(phi^n - (-phi)^-n)/rad(5)
November 20, 2006 6:54 PM   Subscribe

I want to get a tattoo on one of my hands. This will be my first. Know a good place near Binghamton or Poughkeepsie NY, or have other advice?

Here's what I'm imagining: three marks on the side of my left ring finger that faces my left middle finger. The marks will be little phi's, set so that they're in proportion to the golden ratio.

Here are the things that are making me nervous:
- jobs. Do you think I'd be able to get phi's that are small enough to be unobtrusive? I'm going to be an electrical engineer when I'm finished with school, so professional look is important.
- detail. If the phi's are small enough to be unobtrusive, will they still be recognizable characters? Will I be able to get the marks set correctly for the 1:1.618 effect? I know that the marks won't have any significant amount of accuracy, but I'd want to get as close as possible. Yes, the whole point of the tattoo is that I want to be able to doodle (relatively) accurate golden rectangles.

further concerns: This would be an absolutely minimal tattoo. Could someone give me a ballpark cost? Is sidefinger likely to see a lot of stretch/wear? How bad will this hurt for the first couple days? I imagine I'll have the finger in a splint to keep it from bending.
posted by tylermoody to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have heard it's difficult to get someone to tattoo your hands or face (especially for a first tattoo). In fact, the only people I've known with tattooed hands/faces were ones that were well-known to the tattooing community: since they had already "committed" to having major tattoos (think over 75% of their bodies), the artists were comfortable with doing it. (Plus being friends with the artists helps.) I think it'll be unlikely that you can walk in somewhere and get it done.
posted by sfkiddo at 7:06 PM on November 20, 2006

Response by poster: just made a quick prototype on a 2cm scale. Here's the dots & resultant rectangle
posted by tylermoody at 7:15 PM on November 20, 2006

Seconded. Although I'm not inked myself, I know from friends you might have a bit of trouble here. You're going to want to find the most experienced tatooist you can, and definitely avoid stepping into the first place you see for something like that.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 7:19 PM on November 20, 2006

Best answer: I have a series of tattoos on my palms, and they are the only tats I have.

Ditto sfkiddo - it will take time and effort to find an artist who will do this on your hands, esp. as your first tattoo.

Price: I found a guy that was quite bargain basement, but he was in NYC and has moved since, so can't refer you. He charged ~$40 for my small ones, ~$100 for the larger one. But unlikely you'll see prices like that.

Social: mine sometimes repel and shock people, but I am out of the States, and anyways that's sort of what I was going for. Tats on hands in a lot of places and cultures in the world = prisoner / gang member.

Your thing is too small. There will be a lot of bleeding of colour, and that level of detail just won't come out.

Wear: yes, another issue. Mine are only a few months old, and are wearing / fading. I'm still happy with them, but just be well aware that they won't be pristine little drawings for long. People will ask "Did you do it yourself?"

It wil really, really hurt. And if you flinch at all, the artist will fuck up the line he is drawing.

I'll happily answer more Qs, email in profile.

Good luck.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:28 PM on November 20, 2006

Best answer: I have a friend who has had a good deal of work done in Ithaca, about an hour north of Binghamton, at Stiehl's. I haven't been there but as I understand it they're very professional; you could contact them to ask the questions you've asked us here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:08 PM on November 20, 2006

What if you got thin lines, instead of little phi's? It would be easier to align them for drawing, and be unobtrusive. A color other than black would also be less noticeable, and, if you're concerned about what people think about you, they would probably figure you drew them on (at least the first couple of times they see them). My only tattoo is un-outlined and in pastel colors, and many people seem to not believe it's real, for some reason.

Another reason for simpler designs would be the wear over the years, as noted above. And it will probably not hurt much at all, at that size.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 9:15 PM on November 20, 2006

Take a ballpoint pen. Just a regular old Bic. Draw the design on your skin with that. The width of that line is approximately the width of common ouline needles. You may be able to get thinner lines, but I wouldn't count on it.

I like the idea above of replacing the little phi's with lines. I would actually draw them as long as my finger for the first one, then across my fingers for the rest. But, you might want something more understated.

Have you considered alternate placement? Inside of the wrist, perhaps?

I'm not sure what sort of industry you're going to engineer in, but you might consider that a couple of tattoos don't necessarily make you unhirable. I have several tattoos on my arms that don't seem to be an issue in my work as a software developer. This is 2006, and unless you're yet another I-wanna-work-for-lockheed-martin missile engineers I know, the places at which you interview will probably take more interest in your behavior and comportment in the interview than to the three understated lines on your knuckle.

ruby.aftermath has a good idea in going with a color other than black. Why not embed another numerical value in the color? For instance, if you were of a satanist bent you could use the color of 0x060606. Or, compute it more fundamentally from wavelengths of light or whatever.
posted by Netzapper at 10:40 PM on November 20, 2006

I have a tattoo on the middle finger of my right hand. I work for a large corporation. I deal with clients in very conservative industries on a daily basis. Very few people notice, and when they do, I get compliments (though mine is a flower, and the noticing/comments are all from women, so YMMV).

Hand work, especially small and detailed hand work, is very difficult to do, so make sure you go to an artist that is familiar with it. Check their portfolio. Talk to them beforehand.

You might want to go with white tattoos for the hands, too. They are very subtle. I have a friend with small white tattoos on the sides of her fingers, and you can barely see them, but if you look closely, you can see the linework.

Oh, and I know it's a bit of a drive, but Scarab Body Arts in Syracuse is an excellent shop. I'd call ahead to talk to an artist before making the drive, of course.

(I have a number of tattoos and used to live with a tattoo artist who does a lot of hand tattoos, so I'm pretty familiar with this subject!)
posted by bedhead at 11:34 PM on November 20, 2006

Something I've heard anecdotally is hand 'tats are far more susceptible to infections during healing than those, for example, on your forearms.

You might want to take this into consideration when timing your 'tat after you find a cooperative artist. I'm heavily inked myself, but no place that's visible in business attire.

Hope it goes well - best of luck!
posted by Mutant at 11:38 PM on November 20, 2006

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