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Tattoos: When Imitation Is Not Flattery - Find Your Original Tattoo Design

Date Added: August 20, 2011 12:10:28 AM

The old phrase 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' doesn't always hold true, and tattoo designs are one great example of this fact. While there have been so many tattoos done that you're unlikely to come up with a completely novel design, that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Any tattoo you get will become a large part of your personality and you'll constantly be answering the question 'what does it mean?' after you get one. As a result, you'd like to have a better answer than 'that guy had one, too.'

One of the reasons that imitating someone's tattoo design is a bad idea is that too often the original tattoo meaning is lost when you simply copy a design. Think about some of the popular styles for tattoos in the last decade or so. A lot of them are explicitly tied to a culture, say the Maori for tribal tattoos. The meaning of a Maori's tattoos is part of a long chain of culture that doesn't extend to imitations. Given how tattoos can become such an integral part of one's identity, and can tell you so much about a person, having your own idea for a tattoo means you're coming up with an original identity as well.

Another risk of imitating something just because it looks cool is more practical. The fad with Asian characters, usually Chinese in origin, is a great example of why not to imitate a style. The fact of the matter is that Chinese characters often mean something very different from the dictionary's definition of them, and small differences in the character can make big differences in what it means. Unless your artist can read and write in the language you're getting tattooed in, you should be very cautious. There are several people who got a tattoo thinking it meant 'strength' and later found out they'd very proudly been displaying the word 'child' for all to see.

Coming up with a distinct and original tattoo is part of the process. By developing your own image or symbol, you have to think very carefully about what it means to you and what you're trying to say. This is a good thing for you as a person and it makes your tattoo more significant than just picking something that other people have. Of course, you can definitely use what you see to influence you; it's not so much what you end up getting tattooed but what significance you put in to the image that's important.

With a decision as important as getting a tattoo, it's a good idea to really think it through. A lot of the time, really thinking an image through will give you ideas about how you want to make your tattoo different and unique to you. This will give you a good answer to the question 'what does your tattoo mean to you?

Imitation isn't always a form of flattery. Getting tattooed is a personal decision and taking the time to make yours unique is important, as it is a piece of art that will remain with your for the rest of your days. So do your due diligence, get inspired. There are thousands of shops and talented tattoo artists out there, and just as much tattoo design websites, magazines and other artistic material to help inspire you. Just like any piece of art, it should represent something unique. So remember to create, never imitate.