Skip to main content

Hitting the Road with Kyle Dunbar: Don't Get That Name Tattoo!

Former Ink Mastercontestant Kyle Dunbar has packed up his tattoo equipment and hit the road looking for adventure. With his family in tow, Dunbar will be traveling the country and trying to make a living as a roving tattoo artist. Over the coming months Dunbar will share his tales of the road with us here on #TravelTattooFamily Part 1.Part 2. Part 3.

A little while ago I promised to explain why a tattoo of your current lover’s name was not the best way to show the world you found someone to put up with all of your shit. For the rest of your life. It will still be there even if one of you dies tragically young in a freak combine accident. Combine accidents are actually more common than you might think, after all. All because "We love each other so much I don't care what/how my next lover will feel sitting next to me at the beach with my dead husband’s name on my shoulder."

So, here goes; first we have to understand why people stay together and why they split up. The answer? Appreciation. "But what would show my appreciation more than his name on my skin forever? I know I will certainly feel appreciated when I see my name on him!” Yeah, yeah, shut up and listen for a minute. Appreciation is different for a man and a woman. A man feels appreciated when his girl makes him feel strong, and desirable. While a woman feels appreciated when she actually is appreciated. This would be because women are more complicated and harder to fool. Let’s say your lover... Wait. I don’t want to write "your lover” again and I’m dreading at some inevitable moment to have to write "significant other" so lets just give him a name. How about "Russell?” Your lover’s name is Russell. Done. No arguing.

Available at INKEDSHOP.COM: Anatomy Gummy Bear

Available at INKEDSHOP.COM: Anatomy Gummy Bear

Anyways, Russell builds his self-esteem from his interactions with the people he meets and a tattoo of your name will make him less attractive to 95% of them. Women will not interact with him as they did before out of respect for the relationship the tattoo shows. You don't care? Remember he stays with you as long as you make him feel strong and desirable. But one day you guys fight about something stupid. Forgot to take out the trash or left the toilet seat up. Whatever the issue it’s probably something small but Russell gets bent out of shape and heads out to the bar to vent. His tattoo goes with him because unlike a ring that shows an act of commitment just putting it on and can be taken off at any time giving Russell the power of choice in the relationship, the tattoo is always there. Well now he's feeling pissed and unattractive when one of the other 5% of women eyes his Tammy tattoo from across the room. Oh, by the way, your name is Tammy for the purposes of this blog. This other 5% are what we call whores. For whatever reason they don't feel appreciated unless they are playing with someone else's toy, in this case Russell. So this skeezer approaches your man hot on the prowl and normally he, even as mad as he is now, could resist her but he hasn't felt this desirable, this strong since he got your fucking name tattooed on him. Before he knows it, in a moment of weakness he makes a huge mistake.

The thing about whores is that they like to be seen, they need to be known. They have to have other people know about their conquests of broken homes. And if the lipstick covered cigarettes in the ash tray, or the panties under the seat of the car, or the heavily dyed hair strands and body glitter (another sure trace of whores) goes unnoticed she will appear at your porch to let the whole neighborhood know that she fucked yet another man who someone else loved. This is how she gets a feeling of self worth. It’s almost like you wounded him then put a target on his back and then threw him to the cougars when you convinced him to get “Tammy” tattooed into his skin.

 Available at INKEDSHOP.COM: Men's "Booze, Bikes, Broads" Jacket by Lucky 13

Available at INKEDSHOP.COM: Men's "Booze, Bikes, Broads" Jacket by Lucky 13

Now Tammy, we know you need to be appreciated to remain with your loving Russell but how could a tattoo you wear change how he appreciates you? Great question! Glad you asked! I’ll show you through this analogy.

When a guy of reasonable integrity borrows your truck he shows his appreciation by taking great care to return it in the same care he received it. If he hopes to take it out again he may even return it vacuumed and with a full tank. However, his own vehicle started out being well taken care of but as he begins to feel ownership of it we soon find he's slacking on the routine maintenance, and using the back seat as a dumpster. Russell's name tattooed on your shoulder makes you his property. And soon enough he will begin treating you like his car. When you’re not being appreciated you will eventually leave him again—all because of the tattoo.

If you are considering exchanging name tattoos with your loved one it is most likely because you are suffering from insecurity issues. If it’s not insecurity then you are probably trying to push the relationship. A name tattoo can seem like a completely logical step towards marriage to one person, but to the other it can be an easy side step away from a proposal.

I have ruined hundreds of relationships in my time as a tattooist by giving people the name tattoo they wanted and I’m often surprised by the stupidity of both parties. While doing a cover-up of a name tattoo that I had originally advised her not to get, my client explained that when she got his name tattoo she thought her boyfriend was cheating and figured the tattoo would get him to stop. Didn't work. Another got his wife's name so she would stop the divorce they were going through. Didn't work.

Interestingly after I explain this to a "Tammy" some times she will still insist (it’s always the girl who does) on exchanging the name tattoos. And at some point she will say, "OK, we're not like all of them. Our love is different!" But if they really were different wouldn't they respond differently too? Oh well, I also do cover-ups.

Please understand that the power a tattoo can hold on your relationship is enormous. And a name tattoo can only hurt it. A relationship is an always-shifting power struggle. And the name tattoo puts the balance to one-sided for it to last. I suggest finding a common theme tattoo or some shared token of your affection. I like tattoos that fit the sex of the client so I also suggest getting different styles of the same tattoo so even though they are of the same thing, they are still uniquely your own. That can also keep a sense of self for each of you that allows you to keep your identity in the relationship.


I hope I wasn’t boring you on my soapbox there. I’ll just leave you with one last worthless observation—the only way to cover up a ring tattoo is by tattooing every single one of your fingers.

 Available at INKEDSHOP.COM: Women's "I Heart Inked Guys" Tee by Inked

Available at INKEDSHOP.COM: Women's "I Heart Inked Guys" Tee by Inked