Question: Is it alright for Buddhists to have tattoos?
Answer: Tattooing is okay… provided that what tattooed is not misrepresentative or disrespectful of the Buddhas (or any other enlightened beings), and the Buddhist teachings.
Even if a proper Buddhist image or wordings are respectfully tattooed, does the wearer of the tattoo have noble conduct worthy of carrying them respectfully? If not, this can create negative karma, as it gives what tattooed a bad name. For example, imagine a criminal tattooed with prominent Buddha images and Dharma wordings.
Also, the ink used should be vegan, not coming from direct or indirect harming of sentient beings. For example, some black pigments such as Bone Black, are from burning animal bones to become ‘charcoal’, and the carrier solution generally composes of glycerin, which is typically obtained from animal fats.
Imagine the irony of tattooing the image of a Buddha who represents perfect compassion for all beings, using some of their remains. This itself is misrepresentative and disrespectful. What more, if the image is worn by one who breaks the precepts in everyday life. Also, note that some Buddhist countries legally frown upon tattoos of Buddha images.