“Never get a tattoo, because if you break the law they can identify you by it.” Sound advice given to me by my father early on in life. This was his response after I asked him when I’d be old enough to get one. After deciding a life of crime wasn’t for me, I began my addiction.
Tattoos are stories. Tattoos are memories. They are much more than just their design and they have the ability to transport you back in time with one simple question, “What does it mean?”
For me, my tattoos mean everything and nothing at all. Sounds so very deep and intellectual of me. But really, none of them are iconic representations of some deep philosophical belief. They simply represent what I was thinking about when I was designing them, or maybe even just the moment when I got them.
If I was going to break down my tattoos into statements that represent them, it’d be challenging…but let’s give it a go.
My first tattoo would probably be, “Holy shit, I’m really getting this tattoo!” It’s a simple ring on my left thumb, inked by a very scary man at a place on Federal Hill in Providence. I wonder if he was able to stay out of jail? (You learn a lot about the tattoo artists when you’re in the chair.)
The statement for my second tattoo would be, “Thank god the client didn’t pick this logo! It looks so much better on my hand than it would have on their letterhead.” I went back to the same place on Federal Hill. It was a very nice young woman this time.
Number three was a 7-hour session that would be, “I can’t think of any better way to spend this day.” I actually got this arm-band tattoo on 9/11, strange as it may seem. I had already booked the appointment and in hindsight think it was the best decision to keep it. On such a horrible day of playbacks and conspiracies, I was in a 10-foot square room with my fiancé, the tattoo artist Jeremy and an endless supply 80s hairband music. At that moment it was the perfect place to be.
And my fourth tattoo would be, “Wow, I can’t believe I just had twin girls! I need to look way more badass.” I got this one up in New Hampshire by Steve, a fascinating, intense, brilliant man. He and his family lived above the parlor and they came for a visit during my session.
Some words of advice as I end this post:
- Don’t ever call them ink or tats. Not unless you want to get called out.
- Tattoos hurt. Don’t let anybody tell you different.
- If you get one you better like it, I mean really really like it.
- You’re going to get old and things will change.
- And if you plan on breaking the law…don’t get a tattoo.
What does this have to do with advertising? Everything and nothing at all…