Tattoos are not for everyone. They are not for my grocery store check out lady who can only see people skin deep. They are not for the girl in my class who has a Pinterest board with thousands of quotes she swears she lives by. They are not for everyone. But for those who do have one, or two, or thirty, tattoos are there to remember.
A patch of nostalgia – in the form of ink pushed into skin – helps us remember love, or our family members who are no longer with us, or where we lived as children. We get quotes to help us remember what to live by, to help us to be kind to those around us, to engage with those around us – because we all need reminders to be true to ourselves and others. Your mom, your future boss, your neighbor you’ve never met will see you all inked up and expect you to be one thing or a certain kind of person. Show them someone they didn’t expect, a person just like themselves – a regular person. They can say we’re dumb, or sporadic, or anything else but we have love and passion behind our ink.
Whether we spent ten years or ten minutes picking out a tattoo, we stepped up to our artist, payed them, and stuck with our gut feeling. Our world is full of unintentional pain – from your dog running away or a family member getting cancer – and so, when we decide to feel pain on purpose there is a passion and love behind that decision that no one can argue against. Some tattoos are bold, dignified, intricate, or goofy. Some tell the story of a life and some the story of a drunken night, but no matter what, we have that story forever. What will your forever story be?
Below are the tattoos and stories of friends and classmates. Enjoy.
When did you get your tattoo? I was 19
What do tattoos mean to you? Personally for me tattoos are a way of preserving a feeling or moment in my life. I definitely wasn’t thinking about “what my tattoo might mean in the future” – I was thinking about what I wanted and felt in that moment.
A few words describing your tattoo? It is a proton to promote positivity.
What does your tattoo remind you of? Positivity and being 19. Also -I’m reminded of not speaking up, because I honestly wanted it to look different, but when the artist added the outline to my skin I felt bad asking him to do extra work so I didn’t. I’m annoyed with my younger self for that.
What planning went into it? I drew it on my wrist for a few months before getting it and I used to doodle in in my notebook during class.
What was your artist like? He was friendly, but not memorable.
Any meaning? I was feeling like there was a lot of negativity in my life at the time and I thought that the idea of everything including both negative and positive parts (electrons and protons) was really comforting. The meaning is to remind me to look for the positive parts in everything.
Date of tattoo? It was some time in 2002, I was 18.
A few words describing your tattoo? This tattoo is the orange Hungry Hungry Hippo, from the game, including the tab and a marble. I chose the orange one because it was my favorite color and hippos are my favorite animal.
What are you reminded of with your tattoo? When I look at any of my tattoos I’m reminded of how when I was younger, before kids, I never hesitated to do exactly what I wanted. I often get the “aren’t you afraid you’ll regret it” question, but even though I wouldn’t get the same tattoo today, I won’t regret what the tattoo means to me and the fact that getting it in the first place made me happy.
What do tattoos mean to you? My tattoos each have their own meaning, but they all tell a story of me and my past.
Any Meaning? This particular one is kind of a tribute to my childhood, Hungry Hungry Hippos was my favorite game and on weekends I often woke my parents up while playing it.
Any planning before this tattoo? I was pretty spontaneous when it came to most of my tattoos, I think this one took maybe a few hours to decide on.
When did you get the tattoo? Last November 11th
What do tattoos mean to you? Tattoos are kind like the birth marks you never got.
A few words describing your tattoo? Simple, Personal.
What are you reminded of when you look at your tattoo? It reminds me that my perception of reality is limited and that there is so much out .there that beyond what I can understand.
How much planning went into it? I have been wanting it for a couple of years but I got it impulsively while I was drunk in Vegas with my friend Christine.
What was your tattoo artist like? My artist was Kickass!
Date of tattoo? 2013! I was 23
What do tattoos mean to you? Tattoos to me is a form of expression. I can have a tattoo with deep meaning. Or something that I have interests in and choose to place on my body on a spontaneous Friday the 13th.
What are you reminded of when you look at your tattoo? How waiting 5 hours to just get it made it all worth it.
A few words describing your tattoo? Friday the 13th; the Alien abduction is apparently “bad luck”. But I would call it badass.
Any prior planning? Not much. This was an impulse.
Any meaning? I personally have a strong belief in life outside of our planet which is why I chose it.
What was your artist like? Intimidating at first but very nice! He was actually the owner of the shop.
Date of tattoo? 2006: When I was 18 years old.
One word describing your tattoo? Misfits.
What are you reminded of when looking at it? The best horror punk band of all time. The Misfits!
Any planning before the tattoo? One month.
Any meaning? An homage to my favourite band.
Date of tattoo? I got it at 11 in the morning two weeks before a road trip to Canada, when I was around 19
What do tattoos mean to you? A form of artistic expression on the most beautiful canvas – the human body
A few words describing your tattoo? Celestial, Father, Nostalgia.
What does your tattoo remind you of? Going to star parties in the desert with my father and learning about the universe as a small child. I am constantly reminded of how small we are, yet how large we are at the same time, being that we are star stuff ( to loosely quote Carl Sagan)
Any planning of the tattoo? I had the intention to get a tattoo since I was 14 or so and when my father had passed away from cancer at 19 I thought i’d finally bite the bullet and get my first tattoo of something that is so close to me – the cosmos.
I hope you enjoyed learning and getting to know the people behind the tattoos. If you have any fun, interesting, and cool tattoo stories be sure to comment below. Share your tattoo with the world!