You've saved up your money. You've made up your mind. You make the appointment. You show the tattoo artist a piece of paper with the words you'd like tattooed written on it. They draw up the transfer and put it on your skin. You look at the design and placement in the mirror and sit down to have it inked. But then when you're done and showing it off to your friends, one of them points out there is a misspelling in one of the words. Whose fault is that now: yours or the tattoo artists?
This is one of those debates that surfaces from time to time, and the latest occurrence is due to an instance in Chicago. Jade Dragon Tattoo has now been served with a second lawsuit in the last year and a half over a misspelling in someone's tattoo. In the first instance, a man got a tattoo that read "CHI-TONW" instead of "CHI-TOWN." In the most recent case, a man wanting the phrase "Tomorrow Never Promised Today. John P. R.I.P." wound up with an extra "m" leaving him with the word "tommorrow."
The other cases you hear similar to this are when people get tattooed with Japanese kanji, Chinese characters or some language not their native tongue and something goes wrong. David Beckham's Hindi tattoo of wife Victoria's name is purported to have an extra "h" in the spelling. Britney Spears got a Hebrew tattoo on her neck as part of her Kabbalah fascination that was supposed to read "new era" but the Hebrew letters were put in the wrong order, leaving the tattoo reading as gibberish. (It's since been lasered off)
Clearly, it's the sort of mistake that can happen to anyone, from the common man to a world-famous celebrity. However, the debate over who is responsible for such things is still up in the air. Tattoo artists claim that they do exactly what is requested of them by the paying client. The tattooed customers complain that for the high-price of tattoos, a second opinion on the spelling should be included.
To save yourself some embarrassment and lawyer's fees, take a few simple steps before committing to ink. If you want to get a phrase tattooed on you, take the time to look up any words you are unsure of in a dictionary. For tattoos in a language that are not your own, have someone who can speak, read and write the language fluently check the translation and writing of the tattoo. Both of those things take only a bit of time, and are so much easier than a lawsuit and less painful than laser removal.
For more about getting tattooed with words or characters, you might like Designing with Kanji: Japanese Character Motifs for Surface, Skin & Spirit or Ink: The Not-Just-Skin-Deep Guide to Getting a Tattoo