It’s taken me twenty-something years, but I’m finally ready to get my first tattoo. I’ve always wanted one, mainly because I’m a huge fan of art in general. But there’s something powerful about choosing an image or words to permanently display on your body. I’ve put immense thought into how I use my body as a canvas.
The inspiration came as I was walking through a small town in the outskirts of Salvador (Bahia), Brasil. I found myself surrounded by a tremendous history of African descendents, artists, and spiritual healers. Like many places in Brasil, the walls of abandoned buildings often are decorated with artistic graffiti. Not the graffiti that’s simply name tagging with spray paint, but actual art and words that have inspirational purpose and a message to convey.
I stumbled upon colorful mosaics, lines of poetry, murals of historic figures, and an abundance of visual inspiration. But I also found myself in the company of wonderful people whom gave me powerful memories of a small town and the desire to permanently etch the name of a Brasilian poem I discovered while there and an ancient symbol on my body as remembrance. It’s something that will serve as a daily reminder of the life I was once able to create and one of the experiences that shaped the woman I am today.
But admittedly, I talk to many of my friends and they have a mix of tattoos with “deep” significance and others that were just spur of the moment. Some have the names of family members that have passed on, names of their children, religious symbols, and numerous other works of ink that hold a certain level of importance in their lives. Others have stories of drunken nights with their college friends, stumbling into tattoo parlors, picking something out from the book, and getting matching art pieces.
I’m always amazed to hear the stories behind people’s tattoos. And I find myself asking about each unique looking one that I see regardless of whether it’s the stranger standing in front of me at the grocery store or a lover who is sprawled out on my bed. Every decision has a story, and tattoos are a permanent choice that we make about our bodies. It’s one thing to buy a painting and hang it on your wall at home. It’s another thing to choose a piece of art to permanently etch on your natural temple.
So what’s your story? If you have a tattoo, what’s the inspiration behind your body art? If you don’t, why have you chosen not to get one? Speak on it.