5 years ago by

There are a lot of things about men I’ll never understand. One of them is their penchant for bad tattoos.

First, let’s clarify, there are two types of bad tattoos. Accidentally bad tattoos, and purposefully bad tattoos. My boyfriend of six years (the one holding our fluffy dog), has both.

I, on the other hand, have a deep fear of regretting any body modification that is permanent or even semi-permanent (hence I’ve had the same haircut for A LIFETIME). But apparently these guys don’t have that fear, and I suppose I applaud them for that? (Although when it’s your own boyfriend getting the bad tattoos the applause is a bit more difficult to procure).

We looked to include woman for this post but the few that owned up to a regretful tattoo didn’t want to show their faces. I started a feminist driven rant/monologue about female body standards versus men’s in society when Spencer chimed in with, “could also be that women just have more self respect than men.”

Ha. I’ll take that.


Alex Chang | @a_changy

Started out as a typical night out at the bar doodling flash tattoos on bar napkins with Tyler. A few bets later, I’m getting a farting penguin on my thigh (a place on my body I reserve for ‘bad tatoos’) that Tyler drew on a bar napkin, and he’s a getting a grumpy cat I drew for him.
I don’t regret any of my tattoos. Absolutely love every single one. Some have more profound meanings or represent significant points in my life, however they all tell a story about me and have a place in my heart, even the “bad” ones.

I’ve had a few friends approach & ask me why I do it or have even told me to slow down.

My parents (very old school Korean) however do not know I have a single tattoo. Traditional Korean culture, similarly to other Asian cultures, view tattoos in a negative way and have always associated it to criminals, gangsters, etc. My siblings and some relatives know but support it! My brother actually took me to get my first tattoo when I got into college. I have a feeling my mother knows but is in some state of denial. My father would probably go full Homer Simpson and chase me around the house trying to wring my neck. Fingers crossed they don’t see this!

As far back as I can remember I’ve loved art, studied it a bit in college as well. I’m particularly fascinated by Japanese body art as you can tell by the style of the majority of my tattoos.





Tyler Jennings | @tylerlloydjennings

I love doodling on cocktail napkins. And I have friends who are instigators. The two things just naturally coalesced during a rooftop drinking session last summer.

I don’t believe in “tattoo regret.” I’m sure everyone regrets a decision they made at one time or another, but – consequences aside – those decisions often reflect the moment, and something that was remarkable. All of my tattoos tell a story, and all of the tattoos to come (I hope) will also add to the anthology.

I get a lot of compliments on my tattoos. And a fair amount of ridicule from friends. The interesting part is, some of my more ridiculous pieces are also fan-favorites; it depends on in what context you know me. My family doesn’t “approve” but they have a hard time arguing with the art itself or the sentiment (the cat-tat never makes an appearance with family though).

I have a lot of tattoos planned. Some large pieces, some small pieces, and areas of my skin that I want to leave for the more whimsical shit. There is probably a “Buffalo” tattoo in the near future…

Tattoos are fairly ubiquitous now, and that’s a good and bad thing; good because they are accepted with more grace, but bad because their initial edginess is getting diluted… I was drawn to the aesthetic, and the grit it represented. My skin is pale, pink and boring… adding ink makes it more interesting.


Spencer Ostrander | @spencerostrander

My dinosaur tattoo, a character I named Mr Dino, was done by the artist @lilkool. He had been telling me how ‘great’ he was at tattooing, but I think that was simply in his mind.

I don’t regret any of my tattoos but my fiancé, Sophie Auster sure does.

I get push back daily from friends and family about my tattoos, however the Dino tattoo is Sophie’s favorite.

Personally I like the aesthetic and agree with the concept that some things even done at a moments notice are permanent.

But I’m on a permanent suspension from any further body drawings.


Clay Nielsen | @thisisclay

Let’s be honest, mine are all pretty bad. My favorite is the Tic-Tac-Toe. My friend brought his tattoo gun to a mutual friends wedding. We were drunk at the hotel and he said he’d teach me to tattoo. To teach me how to make lines he suggested playing a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Unfortunately he set the gun up incorrectly so the tattoo looks like shit. (I won the game).

I don’t really regret any of them. They all have a time and place. I have one I’d like to get covered up or fixed by a better artist. Life lesson, good tattoo artists are worth the money.

My mom doesn’t like them. She asked me to not get any more, she says they are ‘in your face.’ Shortly after that conversation she got permanent make up. My mother has face tattoos….

