For almost ten years, I have not-so-secretly wanted to get a tattoo. 

This has mostly resulted in a lot of talking about getting a tattoo, a lot of sporadic fits of tattoo-related google image searches,* but not a lot of action, unless you count one half-baked trip to get inked that had to be aborted due to the extreme douchebaggery of the artists–and I use this word loosely– at a certain Madison tattoo parlor which shall remain nameless. 

I’ve always loved the idea of tattoos as adornment.  The idea that, if you work with a skilled artist, you can turn your very skin into meaningful art is incredibly appealing.  But I never thought I would actually get one, because there wasn’t anything I could conceive of putting on my body permanently. And then my mom bought me a necklace with my name in Ogham for Christmas one year, and when I saw it I immediately thought: This is something I could keep in my skin for the rest of my life. Not only because my name will always be my name, but because the design itself was spare and beautiful, and was a visual connection to where I come from, who named me, and why. I decided that if I still thought that tattoo design was a great idea in two years, that I would get it inked on my skin and carry it with me.

This isn't actually my name, but you get the general idea

This isn't actually my name, but you get the general idea

Well, you know how things go– shit got weird for a few years in college and adorning myself with anything more complicated or permanent than a nose piercing got put on the back burner. The plan changed to me getting a tattoo for my Royal Birthday, when I would turn 25 on the 25th.  And then that didn’t happen, either. 

I started to wonder if, subconsciously, I didn’t really want a tattoo and had been sabotaging myself for years. 

But now, I’m thinking about tattoos again.  My sister recently got one on her wrist in white ink, and I feel like seeing it was what I was really waiting for all this time:  the white ink on the pale of her wrist was subtle and alluring.  It was both there and not-there, a mysterious design that welled up to the surface of her skin in the right light and then disappeared again.  I found myself staring at her in the car, in the grocery store, while we watched movies or ate dinner– Who was this creature whose skin changed like a hologram in different kinds of light?  I love her to death, but there’s such a familarity between us as sisters that I don’t think I had ever really looked at her before she got that tattoo.  And I only stopped when she finally smacked me and told me to stop being so goddamn creepy. 

So now, I have a design: I want to put a feather on my forearm in white ink.  

I can almost see on me already– sometimes I look down in the shower and I’m surprised to find that it’s not there yet.  I still love the idea of getting my name in Ogham, too, so I am thinking of incorporating it into the feather design, or possibly putting it somewhere else. I still feel a little afraid of the permanence of a tattoo, and I feel nervous about trusting an artist enough to translate my vision into something I would really want on my skin forever.  But I have a bunch of beautifully tatted friends who have offered to help me through the process and to recommend some artists to talk with, and so I think this might be how I celebrate getting a job.  Whenever that happens…

What do you guys think?

*The latest google image search turned up this skin-crawlingly amazing picture of a UV ink tattoo:


Under a blacklight, this dude turns into a walking x-ray

I ran across a couple articles about ultraviolet ink, which is apparently really unstable and hard to work with.  A UV tattoo doesn’t show up in normal light, but leaps to life under a blacklight.  It’s popular among the raver set (for obvious reasons), and illegal in most states (or just not done?  the articles weren’t exactly clear), so it’s mostly done in Europe.   I am completely taken with this image. I have a weird affinity for bones, skeletons and x-rays, and having that realized on an honest-to-god human being is so hot it almost hurts to look at.  


7 responses »

  1. Kirsey says:

    I feel like I ALWAYS comment on your posts but seriously, this one is crazy! My husband and I just recently got tattoos and I am in the process of the RockJuice Post as we speak. I had some internet issues with loading the photos but planned to post it tonight! So, I couldn’t agree more about what to get and where. The permanance doesn’t really scare me anymore because there are too many things you take for granted in life, I needed to know there was something that was FOR SURE. Anyway, more in my post, but I can’t wait to see the feather, I’m already thinking about my next one, but the WHERE is the bigger question now. You will LOVE IT, I’m a little TOO obsessed with my lower back right now!

  2. ash says:

    What are the odds– my sister got a white tattoo on her wrist last year too. It actually didn’t do anything for me at all. Not to discourage you though, just my personal opinion! I would definitely call ahead because a lot of the places she called for an appt. told her they don’t do white tattoos as a policy. I guess they are tough to do well (i.e. without discoloration), and tend to not turn out as desired, so then the customer gets pissed, so then the artists refuse to do them. All this being said, I’m definitely planning on getting a (black) tattoo myself! Keep us posted with your plans…. tattoos are awesome.

  3. renée says:

    doooooooo it.

  4. Denise says:

    If you really want one, you will eventually get one, and it will make you happy. I had wanted ink since I was 12 years old, and finally got ink at 22. I loved it so much at first that I had to make a Wait-One-Year rule so I wouldn’t cover my body with ink! I love it still. Mine is black. I wanted it to fade and reflect the time between “today” and 22. The idea of the white ink is lovely – I’m curious about what they look like after 10 years (good word of caution, ash!) If you see someone with ink that you like, ask them how long they’ve had it and pay attention to the details of the work.

    I wonder what I’d get today if I were getting first ink? I wonder what you’ll end up with 🙂

  5. Kari says:

    I love tatoos. I highly recommend them.

  6. stephoh says:

    that sounds beautiful. really, beautiful. i have two tattoos, i’m not sure i’m up for another. but, if white was an option, i might rethink that.

    i love the two i have for very different reasons (both sentimental, one more aesthetically lovely than the other); i think you should go for it.

  7. […] 4, 2010 by ebats Remember when I wrote about the Ogham necklace and ring I own, and how I want to get that spare design inked onto me? Well, the other half of […]

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