… yeah, they hurt. And yes, they are permanent.
I got two new tattoos done last month and quite a few of my friends were impressed. They weren’t impressed so much with the design of them; it wasn’t too late until I realised that art is subjective (a bunch casually mentioned that my tattoo artist apparently didn’t know “how to draw circles”). What they were taken with was that I put myself through some intense discomfort to have stuff drawn permanently on prominent parts of my body, and was completely okay doing it.
When I got my first tattoo, I did so only after sketching the design on different areas- wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulder bones and whatnot- for two years. I sketched not only on my body but on the bodies of my friends as well, while we’d be sipping coffee at a cafe or wasting time in the back bench of a classroom. Only when I was fully satisfied that my obsession with the design wouldn’t fade, and that I wouldn’t regret getting the tattoo done later, did I go ahead with getting it done on my ankle.
Alcohol had a bigger role to play in this than I’m letting on.
Skip to two years later, and I’m playing with a concept for a fourth tattoo. Much has changed in this time. For one, I realised that the meaning behind the tattoo has nothing to do with actually getting it one. That’s not to say that senseless tattoos are a good idea, but as the adage goes, a bad idea executed well is better than a great idea executed poorly. If you’re taking my advice, a well-designed tattoo without a meaning is a smarter choice than a tattoo that has loads of meaning but looks like shit.
It’s better to have it this way because tattooing isn’t so much about sentiment as it is about art. If you think about your body as a canvas, a tattoo is the art that goes on it. It may or may not convey a message that you deeply connect with, but it does decorate your body with an aesthetic that no piece of jewellery can; it decorates your body with character.
Overtime, just like friends that you’ve known for many years, your tattoos became a part of your soul fabric, even if your relationship with them has changed.
Regarding the permanence of it, and how much it scares people from getting a tattoo- nothing in life is permanent. Tattoos take on a significance as the years pass. They may not mean the same thing you intended when you first got the tattoo. Overtime, just like friends that you’ve known for many years, your tattoos became a part of your soul fabric, even if your relationship with them has changed.
Of course, people have multiple reasons for getting tattoos, and this post far from covers it. Indigenous peoples, in particular, have a historical legacy with tattooing. It’s a connection that far surpasses the modern urban world’s approach to tattoos. Some other people have memorial tattoos for people or pets, while others tattoo symbols of their passions. Whatever the reason, don’t let the meaning or the permanence of a tattoo hold you back.