she didn’t fit some ideas he had in his head for his long-term partner. They were all superficial things: she was shorter than he liked and blonde. He preferred brunettes. So she left him.
Two months later, he realized he made a huge mistake. The only problem was that she had moved on and was dating someone. She has made it clear that she was not interested anymore.
This was when this gentleman came to get the tattoo that was going to solve all of his problems. He told me how he arranged to have dinner with her in a week. He intended to plead for her to come back to him, and when she would inevitably doubt his sincerity, he would then reveal his tattoo as a sign of his commitment. I tried to talk him out of it, but he was an adult, sober, and of seemingly sound mind. So I did the tattoo.
Cut to that very next day. It was my off day. I was at my friend’s subdivision pool and I noticed this guy who was remarkably attractive. He was also playing around with some of the kids there. I leaned over to my friend and inquired as to Hotty McHottypant’s identity. She told me about how he was the new boyfriend of her pretty blonde neighbor who had just gotten out of a long-term relationship. Her name? You guessed it. Bridget.
At this point, I was wriggling with the excitement of seeing this girl in person and the anxiety of having knowledge of what was about to happen to her without being able to reveal it.
Over the next few days, little billboards started popping up around town, saying, ‘Bridget, I’m sorry. I was wrong. I love you.’
We all knew how this was going to end. Bridget would see the tattoo, freak out, and then this guy would lead the rest of his life with an uncomfortable tattoo.
But that was not what happened.
He had dinner with Bridget. She saw the tattoo, and she completely changed her mind. She broke up with her boyfriend and got back together with her ex. And three months later, they got engaged. They had a destination wedding, and are still married today.
I know this because I saw both of them at that same pool three and a half months later and they both came over and Bridget gave me a big hug and thanked me.
Also, the billboards earlier that month all over town said, ‘Bridget, I love you. Will you marry me?’ helped tip me off.”
1. “I worked at a prison, and I saw lots of outrageous tattoos. There was a guy who we called, ‘Joker.’ He had elements of a deck of cards all over his face. His attempt was to look like a joker card. He even had lots of teardrops.
One guy shaved his eyelashes and had the word ‘convict’ tattooed over each eye as a replacement. His in-laws must be proud of him.
I am reluctant to take any measures to suggest who they are. But I think they most probably regret their decision.”
2. “I’m just a portraitist, but an inmate I knew got a pretty big anti-police tattoo on his chest. Mind you, he was in prison.
With a custom machine, which I made out of an electric razor engine, part of a ball pen tube, and a straightened paperclip as a needle.
Well, unfortunately for him that machine had already been used to tattoo half of the block. I also used to draw most of the tattoos that didn’t require lettering on paper in exchange for smokes. After the last use, the ‘artist’ must’ve forgotten to take care of the needle. I might’ve made the machine but I didn’t want any responsibilities when it came to modifying other people’s bodies, so I just ‘sold’ it to someone else, who I instructed to change both the pipe and the paperclip after each use and to sterilize the new ones as best as he could.
So, the guy who got the anti-police tattoo as a sort of rebellious act against the guards but planned to keep it covered to avoid trouble. However, he got an infection and had to be treated by the prison’s doctor, an event that allowed the guards to find out about the tattoo.
Needless to say, the guards weren’t pleased. This episode quickly became the block’s favorite joke.”
“I was in Mississippi tattoo shop getting tattooed. A mid 50’s woman walked in and started looking at the recently done tattoo photos while she waited for someone to talk to get ink. An artist approached her and asked what she liked. Well, she was wanting to get something in remembrance of her two dead husbands.
Initially, she wanted two halos with their names, but then the artist recommended making it more personal.
She asked, ‘What did they like?’
The customer replied, ‘One liked chicken wings and the other liked fishing.’
The artist said, ‘What if we do a chicken wing with some fishing hooks that make it look like a lure?’
The woman was excited but wanted an additional touch. The wing had to be blue and have maggots.
