Tattoos (And What They Really Feel Like)

Standard

I’m tattooed.

Not heavily – though I have some larger pieces – but my collection is starting to add up. Of course, as they do begin to pile up so do the questions.

Did that hurt?
Aren’t you worried about finding a job?
How are they going to look over time?
Aren’t you afraid of regretting them when you’re older?

And my personal favourite:

But what does it mean?

Ah yes, the age old question of what a person’s tattoo(s) mean(s). I suppose that comes with the territory when you’re (mostly) permanently modifying your body; I just always thought it strange that people would be so wrapped up in what someone else is doing with their own skin. I find it quite amusing when the explanation doesn’t match up with their expectations – as if your own personal thought process wasn’t the most important in the decision. Seemingly, tattoos are to impress others, not be an extension of your own expression. As I’ve come to get used to this, I’ve developed silly backstories and meanings for my tattoos – if they’re already going to disappoint I may as well have fun with it. I thought it would be fun to share a few of them, as well as the real reason I each piece was chosen.

Bindrune – left inside forearm
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Made Up Meaning:
One that I’m particularly fond of is “fish bones”. It’s a common interpretation that I usually take a step further by suggesting that his name is “Adam” and that is in fact why he is missing a “rib”.

Real Meaning:
The very first one! One year at the Edmonton Heritage Festival, I came across the jewelry company Alrun. They take Icelandic words, convert them into Nordic runes, then combine them into one symbol – a bindrune. This particular one translates as “Tónlist” or music. Music has been a really big part of my life, whether connected to growing up listening to tunes with my dad, attempting a band in high school, or it’s ability to settle me in my worst of times. I like the more abstract representation, rather than the typical clefs and notes.

Dada Motto – right outside forearm

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Made Up Meaning:
A lot of times people don’t believe it’s a real tattoo; they think it’s just ink stamped on. I think that’s a tribute to how well my artist Dave Phelps did this piece. Often times I’ll humour folks and just agree, especially at work: “Oh yeah, it’s been a slow day, I got bored…started playing with markers and ink.”

Real Meaning:
It took a good long while before my next tattoo. This one is pretty straight forward. “Destruction is also Creation” is the motto of the Dada art movement. I’ve always been fascinated by the movement and their paradoxical nature. It’s a motto that has served well as a personal mantra over the years as I’ve had many beginnings and ends.
Bee with Initials – left thigh (directly above knee)

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Made Up Meaning:
I usually say PEM is an acronym for a host of ridiculous things and that the bee is that “club’s” logo. Some examples:
Pretty Erect Men
Prickly Elephant Members
Post Erection Menstruation
Pregnant Enraged Masturbators

Real Meaning:
Most people will tell you that getting a “tribute piece” for a friend is a bad idea. Mostly, you just really never know when you may have a falling out with that person – just ask my sister. I don’t particularly feel worried about this one. We may not talk very often or be as close as we once were – possibly less so SINCE I got tattooed – but my friend Paege has meant so much in my life, that she is one of the few people I could conceive getting a tattoo for, that isn’t family. The bee stems from my old nickname for her: “Honeybee”.

Egg Diagram – back of right bicep

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Made Up Meaning:
I don’t really get questioned on this one as much as you would expect. I haven’t really come up with a very good story for it. Usually, I just recount it’s real meaning, or fib something like: “I used to work for the egg council.”

Really Meaning:
Honestly? I just really love breakfast. This is the first of several that will depict different breakfast/brunch items in a medical/lithograph style.

Fennec fox with Rose – right outside calf

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Made Up Meaning:
This one is fairly new. Some people have thought it was a cat – my sister for one. I’ve rolled with that and told them that it was a cat that came to me in a dream and tried to steal the Beast’s rose. Then I beat him up and with each punch a million different colours spewed forth – I work well under pressure.

Real Meaning:
The fox is a character in the book “Le Petit Prince”, as is the rose. It is one of my two favourite books and is filled with so many wonderful, quotable moments.

Beetle-Dagger – left shin

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Made Up Meaning:
This is the newest of the bunch. I haven’t had the opportunity to tell an epic fib. If I had to guess, I imagine I’ll assign it some deep cultural significance: “The beetle is a symbol of power and defiance to my people…”

Real Meaning:
It’s. A. Badass. Beetle. Dagger. Need I say more? I plan to get a bunch of creepy crawlies on my left leg to go with this and the bee. When I visited my good friend in Montreal recently, her man-friend tattooed this excellent piece off his flash sheet for me. I had been talking about doing a beetle with a dagger for it’s “horns” and he happened to have a piece that matched!

So there’s the list as she stands now. As you can see, I’m not totally hung up on deep significance. I feel like each tattoo is representative of a period in your life. At varying times you’re going to have art that you want to depict on your body because it means something special. Other times, you’ll come across art that just looks way better on your body than on a wall. I know that seems like a bit of a frivolous way of looking at tattoos and doesn’t necessary answer the question of regret.

The way I look at it, we’re only here for a short time and it’s best  to mark those moments in the ways we see fit.

-DFP-

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