Margot Robbie has retired from tattooing after casually picking up the practice years ago. While she was never formally trained, over the course of her amateur tattoo career she did dozens of pieces on her friends, family, and castmates. But earlier this week, during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the Birds of Prey star revealed that she’s given up tattooing for good after botching several designs.
The decision to stop tattooing altogether came after what she described as “a particularly bad” tattoo incident. At a bachelorette party the day before a friend’s wedding “there was a lot of drinking and we were like, ‘Oh, we’ll get matching tattoos’,” Robbie explained. The result was her tattooing a drawing (drawn by someone else) on another friend’s back. When her friend saw the finished piece, she wasn’t exactly thrilled, although Robbie said she was a good sport about it.
Her friend’s mother, on the other hand, was highly unimpressed when her daughter walked down the aisle “as one of the maids of honor in a backless dress [showing] this red, raw, scabbing tattoo.”
That may have been Robbie’s last mistake as a tattooer, but it certainly wasn’t her first. When she tattooed her Suicide Squad team back in 2015, she also misspelled a design she gave to one of the crew members.
“I’ve had a few mishaps, and thought, I should quit,” she told Fallon. “I’m not trained at all, I bought the gun on eBay. I shouldn’t tattoo. People let me do it though! I warn them and tell them I’m not good at drawing and I’m not qualified.”
While Robbie’s tattoo mishaps might be entertaining, it’s probably a good thing that she’s shelved her machine for good, because tattooing in an unprofessional environment can be quite dangerous.
There are dangers associated with at-home tattoos, so generally speaking, we caution against getting tattooed anywhere but a professional studio. Unlike amateur setups, tattoo studios are legally obligated to operate under strict guidelines that ensure the safety of their clients. Their tools and workstations are constantly being sterilized, and their entire space is made of materials specifically designed to avoid the buildup of harmful bacteria. Plus, tattoo studios and their artists need licenses to operate legally—something Robbie admits to not having.
To be fair, not all tattoo setups outside of a studio are dangerous. We know that some tattooers work from home, others do house calls (especially when they’re tattooing a celebrity who may need more privacy), and pop-up tattoo events are becoming increasingly popular. The difference is that a professional artist will be able to ensure whatever space they work in is safe and hygienic, unlike someone with no training, such as Robbie.
And aside from the dangers presented by getting tattooed in an unprofessional environment by someone with no training, Robbie also operated a machine while inebriated and tattooed a drunk friend. This is never advisable. In fact, it makes an already concerning situation even more dangerous.
Robbie told Fallon that she would warn all of her friends in advance that she wasn’t a great artist and that she wasn’t trained, and we respect that. But we’re also going to go ahead and say that it’s a good thing she’s given up the craft. Hopefully she and her friends opt for tattoos done by professionals next time.
To hear the full story of why Margot Robbie has retired from tattooing, watch the clip from her interview on The Tonight Show below.