Behind the ink

I got my ears pierced at the age of 14 and I knew that was all I wanted as far piercings went. However, I have always found tattoos to be interesting, appealing and artistic [if only my parents shared the same view – and when I say ‘parents’ who I really mean is my dad].  While, my mom doesn’t particularly care for them per say, she has always believed ‘your body is your body’ and no one can tell you what to do with it. My dad on the other hand [who mind you grew up in a very conservative, traditional, religious household] saw tattoos as rebellious and unattractive.

I remember getting my very first tattoo [in fact, here I am on that day, totally oblivious to what was about to happen].

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I was 18 years old, excited and a little nervous! I told my mom that I had planned on getting one, but didn’t dare tell my dad. My parents were going to the spa for massages that morning [yes, I strategically planned to get my tattoo on a day I knew they would be gone]. As soon as they left, I headed to my appointment. While I squirmed in the chair and anxiously kept talking [the silence was deafening] my tattoo guy, Bill {who is AMAZING by the way} started setting up everything. 20 minutes and a few cuss words later, it was DONE. To my surprise, it was quick, easy and only a little painful… WAY less painful than I had imagined in my head {hence this was the day my tattoo addiction began}.

As I left the tattoo shop, I headed home where I was greeted by my parents a few hours later. They asked what I had been up to that day, nonchalantly I replied, “oh, nothing much” {insert mischievous laugh}. Little did they know, I was inked and bandaged underneath my bright green shirt. A couple days later, I ended up showing my mom. She said she liked it, asked if it hurt and I made her promise not to tell. As for my dad, I continued to keep it hidden [he had no clue for a good year]. Eventually, he noticed it at the beach, but since I had now had it for a year, his response wasn’t as harsh as I had predicted it to be. Now, that I’m 26 years old, married and no longer live with my parents, I openly show my dad my tattoos. Of course, he still would rather I not have them, but has grown to be more accepting of them [like he has another choice].

Let me first start by saying, yes, I have seen some distasteful, cringe worthy, down right awful tattoos [especially being amongst the heavily inked military community]. Whether it was a bet someone lost, a drunken decision or an act of spontaneity, some tattoos are forever regretted. However, not ALL tattoos are created in this image. For me, I wanted my tattoos to tell my story. I wanted them to mean something to me. To mark significant points in my life. To represent the ones who mean the world to me. To say beautiful, meaningful things that we all need to be reminded of from time to time. While I wanted them to be pretty to the eye, the meaning behind them has always been the most important… Which is why, I wanted my very first tattoo to be reminiscent of the one who gave me life, eternal life. The one who gives life to us all – God.

“By his wounds, we are healed”. -Isaiah 53:5

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Side/rib area is a very common and popular spot for tattoos. However, I got this verse in this particular spot because this is where Jesus was pierced upon the cross. Although, the 20 minutes of pain I suffered is in no way comparable to what he endured, I wanted it to be my first tattoo.

My second tattoo I wanted for the next, most important people in my life – my family.

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I come from a big family. I have tons of aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews etc. [some I’ve never even met]. With a big family, there is no shortage of fun and personality, so for this tattoo I wanted to keep things simple for once [“Family” in script font with a tiny heart].

“Fear not, for I am with you”. -Isaiah 41:10

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My third tattoo also comes from the Bible, but has two meanings. It reminds me that no matter what I’m going through, God always walks before me and beside me. It also reminds me, that Willie {my hubby} is always with me even when were apart during deployments. He is in the Navy and although he works on planes and will never be on a boat [thank God]… I still chose to put an anchor beside the verse because it best represents the Navy branch and honors his service in the military.

As for my newer tattoos, I got all four of them back to back in one swoop, so I’m not sure in what order they go.

I’ll start with my two biggest ones.

This was a huge leap for me. All of my tattoos up to this point were relatively small and for the most part were all text [no pictures]. So, I knew for these two I wanted to change it up. I wanted to represent my two best friends, my two sisters in the best, most accurate way. I have always been super close to my sisters, which has made living SO far away very hard. We all have separate lives, but somehow still manage to stay close, which I feel so fortunate for because I know this is not the case for everyone. Although, we are physically apart, these tattoos of my sisters will go with me everywhere, everyday [which symbolically means so much to me].

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A mermaid for my oldest sister Elizabeth [she’s been obsessed for as long as I can remember] so it only seemed fitting that I make her into a beautiful mermaid.

A ballerina for my youngest sister, Lauren [she has danced since she was 3 years old and I’ve only missed one of her performances] so since I couldn’t very well tattoo the Chic-Fil-A logo on my body, this was the next best thing that reminds me of her.

My last two tattoos are for my other half, my husband, the one who puts up with my shenanigans day in and day out, Willie.

I can’t pick one favorite, but this is definitely high up on my list. I knew I wanted to have a tattoo dedicated solely to Willie, however I’m weirded out at the thought of getting anyone’s name {other than my children’s} permanently tattooed on me. I’d like to think we’re going to be together forever, but I wanted to show him my love in a more meaningful way than just getting his name on my body.

