Marked for Life: A Little Number on Tattoos

Tomorrow afternoon, I am going to a new shop in the southern part of my state for my newest tattoo. What it is, I will not reveal! Although you may shrivel into a ball and cry without this information, I will surely put up a picture on my sarah On The Go Facebook page. So in honor of my 10th tattoo, I decided to write a short blog on my love for ink (on myself and on others, the craft; the process and those professionals who make it all happen).

There is a certain subculture in tattooing, and whether you are an enthusiast or have a great dislike for tattoos, this art’s heritage goes back over 5,000 years. Widely receptive throughout diverse cultures across the globe, tattooing was once used as a way to profess religious and magical beliefs, social status, heritage- and some were purely decorative. As I did a little research on the history of the tattoo, I found that covering one’s body and face with ink was not uncommon. 

So thousands of years later, while the method of inserting ink inside a person’s skin is thankfully done differently, why is there still so much negativity towards those with tattoos? With the arrival of television shows such as Ink Masters alongside veteran shows such as LA and NY ink, the popularity of tattooing does not show any signs of settling down. If only people could just accept other’s with their story written in art on their body.

But think about your wedding dress.

What are you going to look like when you are 50!

Your kids are going to see those.

When you’re pregnant it’s going to stretch.

No one is ever going to hire you.

I got my first piece when I was 16 years-old, and although the rose on my lower back (don’t you dare call it that name) has no truly significant meaning, it started my love for the craft. I soon started to seek out the best places in my local area, and did my research beforehand, instead of just picking out flash on the wall. I moved on to getting a butterfly on my side rib cage in memory of my friend, Cheyenne, who had passed too soon. While cute and colorful, I eventually decided to step my game up.

On my right rib cage, I have a skull made up of birds and leaves. It took about two and a half hours to complete and was agonizing. With a high tolerance for pain, I can say that my skull tattoo far surpassed anything I could tolerate. I broke out into a cold sweat and clenched my teeth for the entire duration. It felt like the needle was scraping directly onto my bones. But in the end it came out wonderfully. I am proud to say that I am a good client; I never complain, and very seldom ask for breaks (this was the only one I needed a cigarette break for).

Choosing to get a highly visible tattoo, like on my left wrist, is a decision you want to make carefully- but as opposed to what others say [think about it hard and long for a while], I would say that if you really love it then go for it. I mean, posting a picture on the dashboard of your car so you can look at it every day is clever, but also sounds annoying. If you liked it at all to begin with, why do you need to stare it for three months while you drive around. My Aum is on my wrist and is surrounded by a floral design. Basically, it is an obvious place for a tattoo. And while my ankle and foot tattoos can be hidden, I long for something a little more. So this Wednesday, I plan to get  piece on the back of my neck. Nothing crazy, but something that is vibrant and daring- like me!

My friend practiced on my ankle area. 87 in Roman Numerals :)

The older I get, the more I realize that tattoos are a pretty damn common thing to have. Going through college I met a lot of people with all types of designs and patterns, sleeves and small words, all of which I appreciated in some way. The young tattooed people I worked and studied with daily had a background, as we all do, but some just wanted to tell it in a different way. Some people’s stories go beyond words, which they want to illustrate through permanent picture or words. Sometimes, the impact of a situation deserves to be honored as bodily artwork; the customary next step to remembering a deep and meaningful event. 

There is a true beauty in tattooing. The process which, if you seek out a good artist, is done skillfully and with total appreciation for the craft. The people who tattoo are usually all in. They are artists beyond the ink and are talented enough to translate their creations from paper or canvas to flesh. Learning to tattoo, as my close friend is, can prove to be difficult. It takes a lot of practice, patience and a steady hand. There is so much deserving respect to be given to these artists.  

Like mostly everything in the world, people will always have a counter opinion to your own. While I realize that tattoos are not for everyone, I would like to see more appreciation for this art form. If you are debating some ink, go for it! You definitely do not have to go all out with a huge bicep piece! Get a small design, word… butterfly! Get something you can identify with. Being proud of your work is huge, so take the time to find a good tattoo shop and read reviews on the artist first.

Hopefully I have changed a few minds about how they see people with tattoos. I am just a sucker for anything that gives me another outlet to self-express. Wish me luck on my new addition tomorrow!

My most recent, a lotus flower.