I’m about thisclose to my next tattoo, so that means that I’ve had them on the mind a bit.
Just a bit.
And by “a bit” I mean “a lot”. It’s the same thing that always happens whenever I get the itch – I catch up on threads within the Rav tattoo board. I browse Flickr groups. I obsessively scan my artist’s online portfolio. I sketch my intended design over and over. I text my mom about it. I text my husband about it. I text my friends about it.
In short, I become a real nuisance (moreso than usual, I mean).
So rather than be even more nuisance-y to my loved ones, I thought today I’d let you guys into my scary, crazy brain and show you what happens – for me – in the days and weeks leading up to getting inked. I guess you’d call this my Tattoo Philosophy?
And please remember, this is just me. If you’re so inclined to adopt this philosophy – or a variation of it – as your own, by all means feel free! But I’m in no way judging or condemning those who make or have made different choices.
The first step is always an idea – the “hey that would be a cool tattoo!” moment. From there I subject the idea to rigorous (no, really!) testing and envisioning and imagining, before I even begin to consider adding it to my skin.
I’m not sure what you would call these – rules? Guidelines? A credo? But here they are:
- Must feel organic; natural. Like it’s already part of me and I’m just “bringing it to the surface.” Must be able to feel it before I have it.
- Must have personal significance.
- Must be completely unique to me – no flash from the wall or direct copies of anything I’ve seen elsewhere. Inspiration/stylistic ideas are fine; copies aren’t.
- Must have physical balance and symmetry, and must work with my body’s shape and curves, not against it. Must feel as though it fits with my body, not like it just sits on it.
- Must not be trendy or pop culture-y.
- Must not rely on photorealism at all. Be careful with “necessary” straight lines.
- Must be designed by me; must have clear sense of purpose and meaning before taking it to the artist.
- Must maintain lifetime significance; nothing there’s even a shadow of a hint of a thought that I might regret in 10 or 3o or 70 years.
- Must be “mature” – easy to display or hide at any time, whenever I wish.
- Must completely trust artist and his talent; must not have any reservations whatsoever.
OK, so once I’ve got the idea, and it meets all of the above standards – then what?
Here’s the real nitty-gritty of my planning process:
1)Mull it over for several months, quietly and to myself.
2)Decide if the tattoo would be a really good thing, or if I should just let it go (this step is the reason I don’t have a Dark Side of the Moon tramp stamp right now.*)
3)Once I’ve decided on the tattoo, decide again. Make sure decision hasn’t changed. Decide for a third time, just for kicks.
4)Mull it over for several months more.
5)See if I start to “feel” the tattoo on the intended area. If I feel as though I already have it, if I look down at my wrist/shoulder/whatever and am surprised when there’s no tattoo there, then I know it’s a good plan.
6)Tentatively, slowly tell others about my idea. Solicit honest opinions (my mom is really good at these) (most moms are).
7)Develop the particulars of the design, planning in a way that embodies the tattoo’s the meaning and inspiration.
8)Wait several months more. Visualize the tattoo everyday, as part of my life. Can I see myself at a friend’s wedding with this tattoo? Washing dishes? Reading in bed? Eating at a fancy restaurant? Gardening? Playing with my grandkids? If the answer to any of these is “no”, then I don’t get it.
9)GO FOR IT!
…and then after a bit, begin the process all over again 🙂
This plan has never yet failed me. It has saved me from great stupidity, it prevents me from being impulsive, it forces me to be contemplative and introspective. It’s the most thorough system of accountability I could imagine, and has saved me several times over.
So…after all this – how many tattoos do I have?
(And an appointment for another)
(And tentative plans for a further 6 or 7)
I realize that tattooing isn’t for everyone, and I realize that for those who are tattooed, your planning process may look very different than mine (or be nonexistent altogether!). So here’s where I ask – how about you? Do you have tattoo(s)? If not, would you? If so, how do you plan them?
*Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!