This Just In: Tattoos Make Me Feel…Inky?

I was trying to go for a good pun up there, but my brain checked out at least three hours ago, so I’ve got nothin’.

Anyhow. I’ve been thinking about tattoos on and off for the last couple of years–probably since Tia got her first tattoo, which was the first and only tattoo I’ve seen applied to someone. I do like the idea of getting some ink, but I also know that I need to carefully consider what I want, where I want it, who should do it, etc. etc. It’s not an easy process, y’all! I appreciate reading discourse about heavily tattooed women and how they’re viewed in our society, and it’s really interesting to keep track of tattoo trends and what’s new and edgy in the body modification world. Personally, I’m pretty sure that I want my first tattoo to be a semicolon, maybe like this one:

I’d be open to working with the artist if they have any ideas, but I like the flow of that particular semicolon. (Okay, I know it sounds stupid when I put it like that, but shut up your face.)

I’ve also seriously been considering a hummingbird tattoo, because I have a long history of being fascinated by them and how little and badass they are. True story: when I was really little, like five or six, I used to pretend I was a ruby-throated hummingbird and would jump off my bed while flapping my “wings.” I even wrote a letter saying as much to our local newspaper, and they ran it. Oh, children.

My main problem with most hummingbird tattoos I’ve seen out there is that they look so…stiff and lifeless. That, or exceedingly floral. I have seen some beautiful hummingbird work done in the style of Pacific Northwest First Nations people, like the Haida, but I think it’s probably pretty obvious why I’m not going to go that route. I don’t know yet if what I want is just something that can’t be captured in a still image; I would probably have to work pretty closely with the artist to get something satisfactory. Although something in the style of Ernst Haeckel’s work would be pretty awesome, and would hit two, uh, non-birds with one non-stone:

Look at the hairstyles on some of those! And the poofy legs on the guy in the bottom right! Look at his little spots! Look at his tufted ears!

One final tattoo that I’ve been working on the idea of for a while is a quote. With my affinity for books and reading, a quote seems like a no-brainer. The main issue with this is that many of the literary quotes that I really love are kind of weird or depressing–like the term “arga warga” from Riddley Walker, one of my favorite all-time novels, which is used as a word for “trouble,” but which is literally the onomatopoeia for dogs tearing a person apart. But, come on, arga warga! I do want to try to choose something at least a little uplifting, and something that’s beautiful out of context as well as in context–a tall order, I know, but that’s why I’m still working on it. Contrariwise is a great website that collects literary tattoos (or did, it hasn’t been updated in a while), and it’s fun to go there for inspiration:

via Contrariwise

I don’t think I’ll ever choose to get a lower back tattoo, but I can definitely get behind some “Jabberwocky” love!

Do you have any tattoo plans or dreams? Or do you already have some work done?

13 thoughts on “This Just In: Tattoos Make Me Feel…Inky?

  1. Have you seen The Word Made Flesh? My favorite place for lit tattoos.

    As for motion in a tattoo, this may not work but it’s an idea I’ve been thinking of (only hypothetically – no tattoos for me, for personal reasons). In the Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d-Arc, the site of the oldest known cave art in the world (Werner Herzog’s documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams is about it), there’s an image of a running bison. The reason you know it’s running is that it has eight legs. The artist(s) depicted the blur of appendages you would have seen. I can’t find an image of it, but it’s simultaneously beautiful, understandable, interesting, slightly odd, fantastic and realistic all at once. While I love me some Haeckel, perhaps an image that blurs the hummingbird wings the way we see them in life?

    • Mia says:

      I like the way you think, Katie. I’ve got to go study some other works of art that depict motion in stillness (Nude Descending a Staircase, anyone?) and consider the options.

      • Another artist who does nature images exquisitely, and manages to capture motion in very still lines, is Charley Harper. I’m not sure if he did any images of hummingbirds, but many of his drawings were of various bird species, and I bet a good tattoo artist could take Harper’s style and make it into a rad hummingbird tattoo.

  2. Jessica says:

    I completely feel you on the quotes I love mostly being not what I want to put permanently on my body. One of my favorites, that hit me like a brick, which is from Octavian Nothing and I’m pretty sure I’ve told you all this before but: “At long last, you may no longer distinguish what binds you from what is you.” Which is just… no. Not as a tattoo, I think.

    • Mia says:

      Yeah, that’s the problem with quotes that are seriously moving–they may really hit home, but not always in a way that you want on your body for the rest of your life. Especially the quotes that are painful truths.

  3. I have five tattoos and I love them all – but my fave by far is the sparrow I got on my upper left arm. I looked at designs all over the place and didn’t find anything I liked and resigned myself to getting a lifeless looking sparrow. But after I had a consult with my artist he drew a sketch that totally blew me away. My biggest advice would be check out local artists, go in and look at their portfolios and find someone who’s work inspires you.

    • Mia says:

      Thanks for the advice! It’s very helpful to talk to the tattoo-ed folks I know, even though I know everyone’s experience is different. I may have to widen my scope a bit and drive out to Sacramento, because they have a wider range of artists there and I think I’ll be more likely to find someone who suits me.

  4. I’m curious why, as a child, you were motivated to tell the newspaper about your hummingbird behaviors. Or if you still have the letter you wrote. Gawd, you must’ve been the most darling child.

    Gotta agree with Zoe regarding going to a local artist and asking them to draw things for you when you do decide to go for humming bird ink. I had ideas of what I wanted with the chucks, but my artist fecking blew me away. :3

    Aw, if you got some of Jabberwocky, I’d want to be there for the process. ❤

    • Mia says:

      Welllllll, I think at that time the Tracy Press ran little notes and letters written by local kids. Like I remember Matt sent in a story he wrote when he was 4 or 5 about a lizard that lived under a rock. Every day is a slow news day in Tracy. (I was the most obnoxious child. :v)

      Yeah, I’m gonna poke around here and the Sac artists and see if I can find someone I like. A tattoo will probably still be a while in coming, but I do want it to happen in the next couple of years!

  5. D says:

    I really like the “Sometimes when you fall, you fly…” quote from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and I am seriously considering getting that as a tattoo. This would be my first one though, and I’m somewhat scared! I do absolutely love lit and science tattoos, even if I never get one.

    • Mia says:

      Neil Gaiman is definitely a good source of inspiration and quotage. The idea of a tattoo scares me too, but it also excites me, and I think I’ll be happier to have one or two of my ideas done than to never get anything. It doesn’t hurt to think on it for a year or two, though. 🙂

  6. I have too many tattoos! I don’t necessarily like getting words on me, but I do have “No Regrets” on my wrist to remind my brain to stfu when it’s going all crazy. And I have an abbreviated quote by malcolm x in a rose banner on my arm. Mostly, I like pictures. But I love tattoos. I love looking at them and seeing other peep’s work. 🙂

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