I just feel the need to think out loud for a little.
My one and only
In the Spring of 2007, I went out on a day of cancelled classes in mid-April and got a tattoo. I’d had the design for a few years and was very certain I would love it forever and ever. I went to a tattoo shop close to my university, walked in, haggled on the right size and placement, and got it done for $50 and some ridiculous tip. It probably wasn’t for a few months that I noticed how uneven the line work was. It wasn’t for a few years that I regretted the size and placement. At the time, it rested just above the slope of a bra cup. Now I don’t have any bras that cut that low! I had it touched up once and it didn’t go well, so it’s even more of a mess, though clearer than it was after a couple summers of sun damage from improper care. I still love the font and the tattoo as an idea, but it wasn’t well executed. I don’t regret it though, since I think it has helped me be a bit more objective about future permanent pieces I add to my body.
I’ve spent a lot of time since my mid-teens considering various tattoo designs. Here are a few that I could’ve sworn I was dead-set on and am now glad I did not commit myself to:
- a black heart outline on my lower abdomen near a hip (this was the first tattoo I ever wanted)
- bat/dragon-y wings on my back (yeesh, really glad I didn’t go for this, second tattoo I ever wanted)
- a Ukrainian tryzub (Google it)
I am still very aware of how each of my former tattoo plans suits me and have come up with ways to adjust the designs for something that seems a little more appropriate to me. For example, “hope” would’ve made a better chest piece with vines and scrolly kind of things, or maybe locks and keys (I love skeleton keys!), but I’m not sure it could be covered as it’s very low on my chest ><. I like the idea of wings still, but I’m not sure what kind of wings fit me best. I’ve considered dragonfly wings, fairly small, between my shoulder blades, but need to research more on their potential symbolism. The tryzub is a nod to my Ukrainian heritage (paternal grandfather), but on its own, it would look too much like a stamp. It would need some kind of embellishment or depth, or maybe a honey bee to go with it (my Didushka kept bees) to make it more meaningful and visually appealing.
Current plans & thoughts
I’ve been emailing back and forth with an artist since maybe October about a design involving an owl and a bald eagle, to represent my paternal grandparents. My grandmother told me that our family name and her maiden name are much like the Russian words for eagle and owl, respectively, and she loves the imagery of those birds. My grandfather was long represented as a bald eagle (being bald and a proud immigrant American) in our family. They built a successful life together in the United States, coming here with nothing after WWII, building a family and a home (literally, my grandfather designed and helped build their house out in the woods of Maine), and a legacy. I’m proud to be part of that family and want to commemorate the people who laid the groundwork for my life in so many ways. Immortalizing it in ink may seem odd to some people, but it’s a reminder I want to carry with me and see everyday, and share with other people as well, even if it’s just from something beautiful for them to look at.
That tattoo, however, is probably going to be quite large (think partial sleeve) and it’s been a long and slow process working with the artist I chose, going back and forth once a month on design revisions. Right now I’m waiting on the largest re-draw (most changes as well as increase in size) after not feeling comfortable with the lack of realism in the sketches. I’m excited about the potential for this tattoo, but a bit discouraged about the lack of regular updates from the artist. When I say once a month, I mean I literally have heard from her once a month since the initial drawing was sent to me in November. I’m not in a rush, I want to get this right, but part of me is very impatient to add this beauty to my person (despite concerns of budgeting, haha) as soon as possible! I feel nervous about not having a drawing I’m settled on, I suppose. [Edit] I just heard from the artist and she’s sending me a new drawing within the next few days sqquuuuuuuueeeeeeeeee (that would be a squeal of excitement).
So with all that uncertainty, I’m considering going to another artist to start/get something smaller. The tryzub and honey bee (which I’d be comfortable with getting pretty much anywhere on me) is the only solid idea I have right now, but I haven’t been tossing it around for that long. [Edit] And I just heard from the artist, so really, that’s a good sign for me to SLOW AND CALM DOWN. It’ll get done when it’s done, when I’m ready, and I’ll love it forever because that much more time, effort, and thought is going into it than my first one!
Perhaps one of these days I’ll write a post specifically on my thoughts about tattoos as a cultural thing and how they fit into our modern society. Inspired by Danielle from Sometimes Sweet’s Tattoo Tuesday.