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.

28 thoughts on “Marked for Life: A Little Number on Tattoos

  1. Why are you so beautiful? Why? Also, I seriously want a tattoo so bad, but unfortunately some freaking force made me fear needles like they are some crowd of serial killers. DAMN YOU NEEDLES!

    1. It’s really not that bad. It feels like a sunburn getting repeatedly scratched. Not so much needles. Or at least that is my experience.

      That is how it was described to me by my husband who has an enormous star on his back, and I have to say, it’s a damned accurate description of the sensation!

  2. When people criticize my tattoos, I simply remind them that, since they’ve already closed their minds, their eyes work pretty much the same way (decide to close your mind…decide to close your eyes). If they don’t want to see them, don’t look. AND they should be glad I don’t bare ALL of them! Just sayin’.

    Great post!

    1. I’ll never understand why people care so much about how other people dress or adorn their bodies.

      It may not be their thing, but why do they feel inclined to give someone their opinion?
      It really baffles me.

      1. If people don’t like what they see, no one is forcing them to look. :)
        I don’t complain about their suit and tie or the fact their sphincter is puckered tighter than a tourniquet, so why not just accept that we’re different…accept it…..and work on the important issues?

  3. While I only have one tattoo, it’s pretty large and detailed. I spent about 10 years deciding what I wanted and had a good friend of mine do it privately in her home (um… $50.00 back in the day!).

    It’s gorgeous, unique and very personal…and I’ve never regretted it.

    It’s getting old now, 16 years now… and I need to have it gone over again to crisp it up. I’m looking at about another 6 -7 hour session and who knows how much money! I just need to find the right person to do the job. Someday.

    I’d love to have another one now, I just cannot settle on what and where.
    I suppose it will take another ten years to figure that out. But, that is okay!

    Good luck!

  4. Good luck today! I’m getting a couple sugar skulls tomorrow evening to add to my ongoing sleeve. I love my tattoos. They express a lot about me and I love to look at them. Great post!

  5. I love that your tattoos are unique and beautifully placed.
    I’ve always admired the art and those who have tattoos, i guess what has kept me back from getting anymore (i currently have one on the inside of my foot quoting ‘Never a failure, always a lesson.’) is the first four stereotypical questions you listed above lol. In addition to those concerns, I just want to be sure of what i’m getting…I want it to be beautiful, meaningful…art.
    Great post – GORGEOUS tatoos!

  6. The feedback on this post is awesome! You guys rocks AND I successfully made it through my 10th tattoo! I’ll post a picture tomorrow on my Facebook page for sarah On The Go (which you COULD “like” by finding it over on the right hand side of this page).

  7. I love tattoos. I have five, and if I had more money, there would be a lot more. Hopefully, I can get more after my tax return comes in.

    Tattoos are becoming more acceptable. I taught summer semester, and it was really hot here in Pittsburgh. I wasn’t sure what the dress code would be, but it was entirely too hot to wear full t-shirts and pants. I knew that my tattoos would be hanging out. And do you know what? I was actually complimented on them! Talk about tattoo acceptance in the workplace! As I looked around me, I noticed that practically everyone else was inked too!

    I haven’t had the chutzpah to get a visible one yet. I’m not sure what I would want to look at every single day. My husband’s only two are visible, and he doesn’t seem to have a problem. Maybe I’ll get the guts to do it next time.

    By the way, your tattoos are fabulous! Great ink!

  8. Love this. I didn’t become a colorful person until I was 31. I too started with a rose (blue) on my upper chest. I now have a fairly large celtic wolf backpiece, and some Kanji on my inner lower left arm. My oldest daughter got her first at 16 (in CT of course) and has now surpassed my tat count in both size and number. Its agonizingly addictive. Have a great one! cant wait to see what you got ~ Donna

  9. Shhhh. Don’t tell my family but I sometimes contemplate getting a tattoo and I figure the safest bet is to just go with one that means something spiritually to me- not religious. But because my family is for the most part religious and very traditional to the point where I fear they’ll call me a witch and throw me in the river with a weight on my ankle to see if I float or not. So I enjoy flirting with the idea from time to time, but I doubt that unless it’s a FML moment or a tattoo sale (which probably a recipe for disaster) I doubt I’d be getting one soon :/ …oh yeah, and then the witch thing.

    But I agree with all your above statements, it’s definitely an art, and I do think it’s becoming more commonly accepted in work places. I guess thats the nice thing about living in such a progressive society thats moving a hundred times faster than more conservative places around the world. Great post, I love the flower tattoo on your arm and if the photos on the right side bar are one which you have taken, props. :)


  10. I’ll admit that the lines “Don’t Do That” would be my impulse. I get grossed out over pierced ears too, though. So, yesterday, I decided to not respond to this post… In the meantime, I thought of a conversation which I had with this big, burley guy who had scary tattoos visibly displayed on his forearms. While seeing these horrific images in my peripheral vision, we chatted about his infant daughter. Such conflicting images: this guy, who could probably toss me over the fence, holding this vulnerable child. He mentioned that all of his tattoos are self-made. He called them “my demons” and places them where people can see them, “so they know who I am”. We talked about how other people express their internal words with different types of images: clothes, make-up, cars, possessions, artwork, conversation topics. And, we talked about how most people use these images to hide their demons, rather than display them. In some ways, he was more authentic than those who only show their attractive sides. I still get grossed by over pierced ears…

  11. My daughter got her third tat today and I’m still an ink virgin, lol. I enjoyed your post and am going to get an ankh (Egyptian cross) on the back of my neck, a Native American feather on my shoulder and a ribbon tied in a bow around my ankle. Peace.

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