The Story of the Tattoo

For my birthday many years ago, I got a tattoo. It was, as many first tattoos are, a "tramp stamp" on my lower back. This has never bothered me, because I still love the design, and plan on someday incorporating it into my other tattoo (Sorry, mom!). But it is the story of my second tattoo that I am going to tell today.

Back when I actually made money, I saved and scrimped for more ink, like you do, because once you've gone under the needle, whoa boy, do you jones for more tats. I had promised myself, as I did with my first tattoo, that I would hold onto the design for one year before deciding if I would get it tattooed or not.

Sidebar: For anyone thinking of getting a first tattoo, this is a very good plan to abide by. That way you'll never look back on something etched forever into your skin and say "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time." Sage advice. Am oracle. Listen to Banshee, she is good, she is wise.

Anyway, I was looking for a design, and woo boy, did it ever smack me right in the face. I've been a huge fan of Brian Froud's art for most of my life (he did the art direction for "Labyrinth" and "The Dark Crystal," which are two of my favorite movies) so it seemed only natural that I would get something of his as a permanent part of my body. Again, choices with no regrets. Put it on a Post-It.

But I didn't really think too much about it, until I bought Froud's new book and saw this:


"She throws her spell of introspective darkness, and you sink deeper into
the shadows of despondency.  Her enchantment may last for just a few
hours…or for many years.  Yet the hue of her wings reminds us that
there is always hope in the midst of hopelessness."

It was perfect. "The hue of her wings reminds us that there is always hope in the midst of hopelessness." That's damn right. The fact that it was incredibly beautiful didn't hurt either. Much like the painting, I had found MY tattoo.

I researched on the internet to find a tattoo artist that had Froud tats in his or her portfolio, and found someone in Pennsylvania who SPECIALIZED in Froud tattoos. I lived right by Pennsylvania! This was fate, friends. I visited the studio with the book, talked at length with the artist, and scheduled my first appointment.

Oh yes. FIRST appointment. The entire process took 13 hours over three appointments. It was also VERY expensive. BUT! I only had to pay for two sessions, because one of them was at a tattoo convention (very very cool) where I was the demonstration model for the studio's booth. Still, way expensive. I don't regret a penny of it.

Because that's the thing with tattoos, or should be. Pieces should MEAN something, should represent times in one's life that were incredibly powerful and meaningful. I was in the throes of a mental illness I didn't understand, I was drinking heavily, I DIDN'T see the hue of my wings. So I made them real.

My tattoo is part of me. I think it always has been.



The Story of the Tattoo — 13 Comments

  1. “My tattoo is part of me. I think it always has been.”
    I kinda feel that way about my piercings…and one day I hope to feel the same about my future tattoos =)
    Liked the story (and the one about the painting!)

  2. That is so spectacular (both the story and the tattoo) that it made me all leaky.
    All four of my tattoos have meaning, and thought put into them, as do the ones I have planned for someday.
    If ever I win the lottery, I’ll be getting full sized angel wings, from shoulder to calf, and I have plans for a piece that encompasses punked up versions of the crafts that I do.

  3. That is not just a tattoo. It is art, full on. Which is the way it should be.
    I am stuck on how to represent my next tat, so I am putting it off. I have been pondering the image for about 4 years now …. do you think it is possible to overthink it?
    And BTW … My “tramp stamp” was my third tattoo. I was over 30 when I got it and would not change a thing.

  4. Well said! All my tats have stories behind them as well, I just wish they didn’t cost so dang much! Like you said tho – totally worth it, wouldn’t change a thing!
    Unfortunately my tattoo artist passed away suddenly a little over a year ago. She was such a great person, I got the cover of her funeral program tattooed on my arm. It’s beautiful and I love spreading the word about what a beautiful person, inside and out, she was.

  5. I like your suggestion for people to hold onto their idea for at least a year to decide whether or not to really get it as a tattoo. I did that with my design (actually, I had had the design idea for 4 years…I was ready for it by the time I got it!), and I’ve never had a moment’s regret. And that’s how it should be. Mine is a tramp stamp, too, because it’s on my lower back, but it’s a 5″ long phoenix, so I rationalize that it doesn’t *completely* fit the tramp stamp mode…Or, I’m just fooling myself! Thanks for sharing your tattoo’s story

  6. I got flowers and leaves on my ankle 12 years ago as my first one.Last year on my 45th (ahem,still rock star) bday hubby asks what I want and I blurted out a tattoo!! He was into the idea and I have my whole upper left arm(because at this age I dont give a flying shit what anybody thinks of me) and them 3 months ago I got the Patron Bee tattooed in purples on my right inner wrist.My partying like a rock star days are gone but why a bee off a booze bottle you may ask,well kids,it was the best bee I could find and the reason for a bee is ,get ready…when I look at it ,I am reminded to “bee” a nice person,”bee” kind and give to others.”bee” the best I can “bee”.It may sound corny but when I get pissed off I look at it and remind myself to “bee”.BTW,hubby has a full Japanise theme(cherry blossoms,tiger,warrior and geisha) covering his enitre left arm,2 massive fu dogs chest pieces and a evil jester on his right arm and is planning a full scale back piece!!! It is his mid life crisis lol

  7. Hey! Your tattoo looks amazing. I’m a huge Froud fan and live in Pennsylvania too actually! Would you mind stating where and who the artist was who did the ink? I’ve been pondering some Froud ink of my own for quite some time and would love to check them out if they’re near by. 🙂

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