life, The Daily Post

Tattoo… me

Flock of birds tattoo on shoulder

Tonight I’m going to the ballet with Su, and I’m really excited about it! We are going to see La Sylphide, a very old ballet set in Scotland.

I had never heard about this ballet, but one of my colleagues had free tickets and she couldn’t attend, so I took them instead. Let’s see, I might write about it on Friday if I think it’s worth a post… Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the ballet is awesome, but since I won’t be able to take notes, I might not remember enough details to write about it; that, and I also know nothing about ballet!

I saw they were asking about tattoos in today’s prompt on The Daily Post, Tattoo….You?, and asking what our tattoo means if we have one (and what we would get tattooed if we don’t have one). I don’t know how much I’ve talked about my tattoos (or showed you!), but since it’s a topic I really like, I thought I would write about it.

Did you know I have five tattoos? Yes, five.

My first tattoo was done many years ago, back in Madrid. I can’t remember when I had it done exactly, but I remember I just wanted one. My mum came to the tattoo parlour with me, because she wanted to make sure I went to a good place (even though I was legally allowed to go on my own, due to my age) and I browsed through the folders and found a hummingbird I really liked and booked the appointment. It’s on top of my hipbone and I’ve had it forever. It’s not an original tattoo, but I love it because despite it being a black shape (it’s a bit on the tribal side), it still looks delicate and I only really show it when I’m wearing a bikini, so it’s cool. When people ask me about my tattoos, it’s my hidden one, the one I always say: that one I can’t show you… My brother kept me company while I had it done.
Hummingbird tattoo on my hip
This is a very tiny picture I’ve cropped from one of those Before-After photos for health stuff and weight loss. After I had the tattoo done, I did some more research into hummingbirds and found out the Aztec god of war, Huitzilopochtli (good luck pronouncing that!) was a hummingbird. My name is similar to Marte, the Spanish name for Mars (both planet and god, and both related to war), even though it is not related to it. My horoscope is also quite the warrior, so I don’t know, it sort of made sense I was drawn to this little bird. Or maybe I was just justifying my decision!

After that, I had a tattoo done on my back. I was already living in London and I booked an appointment for when I went next to Madrid. I wanted a phoenix, because coming to London had helped me get rid of my past and feel like I had been reborn from my ashes. The whole keep fighting, and all that… I searched online and found a photo of a tribal phoenix that I really liked, which I altered it a bit to suit my taste. It’s done just below my last cervical vertebrae or around there. Getting this tattoo was horrible. My dad was very interested in tattoos (was toying with the idea of getting one), so he came to keep me company. The feeling I felt on my back while I had this one done was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt. I could feel the vibration all along my spine and I kept on getting cold sweat and nausea. Finally, my dad went out to buy me some food and drink, but I had to keep asking the artist to take a break, because I couldn’t take it. These days, I pretty much forget it’s there, because I never get to see it, it being on my back, but I like when it shows while wearing open-back tops and dresses. On another note, I think seeing this tattoo being done put my dad off tattoos forever!
Tribal phoenix on my back
It looks pretty raw because it was just done. The photo was taken by my dad at the tattoo shop!

It was a while until I got my third one. I got it in a tattoo shop here in London. I was going through a rough patch, and I was a bit fed up with people taking advantage of me. This tattoo was a bit of an impulse, but a planned one. I found a quote I really liked and felt right for the feeling I wanted on my skin, changed the wording slightly and made a design, mulled it over and finally decided to go and get it done.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” by E.E. Cummings

The artist told me to have it done bigger than I wanted, which I finally agreed to, and then he insisted on having done across the arm, instead of in line (it might not make sense, but you’ll see in the photo) as I wanted, to which I didn’t agree. He was a bit annoyed at me, and told me I was going to regret it, but I said to go ahead anyway. I love my arm tattoo. A lot of people misread the ampersand as an s, which is a bit annoying (shave courage, anyone?), so I’m considering reworking the ampersand only, to make it clearer, but it doesn’t bother me too much. It’s the one I see the most, and every time I see it, it reminds me of who I am, and who I want to be.
After, I had my birds done. It’s a very common and very girly type of tattoo, but I don’t mind. I love my birds! I found a photo of a flock online, and I made it into black and white and into basic silhouettes to bring to the artist. This one I got it in Madrid, during a holiday. My friend Sergio kept me company, because I went to his friend’s shop. These birds represent freedom for me. I love them because they look very delicate.
Flock of birds tattoo on shoulder
My last tattoo is the most important of them all. I had it done in December 2014 (on the Spanish equivalent day of April’s Fools, by a Spanish guy!). I had been in talks with the artist for almost a year, until we finally had a design I liked and the money to get it done. It took four hours to get it done, the four longest hours ever! By the end, my arm was so sore, my skin feeling so raw, that I almost had tears in my eyes, but I managed to get through it, and I’m very proud of myself. The piece is an actual work of art, and the tattoo artist very talented. This tattoo represent me, my family, my hobbies. It showcases my parents, my brother, places I love (and friends), my love for photography and writing, and my life goal of finding my way, no matter what. Everybody comments about this tattoo, even strangers on public transport, and I love wearing cute tops or dresses that show my half sleeve, because I love displaying it. Even though it’s biggish, it still looks girly and beautiful, and I love it.
Another red-looking one, because again, it was just photographed at the shop!

