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WEB JUNKIE: Cartoons and corndogs and “tramp stamps” – oh my! The online world of bad tattoos.

Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 09:01


The Indian on a corndog


Eeyore gone mad


Darth M&M;


The dreaded “tramp stamp”

A lot of kids come to college and decide that one of the best things they can do for themselves is to get a tattoo. Not because they have something special to draw forever into their skin, just because they love the idea. You’ve seen them – butterflies on the ankles, heavy black swirls that were never really used by ancient tribes, and (unfortunately) wild animals of all kinds. Welcome, friends, to the world of bad tattoos.

The wonderful thing about the Internet is that it allows us to make fun of people from the comfort of our own homes. Since the people with the worst ink are usually the most proud of it, there’s no short supply of bad tattoo showroms online. These are the perfect way for the badly tattooed to break out the webcam, show their tattoos to the world, and get email confirmation of how awesome it is to have “Metallica” printed across the back of their neck. When I stop in at, the answer is always, “Good heavens, no.”

Ignoring the fact that people have started to mix piercing photos in with the tattoos, there is still a really good crop of terrible body art. And I have to wonder about the stories behind these things. The car logo from “Grease”? The skeletons having sex? Spiderman webslinging his way past the Eiffel Tower? The satin-lined coffin filled with broccoli? These tattoos were not just picked off the wall at the inkshop. These were custom jobs, undertaken lovingly, that I’m sure mean something wonderful to the poor souls who wear them.

If you don’t want to wade through the mediocre while searching for the truly awful, then save yourself some time and head to The collection could be bigger, the site could be better laid out, but the tattoos could hardly be worse. Honestly, who gets Elmer Fudd tattooed on their ass? My absolute favorite, however, is at In addition to the pictures themselves, the board has really witty people who are only too eager to skewer you if you post your own bad tattoos. This livejournal community is also the first place I heard the phrase “tramp stamp”, which applies to any cliché tattoo just above the top of a girl’s thong. My former roommate had a tattoo of flowers and butterflies on her lower back, visible only when her jeans hung low. If only I had known back then that there was a name for it…

The people in this community manage to find the worst subject matter, the worst artistic techniques and the most bizarre pieces I’ve ever seen. Have you ever seen a topless native American woman hugging a six-foot corndog? I have. The shading is incredible.

And that’s the thing about a bad tattoo – no matter how great you assume it’s going to turn out, it has so many ways to go wrong. The subject can be stupid. The colors can be terrible. Maybe the artist just wasn’t very skilled. If you don’t have everything done just about perfectly from front to back you’re going to regret it. Thinking of getting a tattoo? Worried about being laughed at? Go to livejournal and ask these people if you’re an idiot for wanting the tattoo you’ve always dreamed of. Believe me, they’ll let you know in no uncertain terms. In the meantime, go to The guy’s art is not the greatest, but he’s on a quest to keep people from getting tattoos they’ll want to cover up in ten years. His advice on placement, size, and never compromising due to price is worth checking out. You may also want to take the 23-question quiz to find out if your inclination toward ink is real or just a passing thing. The big thing is not to become a statistic.

Web Junkie is a weekly feature in which our writers search out the strangest, most mind-bending stuff on the Internet – just so you’ll know where to look.

Have a website you think we should visit? Drop us a line at

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