Tattoos were cool when they were frowned upon. One as harmless as a butterfly would make self declared ‘right thinking’ members of society judge you. They’d form dark opinions about your upbringing and refuse their children to date you.But now, tattoos are as normal as dreadlocks (and dreadlocks are as normal as permed hair). The shock value is all gone. If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo to express how edgy you are, you’re too late, sorry. You may as well use that money to pad the foundation of a land-buying/ car-buying fund.
However, if your itch to get inked comes from a deep, dark, genuine place, get one and let me know how you zeroed down on your message or drawing.
A whole new kind of pressure has infiltrated the process of getting a tattoo. Since coolness and peer pressure have been taken out of the equation, tattoos now have to mean something: a memory that you hold dear, a date that changed the course of your life, a phrase that reaffirms your beliefs, etc. I’m judgmental of anybody who just goes into a tattoo shop, opens a book and picks a design and I’ll totally judge myself if my own doesn’t seem well thought-out to the world.
I’ve been hunting for the right message for over two years because my expectations of the phrase that will occupy rent-free space on my skin are unrealistic. I want it to be funny, deep, a bit shocking and full of feeling. I want every human that glances at it to be thrown into a frenzy of self-reflection.
My first idea was ‘writer’s block is for amateurs’. It was stupid. Every artist goes through periods of hyper creativity, followed by periods where their brains refuse to start, like the engine of a third hand car. I thank my lucky stars that I chickened out because I’d have this nasty, mocking message running from my chest to my belly button, paralyzing my creative process and driving me over the cliff of sanity.
Ever since I discovered a website called Zen pencils, however, I feel I’m as close to making a decision as I‘ll ever be. What this guy does is take inspirational words and turn them into comics. I don’t know how wonderful the lines will remain when they do not have his pictures below them, but I’m slowly moving past the point where I mind so much about what people will think. It’s not like I’m going to stand at city square showing passersby my body ink.
The best ones I’ve found are: Fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds’ worth of distance run. Rudyard Kipling wrote that. It’s beautiful because life is full of unforgiving minutes. Boredom, depression and ennui can combine to make you useless and this message will spur me to action every time my cubicle feels oppressive.
Make good art. This one’s by superstar of the pen Neil gaiman. He says to make art out of every situation, especially the ugly ones.
Baby, air and light and time and space have nothing to do with it! This is by Bukowski, that coarse and brilliant man. It bashes the notion that one needs a certain combination of factors to be perfectly aligned for them to be creative.
My favorite idea is to have the word LAUGH! printed on my belly with a naked fat lady laughing uproariously below. That’s the second one I’ll get.
Now to find the first.