Tattoo artists try to stop the face ink trend: ‘Amber Rose has means to support herself’

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I cringed when I saw a story last week about Presley Gerber’s face tattoo: He got the word “MISUNDERSTOOD” inked on his cheekbone. Thursday, Kaiser wrote about Amber Rose getting her sons’ nicknames tattooed across her forehead. Amber told people that it’s not their business. She is right, of course, but people are going to keep talking. In the wake of Presley, Amber Rose, and Chris Brown’s new tats, some tattoo artists are speaking up about their attempts to dissuade people from getting tattoos on their faces:

[E]ven as face tattoos become more common — moving from convicts and/or gang members to stars such as Post Malone and even regular people — there is a debate among tattoo artists over the ethics of creating them.

“I don’t do face tattoos,” Carlos Delgado, an artist at Andromeda 33 on St. Marks Place, told The Post. “Especially if [the client is] not visibly tattooed already. I have a moral obligation to educate people before they get one.”

Delgado regularly turns away people in their late teens and early 20s. Many, he said, are inspired by Malone or the late rapper Lil Peep.

“It’s not my job to ruin somebody’s life,” he said.

Recently, a young woman asked him for a rose on her face. “I said, ‘There is no way I am doing that.’ But she went to another shop . . . and it came out horrible. She asked me to fix it, but she didn’t want to pay my price,” said Delgado.

[From the New York Post]

The New York Post interviewed another artist, Diablo, who said that he’ll tattoo someone’s face, but at a much higher price than a tattoo elsewhere on the body. Both artists also urge customers to think about the potential negative effects on their careers. Delgado says he tells people, “Amber Rose, she has the means to support herself. You don’t.”

I agree with Kaiser: If people want a face tattoo, they should go ahead and get one, sure, but uy. I might be a hypocrite, but I feel like any other spot on the body is a better place for a tattoo. I love my tattoos, but I also like that I can easily cover them up so I don’t need to worry about them being on display in a place or situation where I don’t want people to be able to see them. Tattoo removal is painful, pricey, and not fast. I think if it were me, I’d get a temporary tattoo first and see how I felt walking around with it for a few months before committing to it permanently.

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58 Responses to “Tattoo artists try to stop the face ink trend: ‘Amber Rose has means to support herself’”

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  1. lemonylips says:

    I love tattoos and have a few. But face ones are a no-no for me personally. I don’t see a problem if someone wants them I just don’t like them. And I do think that this tattoo artist has a healthy pov on the subject. Good tattoo artists need to educate people especially, like he said, if they don’t have plenty experience with them and are just following trends. Props to him for that. I had mine made in 30s and do not regret them one bit. Most of my friends who did them super young do though and plenty have removed them. And yes it hurts and it takes a long time.

    • Jensies says:

      My friends and I (all with tattoos) call face and neck tattoos “job breakers”.

      • Mads says:

        I will share the tattoo advice my parents gave me as a child. I will note that they are absolute prudes who were born during WW2. “Never get a tattoo because they make you easily identifiable. You may need to hide your identity or escape. Have you seen how many incarcerated people have tattoos? The stupider criminals get many. The authorities always ask if a suspect has one. They are always photographed if you get arrested. They are photographed when you are released from incarceration. You never know what can happen in the future. Be prepared.”

        No, they are not master criminals even though they sound like it. My Dad was a teen revolutionary and had to escape his country. He lived in a refugee camp that was once a concentration camp for 4 months awaiting asylum. He lost 40 pounds and almost starved to death. Sadly, he said whenever they had to take showers it was haunting. They used to wonder if they would be gassed. Sadly, they also wondered if some of their childhood friends or parents friends died there. Mom was the top translator for the police department until she retired. Her father escaped the U.S. because he didn’t want to join the Klan. The town sheriff shot and nearly killed him, and both his brothers died under mysterious circumstances.
        So, my parents were completely serious. Thought my generation was being foolish by making tattoos mainstream.
        Side note: Watching my dad lightly punch his leg when Trump was elected was so sad. I thought he was going to cry. He never cries. He looked over at my mom and said quietly, “America just elected it’s first dictator.” My mom silently nodded. I realized they would know.
        Sorry for getting all heavy. Anyway, just don’t get any tattoos so you can lead the coming revolution. But, if you are a criminal, go ahead! The olds know.

