One year ago, beauty YouTuber Alana Arbucci posted a video titled "I GOT A $2,100 MICRO TATTOO FROM A CELEBRITY ARTIST." This immediately caught the attention of our office and we watched her go through the process of getting a small, dainty micro color rose on her sternum. Arbucci was stoked with the finished product, which even the biggest traditional tattoo enthusiast in the world would admit looked amazing in the video. However, it doesn't take someone with 15 years of experience in the industry to know that this piece wasn't going to stay in this condition for very long.
Recently, Arbucci took to YouTube to share the tattoo one year later and we noticed a huge change in her outlook on tattooing. In her first video, we saw someone who was hyped on getting tattooed by a celebrity artist and would pay just about anything for a tattoo no larger than a silver dollar. But, in her update, she had a very different outlook on micro tattoos and wasn't too pleased with how her work had aged in just one year.
In the video, Arbucci explains that with her first three tattoos, she'd wanted to go super small but the artists had explained to her the importance of making it bigger to prevent excessive fading or blowouts. But she wasn't convinced and for her rose tattoo, she'd sought out an artist at Bang Bang NYC who specialized in fine-line micro tattooing. She was stoked with how the tattoo turned out and for many months, ignored the haters who'd told her she wasted her money on a tattoo that wouldn't last.
"For the past year, I've been looking down at my tattoo and I was like, 'Ooo, it looks so good, they were all wrong,'" Arbucci says. "But then, July 18th came around and I had to send them a picture [for the touch up]...and I was like, 'Oh my God, it does not look that good, girl.'"
When Arbucci puts photos of the fresh and healed tattoo side by side, there's a noticeable difference. There's a lot less contrast, as many of the details have fallen out of the tattoo, making it look less readable. Arbucci then points out a ring of pale skin around the tattoo, as she's been extremely careful to apply sunscreen to the piece to protect it while outside and the fading isn't because of negligence. She goes on to say that if she decides to get a micro tattoo in the future, she won't be returning to Bang Bang NYC because of the price. "Just because you're a talented artist, that doesn't mean the tattoo is going to stay," Arbucci explains. "You could be the most talented artist in the world but [the tattoo] is going to fade over time.
Arbucci's experience isn't unique, as many people overpay for tattoos that don't stand the tests of time. It's important to note that Arbucci isn't anti micro tattoo, as she understands why they fade and is willing to revisit them in the future. However, she's realized that if she's going to get another micro tattoo, she shouldn't invest thousands of dollars into the temporary art.
As representatives for the tattoo community, we're not here to shame anyone for the art they create or choose to collect on their bodies. All tattoos, if done safely by trained professionals, are valid and if someone is cool with a piece only lasting a few years, that's their choice. However, clients should do their research about the style they want to commit to and not be hypnotized by a shop just because they attract celebrity clientele. Celebrities are just like us, except much richer. They can handle paying thousands of dollars for a temporary tattoo, because that's pocket change for them. As people who aren't absurdly wealthy, we need to be smart with our dollar and understand exactly what we're paying for. There are plenty of artists, who work outside of big cities that may not have hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, who do quality work on a reasonable hourly rate. You've just got to put in the work to find them.