At the time of this post, I have 9 tattoos. Four are on my left arm, two are on my right arm, two are on my right leg and one is on my left leg. I have another two that will be (hopefully) happening this year.
So, tattoos have become fairly common and popular. There are a lot of, I hate to say it – but it IS true, younger people with tattoos. And I’m about to say something I hate hearing when others talk to me about my tattoos: some of those young people are really going to regret their ink choices later in life. Not because they won’t “look good when you’re old”, but more because I’ve seen a lot of young people, I’m talking freshly legal people (it’s illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 in Australia. It used to be – as far as I am aware – that 16 and over could be tattooed BUT a parent had to give written permission. Yeah, that’s not how it works anymore) who have tattoos all over the back of their hands and on their faces.
Honestly? I mostly don’t care what a person puts on their skin in the form of a tattoo. I do have a few exceptions, and this is strictly MY personal opinion, I don’t expect anyone else to feel the same way
*Also I am NOT a tattooist myself, so my opinions on the topic are purely from my personal experience, I could be wrong in some of my information and if I am I apologise! I’m still learning all this myself.*
My Opinions on Tattoos
- DON’T: Gang insignia – that includes extremist iconography such as a swastika (which is SUPER annoying because the symbol used as the “inspiration” for the swastika comes from a Buddhist symbol, at least as far as my research has shown me, I might be a bit out of date on that, soz). There are artists around the world, who are helping people who got a gang/extremist related tattoo at another time in their lives and who have grown and changed (like everyone will) since then and no longer want it. These artists are covering and otherwise altering the existing ink to reflect the changes the person has made in their life. (I’ll do some googling and at a later date I’ll see if I can find some links to available artists around the world).
- DON’T: Neck tattoos. As a general rule, a lot of parlours here will not tattoo a person on the neck/head/face or hands UNLESS they have an adequate amount of ink already. The reason being, that tattoos on those areas of the body are pretty life altering and the person needs to be well aware of what they are getting themselves into. This of course is also at the discretion of the artist themselves, as to whether they tattoo those areas.
- DON’T: Stick and Poke “tattoos”. Yeah NO. Those are 1) highly dangerous in that you can easily acquire blood poisoning/other blood transmitted diseases, because FREQUENTLY the person doing the stupid thing, has no idea of health and safety and you can end up with some biro ink and a dull sewing needle stabbed into you, leaving a horrible looking thing. This flows on to my next point:
- DON’T: Homemade tattoos! NO. JUST DON’T. I don’t care if the person is a licensed tattoo artist, never ever have a tattoo done in a person’s home – even licensed artists don’t encourage this as it is not possible to make their home as sterile as it needs to be. And on the same note, do NOT get a tattoo done by someone who has no training as an artist, and even if they bought a “gun” online (which are always very bad quality – unless from a certified and reputable distributor) and aren’t using a biro + needle + electric toothbrush, they have no experience as to how to use the gun properly, how to maintain the right pressure, what number of needles to use… etc.
- DON’T: Offensive tattoos: just no. I met a person not long ago, who had done his own tattoo (unsure what he used), it was on his upper arm and it read (in bad handwriting) “ART FAG”. There are just soo many things wrong in that, I don’t know where to start.
- I Wouldn’t, But I Won’t Judge if Others Do: Tattoos that have no meaning to the person. All my tattoos have a meaning or a significance for me. And all the future tattoos I have planned are all for various other reasons. I have admired some artwork by a few tattooists I know that I love and would look amazing, but for me – at this point in my life at least – my tattoos have meanings and have reasons behind them.
- DON’T: You’re young! You’re barely two decades old! DON’T GET THE BACK OF YOUR HANDS TATTOOED. Even if you got fluffy bunnies and kittens on your hands, it just is not a good idea when you are only just starting out in life. (I know I already wrote about this above.. but it bothers me!)
- DON’T: It is illegal to get a tattoo while under the influence. That includes any substance that is not a prescription. So even “legal” drugs will get you turned away. And no, there is nothing you can take or use, that will make it less painful.
- DON’T: Just get a tattoo because your best friend/romantic partner/favourite media personality (actor, musician, etc) has or is pressuring you into it.
- DO: Only get a tattoo when YOU want one. If your friends and whatever are all “doing it”, well the same response applies to if they were all jumping off a bridge. A tattoo is a huge commitment, and while it can be “removed” later, the skin it was on will never be the same. So think hard before getting a tattoo, make sure it’s something you want.
