Unicorn Kisses

1960 LindaSome of you might know I am a collector of Art; specifically I am a collector of body art or more commonly known as a Tattoo. I received my first tattoo when I was just 17, yes, I was underage but people weren’t quite as careful way back then. I don’t remember the shop but I still remember the why and the where.  Tattooing was different those many years ago and Crazy Charlie, though he did a great job and I had that tat for many a year, I long since covered it up.

Over the years, I have covered a few of my originals; sometimes I cover them simply because I want something new and sometimes because the meaning is no longer meaningful. I have never, not once walked into a shop where I didn’t know what I wanted, never looked at Tattoo flash and pointed at something and said, ‘put that on my body’. Everything inked onto my skin has meaning, most is custom designed from art I take into the shop with me, but sometimes it is concept art I have worked with an artist to design for me. All of my art is specific and personal.

I get there are people out there in the world who take great exception to my decoration. Some who even feel the need to express their opinions to me regarding my personal choice to tattoo my body. I find their need pathetic frankly, this being especially true given their contribution to my life otherwise. Some of my favorites from the otherwise non-contributing members of my life:

  • What will they look like when you are 80?

o   Who cares? You will not be here and it is likely those who love me will continue to love me whether my skin is inked and sagging or not.DSC_0262

  • You will go straight to hell (Leviticus 19:28).

o   According to the standard you are using for my eventual afterlife residence, so will you; see you there save a room for me, preferably not next door you judgmental twit.

  • No one will hire you with all those tattoos, you look like a cheap slut.

o   Really? How would you quantify whether I am cheap or not? Someone has to pay for my rather costly artwork.

During the course of my marriage, my desire for new art was a point of contention. In fact the words, ‘If you get a new tattoo, I will leave your ass’, were often said. I wonder, why the hell did he ever marry someone with ink if he felt that way? During our first separation, I got new ink. Within a month of his most recent departure, I got new ink again; in fact, I have been adding the ink I have been thinking about for a decade.

Now to my favorite part of being part of the approximately 21% of all adults who are Tattooed in the US today:

Does it hurt?

Why of course not it feels like Unicorn Kisses!

Who does my work? James Yokum of Saints and Sinners, I love them all, but he has finished two of the three pieces I have added since December. We are in the process of adding my largest piece ever, four sessions, with two down and the third starting tonight. Does it hurt? My friend and favorite photographer Christ Hanna (he continues to be my hero and did a fabulous job under less than ideal circumstances) of Posture Studios agreed to something slightly different in terms of a photo session, here are the results:

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The meaning of this piece, why she is important to me:

  • Gerber Daisy = Innocence
  • Peony = Healing, Compassion, also the Greek God of Healing (Paeon)
  • Peacock Feathers = Compassion, Wisdom, Knowledge; also, in ancient times used for writing of importance.
  • Sugar Skull = often used to celebrate lost loved one, in this case I have placed it where I have lost an entire part of my body feeling due to my injuries. I am celebrating I am still standing, living and whole despite it all. In effect, she is I.

Victorious, yes I am that though I might feel slighty overcome at this moment in time. This piece in particular reminds me I have overcome obstacles including being told I would never walk again, let alone dance in high-heels. I am learning though life can be hard I am Victorious it is simply a matter of slipping on my stilettoes sometimes and dancing.

Right Shoulder

The Wheel of Fortune (beautiful isn’t she) reminds me I cannot control everything, despite being a bit of control freak by nature. Outside influences may direct my life and I must learn to let go of both my expectations and my demands even while not becoming complacent.

Left Shouder

The last one, it is a bit more complicated. Suffice to say it is another victory symbol that allows me too remember I remain in charge of my destiny. I rise above the ashes of failure and I am my own knight in shining armor.

Left back shoulder

Does it hurt? Yes, it hurts. It is no worse than many other things that hurt. Some people say you will never meet a person with two tattoos. Either the pain is too much and you stop at one, or you fall in love (grow addicted) to the sensation. Some of us who collect ink, we also know there is a correlation between this level of pain, chocolate and one other thing all of which sends the same hormone to our brains, which might account for the rising number of women who are inked.

Other pieces I have added over the years:

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Ours don’t come as easily, you have to work for it. Do you know what I am talking about? Feel free to leave your guesses in the comments section.

Some History you might find interesting.

