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Kyle Dunbar Gets Philosophical

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 Part 1.Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.Part 5.Part 6.Part 7. Part 8.

I wanna take a second to talk about tattoos and my philosophy on them.

Let me ask this, why do tattoos exist today? A lot of college educated really smart dudes have already answered that. And I don't know any better to disagree because I wasn't there, and that's not what I mean anyway. I mean why do they exist in society today? Why haven't they died out like every other fad? A couple years ago it dawned on me. The thought didn't come all at once but began revealing itself to me over time in my contemplation on why I like tattoos. No, really, I have moments of contemplation. It was in one of these moments that it occurred to me that the reason we continue to get tattooed is because it helps us find a place in society, which is pretty much the same reason people theorize that people first wore them. Today though the tattoos we wear don't necessarily show what tribe we belong to, but they now offer us proof that we do belong to something. Thus answering the basis of all existential thought. Why are we here? To get tattooed! Duh! We get acceptance from the compliments our friends and acquaintances give the tattoo. That acceptance lets us know we belong.

People who become "addicted" to the pain of tattoos are just a weird few, the rest of us are all addicted to compliments. And compliments on our tattoos are still compliments on us. If we think we're ugly because no one compliments our looks we can get a tattoo and start getting encouraged by the resulting compliments. That's also what sucks about bad tattoos, if someone criticizes your bad tattoos they are criticizing you. I could offer more proof and a bunch of pseudo intellectual shit to support it, but for now just believe I believe it, and save your challenges of this ‘til we meet.


The short version of it is we get tattoos or we get addicted to tattoos because it gets acceptance from people we meet and they give us a sense of identity in social settings. I’m that dude at the bank or the checkout with the cool throat tat. I don’t just accept that, I love it. If it keeps people away from me I probably don't want those people around me anyway.

After this revelation I saw that tattoos have a purpose. They bring people together that share in thought or style. They act as a feng shui for the body. When they are done wrong they can destroy a life. Imagine some young kid who gets “money over bitches” tattooed on his throat. He most likely won't ever get quality of either of those. He'll be stuck pumping gas or washing dishes his whole life as an effect of the tattoo. So it stands to reason that a tattoo done right can bring positive influences and opportunities to the wearer. Like feng shui.

Now we see the importance of carefully choosing what tattoo to get and where to place it. A tattoo of a demon head on the calf may have less negative effect than the same tattoo done on the right inner forearm. The right inner forearm is seen when shaking hands. Put the demon head here and you got a "job stopper." The left hand is the "pay me hand." The right person could put the demon head here and it could help to remind whomever he is doing business with that they don't want to rip off the “demon head arm” guy, It can be a little confusing, ay?


Each client has a unique set of circumstances and expectations for what they want. Here is how I approach it. I explain the harm the wrong tattoo and placement can do to the client then I suggest vocational tattoo themes on their arms. Because the arm is the most commonly seen body part (Not including the face and neck. Tattoos there are pretty much just for tattooists and people with very secure careers.) a tattoo that could help you make money, or get a sale, or a promotion are in my opinion the best to go here. The next best themes would be hobbies and other strong passions you may have—hunting, baking, underwater basket weaving, whatever. But be sure to think it through, it’s best to avoid anything offensive here. Nothing political. Unless you really, really think constantly defending your ideals is worth it to draw like-minded people to you.

You can put tattoos to family members here but I suggest putting them somewhere you can choose whether you want to show them or not. You may not want to hear about every person the guy in line at the bank wanted to tattoo on them. Often people assume the family member you have on you is a memorial; that can lead to uncomfortable conversations. If it is a memorial you must be ready for a constant reminder of the sadness you feel in their absence, and people bringing it up when you meet them. Once it's thought out in the respect of what affect it could have on the client’s life the decision is up to them

I'm going to finish with this thought. The inner bicep on a man should be orientated so that when he is showing it off he's giving a flexed bicep "gun show.” If not and you put the orientation going vertical he looks like a ballerina trying to show his tattoo off, and nobody wants that.

Available at INKEDSHOP.COM: Men's "Free for the Dead" Tee by Skygraphx

Available at INKEDSHOP.COM: Men's "Free for the Dead" Tee by Skygraphx