- DO: Research artists. Check out their portfolios, see if their style suits what you’re looking for. And if you have an idea for the design, go in and talk to them, meet them face to face, get to know each other. Not only will you get the best possible artwork, but you might even make a friend out of it! Sometimes, such as in my case, you may have a design idea and a place you’d like it put, but the place on your body and the design won’t work (for example, I am getting my inner forearm tattooed over. I have a large amount of healed scars on that part of my body. I wanted a mandala design, but my lovely friend and artist said that because the surface is not smooth and flat, the design wouldn’t work. It could be done but it wouldn’t look as good as either of us wanted) for a variety of reasons. In my case, I had to find an artist who had experience working with scarred skin. The artist I have ended up seeing for (90% of) all my tattoos isn’t the one I originally was thinking of seeing!
- DO: Be aware of how the body reacts to pain. Everyone has a different pain threshold, different parts of the body range in the level of pain accompanied. Outlining will hurt differently compared to shading or colouring. If you ask one person what it feels like, it will be a completely different response than to someone else. Be aware that the human body reacts to pain by upping the adrenaline in your system. In my personal experience (I’ve heard it from others too), depending on the length of time you are being tattooed, your adrenaline levels with fluctuate. For example, the large Paper Crane and Roses tattoo I have on my left upper arm: that took roughly 2.5hrs. In that time my adrenaline and the endorphins (which are produced when the body is experiencing pain) went WAY WAY UP and I could barely feel it! I was super chatty and even happy. Then not long after, my levels dropped and I got extremely tired and I could really feel it, a bit later the adrenaline/endorphins spiked again. Having said that, once you get going with the tattoo, and are aware you’re going to be there for however long, you sort of “get used to” the pain. I nearly fell asleep during one of mine.
- DO: On that note, if/when your adrenaline/endorphins plummet, sugar has been helpful I’ve found. I don’t really know the science behind it, but I do know that with the “fight/flight” instinct that the body produces adrenaline in response to, uses up a fair amount of glucose (blood sugar), so when that wanes it needs a boost. I’ve found having something sweet to suck on (lollipop, lifesaver etc) helps a lot. *I am not a scientist so I many have a few things incorrect there. Please let me know if I missed something!*
- DO: Okay as much as we ALL hate to hear it: you MAY one day regret a tattoo. And that is okay. Fuck, you think I don’t regret my self harm scars?? I’m not saying that tattoos and self harm are the same, BUT I do know a couple young people who stretched their earlobes to crazy sizes, and now they regret it. Anything we do to our bodies can leave a lasting impact, and sometimes those things left behind can be great at first, but further on in life it may not be as great. And that is TOTALLY OKAY! No one is going to hate you for going “hey that was fun and I really liked having it, but now I’m in a different stage of my life and I don’t like it anymore”.
- DO: Some of the NICEST people I’ve met (even prior to getting my first tattoo!) at first look intimidating because of their body art. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
- DO: I may have already mentioned this, but I’m going to say it again. I have a lot of self harm scars, on most of my body. I am not “proud” of them. But neither am I ashamed. And I am going to get a lot of the worst ones on my arms, covered over with some beautiful art. In my case, I am making something beautiful out of something ugly. I am finding beauty in the pain. I am making my outsides match the inside. And I will say this now, and again: NEVER let anyone make you do something you don’t want to do.
- DO: “You may regret getting that one day”, really? Well I believe the opposite as well “you may regret NOT getting that one day”.
- DO: Be aware, if you are wanting to get scars covered with a tattoo (or more), make sure your artist has experience in coverings and also tattooing over scars hurts more than un-scarred skin. The reason for this is quite simple: any wound that heals and results in a scar (which most wounds do, unless it’s really minor) is made up of the same collagen the rest of our skin is made from. However, there is a misnomer that scars are “dead skin”. Scars are actually essentially “new skin” or “baby skin” and are much more sensitive than un-scarred skin. There are times when scars have no sensation whatsoever, but that happens when the wound has damaged nerves and results in scar tissue that has no feeling.
- DO: I have this strange little belief. It’s not a “real” thing I believe, just a bit of an idea. I am a spiritual person, karma and all that. And as tattoos literally go into your body and under your skin, something physical is being put into your body. I feel that the relationship between an artist and the client is a special connection. You’re letting someone alter your body. And I kind of feel that if you don’t have a connection, if you don’t like the artist, then the tattoo won’t be quite “right”. In a way, the negativity between your artist and yourself, will go in with the ink and then into the tattoo. It’s just a weird thing I think.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t seem “right”, be it the artist, the parlour, the design, whatever, then don’t do it.
