I never took the plunge and got a tattoo, and living in New York, where you see tattooed people everywhere, makes me think it’s better to stay that way.
But that doesn’t stop me from loving them on others, or from being super curious about what they each mean (I’m the annoying girl asking “what does your tattoo mean?”). I love to look at different styles, from those who opt for tiny ones to those who go for full body art, or are very precise about symmetry…
So today, we asked Minka, Ian, Elle and Mateusz, who all have very fascinating tattoos, to tell us a little bit about them. And, listening to them, you realize it’s much deeper than a trend.
What do you think ? Do you have tattoos ? Want to have one ? Or are you scared it’s just a trend ?
You have two tattoos that are in the same position on each arm. What drew you to this kind of symmetry?
Well, I believe everything in life is about balance. Even when I started the work I felt weird, as work on the first had started and I had nothing on the other side. And that was only 24 hours. The body’s natural symmetry is beautiful and I didn’t want to disrupt it. So, I couldn’t have it any other way.
How did you come up with the design of these tattoos?
I always wanted to have half sleeves… actually, I almost went for the full arm. I was lucky to have one of the best artists of Japanese style tattoos living in my hometown at the time, Ivan Szazi. At first, he didn’t want to work with me because Japanese tattoos are usually very colorful and I wanted to go for a fully black piece. I will never forget him asking me: “aren’t you afraid of the black?” and my answer was “no, I’m afraid of color.”
He sent me home but, over a week later, he called me back in because he had found a picture in one of his books where a girl had a black piece. I picked the background according to my sign and the flowers since they are winter flowers (my birthday is on the winter solstice).The rest was up to him. He does freestyle so nothing else can be planned ahead. You just have to trust.
What significance do these tattoos have for you?
A lot. It’s really hard to describe it to someone else because tattoos are about the moment. It’s relevant to the things and feelings happening in your life at that time. After that, they are a eternal reminder of that time. Bad or good, something you don’t want to forget.
Do you find yourself incorporating your tattoos into your everyday style?
One hundred percent. I play with the way I show them, or not. Transparency, cut outs, peek a boos. It’s great when I dress up, but I usually cover them during the day. It’s just easier to go by without having to explain myself to strangers on the street haha.
Are you thinking about getting more tattoos? If so, what’s next?
Perhaps. I don’t have anything in mind at the moment but, hey, never say never!
It’s really hard to describe it to someone else because tattoos are about the moment. It’s relevant to the things and feelings happening in your life at that time.
Why do you like tattoos?
I like tattoos, especially mine, because they tell a little part of my story and my personality. Each tattoo has a funny story and I’m reminded every time I look at them.
How are your tattoos representative of your personality?
A friend once told me that my tattoos are like ‘binder stickers’, which is totally true. Most are mementos from my teenage days or look like doodles I would have drawn. They are all very me.
Tell me about your first tattoo.
My first tattoo was a Chanel logo. I saw a woman at a bar with the tattoo and thought it was stupid. But, after six months of obsessing over it, I realized I wanted it. My friend gave me it to me as a stick-and-poke tattoo in her dorm our freshman year.
What is the process you go through when choosing a tattoo?
Most are said as jokes that I put on a list in my phone. If it survives edits, after a couple of months I get it.
And what is the tattoo that holds the most significance for you?
My dad’s barber shop logo (with the scissors). It reminds me of my family and childhood… some people have their family crest, I got a sick logo!
Each tattoo has a funny story and I’m reminded every time I look at them.
You’re an artist. How did tattooing become one of your mediums?
Tattoos were always something I was very interested in from a young age, as I always had a fascination with the study of anthropology and, particularly, other cultures. I began to get tattooed out of meaningful curiosity, I guess, but by the third one it had evolved into a very personal ritual for me and, subsequently, years later led me to teach myself how to tattoo… learning how to manipulate my art to be able to apply it to flesh… as well as really find a medium that allowed me to connect in a very personal way with every single person that “owns” a piece of my work.
Do you prefer to be giving or receiving the tattoo?
Honestly, I dont know how to answer one way or the other. They are both very different experiences and outcomes – one I get to walk away with something, the other I get to give someone else something to walk away with… in the end I win both ways!
Do you have a personal tattoo philosophy?
Getting tattooed is a ritual. There is an energetic value to both the act of getting tattooed and the piece you walk away with. You are sharing a very intimate and vulnerable experience with your artist that will be with you forever and that is something to consider. Tattoos are the recording of a moment in your life, and I feel there is no point thinking about it as something you will love for the rest of your life because who knows who or what you will come into contact with that inspires new philosophies, ideas, practices… life is long and always changing.
What are your thoughts on “fashion” tattoos?
It is so easy to get tattooed in this day and age and, with the stigma and taboos around tattoos lifting as rapidly as it is, people really should make sure that they are getting tattooed for the right reason. It is a personal experience and to get one to emulate your favorite celebrity, personality or to fit in is unnecessary. Know why you like it before you give up that piece of skin and your hard earned money!
Do the crows on your shoulders have a significant meaning?
I have always considered crows very enigmatic creatures and, over the years, I have done a lot of research on them. They appear in many different cultures – with various significances – and are always seen as harbingers of wisdom, insight and knowledge, both positive and negative. For me, my crows serve as two of my guides through life and remind me to carve a path of truth, light and inspiration to the best of my ability…
There is an energetic value to both the act of getting tattooed and the piece you walk away with.
What was your first tattoo and what is its significance?
I got my first tattoo when I was young. My mom was practicing Rei-Ki and made me do the course – it really connected the two of us, so I got Rei-Ki (Japanese symbol of universal energy) tattooed on my lower back. It’s a bit trampy, but means a lot to me.
Did you always love tattoos?
My stepdad had tattoos all over him. He was a lawyer and one of his clients was in a biker gang that operated through a tattoo shop. I remember going to court with him once and, as he was a big fellow, he sweated. During cross-examination he took his jacket off and all his tatts showed through his shirt. The witness freaked out and the judge asked him to put his jacket back on to not intimidate the witness. He is the reason I got into tattoos and my first one was at that tattoo shop.
Tell me about the script tattoo on your ribcage.
I used to work at a psycho-social rehab center in Sydney. I loved the job and learned a lot about myself – and the reality of life. We take so much for granted and don’t realize what other people with mental illness deal with on a daily basis. When I left the job to move overseas, one of the clients wrote the quote I tattooed on my chest in my going away card. That tatt reminds me whenever I’m down that other people are dealing with much bigger things.
How connected to a design do you need to feel before getting it tattooed on your body?
All the tattoos on my body represent family, friends and the story of my life. All design aspects are so important to make the story paint a clear picture of who I am. Usually something significant happens in my life, and then I see an image or motif that describes that moment, and then I get it tattooed that very day if possible.
What’s the next tattoo you’re planning?
I just travelled back to Sydney after not being back in ten years. I saw my friend had his own design of a cockatoo tattooed on his arm. He said he would draw one up for me, so I guess that one is on the cards for me. But you never know, something might happen tomorrow to take me on a different path and that would take precedence.
Usually something significant happens in my life, and then I see an image or motif that describes that moment, and then I get it tattooed that very day if possible.