Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tattoed Ladies (Part 1)

My new tattoo, right after being completed

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook already know, I got my fourth tattoo last week! I went back to Justin Sims (who is also a painter) at Freaks on Broadway, where I got my raven tattoo done, because I really like how fast and skilled he is with the needles. I forgot it hurt so much, like I always do, especially since this was the largest surface area I've had tattooed. The part nearest my wrist hurt the most.

This tattoo is the completion/extension of my second tattoo. I got it after I split from my ex/husband (the first time) when I was starting grad school. It's a band of words from the last line of the last chapter in James Joyce's Ulysses. It's the most difficult book I've ever read and I read it three times at the behest of my ex/husband. (It was only fun the third time, so I don't suggest reading it unless you want to read it 3 times through.)

The line tattooed on me is "yes, I said yes, I will Yes." (I'd show you a picture, but apparently I lost them all.) It is at the end of a long, rambling stream-of-consciousness mixture of memory and image, and the only place in the book where a female character truly has a voice. In this chapter, part of what the character Molly is doing is thinking back over her relationship with her husband (which is on the rocks), remembering god times and bad times. At the end she is thinking of her engagement (while masturbating according to most modern interpretations) and her "yes"es are both in response to her then-fiance's remembered question as well as her response to having an orgasm. Fun, right?

Anyhoo... to me it was a symbol of all the hard stuff I'd been through while getting my BA, which included school work, confronting new texts (like Ulysses), and the crazy roller coaster that turned into my marriage. It was also to remind me that even when things don't turn out the way I wanted them to (i.e. my marriage), it was still a good thing that I had said "yes" to it being in my life, because of what I learned from the experience. It was also my hope that, like Molly, I could someday look back on all that and find some pleasure in it.

The words only reached part-way around my arm, leaving a ~2 inch gap that I always intended to fill with something. Then I started taking my doodling more seriously and it turned into this whole thing and now I'm having my second art show (holy shit!) and it seemed a good time to take the doodle I sketched as an idea to complete and play off of my armband and get it inked into my skin.

My raven tattoo, by Justin Sims

So I took it to Jason and told him to make it awesome, like he did with my raven idea, and I ended up with a gorgeous new tattoo that is currently peeling like crazy and oh-so-itchy. I can't wait until it's completely healed and I can see it's true color!

I like that it came from my doodling and turned into something more amazing that I'd dreamed of, like what happened in my artistic experience. I like that it is both organic and contrived (like all good stories should be), and it just looks lovely.

It was really cool to then come home from getting my new tattoo and finding that two books I'd ordered about women and tattoos had come in the mail... and that's what I'm gonna talk about Friday. So be sure to stop by!

Related posts:
Tjie Tsang, Artist of the Apocalypse
Q and A

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Kim Williams said...

love these. i'm in the minority. apparently there are fewer people with 1 tattoo than there are people with none or multiples...

tribal design, dragon - right inside forearm.

Hyperblogal said...


The Wednesday Weekly said...

That raven looks awesome.

jen@ricochet said...

I like them both! Very nice.

I love the meaning behind them. You put a lot of thought into it.