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Way to Make Money in a Bad Economy #472: Tattoo Yourself

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With winter approaching and more of my income going on heating bills, I have been thinking of ways to raise money, heat my one bedroom flat, and live through this recession with relative ease.

Prostitution, drug dealing and working the grill at McDonalds all sound glamorous entry level positions for people to make some extra cash. But, there is a heavy workload in the first, fear of prison in the second, and fear of ridicule in the third.

So I began to think outside the box. I have no imagination, so that was out. I then began looking at adverts people had posted on the Gumtree and Craigslist, which show the lengths people are going to make some money in this tough economic time. Some people are dog walking, some are cleaning houses, some are babysitting, and one person was selling ad space on their body. The idea of the last one is simple enough. Give Graham Davison, a theatre electrician and a tattoo enthusiast from Leeds, your company's logo, and a small fee, and he will have that logo tattooed on his body.

It's weird, but an interesting idea to make money. Perhaps this is an idea I can steal? I have always liked tattoos, but I am afraid of pain, needles, and being touched by strangers. But for money to help heat my home - I could do it. I spoke to Graham about his money making plan, and why on Earth he would do this.

Me: Why on Earth would you do this?
Graham: Times are tough, and like many people in the world, my girlfriend and I only just get by. To me this is a way of making money, but also promoting tattoos not as the art pieces they can be, but as a fun and interesting platform where people are free to get whatever wherever they like. To me if any company does buy a piece of canvas, maybe an arm or leg, I will forever remember it and for generations to come it will remind me of the lengths people are going to go to get out of recession.

Me: Tattoos still seem to have a stigma to them. A lot of people see them as a bad girl's way to rebel against her parents, a hipster jack-ass getting a Chinese character or a barcode, or for people - men mostly - to admit their undying love to a girlfriend, who leaves before the ink dries. In your opinion, who is a tattoo for?
Graham: A tattoo is for anyone who wants one. I think the stigma lies within the people on the other side of the fence. For me a tattoo is a way of life. I like the feel of getting a tattoo and the detail you can get imprinted for life. Each one of my tattoos tells a story, and this campaign is no different.

Me: What gave you the idea to have companies buy ad-space on you?
Graham: This is not a new idea. It all started around the millennium, and was a huge thing for about 4 or 5 years. The most notable being the goldenpalace.com tattoo on a girl's forehead for $15,000. Times have been hard for me and my girlfriend and I could really use some money at the moment to get us, like many families all around the world, out of a bad situation before it gets a lot worse.

Me: What does your girlfriend and your other friends think of the idea?
Graham: My girlfriend thinks I'm nuts, but as long as I'm happy with the logos, and of course if she gets a present, then she doesn't mind. The thing is I am doing this for us and to protect our future. Some call it crazy, others think it's great and wish me success. My work friends are split about 80% for the tattoos and 20% against, but they understand my motives and a lot of them have tattoos already, so know what it feels like to get a tattoo and be happy.

Me: How much will a typical small ad set a company back?
Graham: There is no such thing as a typical advert. Each ad will be different. An advert for say Volkswagen group, which is one of the companies I am going to contact, would cost around £10,000 for half an arm.

Me: I have always wanted a tattoo - partly to rebel, and because I am part hipster jack-ass. What do you suggest I get?
Graham: I think your best option is to think about your likes and dislikes, then go for a middle ground. People say what about when you're in your sixties will you still want it then? But I don't believe you should live like that. I believe in the here and now philosophy.

Me: What should my tattoo say about me?
Graham: The tattoo shouldn't say anything about you. People change all the time now you maybe a rebel, but in 10 years you maybe a nerd. The tattoo should be how your feeling now or what you find fun.

Me: What do these logo tattoos say about you? What do you want people to think or feel when they see them?
Graham: It's a way of getting out of a tight spot and proving I'm either an idiot or very clever. I want people to see them and make their own mind.

Me: Are you afraid of funny looks or being made fun of?
Graham: Not at all. I have many friends who love spending time with me but also many who hate me, yet we still hang out. I personally don't care as long as my message comes across. That message being that I don't want to lie on the sofa digging myself a big money hole - I want to do something about it.

Me: I am afraid of funny looks and being made fun of. How can I choose a tattoo people wont make fun of?
Graham: Get it in a place only your intimate friends will see it? Everyone is different and what you and a million other people like there will be a million more who dislike it.

Me: Do you think you may regret this is 10 or 20 years?
Graham: No chance. I have visions of my grand kids coming round in years to come and saying "granddad where did those tattoos come from?" and I will respond with this story and how it changed my life for the better.

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