After that one was done, I felt the soreness for quite a long time, so I decided to not have any other tattoos for a while. It’s now August, and I’m already thinking about the next one!

My parents have never loved me getting tattoos, and they still believe I’m sort of damaging my body for no reason. They have sort of tolerated all my previous tattoos, but they didn’t really like this last one. Sure, they thought it was pretty, but way too big. Whenever I get a new tattoo they ask me when I’m going to stop, and the truth is I don’t know, probably never.

To me, tattoos are part of who you are, they are a form of expression that nobody but you needs to like or understand. I accept that not everyone likes them, and that some people might still see them as lower class or something like that, but they are pieces that represent different periods of someone’s life. Sure, TV programmes like Tattoo Fixers show us the many people who never think before they ink and end up with stupid tattoos that need cover up, but that is also something that happens in life, we all make mistakes. Some mistakes, we can easily fix, like changing one’s hair colour, but other mistakes are not so easily corrected, or even we may not want to. My tattoos are not mistakes. I can understand to some extent how some people might see it as we’re destroying our body, but to me that’s not the case, I am actually enhancing it with a piece of art and as art, liking a tattoo is subjective.

It is said we get addicted to the tattoos, to the pain inflicted, and that’s why we all end up getting more. I don’t particularly enjoy the pain, although I see it as a form of personal accomplishment. Sitting through four hours of a needle piercing my skin is certainly proof of endurance, especially since I didn’t pass out or needed a break. What really draws me to get more tattoos is the final piece on my skin. I look at them, or look at myself in the mirror, and I find them beautiful, and I know they belong to me. I can see how it was not only the tattoo itself, but the whole experience, from the state of mind that prompted me to get a new piece, or the theme chosen, to the conversations with the artist finding the right design, followed by the process of actually getting it done, and then healing it carefully, until you can finally display it as a part of you.

I think the reason why people are so averse to tattoos is because they’re mostly purely aesthetical. People change their body for many reasons that are more widely approved: someone who doesn’t like their nose, for example. Having even a more widely and natural change, pregnancy changes your body forever, yet women keep doing it. I can imagine some of you might shocked I compared a tattoo with a new life… Sure, a tattoo is permanent (and a child, of course), but so are other things people do to themselves (not necessarily the result of psychological issues). Just because it’s merely aesthetic, people are more prone to judge.

I’m planning on getting more tattoos. I’m not planning on looking great when I grow old… I’ve been quite lazy for most of my life, I was a smoker for maybe 10 years, and the food I’ve been ingesting for the last 30-something years hasn’t been particularly healthy. I know I’m going to be sagging and I’m going to lose muscle mass and I won’t look great in a bikini anymore, but having tattoos in my old age is not something that worries me. Reaching an old age with as many of my own teeth as possible does. Or with good sight. Or with the ability to move my muscles without pain. Anything else, who cares?

I keep looking online for inspiration, and of course, I use Pinterest for most of my current ideas and styles, you can see my tattoo board below:

True, finding a job might prove difficult if you have visible tattoos, depending on the industry. I know I don’t want to work in banking or similar, and being a tattooed shop assistant nowadays doesn’t shock many people. I am, however, a creative person and hopefully my career will continue along the lines of creativity, so having visible tattoos doesn’t worry me too much in that field either. I think, however, that being the best at what you do, dressing apropriately for a professional situation, displaying good manners and good hygiene, will always trump appearance. Maybe I’m naive, but I have never personally suffered from showing my tattoos in a work environment, even in front of clients; but then again, I don’t have ugly pieces of work, or have never gone into a tattoo shop while drunk or asked a friend to ink me.

Maybe the secret is to consciously make and plan the decision to get inked, and then own it.

What about you? Do you have any tattoos? Are you planning to get one (or more)?