Harley Quinn and the tale of the terrible tattoo

Harley Quinn and the tale of the terrible tattoo

Margot Robbie may be a fantastic actress but she is a terrible tattooist. Despite no formal training or a licence to practice Margot took it upon herself to start tattooing friends and work colleagues with disastrous consequences. Yayo sent out investigative journalist Matt Haddon-Reichardt to uncover the world of illegal tattooing and find out if Margot has started a disastrous new trend.


Guy Fletcher

One aspect of tattooing that really bothers me is the fashion fad of terrible tattoos. To the vast majority of the tattoo community a bad tattoo is drenched in regret and is quickly lasered off and covered up. A terrible tattoo done by a professional artist is one thing but deciding to go and get a bad tattoo off an unlicensed tattooist is even worse; getting a shit tattoo on purpose is just crazy.

I first discovered the fad of bad tattoos being cool when I came across pictures of Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty. Back in the 00’s these 2 would be rock stars, who looked like they had slept in a bin, were the king and queen of cool. Their music never moved me and neither did their unique brand of home brew tattoos. To be fair to Winehouse she did have a few credible pieces by proper artists, but Doherty’s in particular looked like my 6 year of had drawn on him.


“Take a look at this,” he said dropping his pants and waving his willy about.

James Robert Hobbs

Despite me finding their tattoos laughable and their music bland Pete and Amy shot up the charts and exploded in the press with tales of sex, drugs, more drugs, drink, punch ups, more drugs, the odd bit of music and sadly more drugs. They became the new antiheroes for a generation and what followed was their eager fans copying their naff tattoos. That’s when I met Layton.

Layton had just come out of psychiatric hospital. He’d had a psychotic breakdown due to heavy substance abuse but a few months on the wards had resulted in him stabilising and going drug free. Unfortunately that didn’t last and on discharge he was back to his old ways.

George Barrell

“Take a look at this,” he said dropping his pants and waving his willy about.

Groans of disgust and cries of protest erupted in the room. When he had stopped swinging it, he asked us all to pay attention to the crude smiley face tattooed on the end of his johnson.

“How and why?” Where my first and only questions; a grinning Layton began to explain.

On discharge from hospital he’d popped round to a friends to collect a drug debt. The guy didn’t have the money but he had a tattoo machine he had recently bought off a website he had discovered called Ebay. Layton happily accepted the machine as payment for the debt. On the way home he picked up a bag of cocaine and once back at his flat he set about tattooing a smiley face onto his penis.

That was the how sorted now just why?

“This way when I meet a girl I can ask her if she wants to see me smile. If she says yes I can show her this.”

As far as chat up lines go it was rude, crude and offensive; much like Layton himself.

“Only problem was the same night I did it I got laid and it rubbed off, so I had to redo it the next day. The bummer was I’d run out of coke so doing it sober was bloody painful. Worth it through eh?” He said grinning.

Someone put a Libertines record on and a bong appeared from nowhere. Layton disappeared into his bedroom and came back with the tattoo machine.

“Who’s up for one?” He shouted.

Hands shot up like eager kids in class. It was time for me to go. As I headed down the stairs the buzz of the tattoo machine started. At that point I decided I needed a new group of people to hang out with.


One aspect of tattooing that really bothers me is the fashion fad of terrible tattoos.

Sam Nuttall

The fad for crap, home brew tattoos ended with the tragic death of Amy Winehouse and the collapse of Pete Doherty’s music career. Yet home tattooing never went away; it evolved. Now people are still having tattoo parties and going round to mates to get inked in the kitchen but these unlicensed tattooists are now marketing themselves as a cheap alternative to going to a licensed studio. Despite the odd gem the majority of home grown tattoos are terrible and sadly the people doing them regard themselves as legitimate artists.

This could all soon change thanks to the antics of Hollywood pin up Margot Robbie. Margot plays the astonishingly popular Harley Quinn from the DC Comics Batman universe. Not only does her on screen version of the Jokers lady friend sport some seriously substandard tattoos she took it upon herself to get into character by getting hold of her own tattoo machine and volunteering to tattoo the cast and crew of her latest comic book movie.


Steve Bramhall

Margot has been talking to the press about her exploits as an amateur tattooist. She freely admits she has no training as an artist or tattooist and guess where she bought her machine? That’s right, good old Ebay. Margot finally stopped tattooing when a couple of people were unhappy with the results and a very public verbal mauling made her rethink her new hobby.

It all makes a hilarious chat show anecdote with people clearly not giving two hoots about the risks presented by unlicensed tattooing. Margot freely admits her work was crap, but there is no mention of blood born disease, infection, scarring or criminal nature of her work. I don’t want to sound like a party pooper but there are some easily influenced people out there and by Margot joking about home tattooing, with chat show host Jimmy Fallon, she belittles what is a serious problem.


 Yet home tattooing never went away; it evolved. 

Simon Hollihead

I can see EBay sales of crap Chinese tattoo kits rocketing now Margot has endorsed them, I can see comic book nerds emulating Harley Quinn’s naff body art and I can see problems, lots of problems. So kids take your Uncle Matt’s advice; don’t buy a tattoo machine off eBay (and by the way, for the record, it’s called a tattoo machine not a tattoo gun), don’t do tattoos from home and don’t go to an unlicensed tattooist. Margot Robbie may well be beautiful and talented, Harley Quinn may well be cool and iconic, but a shit tattoo is none of the above.


 Laurie Brown


A final thought from the author: "I had a bad tattoo experience a few years ago. The tattoo was really well executed but the design went astray. Luckily I healed the tattoo with Yayo so despite it not looking great the lines are crisp and clean. Now I'm looking forward to getting it covered up. If you have a tattoo disaster don't panic and don't pick, scrub or damage the tattoo as it heals; this will just cause problems later on. Regardless of the quality of the tattoo always follow sound after care advice. I well healed tattoo is a lot easier to laser remove or cover up; scars don't take ink well.  If you want the best results when healing a tattoo then use the best; use Yayo!"

Yayo... its a family thing.


 Words by Matt Haddon-Reichardt
Images by Matt Haddon-Reichardt and as credited