Let’s Think About Ink

A tattoo on your hand, a place you could never hide it, used to be one of the most provocative forms of self-expression imaginable. Now the hands have become the arms, and the face is the hands. More and more people display their artwork proudly, without fear of judgement. Working professionals carry ink on their hands and fingers, and the bravest of us cover our necks and faces in vivid imagery that may represent something incredibly personal, or may have been thrown on there for shits n’ gigs.

The point is that we don’t need to be afraid of accumulating a healthy collection of ink. Some of us have grand portraits, some have small infinity signs with cute lettering, and some of us have something that looks kind of like a skull and was done with a sewing needle. No matter the size or quality of a tattoo, each one can carry a unique story. The tattoo could represent a meaningful time in your life, or the story could be how you acquired that jailbird style ink. Maybe you want to share your story with the world, and maybe you don’t. That’s your choice, but if anyone ever asks about your ink there’s always one good answer: it’s badass.

My favourite tattoo is also my shittiest tattoo. It’s a small design on my leg that I drew up one night in my dorm room with my best friend. I proceeded to break out my personal kit to make it a lasting memory. We burnt the sewing needle with a lighter, dipped it in ink we got from Wal-Mart, and went to work on it. I guarantee it looks like shit, and I may have spilt ink all over my bedding during the process, but it’ll be one hell of a story to tell my kids. I don’t regret the tattoo, and even though it looks pretty rough I don’t think I would ever change it. My friend and I really bonded over our willingness to experiment and express ourselves in a permanent form of art. I’ve spent over a thousand dollars on professional tattoos, with flawless lines and bright colours, but my favourite one will always be my shittiest one.

Ink demands attention. Refute the pressure to hide yourself away. Companies sell tattoo cover-up, basically concealer, so you can “look professional,” but all it does is perpetuate the idea that tattoos are shameful and irresponsible. Ink on someone’s skin does not have any effect on someone’s character. We are the politicians, the doctors, the teachers, and, in some cases, the dropouts of the future. We don’t need to abide by an old time version of professionalism. If you care that much, tattoo a tie on your chest. If you’re hiding your art, what was the point of getting it in the first place?

For those of you who are thinking about getting inked up, here are some tips: (1) Don’t over think it. A tattoo doesn’t have to show your life story for it to be meaningful. Getting a tattoo is a journey, and well worth the pain. Bring a friend with you and make some memories. If anything, they’ll be there to laugh at you while you squirm in pain. (2) Shop for an artist you’re comfortable with. If you don’t trust your artist, they’ll be able to tell and the art will suffer. (3) Don’t use Google. If I can find your exact tattoo in a mass search, it probably isn’t that creative. (4) Finally, put it on your arm. Don’t hide it underneath layers of clothing, because you should be proud of your art. Also, the arm is a great starting spot, because it’s not that painful and it’s easy to tattoo. Always be proud of your ink, and quite literally wear it on your sleeve.

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