Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the second of many posts to appear on th-ink.co.uk, in which Natalie will be telling us about her life in tattoos. Read the first in the series here.
I woke up with a deep crushing regret for the tattoo I’d gotten the day before. Thoughts of laser removal and cover ups running through my mind. Don’t get me wrong it was an utterly beautiful tattoo by a talented artist, it just wasn’t the tattoo I thought it was going to be…
These thoughts and feelings weren’t all that alien to me, nor did it seem to others too. Only days before my friend had confessed that details of her latest addition had been lost in translation with an Italian artist. I too bore in mind the first large and highly visible tattoo I had, a rooster stretching from ankle to knee. Bold and unapologetic, dark against my pale skin. It was something on me, rather than part of me. Yet as it healed and settled into my skin, became smooth to the touch, my eye grew used to seeing it everyday, my body and gaze accepting it as part of me.
Cockerel by Max Rathbone
As the day went on I found myself going through a series of emotions, I felt like I was betraying my artist by admitting my concerns, whilst feeling ashamed of myself for ending up in this position. Why hadn’t I put across any specifics that I wanted to the artist, before letting someone etch this onto my skin for the rest of my life?
In truth I was exhausted that day. It was the third time in a week I was getting tattooed. For the past few months I’ve gotten tattooed on average 2-3 times each month. You could say I’d become a bit blasé about the whole thing, when you have most of your body covered in tattoos another small one really doesn’t make that much difference – or does it?
I’d decided on the design based on the artists flash and asked her to do something similar. I didn’t see the design till the night before, again nothing unusual – in fact for all my other tattoos I’d not seen the design until right before it was to be tattooed. I choose artists because I like their work and I trust their judgement. But of course you are the one who will carry this art on your body for the rest of your life (possibly). I’ve never been too specific in my tattoo requests, I’ve given indications and let the artist get on with it.
So why was I so upset about this tattoo? This was the first tattoo I’d gotten which had meaning, real meaning on a personal level.I have a Japanese bodysuit on the go and lots of Western traditional tattoos so yes of course in the symbolical sense all my tattoos have some meaning, however this one held personal meaning. It was my heart on a plate that I couldn’t explain away. It was my soul laid bare in a great big heart on my thigh. I realised I wasn’t worried about explaining the tattoo to anyone else.
No, the shock was in admitting to myself what I had actually done. This tattoo I got because of my boyfriend, not for him, not a gift, not an unyielding declaration of my love. He knows that without the need to permanently mark it on my body. I got it for myself. As a reminder not to run away when things get tough.
Now the swelling has gone down, the blood and plasma washed away, my new tattoo somehow fits. I like to trace the tattoo with my finger whilst it’s still raised. If I had the chance to alter it now to what I’d previously imagined it to look like, I can safely say I wouldn’t – a tattoo that would have sat alongside my others, small and hidden, no that doesn’t seem right now. I adore this tattoo, its mine, its part of me. It might not have been the tattoo I first expected, but it’s definitely the tattoo I needed.
Post script: My tattoo is now healed and I utterly adore it, the overly emotional state passing in two days leaving me puzzled at how I could ever question such a perfect tattoo. I think we underestimate our bodies sometimes and the endurance we put them through in life. My advice, if you choose an artist whose work you adore and you trust them you can’t go wrong. Getting a permanent addition to your body is a big deal, let yourself be emotional about it but also give yourself time to adjust to it.