      • SM says:

        @MADS this is why sometimes when i miss my dad terribly I remind myself that at least he, as a son of two Holocaust survivors, doesn’t have to see the free world go down in flames. And I get what you father is saying. I would also assume for someone who had a number tattooed in a concentration camp and the question of life and death was decided based on these numbers, voluntary tattooing may cause quite uncomfortable reaction. Sadly now we like in the digital age where for someone with no tattoos it is way harder to hide. Just think of the vast number of war criminals who managed to live quite lives after they committed their crimes. Mengele even traveled from Latin America to Germany once while he was on the list of war criminals the international community was looking for. I imagine that would be much harder to do these days.

      • lillian says:

        thank you for sharing those comments mads and sm.
        also holds true for people escaping abusive/stalking relationships/situations, especially now with digital documentation of literally everything…

  2. ME says:

    Yes Amber Rose has a means to support herself…for now. Once that body and youth are gone, what will she do? She doesn’t sing or act (other than small cameos). I’m not sure if she has any sort of education to fall back on. I mean even child support only last 18 years lol. Maybe I’m wrong, I really don’t know enough about her.

  3. Murphy says:

    …does Amber Rose have the means to support herself?

  4. Betsy says:

    I’ll put myself as pretty harshly anti-tattoo, but face tattoos are a world of stupid apart. I guess I don’t judge gang members, convicts, and if I saw an indigenous person from anywhere in the world I would assume it was cultural, but on most anyone else? How’s that going to work out for you? Good on these tattoo artists for trying to stop people.

  5. FrenchGirl says:

    In 90´s when i worked in psychiatric service,one of The doctors with the help of a tattoo artist wrote a work about tattoo in psychology and sociology’s . He said the tattoo on social body aria ( neck ,back of hand and ABOVE face) was OFTEN the clue of borderline personnality
    This doctor was an expert in schizophrenia and the body transformation could be a clue of it. For the note,himself he had some hidden tattoos.

    • ooshpick says:

      That’s really interesting. I think in the context of the time that was true but mores change and now i think it indicates either a mature decision to decorate those body parts or a dumbass non decision to follow the trends (with a nice sprinkling of moderates in between ;) . I tend to be skeptical about psychiatry because it is prone to mistaken assumptions that damage people. Just thinking about views on homosexuality and trans identity for a few. Also I think about Indigenous people who have long had facial tattoos that are contextualized. Just a few thoughts. Still interesting :)

    • Sarah says:

      I had my first (and only) tattoo c.1997 and the guy I went to wouldn’t do anything above the neck or below the wrist.

    • Ivy says:

      Did he write a book on being a fraud once tattoos (visible or not) became mainstream? Asking for a visibly tattooed friend (aka myself) x’(

    • Jensies says:

      I’m a little skeptical too and would like to see the paper and research methods. I work with complex PTSD, which is very often mistaken for BPD, even now, so I’m def sketchy about 30 yr old research about it. I also don’t tend to think there’s an easy signifier between diagnoses and anything material like that. Confirmation bias is very real. I once had a respected professor, also considered an expert in schizophrenia, tell me that red Converse were an indicator of people with schizophrenia, based on his experience in an ER. That’s complete crap, and it’s dangerous to spread this stuff when there’s no actual facts behind it.

    • Mira says:

      I have six extremely big and visible tattoos, all of which I’ve gotten during a manic episode of bipolar disorder. They do not match my appearance or personality in any way.

