A friend of mine recently changed her Facebook status to mention that she got the go-ahead to get the tattoo she has alwys wanted (hi Margaret!) and of course, that got me thinking about my tattoos. As most of you know, I have a number of tattoos in various places all over my body. The short, chronological inventory is:  a blue dragon holding a rose on ankle (dude, it was 1992) that has since been reworked and relined to be a nicer looking blue dragon holding a rose; a sun with a crescent moon and star inside that has since been covered up with other work because it healed so poorly; a quarter sleeve on my left shoulder / arm that features Native work and Japanese styled design that vaguely represents the four elements; flowers on my right shoulder blade to cover up the sun/moon/stars; and finally, three swallows – one on my right rib cage, one on my right collar bone, and one in the centre of my shoulder blades, worked into the flowers, each swallow representing a love lost.

I love my tattoos, as does Kale – they stupify him and he could spend hours trying to pick them up. But I care about them more for what they mean to me than what they physically are, because with each of them, there is something I’d really love to change to make them better looking tattoos. I don’t heal particularly well, I have discovered – my skin is sensitive and while they were healing I guess I didn’t take as good care of the tattoos that I could have and in the first few years I guess I probably exposed them to the sun a bit too often. 

Tattoo work is expensive, and a good tattooist is hard to find. The first two were done by men in slightly shady operations; I walked in with a girlfriend, showed the “artist” the picture, and it was done – a simple business transaction. The flowers, the Native/Japanese elements quarter sleeve, the birds – they were all done by the same tattooist and let’s just say I’d rather not use his services in the future for a variety of reasons – none of them dramatic, but like any paying customer, I think you have a right to choose from the competition if you aren’t 100% happy with the service you bought. 

So now I have some minor touch-up work that needs doing to fix some of the healing blunders of the swallows especially, and I have another tattoo I’ve been pondering for a few years now to memorialize my dad. Nothing big or elaborate – it’s small and graceful, and it’s the first tattoo I’ve designed that’s more about the design than anything (it’s a working of his intials into a vine with flowers). 

But like I said, tattoo work is expensive. Good artists are upwards of $150 – $180 per hour, and the touch up work I want done tends to be even more expensive because they are essentially fixing other people’s errors. That sort of money is not a tree-grower here in my world, unfortunately. This is one of those expenses that won’t happen till I win the lotto or inherit something and even then? Well, even then there is always Kale’s RESP to think about. 

What do you think? Tattoos – justifiable expense if you save up or not justifiable at all once you have kids?

13 years ago


  1. Well, you already know that I am pro tattoo already and not yet a parent, so I can’t really speak from a place of experience but I like to maintain that after we have a child we won’t lose who we are as people even if we have to save for it a bit more.

    When Kale was born you didn’t cease to be Jen, you’re just now a mom on top of everything else that makes you, you. I think if you are able to save the money for it, it’s not like you’re taking food out of Kale’s mouth. Like everything else in life, you’ll just have to decide which of the things for you (which you should still be doing) is more important (ie. tattoo vs vacation vs whatever) and start saving for that. It kills me watching parents who completely lose their identity in favour of putting all their money into their children’s desires.

  2. I’ve been sitting on a design for the past year at least of a dragon/yin yang, that I am wanting to see if it can be used as a coverup for the eclipse on my shoulder blade. I can’t think of another good place to put it– a round design, about the same size… maybe the OTHER shoulder blade.
    At any rate, I have NO idea what it will cost… suppose I should book an appt for a consultation to get a price, and then once I have that price, I can submit it to the finance committee (aka hubby).
    Who can then tell me that we can’t afford it, what the the babies and all. LOL

  3. Personally, I like the look of tattoos once they’ve aged a bit. I think that a tattoo gains a certain amount of grace once it’s faded by the sun and looses some of the definition at it’s edges. For me, an older tattoo looks more distinguished than a new tattoo that just looks like, well, a new tattoo.

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