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Marked, for Life

As creative people we have many ways to express ourselves; through the way we dress, the things we collect, the photographs we take and even the way we write on forums like this one. One of the ultimate ways of creative expression is through body art — yup, tattoos is the theme for this discussion.

I figured it’s friday and we needed a lighter topic (although I think Sam has something terrible in the works.) So, do you have a tattoo? Our own Don Clark seems to have just a few on his arm, I’m not sure. And even Chris May, with his calm demeanor, sports some tattoos with pride. Me? Yeah, I got one on my wrist, along with my wife on our first year wedding anniversary (aaaaaaw.)

How about it? As a designer have you ever designed your own tattoos? Or have asked the mean-looking bearded tattooer for tighter kerning? What do you think of the art of the tattoo? OK, I’m tired of writing tattoo. Tattoo.

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PUBLISHED ON Jun.13.2003 BY Armin
Sam’s comment is:

Best New Yoker cartoon ever:

Headline says: The Subtext of Every Tattoo

Drawing shows a punk rock kid with a tattoo that reads "Ask me about my parent's divorce"


I have no tattoo (despite parent's divorce). I think when I get one it'll be proof that it's no longer cool and that any old square can get inked.

On Jun.13.2003 at 09:07 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

I want one. I want lots. I don't have any. Ink isn't tacky and ladies should get them where you can see them.

Check out the guys at Redemtion Tattoo for some kick ass work.

On Jun.13.2003 at 09:11 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Like many designers, I'm always second guessing my solutions I come up with. Is this the best I could do? Was that other approach better? I should have gone with the other colors. This typeface isn't quite right. Damn! That kerning is way off.

As such, a tattoo is perhaps a bit too big of a committment. ;o)

On Jun.13.2003 at 09:12 AM
Patrick’s comment is:

I'm with Darrel on the second guessing / commitment thing. That, and a fear of needles keeps me from getting one, no matter how cool I think they are. Despite parents' divorce.

But I did design my wife's tattoo. And she wants me to do more. Talk about pressure. (Almost as much as being the photographer for both of my parents' weddings when they each got remarried.)

On Jun.13.2003 at 09:40 AM
Adrian’s comment is:

No tats, can't find a fur-less patch on me, or at least one where I'd like a tat. A couple of friends have them, some look good some are alright.

My roommate covered up an old one with a new one. It's interesting to watch the process, especially if it takes a couple of trips to complete. A friend had one that took about 4-5 trips to complete, first was the black ink and the rest of trips were for color and detail.

I change my desktop pattern and icons every 2 weeks so I don't think I could decide on one image to have on my body for the rest of my life.

On Jun.13.2003 at 09:45 AM
Drew Pocza’s comment is:

I have a sleeve, lower back , legs ( I tatted myself on those when I was an apprentice ) and back neck. I helped design some parts of them... but for the most I let the artisit do what he does for a living. I told him what I liked and he took it from there. I was a good client. No flash for me. I wanted something original. And having the ink has not hindered any jobs (yet). I plan on doing the other sleeve and a tat on my side of the neck. Maybe hands.

I have other mods that are great coversation ice breakers."owch did that hurt" is the most common.


On Jun.13.2003 at 10:06 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

I think tattooing is a trend these days. I'd be afraid of looking back in 15 years, pointing to a tat and thinking, "That was a phase I was going through." It'll be like looking back at high school photos and cringing at the parachute pants with the bandanna wrapped around one leg. Except the pants can be thrown out. It's not that I disapprove of tattoos, but I just don't really like them that much.

Then again, my parents are still married after almost 40 years, so you can blame them. ;-)

On Jun.13.2003 at 10:23 AM
pnk’s comment is:

I have tats in three regions: both upper arms and my right calf. Will most assuredly get more at some point.

I have designed three of the four, although one is adapted from a David Sibley illustration (showing the comparitive head-on profiles of hawks in flight.) The fourth was done while I was interviewing the tattoo artist for a magazine article. I let her (Ashliegh, aka Triangle-Slash) do her own thing and the whole experience was really great.

I have a general rule of thumb, which is that once I have decided I am finally happy with a design I hold off for about 6 months. If at hat time I am still excited about it I will go ahead with the tattoo. I have backed off three designs so far and am extremely happy that I observed this "cooling-off" period.

As to Jonsel's comment, I like being able to look at my older tattoos and think "That's representative who I was then." They are like bookmarks in the development of your personality.

On Jun.13.2003 at 10:33 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

I have a general rule of thumb, which is that once I have decided I am finally happy with a design I hold off for about 6 months. If at hat time I am still excited about it I will go ahead with the tattoo. I have backed off three designs so far and am extremely happy that I observed this "cooling-off" period.

Great idea.

They are like bookmarks in the development of your personality.

My friend has an idea for a tattoo. He wants to ink a pattern from his left hand, around his head, down to his right hand. In each "container" in the pattern he would then tattoo a little symbol of every important event in his life.

On Jun.13.2003 at 12:09 PM
JZ’s comment is:

I have two....a little cartoon that I got the night I graduated from high school and a piece on my left forearm that is more thought-out.

Here it is:

I designed it my self with a few parameters.

First off, I had chosen that location on the underside of my forearm so I wanted to design a piece that worked in that space. That particular location had a lot of appeal to me....its on my forearm and boldly out in the open; easily on display when cruising in a car with my arm resting out the open window; but suprisingly hidden in the event of a face-face meeting. It is rather large but subtle.

