Friday the 13th is your lucky day if you’ve been itching to get some ink. For decades, tattoo artists and parlors have carried on the tradition of offering $13 flash tattoos for 24 hours only. Some, like King Cobra in Brooklyn, have even turned it into a competition between their artists to see who can ink as many people as possible in that time span. It’s a frenzied day and a great way for tattoo first-timers to get a feel for what tattooing is really like. (I have to confess that my first Friday the 13th tattoo jumpstarted my addiction to the whole world; I now have 19 tattoos, a third of which are flashes from past Friday the 13ths.)
But before we get into what you should look for, know that should you make it to a parlor tomorrow, you will not be able to get any tattoo you want. Flash tattoos are pre-designed tattoos that are usually a little bigger than a quarter, typically a little cheeky in nature, and usually come with a “13” incorporated in the drawing. But while Ruby Croak, a tattoo artist from Los Angeles’ High Art Tattoo Gallery, says the number is required, I’ve asked for the 13 to be omitted and the tattoo artists have complied. (Superstions are powerful motivators!) Most parlors offer 10-20 flash options, though some places offer up to 100 options. From there, you pay $13 and the customary $7 tip and bam, you’ve got yourself a permanent little friend. Some shops may even continue the tradition on October 31 and charge $21 for the tattoo with $10 tip ($31 on the 31st, get it?).
If you’re game, make sure you heed Croak’s tips. My first time, I walked in blind to the situation at 3am and was admittedly very nervous. The excitement of the day, though, is intoxicating and the origin story you’ll have for this tattoo will be a trip to recount. Happy Friday the 13th’ing!
Ruby Croak’s Friday the 13th Tattoo Tips
- Go to a reputable, traditional shop that takes walk-ins, as custom shops generally don’t do Friday the 13th tattoos, due to the style of the Friday 13th tattoos.
- Look for a shop that does hard line tattoos.
- There are a lot of rules that go with these tattoos, respect them.
- Don’t be rude to the artist. It’s a special occasion, so be respectful. (These tattoos are remarkably cheap and are a fun way tattoo artists “give back.”)
- Don’t ask an artist to do five Friday the 13th tattoos—one per person! There are often lines out the door.