You want a unique tattoo, but don’t know how to get the right design. What do you do? For Debbie, she contacted Custom Tattoo Design.

A Tattoo Journey Unlike Any Other: The Story of Debbie’s Unique Tattoo

You want a unique tattoo, but don’t know how to get the right design. What do you do? For Debbie, she contacted Custom Tattoo Design. We talked to this grandmother of 4 (18 if you include her husband’s grandkids) to find out about her story, design inspiration, and how she felt about working with Custom Tattoo Design to facilitate her truly one-of-a-kind tattoo experience.


Debbie’s idea to get a tattoo started with the decision to get an updated prosthetic arm. A couple of years prior, she was inspired to give a prosthesis a go after not wearing one for 33 years:

I was born without my left forearm and hand…I had not worn [a prosthesis] since I was 20 up until two years ago. There just wasn’t a real great one back then…I had seen [former Miss Iowa 2013] Nikki Kelly on the Today show showing how her prosthetic worked with Coapt wiring. I was so impressed at how far they have come that I went in the next day and asked if my insurance covered prosthetics.

At the time, she ended up with the exact same arm that she had seen Kelly wear. This arm suited her for two years until drastic weight loss meant her arm no longer fit, which she saw as a good opportunity to upgrade, “I knew I would make changes to the arm if I could get a new one”. As a newly minted ambassador for Coapt, she was aware of some of the options available to her, “They…had new Gen 2 wiring out so I wanted to upgrade that for sure. I also wanted the Taska hand as it has so much more functionality than the BeBionic hand”.

Aside from the updated technology, Debbie was motivated to use a prosthesis to prevent future issues with her right arm, “One of the other reasons I decided to get a prosthetic is because of over use of my right arm, and not wanting to have surgery on it someday. I decided it may need some help from my left arm”. With the prosthetic specifics sorted out, Debbie wanted to add some flare to her new arm – that’s where we come in.


Getting inspiration for a tattoo design can seem like a daunting task – there are endless possibilities to choose from. But finding that idea can be as simple as looking at what’s right at home. For Debbie, she didn’t have to look far to get inspiration for her tattoo design, “I thought the roses would be for my kids and husband, and the heart would be the love I have for them”. Rose tattoos can symbolize a number of different meanings, including femininity and family, which resonated with Debbie. As far as going for color versus black and white for the design, the choice was simple, “I chose color…because I love bright and cheerful things”.


The decision to go custom over flash for her design was an easy one for Debbie, “I wanted my forearm on my prosthetic arm to be unique”. As far as what kind of tattoo she was looking for, that idea was also a no brainer, “I was always wearing bright sleeves [so] I knew that I wanted a tattoo sleeve embedded in my forearm”. She started by looking online for someone to create a custom design for her, which led her to Custom Tattoo Design, “I did an online search [and] the designs looked fabulous!” And so began her custom tattoo journey.


After discovering Custom Tattoo Design, Debbie sent in her design and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly things happened. She submitted her idea and was matched with an artist right away. Her first draft arrived the same day, “She started my design right away. She sent me the first draft within 4 hours. I [made] a couple [of] changes but within an hour or so she came back with the perfect design. It was exactly what I had in mind”. Debbie had continuous contact with her artist until she gave her final approval, “My artist was…in contact with me until I was 100% happy with my design”. From there, Debbie took the next steps to get her design inked.


With Custom Tattoo Design, once you approve your design, you own it – it’s yours to do what you want with it. Typically, you would take your tattoo design to a shop of your choice to get it tattooed, but things worked a little bit differently in Debbie’s situation. Since this wasn’t your average tattoo, there was no need for a tattoo shop. Instead, she sent her design to a company that specializes in fabric prosthetic covers, “I actually had Fred’s Legs put it on a fabric sleeve [and] then they sent it to me”. After trying out the design on her current prosthetic and liking the result, she was ready to make it permanent, “I then took it to American Prosthetics [and] they sent it in to complete the forearm…My prosthetist, Maggie, loved the design. I have had so many compliments on it”. This isn’t Debbie’s first tattoo, but it differs from her previous experience in a key way, she says – “It didn’t hurt!”

Debbie’s got her customized prosthetic design covered for a while, but she’s open to potentially having more done through Custom Tattoo Design in the future, “If in a few years I want a different one I can have you design another one!” Sounds good to us!

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