Ink or Pierce? Decisions, decisions…

I’m getting restless again. It’s only four months since my last tattoo and I want something else done already.

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I haven’t yet decided whether it will be another tattoo or a piercing this time, so I’m open to suggestions at this point.

Naturally, if I plump for the ink, there will be a continuation of the cat theme, which features in all six of the existing designs. My very first tat, the small outline of a cat in my lower back (that’s the ‘tramp stamp’ to most of you!), is now looking a little lonely all by itself, and it’s nowhere near as intricate as the others, so I think it would be great to have it embellished and expanded into something more artistic.

Alternatively, I could go for another piercing. I’ve had some great information about the fabled (and in my opinion, incredibly sexy) VCH (read more here) but I am also considering another pair of ear piercings. I have four each side already, so it would be nice to build them up a little more.

Anyway, all this research got me thinking. Body art and modifications are more and more popular and mainstream now than ever before. Why is it that we choose to bejewel and adorn ourselves in such a way?

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The history of tattooing goes back to Neolithic times. A mummy was unearthed in South America who bore ink marks on the upper lip. The remains were dated to around 6000 BC (see here), so this is nothing new. However, until relatively recently, it was largely recognised as having prominence only in primitive tribal cultures.

In Western civilisations, it was largely used to distinguish those who had spent time in prison or been at war. There are records of soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War receiving tattoos.

Not until the 1970s did it become part of mainstream fashion in the West, often led by prominent artists in popular culture. The likes of Janis Joplin (who famously had a small heart inked onto her left breast) helped in shifting tattoos from something which marked someone out as an outcast, to being an acceptable form of self-expression.

Piercing, too, has had a colourful past. Apparently, there are references in the Kama Sutra to a piercing in the penis to enhance sexual enjoyment. (Who knew?!)

People choose to get tattoos and/or piercings for all sorts of reasons:

  • Identification – they want something meaningful to them, for example their Zodiac sign, or a favourite pattern or photo;
  • To honour loved ones – children’s names are often used, or a visual representation of something which reminds them of a deceased loved one;
  • Style, fashion statement – celtic bands, large flower patterns, angels, or whatever, these trends are constantly changing;
  • Prison/gang membership – still used, apparently, although I have no first-hand experience of this!
  • Other – tattoos can be a very effective way of covering scar tissue following surgery or an accident, improving body confidence in many cases.

For me, my tattoos and piercings are all very personal. Each one marks an event or person which has had a profound effect on my journey through this mortal plane of existence and I like to remember them.

So, who’s ready to share their photos of your ink? I’d really love to see them!

Tattoos: Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em..?

There was a time when only sailors and prisoners ever got tattoos. How times have changed!

My wonderful friend Huy Truong is a professional graphic designer. Recently, I commissioned him to come up with a design for a tattoo to celebrate a truly fantastic 2014, my first year as a publisher author. This is what he came up with:

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Kitty tat Design, commissioned by Huy Truong

His remit was very open. I said I wanted something to celebrate my author status. Perhaps a picture of me, maybe, surrounded by a couple of cats and some books. Something like that, I said. I was blown away by his results.

This will be my sixth tattoo. Each of them is cat-related and all mark specific periods or milestones in my life. They are sentimental events I wanted to remember especially and keep a permanent record of them. Separation and divorce, a particularly poignant love affair, and my own little cat’s portrait, they all have their place on my skin.

I love tattoos. Years before I had my first one, at the tender age of 28, I had yearned for one. I think there are a few reasons why.

Firstly, there’s the pain. I like the thought of enduring pain for something beautiful and meaningful. At this point, I feel the need to tell you that I’m not a mother, nor do I have any inclination to become one. I’m sure those of you who have endured the pain of childbirth will all agree that it’s very much worth it, for the children you have brought into this world.

Secondly, I think it’s a great way to exercise freedom of expression and individuality. Tattoos have become very personal items. It’s not uncommon to have them commissioned especially for you, as Huy has done for me. I know this image could be widely copied from the web and used again for someone else’s tattoo, but I also know it was designed personally for me, and with me in mind. That girl does kind of look a little like me, in a good light!

But, you know, there’s another reason why I keep getting tattoos. They are strangely addictive. I shall never forget my first one: a small stylish outline of a cat in the small of my back. The guy finished putting away the needle, sat back to admire his own handiwork, then said, “You know, one will never be enough. You will have more.”

It was a number of year before I went back, but I did. I have now embraced the fact that I shall keep getting them, as long as I have something to commemorate; an event or a milestone that is so important it deserves a permanent brand somewhere about my person. I am celebrating my expression of these moments in my life, that have made me who I am today.

I have a Pinterest board which captures some gorgeous, fantastic images of tattoos and piercings, so feel free to follow me here, and add your own if you like.

In the meantime, I shall be having this tattoo done some time early in 2015. Check out my Twitter page for an image soon!