Smithsonian History of Tattoo

PBS: Skin Stories

A Brief History of Tattoos

Tattoo Statistics, Pew Research

Tattoo Statistics, Harris Research more comprehensive

Comments

  1. I had to come and give this post a read. Fascinating! And yes, I would imagine it would hurt. I take it unicorn kisses hurt, too. 🙂 Your tattoos are amazing.

  2. I find it interesting that for many, the attitudes about tats have changed. When I was growing up, back in the early 70s, tats were a guys only kind of thing, usually guys people called “rebels” or “troublemakers”. But, there was still a coolness about it. They might be rebels, but they were cool in that James Dean way. Women with tats were just Bad News (insert every derogatory remark about “easy” women here).

    Over the past decade or two, tats have lost a good deal of their negative reputation. Now, they seem to be on the verge of being exactly the opposite of what they once were: a sign of rebellion, a mark of being different. Now most everyone has one, and they’re almost a sign of conformity, rather than difference. One thing that has taken longer to change is the attitude about tats on women. Even now you hear talk of ‘tramp stamps’, etc.

    I guess I’ve never understood that double standard (actually, I can’t think of a double standard that I’ve ever understood). I could care less about how many tats someone has. I even have a dear friend who has his own tat business: Junkyard, Inc. He’s quite good. I do not actually have a tat. Not out of any disdain for them. More so because I’ve yet to find a design I’d want … and, ok, there’s the whole pain part.

    • I got my first in 1974, yeah bit of a rebel or a bit ahead of my time. Been collecting ever since. I don’t find they hurt that much, but yes they hurt. The double standard, it exists but not near as much as it once did.

  3. I have three guesses to your question. My first instinct is to respond scars, but it just doesn’t seem to fit. Healing is my second guess as it almost always doesn’t come easy and has to be worked for. Life is my last as it works, too. I love it. You’ve really got me thinking. I haven’t gotten my ink done yet. My husband went with our oldest daughter when she turned 18. She got a white tiger on her shoulder to honor her love and memory of Steve Irwin, her hero. He got Yoshi from Super Mario Nintendo fame because that is the character he always plays when we play video games. Mine will be a blue butterfly with my family’s names hidden in the veins of the wings. If I’m lucky I will be able to get Vince Castiglia to do it for me. It would make a great bike trip all the way to NYC. He is one of my fave artists right now. Ringo Starr says trust, peace, love and singing the blues don’t come easy. 🙂

    • You would be wrong on both counts. Hint, men have them more easily than women. 😉

      I like the idea of your first tattoo.

      • It wouldn’t be your topic would it? (tatoos) Cause my last guess would be children (hahahaha). On the humorous side I could also say potty breaks 🙂

        • Nope, Lord.

          Chocolate, women eat more of it.
          Orgasms, women have few of them.

          Chocolate, pain and orgasms all send the same hormone to the brain. You have to assume you have the right pain tolerance though.

          • I never would have guessed orgasms. Ever since I “discovered” myself @ the age of 15, I’ve made sure I got mine, no matter what. Good one, though. It is unfortunate that we live in a society that doesn’t value our orgasms. I gave both my girls the “tool”s and information to control their own sexuality so they didn’t need to depend on anyone else for their pleasure. I was judged very harshly for my choice to teach them and give them what I did but society has always been afraid of empowered women.
            Good riddle, it had me going. I enjoyed it.

            • It is simply a physiological response. Pain tolerance though is the key, not everyone reacts the same.

            • It is simply a physiological response. Pain tolerance though is the key, not everyone reacts the same.

              • With my mother’s ghost chasing me, I am forever mindful about tolerating pain. Even though, I am a self admitted twit when it comes to avoiding pain, my RA forces me to reach new heights in tolerance daily. I think that’s why I have taken to riding the motorcycle so well. It forces me to focus on more exhilerating sensations. The electric charge my skin gets from the wind, the vibrations of the motor and the subtle shifts in balance as we move through turns and hills. I am truly out of my head on it. It is a high no pill or drink could ever bring. It keeps my mother’s bad habits from creeping up on me and stealing my life away.
                Sorry, I’m unusually chatty tonight.

                • Many of us have reasons for chasing pain or pain tolerance. We also have ways in which we manage it. I am glad you have found a way that makes sense for you.