By the time I was finished with my session, she was halfway through shading and had the art on her shoulder.”
“What Does Your Tattoo Say?”
“I once went with a friend to get her tattoo. I no longer do that. The noise of the needle thing really freaks me out and it is just better for all concerned if they choose a less incompetent support person. I can handle someone having a baby easier than I can handle someone getting a tattoo.
Anyway, my friend had lost her mom about six months prior, so she brought her tattoo art with her to show the artist. I had helped her find the exact right characters, at her request, and since I had taken two semesters of college Japanese, she figured I was the most competent person to assist with the project. It was three little kanji-looking Chinese letters.
The tattoo artist said, ‘Are you sure?’
My friend said, ‘Yes. Very much so.’
The tattoo artist picked up a Chinese food menu that was stapled to an empty bag of what had been delivered and compared it to her drawing.
My friend said, ‘Really. I know what it means.’
The tattoo artist said, ‘I’m not sure you-‘
My friend said, ‘No, really. It’s the Chinese character for General Tso’s Chicken. You can check.’
The artist, absolutely bumfuzzled by this, duly checked, and sure enough, that was exactly what my friend had chosen. He looked at me to which I nodded solemnly. Then the artist looked back at my friend.
He said, ‘Okay. You know what you’re about, I’m sure.’
And I don’t remember much more after that because I had to close my eyes, take some Ativan, and think really hard about dogs and cats not to pass out.
Anyway, that was my friend and her late mom’s very favorite dish. They ate it together in the hospital the day my friend’s baby brother was born, they ate it every Christmas, every graduation, and the night before her mom passed. It was a very sudden, traumatic death. They had made plans to go and get General Tso’s together the preceding day.
My friend still tears up a little when it’s served, because the smell reminds her so much of her mom, but she still loves the stuff. It is her absolute comfort food, and she wanted that symbol of her mom being with her.
That, and when smug people try to say ‘What does your tattoo say?’ expecting it to be ‘love’ or ‘angels’ or whatnot, she quite straightforwardly tells them exactly what it is and why.
My friend is awesome. I am terrified of tattoos.”
The Magic Of Photoshop
“My girlfriend is a tattoo artist and I helped her Photoshop what the client wanted. The dude wanted to tattoo his ex-girlfriend. Already a questionable choice right?
He wanted his ex GF’s face combined with a cat. And he didn’t even give us a specific cat, the dude literally said, ‘Find a cat off the internet.’
So we did. While I photoshopped his ex GF’s eyes onto the cat, I questioned my existence as I pressed save.
Good thing we persuaded him out of it, but heck! Imagine if he met another girl in the future and she asked, ‘What the heck is this cat person on your chest!’
1. “Fresh out of my apprenticeship, and at a point where I couldn’t really say ‘no,’ I was pressured by my boss to do anything that came my way. I had this young couple come in with the girl wanting her boyfriend’s name tattooed on her wrist. She seemed nervous as her boyfriend was mostly speaking for her.
I tried communicating as best as I could with her, making sure she really wanted the tattoo but she only ever said, ‘Yes’ with her bf increasingly getting annoyed.
While doing the tattoo, she was shaking constantly and the dude was making fun of her the whole time. She didn’t even smile when it was done, and they only thanked me briefly before leaving.
I felt horrible and hated myself for letting my boss pressure me into doing that tattoo that obviously didn’t have any sort of positive connotation for the girl. Since then, I put my foot down from that point and now refuse to do partner tattoos ever since.
Still feel bad about it to this day though.”
2. “Way back then, I had a woman come into the shop one time who looked like she’d been in a tanning booth for eight days a week for the last 40 plus years. She wanted to get her locked-up man’s name tattooed on her, but she wanted it ‘down there.’
She convinced me to get way closer to her jukebox than I was comfortable with and had me tattoo, ‘Billy Jack’s Kitty Cat’ so far up in there that I think it’s against today’s standard policies.
