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Imaginative Ink, a Tattoo Story

Life

№276 ~7 minutes

    In which I talk about all the tattoos I have, how I got them and what they mean.

    Who doesn’t enjoy having needles pierce their skin?

    Well.

    I suppose there’s probably quite a few people who don’t.

    In fact, I’m one of the people who don’t enjoy having their skin pierced by needles. The very thought of it makes me very uneasy.

    Despite this I have managed to get nine tattoos.

    Not all at once though no, in fact the first one was all the way back in 2001. Back when I was 17.

    For two years I had been thinking about getting a tattoo. What had started as an idea to get my ears pierced, quickly changed into getting a tattoo once my mom had had her say.

    “You can get a piercing if you get one of those rings through your nose. So I can hang you from it when you’re being disobedient,” she had said gleefully thinking I wouldn’t call her bluff.

    But I did and replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes”.

    So I got a tattoo.

    I remember drawing the design on my arm for several months before I actually got it.

    If you pass out, I’ll pay to have a dick tattooed on your forehead. Janne, my not-so-supportive moral support.

    The guy, a former owner of the local strip club, who did the tattoo smelled faintly of yesterday’s alcohol and marijuana.

    Looking at the craftsmanship with the perspective of time reveals its crude execution coupled with my mediocre design, but it was mine and I loved it.

    I still do.

    It may be a poorly done tattoo but it’s my poorly done tattoo.

    A simple tribal tattoo with a Yin and Yang symbol in the middle.
    The tattoo that started it all.

    A few tattoo artists I’ve met afterwards have offered to touch it up for free but so far I’ve always politely declined. Like a scar it carries with it memories of who I was 15 years ago.

    I was young and eager to carve my own path. I wanted to design it myself instead of having a professional do it.

    It would take another seven years before I got the next one.

    An interpretation of the Eye of Providence where my left nipple is the eye, this one is still the only tattoo that made me genuinely cry a little and wanting to tap out. I didn’t, but it was close. It’s my reminder to always keep an open heart and open mind.

    Eye of Providence, or the all-seeing eye of God tattooed around my left nipple.
    It’s ridiculous that this is okay on Instagram but a female nipple is not.

    Not long after that I got my third tattoo, a Seven of Clubs merged with a G-Clef on my right hand.

    Like the one before, this one was also done by Robin “Kodi” Kodial—who now has his own studio, Fist of Needles. He was nice enough to drop by, making this the only tattoo I’ve gotten done in the comfort of my own kitchen.

    Seven is meant to be Mayan numeral for creativity and my reminder to always be creating things with my hands.

    My Seven of Clubs merged with a G-Clef tattooed on my right hand.
    I call it a Seven of G-Clef.

    After that, I knew I wanted a sleeve tattoo but it would take another six years before I eventually get it.

    My biggest tattoo to date, it took seven sessions spread over a period of nine months before it was all complete.

    The Alice is Wonderland meets Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead)—cultural appropriation be damned—has taken the longest to design and been the most challenging.

    From the subtle, and not so subtle, pop culture references to the secret Morse code written onto my skin, there’s a lot to look for in it.

    The intricate complexity of my sleeve tattoo.
    The side you haven’t seen before.
    A close up of the intricate complexity of my sleeve tattoo.
    A close up of the upper arm portion.

    It’s another reminder to not follow other people’s journey but to instead carve out my own destiny and to not let me myself be lead astray by other people’s perception of what’s masculine and feminine.

    Caught up in the excitement of finishing my sleeve I also sneaked in two smaller tattoos in an extra touch-up session we had.

    Rebecka’s lips on my chest and Lucien’s hand print on my left shoulder because no matter what, I’ll always carry them with me.

    Rebecka's lips on chest.
    Sealed with a kiss.
    Lucien's hand on my left shoulder.
    I’ll carry him with me everywhere.

    I now had six tattoos and to was quite happy about it. With no immediate plans of getting any more.

    Plans sure, immediate no.

    Until just last week when I went and got three more.

    The first two where small ones which both took under an hour.

    The longitude and latitude coordinates are to my childhood home, the place where I grew up. The place I no longer call home—because we should all grow up and move on—but will always remember fondly. It though it only fitting to put it on my back between my shoulder blades as a reminder of where I came from.

    The coordinates to my childhood home tattooed between my shoulder blades.
    Remembering my humble origins.

    The other small one is meant to be a sibling tattoo, meaning all my siblings could get it as well, if they wanted to.

    Nudge nudge, wink wink.

    A genealogy chart depicting the relationship with my siblings.
    We’re forever bound by blood, tears and pee.

    A simple genealogy chart depicting our relationship. A reminder that family is sometimes through blood alone but more often than that, it’s with the people we choose to form and maintain relationships. No matter the distance.

    And lastly, the big one that took a little longer but was still finished in one session, my new chest piece.

    The sparrow is a classic motif amongst hardened sailor, which I’m clearly not.

    They used to signify having crossed a great sea and survived. I’d like to think my own close brush with death 12 year ago and the voyage I’ve made afterwards, both physically and mentally, is enough to justify finally getting a sparrow of my own.

    It serves as a reminder, that I’m a lot more resilient than I think.

    The skeleton of sparrow bird whose shape is distinguishable by a splash of watercolor surrounding it.
    It hasn’t healed yet and is still a little flaky.

    Despite having a very classical motif, the unique style that comes by designing it myself still makes it my own.

    And there we have it.

    That’s all the tattoos I have so far.

    Do you have any tattoos? What’s their stories?

    The next entry comes out in 11 days.

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