Okay so now that I’ve been a big hypocrite and made comments that I hate being told myself, I’m going to show you photos of my tattoos and explain why I got them.
My First Tattoos: Anchor and Heart Wrist Tattoos
When: I got these tattoos back in 2013.
What: They are my first tattoos. I have an anchor on my left wrist and a heart outline on my left wrist.
Meaning/Symbolism/Why Did I Get Them: So when I was really unwell in 2010 (mental illness, it was being treated incorrectly due to a very bad misdiagnosis, and I was very unwell), I would write in permanent marker, HOPE on my left wrist and LOVE on my right wrist. They of course would fade and I would have to keep touching them up. One night in 2012 I was out hanging with some friends, and a friend of my friend – so I had no connection to him whatsoever, I don’t even remember his name – saw my arm as I reached for my drink (I was wearing a shawl/kimono type thing and it was dark so I didn’t think anyone would see) and he (drunkenly) pointed to my arm and said VERY LOUDLY “WHAT ARE THOSE ON YOUR ARM?? THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM!” (at least that is a paraphrase of his comments) and I got really upset. SO I made a decision that night, that I was going to get a tattoo to show to everyone that I was not ashamed and to have a permanent reminder to have HOPE for my future and to LOVE myself as I am.
I asked around, I had a couple workmates who had recently gotten tattoos, and I asked some advice and where a good place to go was. I was recommended Wild at Heart Tattoo and I checked out their website and the portfolio of the artists. I was originally going to see Danielle Chisholm, but when I rang to ask some questions I asked if any one had experience tattooing over scars. And that is how I met my tattooist, and friend, Victoria Rose*. I originally wanted a heart outline for the LOVE symbol, and a paper crane for the HOPE symbol. After consulting with the lovely Victoria, she advised that the paper crane would have to be much larger than I was wanting the tattoos to be. She suggested the anchor. I didn’t want the words “hope” and “love”, I just wanted them to be a bit different.
There are two main “meanings” behind the anchor symbol.
The first one I don’t agree with: The Anchor symbol is seen as a negative thing. It is considered that the Anchor weighs you down to the one spot, making it hard to progress forward in life.
The second meaning, the one that I choose to follow: To a sailor, in the midst of a raging storm, the one thing that will give you even the tiniest shred of hope for surviving, is the anchor.
Before getting these tattoos, I wore long sleeves, and a wrist full of bracelets. After getting them, I don’t! I really love these, there is a secret with the heart shape, I had it retouched, and as the needles went over a scar on the side of the heart, I jumped slightly, making the needle move. So now, if you look really really close, you can see a tiny little blip of black ink where I jumped. I think it’s cute, it’s my own special little secret (which I just told the whole internet, so not-so-secret now!).
Third Tattoo: Paper Crane and Roses (Upper Left Arm)
What: A Japanese Origami Crane supported by three red/dark pink cabbage roses and leaves.
Meaning/Symbolism/Why Did I Get It: The paper crane is a very well known image, especially anyone who knows about Hiroshima and Sadako Sasaki.
There is a Japanese legend that if you fold one thousand paper cranes, you will be granted a wish.
Paper cranes also represent peace and tranquility. I originally wanted to get the crane as the symbol for “hope” on my wrist, but the size wouldn’t have been right. So I decided to have it made into a larger piece, incorporating my favourite flower (roses, which is also my namesake) to represent my family.
I had this beautiful piece, designed by Victoria Rose (“the Other Rose”), placed on my upper left arm. It covers some of my more severe self harm scars, which really really HURT to be tattooed over!
I sadly faded the colour of this tattoo, I over-cared for it. But that’s not uncommon! Anyway, it was retouched no problem and it looks lovely. It’s kind of funny, a lot of people who see this tattoo close up first, have difficulty identifying the crane!
This tattoo is slowly being turned into a full sleeve.
Fourth Tattoo: Pink Lotus Blossom (Upper Right Arm)
The second of the only two (current) tattoos on my right arm. It is small and usually missed because it is covered by clothes easily.
When: Um … 2014?
What: A pink, with red fine details, lotus blossom with a small green leaf at the base.
Meaning/Symbolism/Why Did I Get It: The lotus blossom is a very important symbol to several cultures, most notably Buddhism and Hinduism. It is sacred in both these cultures, representing purity, peace, divine beauty and also rebirth.
The life cycle of a lotus is a part of why I chose this tattoo. Over the course of three days, the lotus blossom pushes through the mud and murky waters it resides in, it pushes forth into the sun and blossoms above the water. Moving through a dark and frightening path into the light, it symbolises freedom, for me personally.
