I wrote about my first tattoo story for Emily Gould’s collection. The story behind the tiger tattoo (my second, probably final one) is under the jump.
Photoset with 3 notes
"Well I just got my first tattoo a couple months ago, after waiting something like a decade to act on the idea. Since then (two months ago) I’ve gotten three more – and those three were all done in just the last week. I think I’m officially hooked. I don’t honestly have a lot of meaning behind my first tattoo, I mean I’ve always had a happy fascination with birds and I feel like they are some of the most free creatures on the earth. However, there is no particular reason I got five of them or any reason they are crows (I guess, they look like crows in silhouette). I just randomly ran across the sketch online one day, as someone else’s tattoo idea, and loved it.
After deliberating for nearly a decade, I thought I had a first tattoo idea that I would be happy with for the rest of my life, and just kept putting it off for no reason. My original idea actually ended up being my third and fourth tattoos (I’ve included a picture of them too, since they relate in a way), not my first. The decision to get these birds was made in about a day, maybe two, and I’m very pleased with them despite the suddenness of my choice. Impulsive as the decision may have been, I am definitely glad I waited until I was a bit more mature to start getting tattoos. I feel like I’m less likely to get something I’ll regret someday. I love them all dearly!
Time to start planning for the fifth! :]”
I was 19 when I gave myself this tattoo, on my ankle, with a safety pin, some thread and Windsor & Newton ink. I chose “S” for my mom’s name, Susan. While it seemed really poignant then and even in the following years, whenever I notice it now I am surprised by how blurry it’s gotten and how all-around homemade it looks. The vivid memory I have of laboring over it in a friend’s apartment late at night, my leg bent under me at a weird angle, is much clearer than the tattoo itself, this supposedly permanent thing. And while I thought this was a good way to honor my mother’s memory, now ten years later I think she would probably react with equal parts laughter and shudder at my teenage memorial. I don’t look at it very often, it is a vestigial part of me, but I still sort of love it for it’s flawedness and the purity of it’s original sentiment.
(my apologies for bum cleavage photo)
For me, I tend to do crazy things to myself when I’m depressed. Usually they’re less permanent, like cutting my hair really short. Even my hairstylist knows that if I go in and demand them to do weird things to my hair, I’m going through some sort of emotional crisis.
And suffice to say, in the leadup to my first (and only, so far) tattoo in mid-2009, I was feeling like things weren’t going right with the world, that I was very caged in, that I was very trapped… So I thought of getting a tattoo, an idea that I had been thinking of since I was 18 but never did since I never settled on something I felt I would love. (I was then 25)
Idly, I started looking around on the Internet for ideas, and I came across a tattoo of a broken cage… and I knew that was it. The idea formed in my head - I wanted a cage starting from my lower back, with a bird breaking free and flying up around to my front.
I got my tattoo artist’s contact from an ex-colleague, and dragged my best friend down to the tattoo studio. He was there inking another guy when we started discussing, and I’m SURE he thought that we were just there to fool around because he sent us back home that day.
But that night, after I thought further about it and was surer than ever I wanted my tattoo, I emailed him with my images and concept, telling him that I did appreciate his feedback, but ultimately I knew what I wanted. He mailed me back saying that he’s glad I knew exactly what I wanted and that he would sketch something for me.
His sketch made me fall in love at first sight, and the inking was done with very little fuss the next week. I went back home, unpeeled the wrappings, admired it in the mirror, and then broke down and cried because getting this done was very carthartic, and at that point in time it was the first selfish thing that I had done for myself in a very long while.
Looking back, I’m stunned with my own bravery, how huge my first tattoo is. To me, it will always be a reminder to never be caged willingly, to push forward for bigger things. It is a reminder of how brave I can be if I want to be, and it has served as my inspiration for many other things in life.
Over the past year, I’ve received many compliments about my ink, but the best one came from my little brother who was first stunned into silence, probably by its size, but he recovered and said the following words: “I’m so proud of you. You finally went to do it, it’s something that you’ve wanted to do for ages.”
Photoset with 4 notes
"my first tattoo (the snail looking thing) was on a whim. my best friend in high school wanted to get me a tattoo for christmas (i was 18) and we walked into the tattoo shop, i doodled this, and then had it tattooed. it cost 30 dollars. those are my initials there at the bottom right, ha!
the second tattoo you see here is not my second, but it’s of harpo marx from the movie duck soup and i wanted to share because that woman posted her harpo tattoo earlier!”
Tattoo Date: March 2010
I love my first Tattoo. It holds so many meanings for me and whoever has seen it; it simply means for me anyway: You are the roots of your creation. I’ve heard others say “you are your own creator” and one that I particularly love “You can only be as strong when you let yourself”. Either way I am glad that others take my art into a whole different level for themselves. That in a nutshell is why art, any mediums of art, is worth more than any money can buy.
In the interest of minimal self-exposure I tried at first to take a photo of this, my first (and only) tattoo, which did not include any nipple, chest, or face action. But then I realized that you kinda need to see the gator in relation to my body to get that it’s in the same place it’d be on a shirt, and then also realized that I’m not interested in minimizing self-exposure, and also remembered that the whole point of getting this tattoo in the first place was to draw attention to my nipple anyway, which is my favorite part of my body. And I’ve already bared my boobs to the internet so why get coy now?
