I do not have a tattoo and doubt I ever shall. For a woman my age raised in my culture, tattoos are rebellious (the opposite of self-effacing). Even though the strong association with bad-boy behavior makes this juxtaposition all the more layered now that they’re in fashion across genders and age groups. The historical aversion for tattoos in the Christian Bible is doubled-down in the horrible practice of tattooing ID numbers on Jews during World War II for bookkeeping purposes in concentration camps… that it distressed their faith was just a bonus.
ln this current age, there is tattoo art and it is “interesting” to me. The idea of the mechanical fact of being inked isn’t the big deal; as a diabetic I get plenty of pokes just NOT at the rate or saturation of course. For me, it is the permanence of ink. Ironically. I write and produce books, each one is permanent unto itself, but I am free to reverse, relaunch, realize another vision.
The person pictured here is Brandon McMillan, an animal trainer and TV star with small ink visible when he wears his long shorts, or just below his T-shirt sleeve; there is no hint of the elaborate art he hosts on this right rib, shoulder, cage and hip. It may still be evolving. This is a beautiful presentation of imagery but I don’t “get” it, I can’t interpret what it means nor if I am supposed to do so. Personal hieroglyphics.
My book-making objective starts out the same, to “weave an image” that suits its own purpose and design, the writing is mine alone. I may never share it. Here the divide begins because the tattoo bearer cannot do the work alone. We just aren’t hinged that way. So that leap to collaborate is fundamental while I can (and do) bury entire manuscripts without note to others. The words aren’t lined up properly yet. Body ink may be applied in layers but it is not as flexible as a rough draft can be to the published “on display” imagery.
I wanted to acknowledge my respect for all the artists out there, decorating for their holidays, fashioning hand-made gifts or sharing recipes, making merry. Nobody knows how we can seem so different yet have to make the same decisions about the body we’re in, our family rank, our community purpose. Forging an identity is a tricky business, it can take longer than you expect (or deserve, really, given the statistical projection for your specifics).
What people regret as they age are often things left undone, and the underlying message is the waste of time, that precious tick-tock that says you can keep going, try something, do or be or create what you dream about as your legacy. Plant your stake in the river of humanity. You should not do what you do to get famous or rich, those paths can lead to misery… if they are granted to you, it is a bonus. Positive energy will come if you look for a sustainable life in which you are fed, clothed and safe enough to reach out to others through art and thought and love.