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The Everything Guide to Tattoos

Forget the hidden butterfly. It’s time for full sleeves.

Getting a tattoo lost shock value a long time ago, even in the presumably conservative mainstream. Now it seems everybody’s got a significant, permanent memento somewhere—a butterfly, Tweety Bird, a bar code. What’s different is how blatant they’ve become. Discreet, hideable designs are passé; arm-filling artwork in glorious Technicolor is becoming commonplace, even for people who don’t take the L train. And with the arrival of easy-to-erase ink, changing your mind is painless.

The New Erasables
Ink developments mean never having to say “Oops.”
Tattoo Timeline
The evolution of the tattoo.
What to Expect When Getting a Tattoo
Plus how much will it hurt?
How to Get Rid of It
The effective, yet still painful, erasing capabilities of Q-switched lasers.
The City's Top Inkers
Five needle geniuses.
Where to Walk In
The many talented and responsible walk-in shops.
Temporary Tattoos
If you just want to test-drive, there are more-sophisticated alternatives than press-ons.