Anyhow, I got this tattoo like four years ago, at the tail end of my first attempt at living in Los Angeles. My friend Eva was visiting from NY and we talked about doing something fun and outrageous together. For weeks our plan had been to get our assholes bleached at Pink Cheeks in Sherman Oaks, the birthplace of anal bleaching. But the closer we got to our date with destiny the more terrifying and the less hilarious the idea seemed. We eventually settled on me getting a tattoo. (Eva already had a few.) If anything motivated me to get a tattoo then, and not any other time, it really was my desire for something memorable and/or funny to occur during Eva’s visit.
I had been joking about getting a Lacoste alligator tattoo above my left boob probably since high school. I always said I wanted one in a tone of dead earnest, but I wasn’t sure if I really did. I was never really sure what I thought about tattoos at all. Wasn’t the body God Gave Me good enough? (The answer, of course, is “NO.”)
In any case, I’d always sensed I didn’t take myself seriously enough to get a “cool” tattoo, something tribal or profound or even genuinely beautiful. That didn’t seem like me, to me.
But nor did I want a “joke” tattoo, which is what most people see my tattoo as.
But it’s not funny, or a joke, to me. According to family lore, my mother used to drive out to East Williamsburg in the early 80s to buy Polo and Izod shirts for all of her three boys from Hasidic merchants, in bulk. We were dressed in snug, deliciously nipple-teasing pique from a very young age. Even in adolescence, as I started dressing rebelliously—at first by dressing slobbily, then by dressing in my idea of vintage cowboy shirt cool—I maintained a selection of (now thrift-store, off-brand) polo shirts as part of my wardrobe. Though technically Catholic, culturally I was born and raised a privileged WASP, and there was always only so far I could outrun those roots without feeling like a fraud.
Also, the gator kinda looks like my home not-a-state of Long Island, so there’s that. Double bonus authenticity points.
So we found a good place on Sunset just east of Hollywood and I told the lone artist on duty what I wanted. He looked at me like I was the douchiest douchebag he’d ever met. The black and white computer printouts of the Lacoste gator were not, it turned out, sufficient for him to use as a model, and there were a couple moments where it appeared that he was going to tell me to give up my dream of getting tattooed that night and just go home. But then he remembered that a guy he knew who worked across the street had Lacoste sneakers and before I knew what was happening he’d left us in charge of the store and was bolting across Sunset.
He returned with a single tennis sneaker with the Lacoste gator on it. (His friend must’ve had a spare pair of shoes with him?) He sketched a suitable pattern, had me step outside across the street to swig a shot of liquor with Eve, and then put me in the chair. I loved the process—the needles, the color, the blood—but everyone who enjoyed their tattoo-getting experience does, and talks about it, so I’ll skip ahead, pausing only to report that it was clear the tattoo artist had gradually fallen in love with my tattoo, the one he’d at first thought was nothing short of shit-tastic. He kept bopping his head, getting more and more excited by the tattoo as he made it, and even started soliloquizing about his earliest memories of the Lacoste gator.
It’s in need of a touch up—a little patch of color has faded back to flesh—but I like it pretty good. From a distance it looks kinda like a green mole or sarcoma. A couple years back there was a feature (on Gawker?) about people (losers!) who got brand names or corporate logos tattooed on their body. It’s either a testament to the depth of my feelings for the Lacoste gator symbol or just to my stupidity, but thinking about it as a brand honestly never crossed my mind. Which is itself kinda embarrassing.
But oh well.
Photo with 5 notes
"I was raised an Orthodox Jew so when my parents found out I was a lesbian, they were shocked/angry/mean/vindictive.They stopped talking to me and I was devastated. It was a crazy time in my life. But I also felt so happy and free, probably for the first time since I was a really little kid. My (now ex) girlfriend and I got these matching tattoos - it means “beloved” and comes from a verse in Song of Songs that Jewish hetero couples use all the time at weddings, on invitations, etc: “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.” I obviously totally felt the sentiment towards my girlfriend, but it also felt deliciously transgressive to get a tattoo of a word from biblical verse in Hebrew celebrating my love for another woman.
My First Tattoo
Artist: Caleb Pritchett (7th Street Tattoo’s) Little Rock, AR
I love this tattoo! I decided to get a tattoo, because my husband (who had a few of his own) was home for a few days before getting shipped to Iraq for a year. It was also close to my birthday so my husband told me he would get me a tattoo for a present.
I’d been trying to figure out what I wanted for a while already, and I finally decided to get Harpo Marx tattooed on my arm. I grew up watching the Marx brothers, and I’d always loved watching Harpo. I had just finished reading his autobiography, “Harpo Speaks”, and falling in love with him all over again.
I had a lot of reservations about getting a portrait tattoo, especially for my first time, but I had faith in the artist and I have to say, I don’t think anyone else could have gotten it as perfect as this. I’m still trying to decide on what I want to add to this arm and it’s been two years since I got this one.
I need to pick up the pace though, he’s looking pretty lonely.
First (four) tattoos. My artist friend was supposed to design this grand tattoo for me. In the meantime, I wanted my first tattoo. Stars seemed safe. I put them on my arm, because I never go sleeveless. At least I didn’t in the 90s.
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