                  • Thanks and I hope that is something that you get out of making your body a canvas and a memorial of your strength. It isn’t easy to be who we are (by that I simply mean being humans) but in the words of the Rolling Stones “You can’t always get what you want. But if try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

  4. Val one of my oldest mates is full of tattoos. Like you each one has meaning.. I did her an Aura-graph reading when I first met her… Not knowing anything about her I almost told her her life’s story.. She had this tatooed upon her back. One of my own paintings.. It took 3 sessions .. I was totally honoured…
    Tattoos are Art…. Its your body Art Val.. your body… you display it as you wish.. And take no notice of those whose narrow views can not see the real you .
    Love you ..
    Sue xoxox
    To see some of my Auragraph art. you can find some here. ( unfortunately the one I did I did not post.. It was a Dolphin half in and out of water. 🙂
    http://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com/art-and-hobbies/watercolour-paintings-auragraphs/

  5. Sending you love today, YOU gorgeous Tattooed Lady. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Back at you my dear friend. Hope today brings you some great and wonderful hours with your dear mother, friends and family.

      Cookies too

      Much Love
      XXXOOO

  6. As usual, an interesting comment on human interaction. It never ceases to surprise me how people who have enough baggage of their own can be so judgmental about the life style of others. I think you have enough maturity to ignore the unwanted comments of others.

  7. To answer your question, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t do tatts. I collect art in other ways. It’s far easier to change, which I like to do regularly. I could imagine the process to be painful but they look awfully expensive too.

  8. I don’t tattoo but I know a tattoo artist whose work is just brilliant. If you lived in NYC I would introduce the two of you. His work is almost three dimensional it is so fabulous. On another note, it is your body–do what you want with it. People will always criticize. Some guy I never met drove by my house recently and criticized me for planting grass. What?

    • I love my body art! I still have a ways to go to finish my work but then maybe I will be done. Maybe. James does wonderful work, he will finish the pieces we are working on now. Then, who knows. The funny thing is, different artists have different styles and sometimes those styles are needed for different expressions. Thus the piece on my back shoulder is very different but fit what was needed.

      Planting grass? What were you supposed to do? Rock garden?

      Meh, sometimes people are strange.

      I love ya, even without tats!

  9. I don’t tattoo but admire those who have some really awesome artwork on their skin. And I can’t understand people who are quick to pass judgement.

    Love your work 🙂

    • I don’t hate people who don’t tattoo 😉

      Really Eric, it is such a personal choice. I don’t know what drives someone to their first. I know what drove me to mine and I think everyone has a different reason. These days of course much of it is simply, ‘trying to be cool’. The passing judgment, I think it will become passe’ eventually as more people jump on the bandwagon.

      Thanks, I love my work also.

  10. I think you’re cheap at all, Val. Reasonable, yes, but not cheap. After I got my 2nd tattoo for my 45th birthday, my father said he didn’t want to see me get anymore. I told him I planned to get some more in the future and not to worry about what I’m doing with my body. I don’t care what people think of the 2 I have, nor do I care what they’ll look like when I get older. I also don’t feel the Christian bible is always applicable to me, especially regarding something as mundane as a tattoo. Other peoples rules don’t necessarily apply to me.

    • Alejandro, you should be a fly on the wall to hear some of the discussions between myself and both my fathers regarding my ink. Consider when I started collecting, nearly 40 years ago; women didn’t have ink back then, at least not ‘nice’ women. I was a bit of a rebel. Who would have thunk it, you know.

      What others think? Yeah, doesn’t really matter to me much any more, especially when it comes wrapped in false sanctity and they are unaware of what the verse they are quoting actually refers. Thus my response.

      Adults should make their choices and follow the dictates of their hearts. I am slowly learning this. It is a hard lesson, the tats? Perhaps they are simply the outward symbols as I set myself free.

  11. I LOVE tattoos! My mom started getting them when she was in her early 60’s, and she has small ones now all over her body. I got my first when I was 24 and have only been able to add 2 more since. If I had more money, I have so many ideas of what I’d like to add next, and I will, one of these days. My sister, who balked at both my mom and I getting tattoos, now has 3 of her own, and again, she got her first one just about 6 months ago at age 51. It is addicting, but in my book, this type of addiction is A-Ok. I think every single one of your pieces is amazing, and thanks so much for sharing it all with us!! XOXO-Kasey

    • I love mine, all of them. Thanks Kasey. The thigh piece is actually part of a much bigger set that will eventually go across my lower back and down the other thigh. But for now, at least for a few months I am done.