      When people ask about them, and they usually just ask what they represent, I tell them the truth. It very often makes things awkward and the conversation ends there but it’s easier that way than to pretend there is a rational explanation for the giant black stripes, circles and squares that cover big parts of my body.

      More than questions I get looks. Shocked, pitying, downright disgusted. Sometimes these looks come with a comment thrown my way, a comment that I’m clearly not supposed to answer to in any way. Sometimes, when I have a good day, I turn back and catch up with the person and tell them what I think. Most often it’s something like “you will regret those when you’re old and your skin sags” to which I always say, “it is impossible to regret something you have done when you’ve been non compos mentis”. I believe this to be true. I can’t regret decisions I don’t even remember making, and therefore I can’t regret the outcome of those decisions either. These people don’t usually say anything to that because they have already said all they wanted to say. Which is, “you’re an idiot”.

      What these people, who pretend to be worried about my skin sagging, don’t understand is that I don’t care. Being mentally ill – bipolar disorder and a personality disorder, although not borderline – presents an endless selection of way way bigger and harder problems. I got sick when I was 19, I’m 44 years old now and I simply haven’t had the time to worry about what my tattoos will look like when I’m old. I’m more occupied with worrying if I will live that long at all. Each episode I’ve had has been more difficult and more destructive than the previous ones. The next one may just possibly make me think that a face tattoo is a great idea. Fingers crossed though, it’s been 10 years since the last one and the meds I’m on now seem to be working.

      • Tracy says:

        Thanks for this share, I never thought of something like that happening during a manic episode. Food for thought. Would seem scary to have experienced that.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        I hope you continue in your recovery. thank you for sharing your perspective.

      • Maple 🍁 says:

        @Mira
        ♥️ Your post

      • AngryBrain says:

        Thank you for your honesty and bravery. Mental illness scars in so many ways, but that’s the thing about scars – they represent past hurts and all we can do is move on. Ever forward, giant tattoos and all ❤️

      • ooshpick says:

        Thanks for your honesty, Mira. It adds to my understanding. Sending care. :)

    • Candikat says:

      @Frenchgirl: Interesting! I’ve heard of tattoos (anywhere on the body) being used by people with BPD as an alternative to cutting. In the prison population facial tattoos are not uncommon, and in my work with former inmates I find that usually they’re nothing more than a choice that “seemed like a good idea at the time.” I also have an acquaintance who got a traditional facial tattoo during a year he spent working with an indigenous community, and he uses the same words as ex-inmates: “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” So there’s a cultural context we can’t ignore. Nonetheless, there is a branch of psychoanalytic thought that interprets facial tattoos or multiple piercings as psychological armor, protection and a warning to “stay away.” (Literally what the guy in the picture above has tattooed above his right eyebrow.) in my practice, I never assume someone with a facial tattoo is borderline, but I do assume there’s a story and some psychological meaning behind the decision to get one.

    • hunter says:

      I am friends with an otherwise sound-of-mind young lady of about 19 (foolish) who got a tattoo of her best friend’s name on her hand (they did matching tatts, I was not in favor).

      This was three years ago and they are not friends so much anymore. She has a number of other tattoos of which I am equally appalled, because I am a no-tattoo person.

      She was sober at the time of these tattoos and while young, she is not a sociopath. Just for the record.

  6. Catwoman says:

    I recently completed Hepatitis C treatment after contracting the virus from a needle stick at work. The doctors and health professionals treating me all said there is an epidemic of Hep C cases in young people due to poor hygiene practices at some tattoo parlors. Luckily there is good treatment for Hep C now (there initially was not when I contracted the virus) but it is expensive and the side effects were very unpleasant. I dread to think about young people with no health insurance getting sick and potentially dying just from getting a tattoo.