I want to eventually fill in my leg and make it a bit less random. Calvin and Hobbes will probably be next. I think a ‘God listens to Slayer’ tattoo would be great as well. Actually, sounds like it won’t be less random.

I’ve always wanted tattoos. When I was 7 I told my parents I wanted a tattoo of a fire truck that wrapped around my entire torso. Waist to arm pits. I’m glad I don’t have that one.





Ben Sparks | @sparksy00_

While drinking on a rooftop, Tyler and Alex (pictured above) were drawing tattoos on napkins. My now wife was inspired to get a tattoo that she had been thinking of (a more sensible piece of art than what was being created on the back of the napkins).

The night progressed and the next thing I remember is being in a tattoo shop with everyone getting tattoos and me feeling somewhat left out. Against my better judgement I decided to have a conversation with the tattoo shop trainee, who decided to offer me a “freebie” if I chose something from her portfolio. Minutes later I am being reminded of how much tattoos hurt (my last one was 15 years ago, and equally as bad).

I would love to say there was a spiritual, meaningful purpose to my bad tattoo…. That is not the case here! I will however say it is great to have a permanent reminder of some of the great people and fun I have had in NYC, so as I type this maybe it does in fact have a spiritual (tequila), meaningful (friendship/life journey), purpose. So… no regrets….. I love it in a weird bad tattoo kind of way.

A get a lot of questions but no push back on the tats.

I think I need to start collecting tattoos, like this one, and then make them in to a larger sleeve (disguising the badness but keeping the memories)

I was a big rock music fan growing up, so that may have something to do with my love of tattoos.


Add yours
  • I really, really hope the rooftop bar you guys were at was Salvation Taco.

  • Loving the new direction for Atelier…. style, humour and ‘blokes’! Don’t give up on the beauty and style but the mix of subjects is terrific reading. This story is a great counterpoint to your story of several years back showing gorgeous body art. I book-marked that… is nearly 60 years young too old for a first tattoo???

    Any chance of a series on older women? I loved Jane L. last week, and last year (?) Mariel H. There are so many wonderful out-there older women…

  • plus de français ?

  • Linne Halpern September, 20 2018, 9:29

    Hi! The French is in now, sorry about that! xx

  • Tainá Bernard September, 20 2018, 8:54 / Reply

    Loved this! I have an accidentally bad tattoo, but I came to love it as a scar from a important happening in my life, so I won’t cover it up. I think we should all detach a little bit of our appearances and tattoos are a great way to learn that and have fun.

  • I don’t have any tattoos, yet. But I was always wondering if people with tattoos were content with them, or if something went wrong while doing them or if they ever regretted. This post shed a little light on my questions. Thanks.

  • Just-A-Girl September, 20 2018, 10:36 / Reply

    I always read about tattoos, to do or not to do, but I am curious to know if anyone worries about skin cancer and the tattoos hiding it as they get older. So many of my older friends have had cancers or precancerous growths removed.

  • Hi – why the focus on just men with tattoos, bad or not? I believe this is a misstep.

  • Hi Chandra! We’ve focused on women with tattoos before, such as in the below post. But for this post we were specifically focusing on bad tattoos. We searched for women to be included but all of them declined because they did not want to be associated with their “bad” tattoos. I talk a bit about this conundrum in the intro of the post as well. We will definitely look to include women in future posts about tattoos as long as they are comfortable being featured. xx V

  • I have never been a person who has even considered a tattoo . No interest I guess.
    However I have wondered whether good or bad why tattoo your body.?
    Most creative activities at the deepest source are about obtaining immortality. Letting future people know we were here , we mattered, we had things worth saying.
    Now take that to it’s obvious conclusion on the subject of tattoos.
    And I therefore hope that the tattooed all have viewings up on their demise. That we left can see the creativity left on their bodies as part of their legacy , their humor, their successes and yes their regrets.
    The desire to tattoo is part of your story !
    Dress The Part

  • Dang, who knew a farting penguin could be so cute!

  • The tattoo aside, I find the dog absolutely adorable! What is his breed, please?

  • He’s a mini-goldendoodle! xxVeronica

  • I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing issues with your site.
    It seems like some of the text in your content are running off the
    screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them
    too? This could be a issue with my internet browser
    because I’ve had this happen previously. Appreciate it

  • Hi! Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I would love to know if anyone else is experiencing this problem as well? x Veronica

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