Just A Small Tattoo Question
May 23, 2013 8:06 PM   Subscribe

I want to get a tattoo of my cat's front paws up on the shoulder-ish area because that's where she put them when she sat on me. Just a few questions because this will be my first tattoo.

So my cat recently died. I want to get her front paws (which I have prints of) on the front of my left shoulder because that's where she put her paws when she sat on me. We're talking small amount of ink here, she was pretty small. But I have a few questions first.

1 - I'm a bit hairy. The exact spot where her paws went is on hair. Is that going to be a problem, or should I adjust the placement a bit to just avoid it?

2 - About how much am I going to end up spending for this? All I want is single color paws. Most likely filled in. No words, nothing fancy except cleaning up the edges of the print. I know you can't give me an exact number so all I'm expecting from you is a ballpark figure. Unless you're in Charleston, then I'll probably end up going to you anyway just because that would be awesome.

3 - I've heard people talking about paw tattoos being used as an indication of how many people you've killed. Anything I have to worry about, especially considering that mine will be covered as long as I have a shirt with sleeves on?
posted by theichibun to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. Your tattoo artist will shave off the hair. It might grow back, obscuring your tattoo.
2. In an ideal world, people would never talk about how much tattoos cost. However, this is Earth. Your tattoo will cost between $100-$200 depending on the shop you go to.
3. There are lots of tattoos that used to mean something in the "sailor days" but are now just cool designs. I would not worry about people thinking you're a murderer because of a kitty paw tattoo under your clothes.
posted by Michael Pemulis at 8:11 PM on May 23, 2013


Your body hair will be shaved off by the tattoo artist before you're tattooed. It should be no problem at all. The usual price for a tattoo starts at around $100/hour depending on gegraphic area. For something of that size, including tip, I'd expect to spent around $150-$200.

Don't go cheap. My first tattoo was simple, but by a crappy artist, and it's overworked and badly scarred.

I have no idea about the significance of paw print tattoos.

Sorry for your loss!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:11 PM on May 23, 2013


3. Tattoos have meaning only to the owner. People who get tattoos with no PERSONAL meaning are, in my opinion only, wasting their money. Tattoos that carry some coded meaning with regards to killing were/are more attuned to teardrops and spiderwebs with a direct relation to illegal gang activity - NOT to members of the Navy or 'sailor days'.

I think it's awesome that you'd like to get your cat's paw-print tattooed on your shoulder. Doesn't matter if it's a hairy spot, because you'll know it's there - and that's the whole point. Although to be honest in several years time you won't even see it anymore. At least not very often. It'll just be such a part of you that it doesn't stand out... but every once in a while you notice it and it reminds you of the who and the why you put it there to begin with. That's the beauty of putting personal thought into a tattoo.
posted by matty at 8:21 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


What a lovely memorial.

I am not an especially hairy person, but what hair I had in the three areas I've had tattooed has not grown back. Obviously, YMMV.

Price will vary according to geographic area, but please be sure to include a generous tip for your tattoo artist. You will have this artwork for the rest of your life, so this isn't where you want to be thrifty.

I've never heard of paw prints having special significance, but since you're planning to put this in an area that is both personally significant and cover-able, I wouldn't worry too much. I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:26 PM on May 23, 2013


Yeah, I'm not looking to go cheap. I just want to have some sort of idea before I go in there both of how much I'll be spending and when I'll be able to get it done.
posted by theichibun at 8:56 PM on May 23, 2013


I'd like to include... I'm hairy and have a couple of tattoos, which involved a lot of thought and planning.

I'm also in the Navy - hence my irritant response to the 'sailor days' stereotype mentioned above. The places I had tattooed are hairy enough, and the artist of course shaved them... my tricep/shoulder and foot/calf if you must know. And yes - the hair grew back. It's not like we're talking about my scalp though, so I can always still see them if I actively look at them - but like I said I don't even really notice them anymore - they're just silent reminders that have meaning to me and ONLY me unless I care to share with someone their meaning.

Again, I think it's a wonderful idea that you've had, and I can't think of a better way to memorialize your kitty.

My unsolicited advice... spend more than you'd considered. Research the best place to go. I see you're in South Cackalacky - but if you can afford a weekend to drive up to DC there's some WORLD CLASS artists here. Google Jinx Proof. Don't go for a flat color... go for shading. No need for crazy colors, but maybe go for some 'depth'? You can also email a reputable artist and correspond back and forth before going to the shop with designs and concepts before blindly going under the needle.
posted by matty at 9:05 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want to get a tattoo of my cat's front paws up on the shoulder-ish area because that's where she put them when she sat on me. Just a few questions because this will be my first tattoo.

I would spend some time thinking about whether you'll have more tattoos in the future, in which case you may want to think about composition, and how the cat's paw prints would integrate into a larger piece. Talk to the tattooist about it.

