I love tattoos and have since I was a kid and I first noticed the blurry marks on my father’s arms. A Marine who served in Vietnam, he had a few simple “sailor” tattoos that were old, faded, and not very clear as to what they were. My brother left and joined the Marines and came back with some as well. They were so cool to me – from TV I knew that tattoos were done by bikers and shady looking guys swilling whiskey straight from the bottle in dark, smokey parlors on the bad side of town.
Back then, tattoos did happen in scenarios like that. It was a darker world and the tattoos were for “dangerous” people – bikers, sailors, gangs. Of course that was just the stereotype and there were “normal” people on the cutting edge, but the image will always remain.
When I got my first forearm tattoo, I could see eyes moving to it when walking down the street. I could see people thinking and reacting to such a large visible tattoo. These days, I don’t even see people flinch when someone is tattooed. We’ve changed a lot. (My benchmark is always this thought: when is the tipping point at which we will elect a heavily tattooed president?)
Tattoos are art. While working on my arm, my artist and I had that exact discussion. My job is to come up with a concept and tell him what I want to evoke…his job is to make that vision come to life with his art. That’s the important piece of all of this…it’s his art. I am merely trusting him to add it to my body permanently. He is in charge and I must trust him to paint a picture that makes me happy.
Tattoos are fascinating – I wish you could collect them. I know it seems a bit Ed Gein of me to say, but imagine owning a full body canvas…there is something really alluring about that to me. True art. And imagine all the art that gets buried or cremated every day…art gone forever. That part makes me sad. Maybe we should catalog every tattoo possible. I know there are several art projects that involve tattoo compendiums, but the more I think about it, the more I think there should be more documentation of all this rich, beautiful artwork.
Read the story on my skin…it comes from a line in a song by Lamb of God (Grace):
Forgiving the father
Read the story on my skin
I’ll be the martyr
Falling from his grace again
I’ve always loved that line and thought of it whenever I was in a tattoo shop getting something new. Each piece a story, tied together, reminding me of who I am, who I want to be, and sometimes even who I was.
I have been working on a large piece (left arm) for awhile now and I’m itching to get some more done soon. Where will my story go? Me and the brilliant artist will be the two to decide.
my current tattoo crush: Katja Ramirez (check out her snake tattoos)