Tattoo stories

posted by Jeff | Monday, May 30, 2011, 11:58 PM | comments: 1

For someone who doesn't actually have any tattoos, I sure have a lot of opinions about them. I've been fascinated by them for a very long time.

When I started college in 1991, believe it or not, tattoos still seemed to be largely the domain of rock stars and sailors. At that time, I wondered why anyone would want to permanently mark their body like that. Around that time, maybe a year or two after, one of my classmates, Nikki, got a tattoo, and I thought it was kinda neat. My senior year, my girlfriend-turned-first-wife, Stephanie, had a small tattoo on her ankle that she got when she turned 18, still in high school. At that point, I think tattoos were pretty normal to me.

After college, once the Web had really started to take hold, there were many more opportunities to see a lot of great tattoos. The Midwest was not exactly a prime location for this. I remember in 1998, visiting Portland, and being blown away by all of the great tattoos (and hair). Fitting, I suppose, that a Web site called Suicidegirls was founded there a few years later. The site featured nudies of girls with tattoos, piercings (and great hair), but it was the quality of the skin art that I found so fascinating. I know, sounds like a "read it for the articles" kind of cop-out, and of course the sexuality of it was a component, but it was about this time that I saw the "artist" in "tattoo artist" for the first time.

Of course, that's one of the things about tattoos, that women tend to get a lot of things that are pretty. We saw a mom in the water park today, who was very pretty and had a half-sleeve of various flowers, with great detail and color, and a cherry blossom tree up her side. Dudes tend to get a lot of scary things, for some reason. I saw a dude today who had this enormous back piece that was some kind of devil-esque dude with fire and wings. It was awesome as art, just... scary.

Then the TV shows in recent years have given a spotlight to, not necessarily the best, but artists who try to create interesting things. It's not that pick-from-a-book crap, these are people who are exceptional at illustration and design, and translating that to technique.

So in seeing all of this for many years, I love the art, but don't care for the generic stuff that a lot of people get, just for the hell of it. It isn't that I think people should have anything complex or expensive, just things that reflect something about them. Diana has her kitteh tattoo, which is simple, but reflects her personality. Seriously, if you get a barbed wire around your arm, what does that say? You like to keep animals in and intruders out?

I know some people would argue that I shouldn't judge, being ink-free and all, but whatever. I can't write a song either, but it doesn't mean I don't have opinions about them. I've had a good idea about what I'd like to start out with (knowing full well it won't stop with one), and I've had the basic idea for a couple of years.

I haven't pulled the trigger, because in many ways I'm angry with my body. While I'm still relatively healthy, with solid numbers, I know my weight is higher than it should be. The realization that I'm (almost) 38 and need to look after my shit weighs heavy on me, and I haven't stuck the lifestyle change that I know I should. So given this relationship I have with my body right now, I don't much feel like celebrating it.

Ironically, body piercing worked the other way around. I just decided one day (six years ago this week) to let a guy start poking holes in me, and the care for those holes was symbolic of the care I needed to take of myself, body and mind. It came with almost 30 pounds of weight loss in the next six months.

I'm trying to make some kind of deal with myself. When I'm ready, I'll find the best person I can to do the work and materialize the idea I have. We'll see where it goes from there. Until then, I'll continue to admire others.



May 31, 2011, 5:38 PM #

I love good custom tattoo work, and really dislike most "flash" out there. If you're going to just pick an image out of a catalog for the hell of it, why bother?

(I DO have a single tattoo, something that's definitely unique to me even if the idea isn't all that original anymore. About 12 years ago now I had "GregLeg" tattooed in Code-128 on my left shoulder. It was scannable when I had it done, but the intervening years of fading and slight line shifting mean that it no longer scans. I don't regret getting it, though, because there was symbolism in getting it, both to signify and end of one part of my life, and affirming that I was proud of my inner geek.)

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