Second, I wanted to design a piece with a more "graphic" style. I like strong lines and flat planes of color. I really don't like the typical uber-detailed drawing of figures of mythology, death, etc. that comprise most tattoos. I wanted a more timeless design.

Lastly I wanted it to be loose and unfinished. It stands alone as a finished piece should I suddenly decide that its my last tattoo but is open enough that I can add on to it later on. I like the idea of a design that evolves. We all evolve in our personality and our profession - I kind of want to capture that in my tattoo art. So sometime in the next year or two I'll add on to it and perhaps completely change its impact. And then add even more.

I explained this much more eloquently on another messageboard but I think you get the idea.

On Jun.13.2003 at 02:04 PM
armin’s comment is:

>its on my forearm and boldly out in the open

You know... I debated a lot whether I wanted mine to be so visible. Especially for client meetings. I decided to get it out in the open where everybody can see it, and it's pretty funny how everytime somebody shakes my hand they do a double take to make sure they saw correctly. For more corporate clients, I wear a long sleeved shirt and that's the end of that. I talk a lot with my hands, so it's cool to see people staring at it as I wave my hands all over the place.

They had a show on MTV about tattoos and they showed a really cool one that one rapper had: when you looked at it in the correct position (it was in the same place as yours, JZ) it would read "death" but when he turned his arm upside down it would read "life." Pretty darn cool if you ask me.

On Jun.13.2003 at 03:45 PM
Max’s comment is:

I designed my first tattoo in a "aww...what the hell" moment when I was directing another person to the tattoo parlor (they didn't know their way around town). As such, it sucks. It's not bad, it's just that no one knows what it is. I'm not even sure what it is anymore.

My second one was collaborative with the artist - all black tribal dragon that wraps around my arm. That one was much more successful, and I have it on the same arm as the first one, so the dragon kind of fancies it up.

I would like to get a couple on the other arm and not worry about designing them this time. You do get better results with an artist if you direct them rather than do all the designing for them, it seems.

I like the Sailor Jerry flash for the retro-coolness, but I also dig on Tim Biedron's trees.

On Jun.13.2003 at 03:56 PM
JZ’s comment is:

I talk a lot with my hands, so it's cool to see people staring at it as I wave my hands all over the place.

I'm am exactly the same way - happens all the time.


On Jun.13.2003 at 04:17 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I dig tattoos - specially on the small of a woman's back. Very sexy and a little trashy. Sorry if that sounds like objectizing.

A designer I work with has a number of them all over his body. His view: anyone who has one above the neck is just saying that he/she wants to be seen as a freak the rest of his/her life. Nothing wrong with that if you don't care.

I've wanted one for years. Think I'll finally get it when I turn 40, like a sports car or something pathetically mid-life. Designed it and everything -- just haven't scaled it yet, and not quite sure where to put it.

I know a designer that has a tattoo on the inside of his lower lip. Ouch.

On Jun.13.2003 at 05:09 PM
Seg’s comment is:

I love tattoos. I dont do them on myself because seriously, this is way too much of a commitment for a guy that changes his taste [in everything] as often as i do.

I did design a tatoo for a classmate half a year ago. It was a very slick design i drew in class -- a composition of many thin flexible swirly lines. At first she wanted to take and make a tattoo of the draft i made. Later she let me do another few versions and get it done properly. Its so wierd how unseriously people take this. Its so much unlike anything. Were talking tattoos here - the most permanent and visible tag you can make.

I want to make a 'fig. 1' (in very small italic) tattoo someday. ah, who knows.. maybe.

On Jun.15.2003 at 09:22 AM
Andy’s comment is:

I'm thinking about getting one that says: "I visited San Quentin and all I got was this stupid tattoo." Lettered in Fette Fraktur, of course... :)

On Jun.16.2003 at 10:29 AM
christopher may’s comment is:

man, i don't know how i missed this blog.

>I let the artist do what he does for a living...

I haven't yet designed my own tattoo.


didn't you say you were getting the big "THUG" tattoo across the six pack? (hehehe)


On Jun.17.2003 at 09:32 AM
armin’s comment is:

>didn't you say you were getting the big "THUG" tattoo across the six pack?

Dude, my abs are so chiseled no tattoo needle can get past the layers of tough, manly muscle.

On Jun.17.2003 at 09:41 AM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Whether they are a way to communicate a different side of your personality (if you want one that is seen by everyone) or they not-ready-for-primetime private, tattoos are good. If you're inclined, be forwarned that they are quite addictive.

On Jun.17.2003 at 10:16 AM
Lee’s comment is:

I've got 3 tatts and the 4th one is to come soon.

I considered designing my own tattoo at first. But being so self-critical, i'd probably be sporting my first tatt on my 60th birthday.

Yes. They are very very addictive.

On Jun.21.2003 at 01:45 PM
Lee’s comment is:

Oh. Forgot to mention.

Was at the pub last nite. A pretty lass professed her fetish for tatts and asked if she could like mine. I obliged, of course.

It was on my forearm, in case you were wondering.

Moral of the story? The pain is worth it.


On Jun.21.2003 at 01:53 PM
Lee’s comment is:

oops. Lick... not like.

pardon me.

On Jun.21.2003 at 01:53 PM