I am finally dedicating an entire blog post to all of my tattoos. I'm 21 years old, and I've been getting tattoos since the day I turned 18. I am a very impulsive tattoo lover- when I decide on a tattoo, I tend to get it almost immediately. I don't spend months and months, meticulously mapping out my body, and contemplating if I want the tattoo or not. For me, it's relatively instantaneous- I know when I want something, and I don't hesitate. Now, with something as permanent as a tattoo, I don't necessarily recommend my mentality, but that's simply the way I am. Currently, I have 10 tattoos, and I have miraculously managed to not regret any of them! Some of my tattoos have stories and important messages behind them, while others, I simply liked the way they looked. I don't think tattoos need to have a deep-rooted meaning- I see tattoos as artwork, and I like decorating my body.
I am not going to be talking about the "pain-scale"- it's a tattoo, of course it's going to hurt. Some hurt more than others, and some areas of the tattoo hurt more than other areas of the tattoo. The body is a plane of nerves, and everyone's body is a little bit different. Whether you get a tattoo on your arm or your ribs, it's going to hurt. I don't recommend getting (or not getting) a tattoo placed somewhere based on pain- the pain is very temporary, but the tattoo is forever. Don't get a tattoo if you are not prepared for it to hurt.
The first tattoo I ever got was a little outline of a heart, on my ring finger. There's no real meaning behind this tattoo- I'd heard this old story that the ring finger is known as the ring finger, because people once believed that there was an invisible thread connecting that finger to the heart. Hence why it is an outline of a heart.
This tattoo never healed quite right, and not because I didn't take care of it. The finger is a tricky place to get tattooed- ink fades quicker, because you use your hands a lot, and there were small areas of that finger where the ink never quite "stuck". I even got it touched up once. I still love this tattoo- it was my first tattoo, so I wanted something small, and I've always loved it.
My second tattoo was the planetary system on my shoulder. I got this tattoo for a multitude of reasons- firstly, I wanted to declare that Pluto was a planet. Now, regardless of scientific evidence that Pluto is too small to be a planet, it was in the original 9-planet solar system, so I wanted to include it.
I also liked the play on words, "I've got the world(s) on my shoulder..."
Mostly, I got this piece done because the solar system could be tattooed in a linear fashion, and I thought it would look beautiful going down my shoulder. And I still absolutely love this tattoo.
My third tattoo went on my ribs. It's a quote that says, 'we will never be here again.'
This is a quote that Achilles said to Briseis, in Troy, the movie based on The Iliad. The longer quote says (and I'm writing this from memory),
"The gods envy us.
They envy us because we are mortal,
because any moment could be our last.
Everything is more beautiful,
because we are doomed.
You will never be more beautiful than you are right now,
and we will never be here again."
I first heard this quote when I was 14, and I absolutely loved the message. I thought it was a beautiful homage to existentialism. Every single moment of our life is a fleeting one- we will never be in this exact place, in this exact time, in this exact moment ever again. Moments are gone, even as they begin. And I think that is so beautiful. 'Here' can mean any number of things. We should stop and enjoy these moments, because we will never be here again.
My next tattoo is my only color tattoo, and likely the only color tattoo I will ever get. This tattoo is dedicated to my childhood in Japan.
In Japan, the school year starts in April, which is also when the cherry blossoms bloom. I always loved April as a kid- cherry blossoms were always a sign of a fresh, new start. Similar to how September can feel like a new beginning for American schools, that was April in Japan. It was a time when the flowers were in full bloom, the cherry blossoms would paint the world pink, and everything felt brand new.
While watercolor tattoos are not exactly my style, I knew that I could not get cherry blossoms tattooed on my body without dedicating them in full color. I got it on my hip, relatively hidden, because the style doesn't go with the rest of my tattoos.
This little tattoo is the molecule for serotonin. If you follow my blog, you will know that my brain is riddled with mental illnesses, including severe depression. I've been on-and-off medication for years now (including a lot of Zoloft / Sertraline), so I got the molecule for serotonin tattooed on my arm.
This tattoo was my own design- I created a molecule with flowers growing out of it, because I wanted, needed to remind myself that at the end of depression, life can grow back.
It's like an atomic bomb: even after the world is left destroyed, life always finds a way to grow again. And I have to remind myself that depression is the same- even when my depression leaves me feeling empty and destroyed, this tattoo reminds me that life can grow back again.
This is one of my most powerful tattoos.
The little mountain tattoo is actually Mt. Fuji, in Japan. This was my second dedication to Japan, although it doesn't have as deep of a meaning. As a kid, I remember on a clear day, you could look out the windows at school and see Mt. Fuji in the distance.
When my family went on vacation to Hakone, we would also take the cable cars, and you could see Mt. Fuji. I just have nice memories of Mt. Fuji.
I got the word 'mine' tattooed on my body, because I wanted to brand myself. I decided that I never wanted to belong to someone else. After learning that love and possession were not the same thing, I decided to brand myself as mine, because I never wanted to be another person's possession again. I belong to myself.
Fun fact, in the mirror, it spells out WINE! That was a happy accident.
While the roses on my arm are my most noticed / commented on tattoo, they are actually one of the least meaningful.
Don't get me wrong, I love this tattoo. But the roses on my arm were done purely for aesthetic reasons. I absolutely love how they look, especially with my sleeves rolled up, and a little bit of the flowers peeking out. I think this tattoo is beautiful, but there's no story behind it.
My final two tattoos, I actually just received yesterday, which is what fueled this whole blog post!
The little strawberry is my dedication to my mom. She is Chinese, and her name is Mei, which means strawberry in Chinese (caomei). Ever since I was a little kid, my mama has been telling me that she's a strawberry, so I thought this was a sweet gesture.
I love my mom so much, and I want her with me, always.
My other new tattoo is dedicated to my dad. When I was about 14-15 years old, he called me a turnip as a joke, and it stuck.
This is a reference from Umberto Eco's novel, "Name of the Rose". There is this master, who has an apprentice named Adso, and whenever Adso says something stupid, the master calls him a turnip.
For years now, my dad has been calling me Turnip, or Turnip Sprout, and I have been calling him Papa Sprout. It's this silly, inside joke that's been going on between us for years, so I dedicated this tattoo to my dad.
The idea is similar to addressing a letter,
"Love, your daughter" or
...but instead, it says,
"Love, Turnip" in my handwriting.
This is probably one of my favorite tattoos now, because I love how silly the story behind it is.
I also received a direct message, asking me to share my aftercare tips for new tattoos.
Honestly, my aftercare is very, very simple. For the first two weeks, wash it 2-3 times a day with mild soap and water, and regularly use unscented lotion to keep it moisturized.
When it starts scabbing, don't pick at it. Keep it clean, and otherwise leave it alone, and you should have a beautifully healed tattoo.
If you are local, and looking for a tattoo shop to get work done, I am going to direct you to Steady Tattoo in Minneapolis. Almost all of my tattoos were done here, and the tattoo artist David has done most of my work.
I've definitely caught the tattoo bug again- I want to finish my half-sleeve now, so maybe I will aim to do that in the next year.
I hope you enjoyed this little post! I often forget about my tattoos (believe it or not), but writing this post, and taking the time to re-photograph them has given me new love for my artwork. I enjoyed doing this!