      I love that both you and your mom have collected ink.

  12. Tattoos have been around forever, and they’ll be around for years to come. The important thing is that they be done in a sterile environment by a trusted source. And hopefully an 18-year-old will refrain from getting one on the face…

    • Yeah, the face thing is a bit over the top. Though I admit to having my eye liner done. 😉

      Autoclaves, new needles and clean machines, gloves all stuff people should know about. It isn’t a game, you are so right. It has gotten so much better since the many years ago when I got my first.

      • Yes, my sister tells me stories of her first ones, and I have to turn off my clinical side in order to listen. 😉

        • That must be difficult. Both my sons are inked also. My younger son, well he couldn’t wait till he turned 18 and he went all in. He cried for days afterwards. I just laughed and laughed.

  13. The first tattoo I became acquainted with danced like the sensuous woman she must have been. I was about eight and he a navy man with a curvy woman inked on his upper arm. He moved his muscles in such a way, I was enthralled. ❤ ❤
    My daughter and son-in-law have a number of them depicting momentous moments. I wasn't keen on either of them getting into this but I realize they're grown ups. ~(*_*)~~

    • I have more stories than I can tell about my parents (various) and their reactions. Eventually, they all figured out I didn’t listen to their opinions regarding my art, they all simply stopped talking. It was the best option for all of us.

      The Dancing Woman was popular many years ago, now not so much.

  14. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I totally understand you!! Yes, it hurts … but it hurts so good!!! Val … you ARE a bad girl!!! <> … love your art!!

  15. I grew up in the era when only United States Service men had tattoos, and those were either the insignia of the Army, Navy, Air Corps, etc. , their own names, or names of their wives or sweethearts at the time. Tattoos since then have gained huge popularity. Some of my younger friends have beautiful tattoos, and I have toyed with the idea. Frankly, I’m too chicken for more pain than is necessary at my age! Your “ink” are wonderful statements about your life. It is YOUR life, so just ignore the stupid statements people make.

    • I do ignore them, though over the years some people have been very cruel. Sometimes cruelty is hard to ignore.

      The first tattoo I ever saw was a man in our neighborhood when I was around 4 years old. He had a huge sailing ship inked across his entire ship, I still remember how beautiful it was. I told my mom then I was going to get tattooed; she washed my mouth out with Ivory and told me ‘Ladies do not get tattoos, only BAD girls do that’. Over the years she told me other things BAD girls did. I did them all.

      🙂

  16. Getting inked is not my thing, Val, but I’m a believer in “To each [her] own.” One of my friends got one a few years ago. She didn’t complain about pain. It was the itch that drove her up a wall, but she got over that. Like you, she’s very proud of hers. She knew exactly what she wanted and is satisfied with her choice. I think that’s commendable.

    • It isn’t everyone’s thing. I get that. Many of my friends aren’t inked, I still love them. None of my friends who are stopped at one, weird that one.

      The itch is a control thing. Mine never itch but I know what to do about.

  17. Beautiful ink. Fuck the Nay-Sayers!

  18. I feel as though you gave beeh hurt so much already, that the tattoo needle pricks do seem like unicorn kisses compared to the pain you had to go through.

    • That might be part of it. I got my first one when I ran from an abusive husband. It was a swallow in flight. Crazy Charlie (artist) said I was the first ‘gal’ he had ever inked, I as also the first virgin who hadn’t asked if it hurt. He thought I was a bit odd.

  19. I want to get one done, at least before I hit my mid life crisis lol but I’ve yet to pick one out, funny thing about the going to hell for tattoo, is that I heard that before too. Well you know what? I’d say bring it! imma gonna get a Damn good one first lol

    • It is always the first one that is the hardest. Think of the symbolism, what you want your art to say about you and for you. Follow some simple rules:

      No names.
      Placed where you can always cover it.
      Keep it small to medium sized (first one).
      Make it custom (no flash)
      Investigate the studios and the artists.

      Everything on my body has meaning. Nothing is random.

  20. Always love to here about people who make a decision to what they want to do. Good for you Val. So committed to the art world you present your body as a blank canvas. I love the high heel boots best.

    • Thank you, I like them also. We actually took my favorite boots directly off my feet and set them on the counter, took a picture and they became the tattoo.

      😉

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