Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Essay on Art: A Type Of

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about tattoos. And when I say “lately”, I mean for about 5 minutes earlier today.

I remember when I got my first one at the precocious age of 19 and my dad found out. He FLIPPED out! (Yeah, you all thought he was always so cool, didn’t you). His largest concern was that the act had put me into a different class of people, a “type”, if you will. He got over that and now finds them interesting…tattoos in general, not just mine. I think Mom always had a “eh, it’s your body” feeling with regards to my socially accepted self-mutilation…with the exception of letting me dye my hair (mean!)

They are a funny thing, though. Special, in that you have them forever – but not so in that everyone and their grandmother has one these days. We no longer have to worry about being 80 with saggy inked body bits flapping about because we’ll all be in the same boat. And I don’t know about you, but I love seeing old people with tattoos. It gives them that much more character. Tells you a little something about them.

That being said, I often find myself looking at someone’s tattoo and (on a regular basis) having any of the following reactions:

1. “Dear god, why?”

2. “Oh!”

3. “REEEEally?”

4. “That makes my heart cry”

Earlier in my life, I was of the opinion that they were a very personal thing. Time and thought went into the choosing of one. And each had a reason for its existence. Of course the amount of time and the type of reason can sometimes be directly related to the proximity of a vacation and/or alcohol…but the fact remains. For some people, I still believe the “personal” theory to be true. For others, I believe their free time and any disposable income should be taken away.

I could take up space with examples here, but we’ve all seen them. And if you haven’t, all you have to do is google.

For my own, personal experience…I think I got my first tattoo too young. The good news is, I’m not sorry I got it and think it still looks great. It’s just, I’m not sure I would’ve been quite so keen on the size and detail at 30 the way I was at 19. It’s a good tattoo, purchased in an old parlor on Frenchman in New Orleans. It’s not there anymore. They painted the hundreds of year old brick yellow and made it an Electric Ladyland. It’s Egyptian – taken from a sketch in an old book I found at the university library. My only complaint is that the feet of the tattoo peek out from my shirt if I ever lean over and to this day I have children AND adults lifting UP my shirt to try to see it in it entirety.

You may or may not know the story of the second one. I posted here when I got it, but I don’t remember if I explained why I chose the barn swallow. There’s a nautical myth that says a sailor would get a barn swallow tattooed for every 5,000 nautical miles he traveled. I’ve traveled significantly more than that, but tattoos hurt and are expensive and so only purchased two.

I have two restrictions on any tattoo I commission:

1. It must be placed on a part of my body that is least likely to get fat


2. No color – if they had color and were visible, I’d feel the need to match my outfits to them.

I don’t imagine I’m alone in my pickiness…but I’m interested…call it anthropologically…in who out there among my acquaintances has tattoos? Don’t tell me here…comments are too hard to compile. Email me. Or comment that you’ll email me. OR if you don’t have one, tattoo me why. Or just comment it. And I refuse to let you say that you just haven’t figured out what you wanted yet. I bite my thumb at such a lack of originality/funds/inspiration.

I’ve finally given this blog its own email address, so send a description of your tattoo(s) to You will presented (anonymously if you so desire) as a portion of my scientific findings (within a sample size of the dozen or so people who read this blog). Feel free to out friends and loved ones if you yourself are not inked.

Just know - I refuse to blog again until I get at least 10 emails.

My, that was verbose, wasn’t it.

12 keep(s) me blogging:

The Future said...

I refuse to e-mail you just to say I don't have one and if I felt getting my ears pierced was too painful, I'll sure as heck never set foot in a tattoo parlor.

Ms. Salti said...

I have one and I'll email you a pic, although it's not a very good one...

By the way, my grandparents have tattoos that they got recently. I'll tell you about them. Actually, maybe I'll post about them.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Would a tattoo of the words "left" and "right" on each of your butt cheeks be out of the question? Oh wait, you said it had to be on a part of your body that wouldn't get fat...

Robert the Skeptic said...

I'll e-mail so you get your requisite 10 e-mails. Still, having come to this ripe old age, I realize that people change over time... which includes one's "tastes" and therefore what was once cool in the past may over time turn to be, uh, somewhat "less cool". Still, I told you that if I am still kicking at age 80 I will get a tattoo. I will put off choosing a design until 2028, though.

Wow, that was awkward said...

Dude, I've been contemplating this way too long. I'm honing in on it. I'll email ya.

Mary Witzl said...

I'm going to break the rules and tell you here. I have an accidental tattoo on my left thigh made when I was young and naive and on the phone to my mother. I had a pen in my hand and we were having a disagreement and I made a very emphatic point - literally - on my own flesh. It hurt and it's still there. Simple, but effective. And TOTALLY free.

theWaif said...

I prefer my tattoos invisible and painless.

Anonymous said...

youve been visiting havent you?

I have, and after seeing all that junk, its kinda turned me off on the idea of getting my own.

Stinkypaw said...

Email sent with pict. and all

Orhan Kahn said...

Consider yourself emailed.

I suggest you put it on the back of your neck :)

AxAtlas said...

"The plane! The plane!"

nic said...


Enough said.
I still have not figured out what to get. I like your barn swallow idea, though.. 'cept that I don't travel enough. :(