Tattoo your iPod

by C.K. Sample III Dec 15, 2004

$15 for 10 HP Printable Tattoos for the iPod is a waste of money, you say? As with most things that are cool, you are correct.  It is a waste of money.  Who cares?  Personalized temporary tattoos for your iPod are cool (no matter how un-cool regular temporary tattoos may be). I bought 2 packs. I’m twice as cool.

Here’s a few things you should know before investing in your own HP Printable Tattoos for the iPod:

  1. Be exceptionally careful when applying the tattoo. The tattoos aren’t reusable and they are not the easiest things in the world to place on your iPod. If you put it on crooked, it won’t be as cool as it could be and removing it will most likely destroy the tattoo.  Now you’re down to 9.
  2. The HP site isn’t very intuitive. If you want to do anything other than print out the pre-designed tattoos that they offer, you’re going to be in for a little bit of head-scratching.  Read this extremely helpful tutorial and save yourself the headache I went through.
  3. HP claims that “each tattoo stays affixed for about a month.” I doubt they spontaneously lose their adhesive properties. This is probably an indicator of normal wear and tear. It is paper, after all. If you’re not keeping your tattooed iPod in a protective case, it’s probably only going to last for about a month. Likewise, if you’re holding your tattooed iPod in your sweaty palm as you jog, it’ll probably only last about a mile.
  4. The first time you print an iPod tattoo, the most horrendous sound that you will have ever heard will cause you to run over to your printer in alarm. You will think that your printer has broken and/or is possessed by a demon. The friction causes a slight burning smell as well. Don’t worry: it isn’t sulphur and it isn’t a demon. This is normal. It will happen every single time you print an iPod tattoo (or at least it does for me on my HP inkjet). Each time you will forget about this, and each time it will make you jump and run over to your printer to make sure everything is okay.
  5. The cut-out for your iPod’s screen in the tattoo is ever-so-slightly smaller than your iPod’s actual screen. My guess is that HP wanted to avoid any possible white sticking out from around the screen, so they decided on this small-screen design. Unfortunately, the result is that no matter how carefully you place the tattoo on your iPod, a slight hair’s width of screen will be covered.  This in turn will cause the screen to appear slightly crooked in one direction or the other. This will drive you nuts. You’ll start to wonder why the HP designers were so concerned with covering the little bit of white around the screen when they left all four corners and the majority of the back of the iPod uncovered. These are valid complaints, and I hope that HP releases a 2.0 version of the tattoo that rectifies these problems, but in the meantime, focus on how cool the tattoo is. Accentuate the positive. If you are severely O.C.D., then I recommend you find some other way to make your iPod cool. This will really run your O.C.D. tendencies into overdrive and push you further down the slippery slope of insanity.
  6. Nearly every single picture in your iPhoto collection will look very odd with a gaping rectangle and a gaping circle missing from the middle. Your un-tweaked photos will not make good tattoos. Grab Photoshop, Graphic Converter, or some other image-manipulation software, download the template from HP’s site, and spend some actual time designing a tattoo. That’s the only way to be really cool.
  7. Sorry, all you early adopters and iPod mini owners. The tattoos are only compatible with the 4G iPods.  You can always buy some large sticker-paper and try to hack your own.

So far, I’ve printed out 4 different tattoos.  The best part about them is that they are temporary.  Whenever the iPod purist in me starts missing the white elegance of my iPod, I can rip the tattoo off.  I wish there were a very big version of the tattoos I could stick on my Powerbook . . . or on my car!

Stay tuned. If we manage to get it together, we’ll be adding a downloadable AppleMatters-themed tattoo to this story later on this week. Check back.


  • Thanks for the article!  I was at RadioShack in a mall earlier this month (which I do NOT recommend, even four weeks away from Christmas) and saw the tattoos on sale.  The only thing that stopped me from getting them was the fact that I’m not that dexterous and getting the tattoo on would be a major fuss with me.  Good thing too, seeing how the tat covers a slight width of the screen - that would’ve driven me nuts!

    Of course, maybe down the road I’ll pick these up anyway and con someone into putting them on for me; I already own iPod socks, so why not?

    RollerMog had this to say on Dec 15, 2004 Posts: 1
  • If you are interested in a non-permanent ‘tattoo’ for your car, you can do something like this. It’s a vinyl application that does no damage to the underlying paint. Many business are using this on leased vehicles for advertising.

    The picture is of a ‘full body’ application.

    Velporama had this to say on Dec 15, 2004 Posts: 1
  • Nice, Velporama!

    That doesn’t run $15 though, does it?

    C.K. Sample III had this to say on Dec 15, 2004 Posts: 41
  • Nice, Apple! The tattoo idea is pretty cool.

    Tattoos had this to say on Apr 19, 2007 Posts: 1
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