  7. Amy Too says:

    That’s the thing: even if you decide that yes you really do want a tattoo on your face, and you can live with it for the rest of your life and having people see it for your entire life on your face… what if it doesn’t turn out? What if the drawing you made or the colors you pick just don’t translate well to a tattoo or tattoo ink colors? What if the artist makes a mistake, or he colors outside the lines, or he takes a little too much artistic license? What if it just scars weirdly and doesn’t heal? What if part of your skin just won’t take the ink? If you get a screwed up tattoo that you don’t love on your back or upper arm, it could be covered up until/if you get it fixed. You can almost pretend it didn’t happen, but on your face, you see that every day and so does everyone else who ever looks at you.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes to all of these concerns. And thinking of Cindy Crawford’s son’s face tattoo, isn’t he a model? Is he counting on photoshop to fix it if he wants to keep working?

      • SamC says:

        I wonder about Presley Gerber these days. It always makes me laugh when kids like him pose like they are super tough, etc., but recently between the face tattoo and some of his IG posts, I’m wondering if there is some major drug use or deeper issues going on.

      • hunter says:

        definitely drugz

      • minx says:

        Presley Gerber reminds me of Tom Hanks’ son Chet…spoiled rich punks who want to look tough.

      • tcbc says:

        Presley’s face tattoo was a cry for help. Kaia dated loser timebomb Pete Davidson when she was still a teenager (and let’s be honest, probably started dating him when she was underage), Presley got that tattoo. What’s going on in Cindy and Rande’s house?

        I really think something terrible is going to come to light about the Gerbers. Rich parents can also be abusive and/or dangerously neglectful.

      • V says:

        He was a model, but his parents have now explained he “didn’t have passion for it.”

  8. Joanna says:

    I have a few tattoos that can be covered up if needed. However I had the bright idea of getting one on my butt when i was 18. Rethought it later, tried to get it covered up. A friend offered to pay for it. Guy was awful. I ended up with a huge dolphin tattoo by the crack of my butt. I have found a lot of guys don’t like tattoos if that matters to anyone. I have thought about getting them removed but have not seen anyone about it. I’ve seen many gorgeous ones but I personally wish I had never gotten any.

    • hunter says:

      If your dolphin is blue it will be even harder to remove, RIP.

      “I have found a lot of guys don’t like tattoos if that matters to anyone. ” – Thanks for the note, it matters to me.

      I’ve always felt a clean palette looks the best in an evening dress.

  9. Dazed and confused says:

    I wonder what these face tattoos are going to look like in middle and old age. Or after a few face tweaks.

  10. Mgsota says:

    I was just telling my friend the other day that if I were a tattoo artist, I would refuse to do face tattoos…period.

    • lucy2 says:

      Same here. I wouldn’t want that responsibility of things went poorly, and wouldn’t trust that most people asking for one have really thought it through.

  11. virginfangirls says:

    I see certain areas of the body natural places to decorate, and others not. It’s just like earings in cheeks. I just don’t get certain face decorating. If my daughter ever got a face tattoo I’d probably cry.

  12. EB says:

    I tried to get a tattoo with my girlfriends when I was 21 (not on my face) and the artist told me no way, I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was pissed but he really did save me from laser tattoo removal and buyer’s regret. I almost wish there was a waiting period around getting tattoos because many of these face/neck tattoos probably wouldn’t happen if people had to officially think about it before committing.

    • hunter says:

      I got turned down for a nose job for the same reasons. Guy told me to seek therapy. I was offended but smart enough to recognize a responsible doctor.

      Twenty years later and I’m still rocking nose v.1 .

      Got some other things adjusted but my nose wasn’t one of them.

  13. zotsioltar says:

    I will never get a tat….

    Dont have a problem with them, but my tastes change erratically. For example, one month I will listen to rap. Next month its country, then rock, then alt, then techno and then back to rap. Way to fluid with something as trivial as music tastes, why get a tat? Will I even like my own in a couple months?

    Always amazes me that people are willing to get non-meaningful tats (RIP siblings/friends).

