Stories Behind My Ink

 My happy-go-luck self in Bali. 

My happy-go-luck self in Bali. 

I received my first tattoo the night before my 19th birthday and like most tattoos to follow, it would be done completely on impulse. My twin was already at the shop, sketching out her first tattoo with her boyfriend at the time. I arrived right in time to see the ink hit her skin and I shit you not, I stood in the corner of the booth contemplating walking out of the shop with my virgin skin still pure. There was something intimidating and unpleasant about the experience, little did I know it would soon become a slight addiction.  I stuck around and gave the artist a choice, he could tattoo a Janis Joplin quote on my ribcage or a cartoonish Darth Vader on my hip; he of course chose the latter.

I waited over a year before getting my next tattoo and then sort of continued to get a tattoo every month or so for a year and a half. A lot of individuals in my life said I was out of control and I would soon come to regret the rapid rate in which I was covering my skin. My parents shook their head in disapproval, telling me it was a phase that would be a permanent and painful reminder marked all over my body. Yet I never quite viewed it that way. While most were completed on a whim, there was a reason I entered the shops on the days I did and yes, even a reason for a few of the pieces. Additionally, tattoos were a form of self expression and artwork I chose to showcase on my body. All of my tattoos, regardless of the meaning, tell a story about myself. So yeah, let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

(I unfortunately do not have great photos of every tattoo.)

I waited fourteen months before receiving the second tattoo on the right side of my rib cage by Brian (@bgattsst). I one hundred percent considered changing the location of the piece upon my arrival at the shop, but then I remembered what the tattoo signified for me. For five years prior this Janis Joplin’s quote was my mantra and remains my mantra to to this day .

Do not compromise yourself, you’re all you’ve got.
— Janis Joplin

No matter how much of a cliché the tattoo is in modern society, (a profound quote in script on a rib cage can be seen on millions of individuals around the world I am sure) this quote helped me overcome my eating disorder at its highest peak.
Fun Fact: quote tattoos feel like tiny paper cuts in your skin.

A month afterwards, I returned to Southern Star in Atlanta to get a second quote inked into my skin by Bill Conner (@billconner). Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a hopeless romantic and a lover of all things poetry. 

The greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
— Nat King Cole

My love for the quote began when I was eleven or twelve and had watched the Moulin Rouge for the very for time; the love for the quote remains and has spanned over a decade (The sheer fact that a series of words can hold value and resonate deeply for that amount of time is wild). Not only do I adore the rendition Baz Luhrmann created for the film, but Nat King Cole soothes my soul in Nature Boy.  I will always be fascinated with love, it is just that simple. A part of me even believes my purpose in life is to spread love, compassion and kindness unconditionally.
Fun Fact: I got this tattoo the day after my first love and I decided to take a break and not speak with one another for an extended period of time. This tattoo was my positive spin on self-harm; to take the pain from the heartache and transform it into something beautiful. 

 

 Friday the 13th Gypsy at Southern Star in Atlanta by Demian (@demiansst) 

Friday the 13th Gypsy at Southern Star in Atlanta by Demian (@demiansst) 

My third tattoo is completely random, there is no value. My dear friend, Courtney, my twin  and I thought it would be a fun idea to get Friday the 13th tattoos. For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, you simply get a small flash piece tattooed on Friday the 13th. I won't lie to guys, the decision to get the tattoo itself was impulsive but I spent over an hour debating on what I wanted to get and almost left the shop without one.
Fun Fact: This small tattoo began my love for American traditional tattoos. 

 Roses at Live Free Tattoo in Atlanta by Miguel (@miguelolascuagatattoo)

Roses at Live Free Tattoo in Atlanta by Miguel (@miguelolascuagatattoo)

My fourth tattoo would be the beginning to a marvelous friendship and a series of visits to the tattoo shop. On a random day in August, I decided I wanted a cartoonish typewriter tattooed on my arm to begin working on a half sleeve. Why a type writer you ask? Because one of my greatest passions in life is writing. 
Unsure of which shop to go to, I did what most millennials do, I crept through Instagram. Live Free was the first to peak my interest and was not located far from home. As a result, I made a call to the shop to see if there was room available for a walk-in that afternoon and lucky for me, there was. I arrived at the shop a few hours later and introduced myself to Miguel. We spit ideas back and forth at first, but then shifted ideas completely because I could not make up my mind when it came to the typewriter. I began to throw different ideas at Miguel, the roses being one.
Fun Fact: I have a tendency to be indecisive and I know it grinds everyone gears. 

 Great White Shark at Walk the Line Tattoo in Athens, GA by J Smalley (@jsmalleytattooer)

Great White Shark at Walk the Line Tattoo in Athens, GA by J Smalley (@jsmalleytattooer)

My fifth tattoo happened due to the sheer fact that I was bored and it was a Tuesday.
Fun Fact: If it wasn't obvious already, my obsession at the time was great white sharks. #sharkweek

 First of two sessions at Live Free in Atlanta with Miguel (@miguelolascuagatattoo)

First of two sessions at Live Free in Atlanta with Miguel (@miguelolascuagatattoo)

I waited a couple months before returning to Miguel for another tattoo and my golly, was I glad I arrived on the afternoon I did. The inspiration for this tattoo is from my all time favorite classic Hollywood film, It Happened One Night featuring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. My original idea for the tattoo stemmed from an old movie poster, little did I know the space required for such a piece was more than I willing to offer. Not to worry through, Miguel and I looked into other posters and photograph stills from the film and from our research, he created one my favorite tattoos. The first session alone took the full day, and he tried to convince me to stay to finish it out; I unfortunately did not have it in me. My leg was on fire, cramping would soon prove to be a bitch and I had to trek over an hour back to Athens. 
I returned three weeks later to fill in the red and complete the piece.
Fun Fact: this tattoo is the longest amount of time I have sat for a tattoo. I am still a padawan in many ways.

 First Session on my Sailor at Live Free Tattoo in Atlanta by Miguel (@miguelolascuagatattoo)

First Session on my Sailor at Live Free Tattoo in Atlanta by Miguel (@miguelolascuagatattoo)

And WHAT? I only waited two weeks after filling in my thigh before I returned for yet another piece by Miguel. I arrived at the shop early in the afternoon and totally clueless as to what I wanted. I did however decide a theme for my body champs, ladies and love.
With that little bit of importation, he had a few sketches already prepared. I glanced at a few and immediately fell in love with the one you see above. I still feel very special to have this tattoo on my arm - a few other individuals had asked for it prior but he was waiting to find it the right home.
I would complete the second session a month later right after my plane landed in Atlanta. 
Fun Fact: I would meet the artist who collaborated on this piece during his guest spot at Live Free a couple months later. 

 Hot Air Balloon at Live Free in Atlanta by Miguel (@miguelolascuagatattoo)

Hot Air Balloon at Live Free in Atlanta by Miguel (@miguelolascuagatattoo)

A month later, I spent two days in a row at the tattoo shop for the tattoo you see above for my dear friend, Courtney and I decided to get matching tattoos. Our pieces are very similar and inspired from Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go. If you have yet to read the book, I highly recommend it. Yes, it is a children's book and yes, it will inspire you. The differences between our tattoos are the color scheme and the image beneath the balloon. I chose an elephant with its trunk up for my mother and Courtney stuck with a woven basket.  The tattoos themselves were not impulsive, for we had been planning matching tattoos for years together, but the days we arrived were indeed last minute.
Fun Fact: I am down to get matching tattoos with anyone as long it is  in the theme of American traditional. 

To be continued...because let's face it champs, this post is quite long and now you're just looking at pictures.

Keep on keepin' on!