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.
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:
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.