Tattoos: Self-Expression

Diane Jong | Staff Photographer

Every tattoo comes with a story. Whether it be a wild, drunken night that could not be remembered, or a sentimental memento of a loved one, a tattoo is a permanent reminder, even if you are trying to forget it.

The first tattoo I got was at a tattoo convention in Las Vegas. At the time, I desperately wanted a tattoo associated with music. But I was more concerned about how I would hide it, both from future employers as well as my parents. I thought that a small ankle tattoo would be easy to hide, concealing it with ankle socks or pants. After some brief suggestions with friends and a tattoo artist, we all agreed that a small treble cleft would look awesome.

A week after getting it, I realized how small the treble cleft was and felt slightly embarrassed. I mean, I was ecstatic to have a tattoo and it was well done, but the sheer size of the treble cleft was a joke. On the upside, it was easily concealable. And that was how it was for about a year. Finally, after careful consideration, I decided to add more onto that treble cleft.

In that year of just having the treble cleft on my leg, I kept thinking about what to add to it. I am a guitar player, as well as a big fan of Ozzy Osbourne’s album, “Blizzard of Oz.” After listening to the entire album, I was extremely fascinated with the song “Dee,” written by Ozzy’s first guitarist, the late, great Randy Rhoads. It was the first song that I had learned on classical guitar, but it was also a song that I played for my mother. At the time, there were some personal troubles that occurred within our family, and every time there was a conflict, my mother would always request me to play that song for her. Coincidentally, Rhoads wrote the song for his mother as well. Considering the personal attachment with the song, I felt it right to get the musical notes for “Dee” tattooed on my leg, wrapping around my ankle and ending in my upper calf.

In the summer of 2009, I set up an appointment at this local tattoo parlor 15 minutes away from my house. A week later, my artist Garret prepped me up, sanitizing and shaving the areas that were going to be tattooed. Garret had to freehand the notes in various colors with permanent marker. After outlining the piece, Garret began to ink the tattoo with the needle. The entire process would be best described as an hour and a half of mixed pain — ranging from a small sting to an excruciating pain. But after he finished the outline and the shading, the end result was exactly how I wanted the piece to look. After the piece was finished, he wrapped my leg in saran wrap and told me to use a non-scented lotion to hasten the healing process. Despite the pain, I was ecstatic.

Since the tattoo came out looking nice, I felt inclined to get more. Sure enough, three months after my ankle tattoo, I got another tattoo with the lyrics: “Then we will be wonders and vagabonds” on my shoulder. Although it was the last tattoo that I got, I do have ideas about what I want to get in the future. If you want to get a tattoo, there are things to take into consideration:

1. Tattoos are permanent. You would have to be absolutely sure about what you want to get both now and in the near future. One may like something one year, and hate it the next.

2. See a tattoo as an investment. You endure the pain, you spend a lot of money and you spend lots of time at the tattoo parlor. And with any investment, make sure you take extreme care of it. Usually your artist will provide intricate instructions of how to take care of it.

3. Tattoos are lacerations on the skin. In that respect, keep the tattoo clean, and when the tattoo scabs, DO NOT pick at it. Doing so could cause the part of the tattoo to heal out, resulting in blank spots, guaranteeing touch-ups in the near future.

I would also recommend books dealing with tattoos. A personal favorite of mine is “Inked: 42 People, 42 Stories” by Carey Hart and Chris Palmer.