Fifth Tattoo: Bird Cage (Upper Left Underarm)
When: Um … 2014/15?
What: Black outline of a birdcage with the door open. It is on the underside of my left upper arm, so getting a good photo is a bit difficult. This tattoo goes with the hummingbird tattoo. They are a pair.
Meaning/Symbolism/Why Did I Get It: As with pretty much every tattoo I have, it represents freedom. It covers some of my self harm scars and those HURT to go over. It, along with my hummingbird (who is the bird that escaped the cage), represent my struggle with my mental illness and the effort of gaining my freedom from it.
Post Touch Up (May 2017)
So sometime after I got the original cage tattoo, I gained some weight (various reasons, whatevs) and being where it is, some of the lines of the cage had … the best term I have is “expanded”. There were only a couple places and they were only really noticeable to me and if I pointed them out to people. So I wanted to cover up the stretched out sections. But there was a second reason for the cage to be touched up, as it is a part of the ‘hummingbird tattoo set’, the hummingbird is beautiful and bright and colourful, the cage was just an outline. And while a very beautiful outline, it didn’t quite “match up”, if that makes sense? Anyway, some grey and purple shading were added to it and it looks AMAZING!
Sixth Tattoo: Hummingbird (Upper Left Arm)
When: Um … 2014/15?
What: A bright green and red hummingbird. He goes with the birdcage tattoo and sits on my upper left arm, beneath my roses and crane. Occasionally he gets mistaken for a King Fisher bird, but he is fully and completely a hummingbird.
Meaning/Symbolism/Why Did I Get It: So, as is the general theme with most of my tattoos, the hummingbird has escaped the birdcage and is free. The most general meaning behind a hummingbird tattoo is “over coming difficult times”. Hummingbirds, the actual bird, are fierce little creatures, which is why I picked this bird instead of the more popular swallow birds. Hummingbirds must consume at least half their body weight in food to sustain their constant movement. They are one of the smallest bird species on the planet and must defend themselves from constant threats from predators. They fight to survive. So this to my symbolises perseverance, persistence and that even when times are tough, you can keep going.
Seventh Tattoo: The Cheshire Cat (Right Ankle)
When: Um … 2015?
What: The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I got this design from one of my many copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was in the first few cover pages of this particular edition. The image was a maroon colour and I originally wanted it black, but as he has some very fine details my lovely Victoria Rose explained that as tattoos age, black ink “spreads”, becomes smudgy/blurry and it would ruin his fine details. Where as coloured ink just fades, giving the ability to retouch the tattoo.
Meaning/Symbolism/Why Did I Get It: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is my favourite book and somewhat of a “bible” to me. I will explain more in a separate post about why the book is so important and why I collect different copies and editions. Super quick: Alice gets lost in this twisty-turny upside-downy bizarre world where nothing makes sense. She sits down and cries a couple times yes, but she picks herself back up and keeps going. She finds her way home. She is my hero. She is my “WonderWoman”. The Cheshire Cat assists Alice in her way through Wonderland and on her way home. He is her guide. And as such, he is mine.
Poor Little Kitty Had an Accident
1. Severely infected (pre-second antibiotic). 2. Post infection healed. 3. Pre-retouch.
Soooo….. anyone who has had a tattoo, no matter how big or where, knows that for a few days after getting it, it stays raw and a bit painful.
Allow me to explain how I earnt the nickname “Lasagna Lady“:
So I got this lovely little cat, he was simply beautiful and everything I could have asked for. Two days after having him done, I was making lunch (microwaveable lasagna) and on the journey from the microwave to my plate, I dropped the food on the floor accidentally (it was hot!) and it splashed all over my BRAND NEW TATTOO. For some inexplicable reason, which I will probably never know why, the burning hot sauce (both the bechamel creamy sauce and the meat sauce) splashed all over my brand new tattoo and burnt the poor little kitty! *insert crying emoji* IT HURT LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER. I jumped into the shower to wash it off, and anyone who knows any minor basic first aid knows that any burn must be run under cold water. What I didn’t know at the time was that the minimum amount of time it should be kept under the tap is 20 minutes. I only had it under for maybe 5 minutes?
