What My Tattoos and Being Tattooed Means to Me

Everyone has their own reasons for modifying their body, from lip fillers to split tongues and tattoos- ain't nothing wrong with any of it, as long as it's not harmful to anyone else (and how could it be).

My mum always knew I wanted to be tattooed, since I was about twelve (so you'd think the first one wouldn't have been a shock, right? Wrong. Hahaha), she's always supported me on my quest to colouring in everything and doodling my life away so art and illustration has always happily been a cornerstone of my identity.

My teenage years were probably the most radically changing years that I've lived through so far (I know, I'm only in my v. early 20's), but growing into your own skin is a tough deal for anybody! Before I even knew what it was to be 'uncomfortable in my skin' I'd wanted to get tattooed, not because I hated something about myself and wanted to change it but because I thought tattoos were beautiful. How amazing that we can put art under the surface of our skin

I think for a long time my mind dwelled on 'tattoos are art that you get to carry around forever'- quite romanticised in my head. The novelty of getting to keep a piece of art that eventually becomes a part of you and something people think of when they think of you, forever, is really beautiful!

How amazing that we can put art under the surface of our skin?

Tattoos, to me, are an expression of who you are on the inside; art you like, music, memories on your skin and experiences that make you wholly you and nobody else. Going from growing up struggling with self esteem issues to learning that I can change my body to how I see myself on the inside without terrible diets or magic potions is a lot of the reason why I continue to get tattooed! Being tattooed is a way for me to line up who I feel like on the inside with how I look on the outside. 

Not all of my tattoos have meaning, it's not necessary for me to tie every picture to a time, place or person to live regret-free. The ones that don't have meaning are just as special to me as the ones that do.

There's a heart on my ankle with a drawing that my friend Milda did, she passed away a couple of years ago and having that tattoo with her doodles on me really helped me to move on, learning from her death and remembering her in times when I need a little crazy injected into my life (she was awesome). There's also a heart with a little dagger in under my right boob, I actually got this around Valentines Day for myself. Hollllaaaa self love.

On my left arm there are flowers in my favourite black and grey to symbolise my immediate family and growing together (though one more needs adding at some point for little Alfie!) then above that is a choppy print inspired tattoo of Hokusai's Great Wave. 

Did you ever read Michael Morpurgo's Kensuke's Kingdom as a kid?

I remember reading it in Year 5 and falling in love with the illustration on the cover, heavily inspired by Hokusai's Great Wave. The love of that illustration and the original woodcut followed me through life as I learned more and created more so I decided to get it tattooed! A few months later at a little seminar in my classroom a man came in to talk about his illustration career. It turned out to be the man who'd done that very illustration, Michael Foreman! How weird that I would ever meet him and get to bond over a piece of art from the 1800's. So although this tattoo didn't have a lot of meaning other than 'I really liked it' at the start, it's now got a really awesome lil story to go with it. 

I didn't spare myself of some terrible stick and pokes in my teens (much to mum's dismay) but I love them just as much as my professional pieces. That's probably slightly insulting to the artists out there hahaha, but again each tattoo is a little memory!

Remembering who did them, where, who I was at that time in my head is all part of the magic and I know full well in 20 years I may be somebody completely different on the inside, but if I take nothing else from these markings other than memories, reminders and art, I really doubt I'll regret even one! After all our bodies are just what we use to walk around in, eh? We should decorate them as wonderfully as we look after them and express ourselves however we like.

If you're thinking of getting one but don't know how to start, or what it feels like, you might like these posts!

Do you have tattoos? I'd loooove to hear what they mean to you! If you like to read about tattoos check out my interview with Céline, the woman with an incredible bodysuit.


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