WTF is It? How to Give Yourself a Homemade Tattoo (and Hepatitis)

Everyone will tell you not to do this, but I did it twice, and I’m fine. The only real issue is that giving yourself a tattoo will only make you seem stupider than you actually are, which, since you’re considering giving yourself a tattoo, is already questionable.

Aside from that, as long as you properly sterilize the needle, the worst thing that can happen is you get a sweeter tattoo to cover this one up, when you have some money (or turn 18). I did my first at 14-years-old (left).

Don’t worry, I don’t know what the fuck it is either. But it seemed like a good idea at the time. And what better reason than that to make everyone you meet for the rest of your life think you’ve been to jail–or at least juvy?

Decide Your Tattoo: Don’t pick anything too complicated. And don’t write any words. You don’t know what you’re doing, and both will look like shit. Go with something simple and recognizable. Once you’ve decided on a design, choose where it’ll go. I recommend the ankle, since this area is easy to cover, and trying to tattoo your own shoulder sucks. If you can find a friend willing or better suited to do the work, definitely go for it. I recommend an art major.

NOTE: Unless you want to be perpetually unemployed and single, don’t go for the forearms, wrists, hands, neck or face. Just because you’re doing this yourself doesn’t mean it won’t be there forever. Think before you ink.

The Gun: Building a homemade tattoo gun can be complicated, and it’s difficult to build one that works. Here’s video instructions for the best one I’ve found. The only problem with that model is that it requires buying an electric toothbrush. For that amount of money, just go to a professional.

A cheaper option–the prison option–though more painful and timely, is to simply tape a needle to the end of an unsharpened pencil. Sterilize the needle by soaking it in rubbing alcohol, or heating the end with a lighter, which will make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, which you are. I did both.

Finally, repeatedly wrap the end of the needle with white sewing thread, leaving only the very tip exposed. This will soak in the ink, allowing it to absorb into your skin as you stab yourself over and over–so use lots of thread.

Practice: Armed with your tattoo gun of choice and India ink, practice your design on an orange or banana, whose skins absorb the ink similarly to human skin. After practicing, practice more. You’ve got one shot, so take your time preparing. If you’re using the pencil gun, make sure the needle isn’t piercing too deeply. That F’ing hurts. It should only go in a couple of millimeters. Any more and you’ll give up halfway through.

Getting Inked: No matter what, if you’re using a homemade tattoo gun, there’s going to be pain. But suck it up, you pansy. There’s no free rides when you want to half-ass something.

It’s best to do this in a clean area. Wipe your skin where you plan to put your tattoo with rubbing alcohol, first. Next, draw your design on your skin with a non-permanent marker or pen. Finally, take a deep breath and have at it. Steady your hand, and keep a cloth close by for ink and blood.

Care: Now that you’ve successfully altered you being for eternity, apply Bacitracin ointment and cover with a bandage. It is extremely important to keep your tattoo clean and healthy as it heals, since it is the scar tissue that locks in the color, and can become disfigured if infected. All that’s left is living a week of scorn before realizing you’re a dumbass. Cheers!

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