Thursday, February 14, 2008


It feels rather serendipitous... Last summer I wrote this post about how I was thinking about getting a tattoo. I had spent a lot of time sketching out some ideas and looking at tattoos and talking to people about their tattoos. Well, I got busy with other things and the idea was put in the back of the fridge, so to speak. Then just last month, I went to a tattoo parlor with a friend. On a whim. Just to check it out. No, I didn't get a tattoo, but it was an interesting step to take. Then early this month the Exponent II ran a guest post by Amy b about the process of getting her first tattoo (photo on right). I was very impressed by the tattoo, and also by her words as she wrote about why she got it, and the symbolic meaning behind the image. Then a few days after that one of my flickr friends posted pictures she had taken of her sister, a very talented SLC tattoo artist (here's an article about her in the local mag.).

So, tattoos are back on my mind again.

But here's the thing, I still haven't found the image that feels right. After all my sketching, I have come to the realization that my own artistic inclinations do not lend themselves to tattoo designs. I have more thoughts put down about my prospective tattoo than actual images (lots of paragraphs about of the kind of symbols/objects/ideas that are meaningful to me... but not many sketches that I would like as a tattoo). But I do have an idea of what I like... I lean towards simple black graphic designs . Like Bjork's viking compass (or maybe the lyrics to one of her songs in braille), or Christina Ricci's lion (photo on the left), or Angelina Jolie's khmer script (I really like text, and the idea of using text to make an image). Yet, when I checked out Sarah's online gallery, I was very impressed with her beautiful color work. She does an incredible job with elaborate renderings and vivid hues. Kinda makes me want to re-think my simple black marks. So many options! Including, of course, size. I spoke to Amy about hers, and she shared with me what her tattoo artist told her; "If it's small it will look like a sticker. You want it to move with you." (*GULP*) I am, as of yet, pretty tentative... a 'sticker' sounds not so bad. But perhaps when I find the perfect image, it may just naturally demand more real estate. We'll see.

The nice thing is that I am still in the gestational phase. Anything is possible, and there is no pressing deadline by which I have to make any permanent decisions. This is good, because another really important step for me is to get my husband's support. And that may take a little bit of time. He is rather conservative and a little leery of tattoos. This is not an issue of permission or approval; that is not how our marriage works. But this is something big for me, something I have been thinking about for a while, and if/when it does happen, it will be a very important moment in my life. I want him to be there when I get it done. So I also have this time that I am looking for 'my tattoo' to keep an open dialogue with him about it. Ease his fears, get him comfortable with the idea.

Some people have very strong feelings against tattoos. A few of the comments generated by Amy's post were quite derogatory, some people's personal feelings about body art goaded them into mean-spirited attacks. The comments finally had to be disabled because of a couple of trolls who wouldn't stop making caps-locked condemnations. (I know, because while the comments were deleted, they were still forwarded to my mailbox. I had almost sixty in a row from one anonymous commenter. Nice stuff.) It's good to know in advance that my having a tattoo may generate some strong reactions from people. To be prepared for it. To be one of the things on the table for consideration as I think about getting a tattoo.

Anyhoo... it may still be a while before I go under the needle, I'll keep you posted!


bigbrownhouse said...

Thanks for pointing me here, and thanks for sharing your well articulated thoughts on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Good luck as you find what's right for you! I'm glad I didn't see the troll's comments about my tattoo- it was hard enough to put myself out there like that.

I think you'll land on the perfect thing that you love eventually. And, while I like my large tattoo, smaller ones can be beautifully done as well. You've shown some beautiful examples here.

G said...

your welcome, bbh!

amyb- you know those comments about 'have you lost your morals?' and how the Book of Mormon says you shouldn't get tattoos? basically just more of the same.

size wise, Christina Ricci has another tattoo on her hip... and that one is definitely in the 'sticker' category. just a tiny little thing.

I'm currently leaning towards something in the 3" range. But I'm tantalized, awed and impressed with your boldness in getting a larger one.

Nana said...

funny how people who feel so strongly about something would not put there name beside their own words...amyb, I love your tattoo.

Galen, if you want to start small maybe you could find a tattoo you like and add to it later after getting more intimate so to speak. I had a friend that started her tattoo with a simple dragonfly, then she put it on a flower, and then added on a little at a time until she had a whole garden around it. She also played with the color by having most of in sepia tones with a few things in full color to make them pop. Just another thought to give you even more things to think about! Love you!

bigbrownhouse said...

I love that idea of getting a tattoo designed with the potential of growing into a larger image!

Amyb, I want to just repeat what I said over at X2 - your tattoo is beautiful. The boldness of the size is perfect.

G said...

hey sis- LOVE the idea of the add-on tattoo, especially planning on a smaller tat becoming part of a larger tat- BY DESIGN.

I toy with the idea of having several tattoos, one on the back, one on my upper arm, perhaps one on my ankle/foot region... and I would like them all to have a flow, be visually connected by being similar in theme and style.

Amyb, do you think you are going to get any more?

G said...

was doing some thinking about size and all that...

Amyb's tattoo is gorgeous, absolutely stunning... and the size is what delivers the full artistic impact of it to the viewer. The same design rendered smaller would not carry the same effect; it would be more like, 'hey, nice tat' instead of 'oh WOW!'

likewise I think that other designs may work the opposite way, a smaller, more intimate/private size may better convey the meaning behind a different image.

for me (having not found found 'my' image) it is more the kind of queasy nervousness of signing up for a race that I am not sure I can finish... or perhaps volunteering for a job that I am not sure I am qualified for.... this is, of course, linked to just my general nervousness about getting a permanent mark put on my skin in the first place!

I won't go under the needle until I feel very confident about what the end result will be.

G said...

of course, it is also a personality thing...

other people are more decisive, bold, carefree, impetuous, free-spirited, confidant, etc... than me.

I'm a noncommittal chicken sometimes.

(maybe I should get a tattoo of a chicken... NOT)

mike44 said...

I am n active member of the church and a recent RM, I went today to the parlor to get a tattoo, but I need more thought to it. My dad is a Bishop and I am afraid what my parents will think. I want to get a tattoo of Idaho (the whole state) as a border, I didnt get one today, because I was scared what should I do. I love tattoos and want one.