  14. BlueSky says:

    I have 3 tattoos and I purposely chose areas on my body that I know I can cover them up. I see a lot of young people with tattoos on their necks and backs of their hands and I do wonder if they’ve thought of the long term consequences.

    • Heather says:

      I am the same way. I have two tattoos that I am not ashamed of, by any means. But they are in places that are covered up most of the time (i.e. at work).

  15. Kate says:

    I find it hard to believe people really look at Post Malone and are like…yeah, I’ll have what he’s having.

    • lucy2 says:

      Right? He looks like he fell asleep and his buddies pranked him with a Sharpie.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        one of the tattoo artists interviewed says (if you didn’t see this) that Malone’s tats look like what a kid would doodle on their notebook.

        and ditto to what you wrote, lucy2.

  16. Meg says:

    Lady gaga covered hers during award ceremonies when she wanted to so wealthy people with fame will have access to cover them. Im not sure the affordable makeup for most would be effective so i fear impressionable fans would do this not really understanding its permanent even when your style and tastes change

  17. BendyWindy says:

    Regardless of what I think of face tattoos, or people’s right to get them, I am fully behind any artist who refuses to create that art.

  18. M.A.F. says:

    I have tattoos behind my ears, they are small enough that you don’t see them when my hair is down or I can easily cover them with makeup if I wear my hair up at work. I also have one on my wrist that at the moment I cover with a band-aid (can’t find a watch I like to cover it). But on the face? Unless you have a career where that flys, you just don’t do it.

    • hunter says:

      do you spend a lot of time covering your tattoos or are you just saying they *can* be covered? not sure if you regret them (?)

  19. Other Renee says:

    I have a really cool one just above my ankle, which I got when I was in the middle of divorce age 48. I love it and have no intention of getting another one. I had always wanted to get one prior to getting it but never had the nerve to actually do it. Til I did!

    • SamC says:

      I just got one at 50. My BFF and I were going to do them when we turned 40 but never could coordinate travel schedules (we live on opposite sides of the country). Got tired of waiting, had the art picked out years ago, and it’s how I celebrated 2020. Did the back of the shoulder for mine, no regrets but also no plans to get another (for now at least).

  20. Jen says:

    Another victim of this trend is Amanda Bynes. She got a heart on her cheek- and it’s not small either. I feel bad for her.

    • tcbc says:

      Amanda is another one who is clearly troubled. This is a sign! I hope the people who love them at least try to step in.

  21. SJR says:

    Seems to me face tats are mostly a trendy thing.
    If you recall those Keep On Trucking tats of the late ’70′s..I bet everyone with that regrets it.

    Think back to some older trends…Mullets, tie-die shirts, giant gold hoop earrings, earth shoes..etc. All of those fashion trends are very out dated now, can’t imagine trying to undo a face tat. I think having laser removal for a face tat would carry a risk of scaring.

    I agree w/above comments about Cindy Crawfords kids..those kids are acting out about something..Her son currently makes a living as a model, you know that is going to have some effect on future bookings, no?

  22. Bread and Circuses says:

    For what it’s worth, I honestly think Amber’s face tattoo is lovely…for a face tattoo.

    I think those are a bad idea in general, but out of all the face tattoos I’ve ever seen, hers is the first one I actually thought looked very nice. If she really wants to hide it, she can grow her hair out and wear bangs, but for the time being, it’s her face, a tribute to her kids, and it looks pretty.

  23. Adrien says:

    Lasers (pigment removal) are now more powerful and less painful than what we have years ago. They’ve become more affordable too. Rich celebs and ink artists know this. They can always opt to remove that. Not everyone is a candidate though and some ink are difficult to remove. Colored ones especially green and light blue are technically permanent. They still leave a mark though but not very obvious.

  24. SM says:

    Yes. If people feel strongly about doing a stupid thing, it is their right, but the rest of us have a right to do whatever we can to prevent stupidity from becoming a trend.