The best part was that a couple of weeks later, ‘Billy Jack’ called me from prison to tell me how much he loved the tattoo. It was a collect call too.
It’s a memory that I will never forget.”
3. “So, seven years ago, when I was an apprentice at this shop, this girl came in and asked for lettering; Two initials actually. The tattoo got passed to me, so I printed the design and proceeded to put the stencil on. The initials were LS, which stood for her boyfriend’s name. She wanted the tattoo around her butt because he was a butthole.
I keep the printed picture above my station.”
“My tattoo artist told me once he had just tattooed a crime scene onto someone. Like a real-life crime scene that this guy had a picture off. There was murdered victim and all.
I asked him, ‘Do you think maybe the guy had done it?’
He said, ‘No, the crime was a cold case from the 70s or something and the guy was in his early 20s.'”
A Little Hide And Seek
“One of my colleagues at the shop usually hides men’s genitalia in his florals, but only if the client is being a prick. I once saw a pin-up he was doing with tattoos all over her body and he managed to make a full one in it without making it too obvious. He’s so good at tattooing that his clients always return for new projects.
The most messed up tattoo I’ve ever done was a league of legends related tat, the drawing was not bad but he did show up wasted, like post-psychedelic festival wasted. Didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, just casually showed up two hours earlier at our appointment and passed out in my station. After the second line, the dude was having a real convulsion and his friend started to freak out. Only then I was informed they were coming straight from the festival. By the time, I thought they were nervous and anxious about his first tattoo, not freaking high on multiple substances. After giving him lunch and a good scolding, we could actually finish the line work
We could actually finish the line work that day and I made him pay for another whole session for the subsequent appointment.”
“I did matching his/hers tattoos on this couple. He was a coworker of my wife’s and I told her how he’d come in with his girlfriend.
She chimed in, ‘You mean wife.’
I said, ‘No, this definitely was a new relationship. His wife must have been at home with the kids.’
It was terrible.”
“I used to work with a guy who had a tattoo on the side of his body of a woman squatting over a pond and fire hydrant peeing into it. Then if you looked closer, inside the pond were floating decapitated heads.
When I asked him, ‘What the heck is this?’
He told me, ‘The woman was his ex-wife and the heads were all his kids.’
I asked, ‘Why is she peeing on them?’
He said, ‘I have a pee fetish.'”
He Was Used As A Trash Canva
“A good friend of mine owns a tattoo shop. He’d rent out booths to other artists. Years back, he had an artist who didn’t have very much of a moral compass and would do some messed up tattoos on a couple of individuals who were having a rough go socially in life and were just seeking out a place where they felt accepted.
This particular artist had a ‘friend’ who was a little overweight and just socially awkward so the artist would give him tattoos for free as long as he was allowed to pick the tattoo idea.
Long story short, this poor soul ended up receiving three specific tattoos that I will never forget. A Juggalo hatchet man on his forehead, unicorns hooked up on the top of his head, and then the tattoo artist with all of his creative wisdom tattooed the back of the individual’s head and back neck to look like a hamburger patty with buns using the skin rolls of the neck as the different layers of toppings on the hamburger.
I often wonder how that individual is doing in life now. Hopefully, he’s been able to find a place where he is accepted without being used as a trash canvas. The last I heard about the artist was he ended up in jail for theft and all kinds of shady things that didn’t shock me at all.”
“I’ve had a lot of odd requests over the years. Most of them I will agree to do. I have some weird ones, myself. I did, however, decline to tattoo one gentleman. The request was outside of my comfort zone.
This gentleman was in his 50s and requested a female tattooed. Since I was the only female at this shop, that meant me.
He explained to me how he wanted a lower back tattoo with a little girl with pigtails and two bunnies— one on each side of her. He wanted her to be super cute and wanted the words, ‘Mommy’s little bunny’ incorporated into the design.
I’m a very open-minded individual, so I’m rarely shocked. Perhaps it was the guy, but I was thoroughly creeped out. Weird vibes, so I had to decline that design.”