clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Tattoo Artist on Weird Foot Tats and Dealing With 'Stinkfoot'

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Image credit: Mercury Tattoo/Facebook

With Shoe Week in full stride (ha), we're venturing beyond the shoe for a look at foot ornamentation with celebrated tattoo artist Scott Bramble, the owner of Doylestown's Mercury Tattoo. In his 22 years in the industry, Bramble's seen his fair share of yuck—blood and needles don't faze this pro—but don't you dare ask him to wash your stank-ass feet. Keep reading as Bramble humors the foot tattoo questions we always wanted to know but were too embarrassed to ask.

On a scale of one to ten, how painful is a foot tattoo, really?
I'd have to say a seven. If the bicep is a standard five, then it's worse than your standard spot—but not absurdly so.

Do you roll your eyes when someone requests a foot tattoo?
The foot is an odd one to consider. I don't roll my eyes at merely the thought of working on a foot, but it can easily go down a road that gets annoying. There's only a portion of the foot that is good for tattooing, namely the top of the foot. Once it moves around the side or closer to the toes and heel, it becomes generally a bad idea. Those areas don't hold up very well and tattoos are likely to fade and look crummy in a short time.

What ink colors tend to "stick" better to the foot?
Black is the best color to hold up no matter the location. Being a foot only means I need to make sure the design is one that will hold up and look proper even if some of the colors don't hold up very well. Touch-ups are usually free. If I tell someone a tattoo will not hold up, then I will charge when it needs to be reworked.

Are feet difficult to tattoo?
They can be. The top isn't too bad, but if someone insists on the other areas it can be difficult. I'll rarely work out of my comfort zone, and if a person insists on getting it in a spot I'm not comfortable with, I will happily tell them to walk on—excuse the pun.

Should you avoid wearing shoes after you get a tattoo on your foot?
I usually tell people to get them at a time when they can wear open shoes or sandals that don't rub the tattooed area for a week. It's best to avoid trapping a fresh tattoo in a dirty gym sock day after day.

Who requests foot tattoos more often, men or women?
Women. It fits into the common thought of a place they can get something small that they can hide or show depending on their mood. For me, personally, I tend to do more men's feet. Largely because having a waiting list tends to weed out folks that want smaller, more simple designs.

Do people tend to get the tattoo positioned so that it's still visible when wearing shoes?
It comes into play with certain folks. I usually push for a person to get it where it fits the shape of the foot while avoiding the harder-to-heal areas.

What's the weirdest foot tattoo design ever requested by a client?
That's a hard one. I've done scales to represent mermaid feet; a jersey devil; fighting cocks; and damn near anything you can come up with. In 22 years of doing this, I've been lucky enough to do a bunch of fun and unusual ideas. I won't do anything I find offensive, so that can limit some of the super weird stuff, but its not like I get a bunch of calls for overly weird stuff.

What do you do if your client has particularly gnarly feet?
I have made people wash their feet. I'm not the Pope and feel no need to wash the foot of the criminal. If there is no saving the funk, then I won't do the tattoo. Again, I am in the position that I can easily refuse someone service. If I need an excuse, it's easy to point out their stinkfoot represents a lack of cleanliness that can result in infection. It's hard to argue with that!
· Mercury Tattoo [Official Site]
· Scott Bramble [Official Site]

Mercury Tattoo

19 Donaldson St Doylestown, PA 18901