PULSE: my first tattoo
I cannot remember exactly how old I was when I first became interested in tattoos, but my first memory of interest places me as younger than four. I was taking a shower with my aunt Liz. She has a tattoo of a fish on her outer thigh. She told me then that sometimes when she takes a shower the fish swims all the way around her waist. After that I was hooked. I knew from a very young age that I wanted pictures on me too!
I became interested in drawing and art increasingly throughout my teens. The internet was beginning to evolve. I would come home from school and spend hours each day searching through tattoo archives online, studying each image closely, and drawing tattoos that grabbed my eye. This was my first education in the principles of art and design.
I eventually ended up studying art and design in college. I collected piles of books filled with sketches, notes, and ideas of tattoos I might have one day. I recognized the permanence and intimacy of tattooing as a sacred thing; this was the only restraint holding me back from completely covering myself with beautiful images... and still is, although I feel that is about to change.
As a designer, I consider every aspect I can imagine about the meaning of a piece before I commit myself to it. For a plethora of reasons, I find this process exponentially more difficult with tattooing than with any other medium. I knew I wanted to be covered in ink, which meant to me that I needed to consider every inch of my skin as a continuous canvas. This began the arduous process of planning my life's opus: my full body tattoo.
That is one fucking exhausting task! It took me a long time but I eventually realized that thinking about tattooing in this manner is not only daunting; it is largely unproductive and boring.
I needed a tattoo, NOW! I needed to stop planning it, I needed to let go and just fucking do it.
At this time a very special person entered my life. This person had the ability to transform the way I thought about everything. We fell in love. One evening we got some sewing needles, rubbing alcohol, and india ink. We made some quick templates.
That night I received my first tattoo from the person I love. The design mattered to me, but not nearly as much as having the experience of this beautiful person create the mark on my skin. To have a piece of the one I love carried with me forever through a medium which I consider sacred is an astounding feeling. That very night, I was also able to experience the only other thing which compares to this: I was able to mark my loved one in return, giving my first tattoo.
We spent eight hours poking each other with needles that evening. I tattooed, on ze, an abstracted image of the moon. Ze tattooed the word PULSE onto my forearm.
What a release. We were able to capture so much of what we felt about life and each other quickly, permanently, on our own. We were able to let go, stop planning everything, stop controlling everything, simply trust and live. After studying the art of tattooing my whole life I was finally finally finally able to begin to have a glimpse at what the experience, the art itself, truly means
That night was three years ago now, but every day since I have been able to look down at my wrist and run my fingers over a thin piece of flesh to feel my heart beat. Upon lifting my fingers I read PULSE. Simple text, but to me it represents so much: a celebration of life and the memory of someone overwhelmingly dear to me.
Kegan and I are no longer partners, but I still love ze. I still carry a piece of ze with me everyday and I know that I am with them. I know that the experiences we shared together will never leave my memories; I have a physical reminder that I can touch and feel. No matter how many miles are between us or how long it has been since we have seen each others faces, I know all I have to do is feel my heart beat, to know that I am alive and so is Kegan and we are still together on this lonely planet.
I still plan on covering my body with ink... I just needed to start the right way, our way.
* NOTE: It’s time for me to be hypocritical. I do not recommend people tattooing themselves without professional training. If you absolutely must do it, please do your homework and sterilize everything.
submitted by: velo
on: 18 Nov. 2010
in Lettering Tattoos