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This past summer I watched a television series on Vice called Needles and Pins with Grace Neutral. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend watching it as your next tv series binge! Grace is a tattoo artist and activist with an interest in alternative beauty practices and pushing the world’s boundaries surrounding positive body image. Throughout her series she visits a number of different countries, investigating the different beauty and tattoo scenes. From watching the series, it is clear that the reason behind the ink is unique from person to person.
My tattoo experience
This year I got my first two tattoos. I’ve wanted tattoos for a number of years now but was never able to fully commit to one design. After cycling through a number of tattoo ideas I finally decided on two. I thought, why not get them both at the same time? So that’s exactly what I did.
Prior to sitting in the tattoo chair, I spent hours perusing tattoo shops, tattoo artists social media pages, and tattoo fonts. After a lot of research, I decided Oceanic Art was my spot. Josh, my tattoo artist, was amazing. He printed my tattoos at least 10 times before I was happy with them- I am “type A” person to say the least. Once printed, Josh took the time to position the tattoos until they were exactly where I wanted them- after all they don’t wash off! Not only was Josh attentive to detail, he was super calm and made the experience enjoyable.
Josh addressed all of the concerns I had and made the tattoo process almost completely painless. Josh kept me engaged in a meaningful conversation and told me stories about his tattoos, which made the time in the chair fly by. Thank you Josh for making my tattoo experience a positive one, and for sharing your tattoo stories with me.
Some powerful things Josh said while I was in the chair:
“I don’t get my own work tattooed on me, I find that kind of conceded. Think about it this way, an artist doesn’t typically hang their own artwork on their walls- they will feature other artists’ work that captivates and impresses them.”
“Not all tattoos have to have a deep meaning. A tattoo itself is a form of self-expression.”
“My tattoos tell my life stories. Some are funny, some are serious, and some are just symbols of memories I don’t want to forget.”
The story behind my tattoos:
I got a word on my forearm and a phrase on my inner bicep for my first two tattoos.
Meraki: A word used to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.
The word Meraki has resonated with me since I first discovered it’s meaning. I try to put my soul, creativity and love into all the things I do. I decided to place this word on my forearm as my arm helps me translate my soul, creativity, and love into work. I hope to always work with intention; always leaving a piece of myself in the work that I do. This tattoo is a daily reminder to do work that is aligned with my core values, and to make those values evident in the work I do.
Enjoy the little things: A phrase to draw importance to all the little things in life that contribute to the bigger picture.
I was raised to see the glass half full. I am definitely an optimist. I do my best, to focus on the positives and remain hopeful when things go awry. Enjoy the little things reminds me to appreciate all the little things in my life that bring me happiness, joy, good health, etc. Although these things may seem small or even meaningless at times, this tattoo makes me take a step back and appreciate all the positive things. I’ve grown up valuing the joy in the little things, which has helped me grasp the significance of the little things for others as well- something that may not seem like a big deal to you may be a big deal for someone else. This tattoo illustrates my admiration of all the things life has to offer- especially the small things, because those collectively contribute to the bigger picture.
How I approached my tattoos with my parents
So funny story- my younger sister actually cushioned this situation for me. Neive got her first tattoo when she spent a summer studying in Mexico at age 16. She decided to try and hide it from my parents; something that many people attempt to do after getting a tattoo. Although she put in a solid attempt, the lumberjack socks on her feet by our pool in the hot summer led my parents to ask questions. After the story was out, my parents handled the news quite well. They agreed that Neive is entitled to express herself however she likes, as it is her body. They advised us to be safe about tattooing and to do our research if that was something we wanted to get done. Our parents emphasized that tattoos are PERMANENT and that if we decided to get them done, they should be meaningful. Like most parents, our parents would probably prefer if we avoided permanent ink on our skin, but they love us either way.
I was upfront with my parents about wanting the tattoos. I also talked to my parents about the meaning behind the tattoos. I ran the concerns I had past my parents, they are good people to do this with, as they want you to be safe and make a good decision.
If you are interested in getting a tattoo, make sure you are doing it for you. If you are, and it is what you really want just be open about it. The people that love you will accept you for who you are- and you should never have to hide your self-expression whether that is on your skin or not. Plus, if you do hide it, they will find out eventually!
At the end of the day, the tattoo is for you- so if you like it, it is perfect. Tattoos shouldn’t have to be justified to anyone.
If you want one get one. If you are unsure, just wait until you are certain it’s what you want. Do your research- find an artist you like, or many artists (spread the love!). Get tattoos that are meaningful to you and do not sweat what it will look like 80 years from now- because it will look awesome on you no matter your age. Let your tattoos tell your story- lived experiences, fond memories, hardships, or the good times!
I personally love tattoos. I feel they are a great way to share a lifetime of stories on one canvas. I cannot wait to get the others that I want to add to my collection!
If you are in Nova Scotia looking to get tattooed, go to Oceanic Art. All the artists there are amazingly talented. I hope to get my future tattoos done there! Cool shop set up, rad people, talented artists- what more could you ask for? The answer is nothing :)
Stories behind the Ink
Public display of body art is becoming more prominent around the world- and I couldn’t be happier. Pushing the world’s boundaries about the ‘ideal’ beauty image is something I find super intriguing. Being unique is beautiful. Tattooed or not tattooed each person is beautiful. Respecting people’s desire to place art on their bodies is something I find incredibly important. Understanding the stories behind a person’s tattoo(s) can teach you a lot about a person. Let’s start learning.
There is so much more that can be said about tattoos and I love hearing and talking about it so please share your tattoo stories by commenting below or reach out via social media!
You are all beautiful people.
Stay kind my friends,