Smallman Syndrome - 196

Published: 25 March, 2011 - Featured in Skin Deep 196, March, 2011

One man’s tragic obsession with the sillier side of tattooing...

Hello and happy new month to you, tattoo lovers and lovers with tattoos. My focus for my column this month is less to do with pictures that you guys have submitted to me, but a subject that I’ve been thinking about a lot.  I’m currently writing my Edinburgh Festival show for this year, which is tentatively called “Tattooligan” and is going to look at how people perceive me based on my liberal amounts of ink, along with some more general stuff about the wonderful artform of tattooing that we all hold so dear.  Unless you picked this magazine up thinking that it was Caravan Monthly or something like that.  If you did, how can you even read this when your eyes are working so badly?

I asked my followers on Twitter (you can join them by following the link at the end of this article) what the most annoying question was that they get asked by non-inked folks - or “normals” as I like to refer to them – about their tattoos.  What follows are the most common responses, and my suggested replies for any time you have to suffer fools less-than-gladly:

“Do they hurt?” – Yes. They’re agonising. But I love the pain. Oh God yes. (Then slip into a Hannibal Lecter-esque voice, talking about fava beans and a nice Chianti and licking your fingers like 1990s WWF wrestling star Golddust. They’ll soon leave you be.)

“What if you change your mind about them?” – If they’ve got kids, merely ask them if they’re likely to change their minds about them.  And let’s be honest, kids can be created by accident.  You can’t do that with tattoos, unless you manage to somehow fall onto a needle and then shift about for several hours.

“What are you going to do when you’re 70 with all those tattoos?” – Look like the most bad-ass person in the old people’s home, that’s what.

“You know it’s permanent, right?” – If this happens, let your face drop, and then run off SCREAMING at the top of your lungs that “you thought it was one of those henna things”.  Or merely stand three inches from the tip of their nose and say “you know what else is permanent?  Your smelly face.”  Although maybe only do the second one if you’re either brave or a fast runner.

If you’ve got any more irritating questions that you get asked, do get in touch via the various means listed below.  And of course, get in touch if you want to submit your sillier tattoos to me, you know I never get tired of seeing them.  Thank you as always to everyone who has sent me pictures recently, my favourite this month comes from the hands of the lovely Lizzie Seal, tattoo artist at TKA Tattoo Studio in scenic Peterborough.  Because if you’re going to get your knuckles tattooed, do try to go for something as original as possible... good work Lizzie.  I salute your digits.


Twitter: @jimsmallman


Text: Jim Smallman