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“I love you forever”. Pretty self explanatory, but what makes this tattoo so special to me is that it’s in HIS handwriting. It’s as if he wrote it on my arm with a sharpie [except it will never fade or wash away]. I got it/cut it out of one of the many cards I’ve saved over the years that we’ve been together. He had no idea that I was planning on getting it… Which made it SO fun and special for me to surprise him! And last, but certainly not least… My favorite day and fondest memory… Our wedding day… May 23, 2015 [roman numerals]!

I’ll also share a few pictures of Willie’s tattoos…

“Ars Gratia Artis” Latin for “art for art’s sake”

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Ever since the day Willie got this tattoo, many people have asked what it means. When he tells them the English translation, almost everyone is confused as to what it really means [so I thought I’d break it down for you]. “Art for the sake of art” simply means that art should never have to be categorized, defined or justified. That what we create can stand alone. That art should just be… It should exist freely and interpreted as the viewer sees fit. With Willie being an art major at one point in his life, this concept of creating for the sake of creating made perfect sense to him [hence why this was his first tattoo]. Although, he never finished his art degree {maybe one day?} art always has and will continue to be a big part of his life [I may be biased as his wife, but his artistic ability still AMAZES me].

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His latest piece of work is a BIG one compared to his first. He grew up in and around the mountains of NC his whole life, which helped cultivate his love for the outdoors, nature, camping and fly fishing. Pictured is mountain scenery and a trout on his arm. Within the mountains, is a quote from his favorite book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer.

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure”.

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And of course, we had to have matching wedding date/roman numeral tattoos [mine on the top of my shoulder, his on his chest].

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Alright… A few Q&A for all you tattoo virgins or for those of you who are thinking about getting one.

What should I get?

Like I said before, this is TOTALLY and COMPLETELY up to you! My advice… Don’t rush into it no matter how bad you want it. Take your time and make sure it’s something you can live with for the rest of your life.

Is my tattoo idea stupid/lame?

As long as it is meaningful to you that’s all that matters. The thing is, not everyone has to or is going to like your tattoo(s), so just make sure it’s something that’s true to you and speaks to you.

Which spot hurts the worst?

Pretty much anywhere where there is bone, nerve endings or tender/thin skin. So that means… top of the feet, wrists, ribs, shoulder caps etc. For me personally speaking, the tattoo that hurt the worst was “Family” in between the ankle bone and our wedding date (as he got closer to my shoulder). Honestly, you’ll be fine though. If the biggest baby with the world’s lowest pain tolerance (aka: ME) can do it, you can too!

Healing time?

About a week or so. Your tattoo appearance/health/life really depends on how well you take care of it in those first few days. So it’s CRUCIAL you follow the care instructions to a T. When in doubt ‘baby’ it…

How do I go about finding a tattoo artist?

Well, this is kind of a common sense question. Go take a look at their work! Most artists have a gallery or portfolio that you can flip through [most artists also have a website or Instagram page that you can skim through as well]. Also, look at other people’s tattoos… Whether it be family, a friend or stranger, looking at other people’s tattoos can give you an idea of the kind of work that the artist does [sometimes pictures just don’t do them justice].

Money?

It all depends on what size and the detail of the tattoo. Some shops have a minimum [which means no matter how small, it will still cost the minimum]. Most artists will charge a set price if your tattoo is not that big or intricate. For bigger, more detailed work, artists usually charge by the hour.

My personal favorite?

It’s a tie between the mermaid and “I love you forever” in Willie’s handwriting.

My tattoo artist’s favorite?

Bill loved doing the ballerina. He said he liked it because it was a very loose, ‘sketched’ tattoo. He said he does so many tattoos that have to be outlined and drawn just so, that it was nice to do a piece that didn’t have to/wasn’t made to look ‘perfect’.

Do I see more tattoos in my future?

DUH! Of course… My sister’s wedding is at the end of April so Willie and I both plan to get a few additions while were home [plus, that’s where my tattoo guy Bill is anyway]. I’ve got some ideas brewing, but nothing set in stone yet.

Well… I think that’s enough ink for one day.

Happy hump day!

XOXO

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2 thoughts on “Behind the ink

  1. Thanks for sharing your tattoos with us. You are right in that the tattoos we get should be meaningful in some way. I was a late bloomer, starting my inked journey at age almost 29 but I now have five and want more.

    I think a lot of people have false preconceived notions about people who have ink. I do have one question for you though: how do you reconcile your tattoos with your religion? Leviticus 19:28 is very clear that tattoos are ungodly. As I am an atheist I do not have a dog in that fight but I truly am curious. Not judging you or anything (and I know plenty of Christians who have tattoos) but I really am curious.

    Whatever the case, I hope you enjoy your ink for years to come.

    Like

    1. Hi inkedautist! Thanks so much for your interest and question. Yes, I know what God says about altering/inking your body… and honestly it was just a personal choice that I made. I serve my God to the best of my abilities and I feel the foundation of my faith and my relationship with Him is based upon far more and goes much deeper than the ink on my skin. Does that make it biblically moral or right? No… But like I said it was a personal choice I made.

      Like

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