(I like the larger pieces or mixes of integrated elements over the 'doodling random stuff while on the phone' look.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:38 PM on May 23, 2013


1. They will shave the area before they tattoo you. They will do this as a matter of course, regardless of where you get a tattoo. Both of mine are in non-hairy areas, and they still got shaved. The real question is how visible you want the tattoo to be and whether it will matter to you if there is hair growing over the area. No idea if tattooing will affect the appearance of hair on the tattooed area.

2. This will depend entirely on the specific artist you use as well as how long it takes to execute. I would recommend that you not worry too much about keeping the cost low -- usually you get what you pay for. My smaller tattoo took about an hour to do and thus cost my artist's hourly rate. I want to say it was $120-150 before a generous tip? My guess is that your artist will probably have a one-hour minimum for custom work.

3. I've never heard of that. Try googling around for images -- maybe google "paw tattoo crime" or "paw tattoo murder" and see what comes up. If you get a lot of well substantiated results, just make sure your paw tattoo looks nothing like what you see. It's certainly not so well known as to be an obvious faux pas.
posted by Sara C. at 9:39 PM on May 23, 2013


1 - I'm a bit hairy.

I don't know HOW hairy you are. Draw some crude ones on in marker and see how it goes. I am a female so I don't really have hair issues, you could try other placements.

(A really easy way to make a stencil is draw with washable marker on tracing paper, wet your skin, and slap it on. That way you can decide a bit on placement.)

2 - About how much am I going to end up spending for this?

I agree with other's quotes, but you can easily call and ask. Have a measurement handy - like "I want two 4 inch by 4 inch paw prints, filled in, this color, etc" They can give you an estimate. Tattoo artists will stick to the estimate they give you when you bring in your artwork, so you can ask before you get it done.

Bring cash for tips, that's the easiest way to tip the artist. My tips depend on the size, and how the artist treated me. (Last tattoo was $120, took maybe an hour, we tipped $20. I also tip for touchups as touchups are free.)

3 - I've heard people talking about paw tattoos being used as an indication of how many people you've killed. Anything I have to worry about, especially considering that mine will be covered as long as I have a shirt with sleeves on?

Never heard of this. Were you thinking of a Bear Print? A quick Google gave me some results that a bear paw print can refer to a "Bear" in gay cultures. (I never heard of this before Goggling, so I think you're fine.)

4 - Aftercare.

I didn't see you ask about aftercare. Do you know how to care for your tattoo?
-Wash with antibacterial soap, gently, no scrubbing
-No soaking, swimming for about 4 weeks
-Use fragrance free, vitamin E oil free, lotion. (I like Aveeno.)
-No picking, scratching, itching. (It will itch like crazy for a few days, depending how large.)
-Don't expose it to sunlight while it heals.

Since you are a "tattoo virgin" they will likely have a sheet of aftercare. Artists sometimes have preferences for when to wash it, when to apply lotion, and lotions they prefer.

Goodluck! I hope they flip on their "Virgin in the Chair" sign for you! As my artist said after my first one, "Welcome to your new addiction." (Sorry for your loss, but that's a great way to commemorate your cat.)
posted by Crystalinne at 10:22 PM on May 23, 2013


...think about composition, and how the cat's paw prints would integrate into a larger piece. Talk to the tattooist about it...

posted by sebastienbailard


Seconding this hard. I wanted an armband of ocean waves and after a lot of discussion with the artist, ended up rethinking my design. Now my ink can either stand alone or become the top of a larger sleeve, because...

"Welcome to your new addiction."
posted by Crystalinne

posted by kinetic at 7:26 AM on May 24, 2013


I agree with everyone so far.

As far as what other people will think when they see your tattoo--to me paw prints + hairy dude definitely makes me think "bear" gay culture.

It's a sweet idea; sorry to hear about the loss of your kitty.
posted by inertia at 10:47 AM on May 24, 2013


I'm a hairy guy with a couple tattoos. The hair grew back just fine. My advice would be to make sure the tattoo is big and bold enough that it wouldn't just look like a smudge under your body hair.

Regarding price, a reputable artist can give you a quote if you describe the tattoo design, size, and location. $100-200 sounds about right to me, from my experience at a few different shops in the midwest.

Definitely don't worry about your paw prints having gang symbolism or whatever. It won't be an issue unless you routinely take your shirt off around gang members.
posted by wolfnote at 10:53 AM on May 24, 2013


FWIW I googled "paw tattoo" and mostly got pictures of Eve.

So I'd say worry less about gang/prison tats and just try not to get them on your pecs.
posted by Sara C. at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2013


In Pennsylvania, I've seen tons of paw prints tattoos, and they usually refer to Penn State's nittany lions.
You might want to make sure yours are different enough so people from PA don't assume you're an alum, unless perhaps you are?
posted by citygirl at 4:03 PM on May 24, 2013


As far as what other people will think when they see your tattoo--to me paw prints + hairy dude definitely makes me think "bear" gay culture.

Also furries.
posted by mendel at 5:04 PM on May 26, 2013


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