Anyway, long story short, the tattoo got infected (see first photo above) and I nearly ended up with a blood infection and had to take two different antibiotics before it would heal. I was put on bed rest for two weeks. In addition to the antibiotics I also used a “Colloidal Silver Spray” which helped heaps. I used it externally, sprayed on the infection site directly. I know there are a ton of people and online sites that will tell you that colloidal silver has no positive health benefits whatsoever, but silver – in a particular form – IS used as a remedy to assist healing of burns (I’ve had bandages with active silver in them more than once for burns, that were not only prescribed by a doctor but also applied by a registered nurse, and they do make a difference) and whether the colloidal silver is scientifically effective or not, I really do not care.
It finally healed (see second photo above) and it took a few more weeks before he was ready to be retouched (which the lovely Victoria Rose did for free! Which I felt I should have paid for as I had – unintentionally – damaged the tattoo) and I am so thankful and so happy that (see third photo, which is PRE-retouching) his little fine details (like his teeth specifically. Gotta have that Cheshire Cat smile!) were not damaged and the tattoo did not end up with any scars from the burn.
Below you can see the difference between before the touch up, and after!
*** IMPORTANT! The tattoo only became infected due to my negligence and an ACCIDENT. Even if I HAD run cold water over it for 20mins, being so new and raw, it still would have been burnt. The damage was PURELY ACCIDENTAL and the resulting infection was IN NO WAY CAUSED BY THE ARTIST. ***
Eighth Tattoo: My Little Pony, Pinkie Pie (right calf,)
*The only tattoo I have that is not by Victoria, but by Jamiee Butters at Noosa Junction QLD*
What: Pinkie Pie from “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, wearing a party hat, with a party whistle, standing on a piece of cake.
Meaning/Symbolism/Why Did I Get It: Soo this is the only tattoo that was not done by the same artist. I won a $100 voucher on Jamiee’s Facebook page, towards an MLP tattoo of my choice. I was ecstatic! I never win anything! But anyway, moving on to why I have her and what the meaning is.
Since I have been really unwell with my anxiety/agoraphobia/social anxiety/whatevs you wanna call it, I have been stuck inside the house. I started watching MLP on daytime tv. Then I found the entire series on Netflix (the Australian Netflix). I became a huge fan. Pinkie Pie is my favourite (obviously). And it’s one of those kid’s shows that has adult jokes and things that only people over the age of 20 are going to understand (in one ep. they reference “Back to The Future”). I started collecting the small 8inch figures, I have quite a range. But they are getting harder to find! Anyway, in an effort to “self-soothe” without damaging myself, I started carrying around one of the ponies with me everywhere I go. I wear them like a “ring” sort of, and when I feel anxious I play with their hair. It’s actually been a very successful technique!
Pinkie Pie is my favourite character. And I would say she is “me”, but I think it’s more a case of, she is me and also the me I want to be. Pinkie Pie is a bright pink Earth Pony who loves parties and making people happy. She loves making friends, loves surprising her friends with parties or presents or balloons or … She has a “party cannon” that will turn any room into a completely decked out party. She is happy and enjoys life. She loves being herself and doesn’t want to change just so others will like her. She is happy being herself. She has a great sense of humour and can find happiness and something to make her laugh in even the scariest of situations. She loves to sing, and dance and is a “certified Party Pony”. She has a “Pinkie Promise” that goes: Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye! And YOU NEVER BREAK A PINKIE PROMISE. She is weird, funny and unique and unapologetically so! She is confident and proud of who she is.
If THAT isn’t a good role model for kids of all ages, I dunno WHAT is!
Ninth Tattoo: Cheshire Cat (left ankle)
When: May 2017
What: Dark purple coloured, segmented Cheshire Cat on inner, left ankle.
Meaning/Symbolism/Why Did I Get It: Another Cheshire cat to help me find my way home. He is my guide and my friend wherever I go. I don’t think I need to explain this one too much, because I have him for pretty much the same reason as the other Cheshire Cat. One can never have too many Cheshire Cats.
Soo that’s the tattoo round up as it stands now.
I have a design prepared for my first forearm cover up tattoo. It’s a … collage … of sorts. Roses and other flowers, with bees and butterflies. I am currently trying to save money for it, which I set up a “GoFundMe” for buuuuut it’s not had any interest (understandable with all the crappy weather hitting the US atm) so it may not be up for much longer.
If you’re curious, the link to that page is: Help Me Make “Hate” into “Love”.
And I also have a tattoo in the works for a tribute to my senior citizen Chihuahua, Bear. It’s his 17th birthday on December 12th. I hope to get the design on that day.
I have many many many other tattoos I would love to get, I hope to save enough for the forearm piece soon, it’s a cover-up for my self-harm scars.
So, that’s it for now! If you have any questions about tattoos in general or my tattoos, please leave a comment!