That's why, when you think it's finally time to get another tattoo, it's important to do your research beforehand, because something as innocent-sounding as stars on your knee or a teardrop or certain patterns of numbers might actually have fucked-up pasts associated with criminal gangs and the Russian mafia.
And while some of these designs have been widely appropriated by the masses, they might still hold meaning to those who abide by the old tattoo codes. "I’m more comfortable tattooing things today that I wouldn't have five to 10 years ago, since now you can get almost anything removed with lasers,” says Maxime Buchi, tattoo artist and founder of Sang Bleu London. “But you need to understand that you may to have to answer some questions if you go to a Russian banya.”
So before you go rushing out in search of someone to tattoo a spiderweb on you (yup, that's one of the questionable ones), read ahead on the tattoos you want to be very, very careful about getting.