My $6500 Tribal Tattoo


If $6050 sounds like an awful lot for a tribal tattoo, you are right! It actually started out as a $50 tattoo I was getting “hooked up” with by a “friend’ who just purchased a shiny new tattoo machine out of the back of a magazine (this was pre-internet shopping…).

This guy was a fantastic artist on paper; how hard could it be to tattoo?

It’s “just tracing”, right? What could possibly go wrong?

I was all set. He drew up this tribal piece that would fit perfectly in my inner calf, set up his gear at another friend’s house and away we went! Six hours later I had (what I thought at the time) the coolest tattoo ever! Paid the man his $50 and off I went to show that bad boy off!

After a few days, the tattoo started getting really red and irritated; I began having trouble walking on that leg. There was a yellowish seepage draining that caused a crusty ledge on the top of my ankle socks. My girlfriend at the time kept insisting that I go get it checked out, but me being the “tough guy” (with no insurance), I wanted to suck it up and ride out the infection.

At the two week point, I was missing work, because I couldn’t stand on that leg at all, it was so swollen. So, I caved and went to the hospital. Before I knew it, I was admitted to the hospital and hooked up to an antibiotic I.V.!

The doctor told me, if I had waited two more days, they might have had to remove my leg! So after a nice three day rest and a full antibiotics cocktail, I was ready to go home. I headed down to check out of the hospital, where I was presented with my bill: $6000!

Hence the $6050 tribal leg tattoo.

The moral of this story is: Getting “hooked up” by a “friend” who tattoos (or pierces, for that matter) out of his house isn’t the “sweet deal” you think it’s going to be.

No matter how fantastic an artist they may be on paper, if they are “doing it on the side”, it means one of two things, they aren’t trained or good enough to work in a studio, or they are practicing on you! My case was the latter of course)

Not to mention, these cheap “Online Tattoo Kits” that most “amateurs” are using were Made in China, who have been known to produce substandard metals and inks, which could lead all sorts of unforeseen medical complications not even associated with an “un-sterile” environment!

Cover-ups are expensive.

Laser removal is expensive (which is what is happening to “the coolest tattoo ever”, by the way).

Hospitals are expensive.

Take it from me: Save yourself some money, pain, and suffering. Get it done right the first time.

– Steve

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