So you’re thinking of getting a tattoo.
Don’t do it!
Who am I to tell you how to live your life?
However, for what it’s worth, I will give you a little insight into my thoughts and some thoughts from a few others on what drove them to get that first piece of skin art and whether they regretted it or not.
You see, I have this yearly ritual right around the time of my birthday (June 2nd, if you want to send gifts) where I get the urge to get another tattoo.
It’s that time of year for me, and probably for most Minnesotans, that is the start of the best season. Summer.
With the changing of the weather and another spin around the sun, I’m also thinking about where I’m at in life, what changes happened over the past year and what I’m focusing on for the next.
With all this “introspective insight”, also comes the urge to mark that moment, that point in time, that change in season and for me, that means a new tattoo.
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing someone with a well thought out tattoo sleeve or back piece. Even a well placed little quote that means so much to them. You know, a cohesive theme to their body ink.
But that’s not me, not in the least bit. You see for me, a tattoo is a moment in time, a reminder of what I was feeling or where I was at that point in my life. So I can look at it years later and be transported back to where I was, where my mind was. You know, that time when I thought it would be a good idea to get a “Gemini” tattoo on my back. Ugh. I don’t even believe in astrology.
But I can still remember that I was 20 years old, living on my own and wanted to show off my independence by getting some ink. I flipped through the pages of tattoos at the parlor and couldn’t find anything I liked until I saw the Gemini symbol and thought “yeah, that’s me.” Ahhh, youth.
I love tattoos. I love good tattoos. I love bad tattoos. I love that someone is willing to put a piece of art on their skin and wear it for the rest of there lives. I love that, for the most part, tattoos have become an accepted social norm in our culture. But there is something that drives some people to get that first poke of ink and for others to completely shy away.
For me it was that show of independence. For Steve it was the aesthetic and the ability to say something without even having to open his mouth. For Jenna it was a reminder of “choice” and for “family.”
I asked Steve what his least favorite tattoo is and without hesitation he said “The Sturgis, North Dakota tattoo on the back of my leg.” But even a bad tattoo usually has a good story. Steve rolled into the Sturgis motorcycle rally and ended up connecting with legendary bike builder Roland Sands. They got a long so well that for whatever reason thought it would be a good idea to get matching tattoos. And of course in Steve like fashion, he was able to trade the cost of the tattoo for a longboard, which obviously makes for a great story, so it all worked out in the end.
My favorite tattoo seems to correlate with my most recent tattoo. Thus my new favorite is the “39 skateboard” tattoo I got this summer in Portland. As documented in my 39 Days of Skating video, I wanted to commemorate that experience by permanently carrying it around with me for the rest of my life. So when my 11 year old son and I were in Portland this summer, I had him quick sketch up a picture of the number 39 riding a skateboard. For the rest of my life, I’ll be able to remember what it was like to put myself through that.
Steve and I have a lot in common and our appreciation for what's new is what's good, runs thick. His most recent tattoo was drawn from a new friend in Whales, England (Jodie) who bought an IVY board. Steve reached out to her to thank her for the purchase and she had hand drawn an image of many of the visuals that represents IVY to her. It struck a chord with Steve and he asked her if she could draw him a tattoo. He gave her a little bit of direction and she ran with it. For Steve, it's the power of art and how it can bring people together that makes this tattoo stand out for him.
So whether a tattoo for you is that first step into independence, a spur of the moment decision to remember a budding friendship or a way to show your personal aesthetic to the world, it is a choice that only you can make and one that you will live with for the rest of your life (and yes, I am aware of cover up tatts and laser removal).
Go out, get some ink and forever live with that memory.