As the taboo on tattoos and tattoo culture continues to lift with each passing year, tattoo clientele has grown and diversified. Tattoo artists will experience many personalities throughout their career. However, there are a few similarities all clients share whether you’re old or young, a newbie or a tattoo collector, timid or brave. Most are emotionally driven to get tattoos by two reasons; vulnerability or thrill
Vulnerability is a facet of your character and personal life that you may hide from most people. Usually select friends and family, (and perhaps your therapists) are the lucky few you consider yourself to be vulnerable with. But what about with your tattoo artists? Most seldom stop to think of the vulnerability one subjects themselves too when deciding to get a tattoo. Clouded with excitement and nerves you forget that, essentially, you have signed up for a stranger to drag needles across your skin for hours…and gladly pay for it! Tattooing is an intimate art medium that can require trust and an open mind from both parties. It’s often overlooked how much time both you and your artist spend on a tattoo.
For some clients, the thought process and making the commitment is a journey itself. By the time you are ready to consult with your artist you may have high hopes and expectations for your custom design. Or perhaps you have been following your artist for a while and have been dreaming of getting one of their personal designs. Either way, most connections start happening before a stencil has even been printed out.
Likewise on the artist’s end, the hours of drawing and preparing are channels for your artist trying to connect with you and other clients with their designs. After all, for many tattoo artists their main purpose is creating and sharing art for others to enjoy and connect with. Once you’re in the artists chair, now it’s time to spend a few hours together. Conversations about art, tattooing, and even both of your personal lives may arise during this time. Tattoos that require multiple sessions may start to be adjoined with a feeling of familiarity with your artist and their residing shop’s atmosphere. All the while you accept the permanence of not only the scarification, but your artist and the time you have spent with them.
The concept of pain is a transition from those who appreciate the vulnerable experience of a tattoo vs. those who go for the thrill as it pertains to both emotions. You’re vulnerable because you subject yourself to the pain knowingly, and many are afraid of this experience whether it’s their first time or they are looking to test their pain tolerance on a long session. However, others live for the pain, and it is often referred to by artists and clients as therapy.
Pain seekers love the thrill of tattoos for various reasons; it gets your adrenaline going, it’s a grounding experience, or even the rush from defying the status quo. While tattoos are far more acceptable these days, there are still stereotypes you commit to be subjected to if you are to become heavily tatted. Additionally, the idea of committing to permanency is sometimes what stops people from enjoying tattoos. With the fear of little control or striving for perfection, there is a group of potential customers every year that book a consultation, show up, and realize the “thrill” of this commitment just isn’t for them, perhaps it’s not thrilling at all. For some, becoming heavily tattooed and leaning into the stereotypes that come with it is actually the excitement they’re yearning for. When you receive tattoos, you’re essentially image building. Though many use tattoos to wear their thoughts and feelings, these clients embrace the grunge and grit that get tied to one’s personality.
Your reasoning for getting tattoos may change over time. Perhaps you couldn’t align yourself with being a vulnerability seeker or a thrill seeker…or perhaps you’re both! Either way, it’s always fascinating to develop an understanding as a tattoo artist why clients get their tattoos. So many personalities and design ideas walk through the door, and at a broad glance people do get tattoos for the reasons listed above. However, it’s in the details of client stories and perspectives behind their designs or love for tattoos that help artists stay motivated, grow, and to keep bringing ideas to life.
-Article written by Savannah Rae
-Comedy and Tragedy Graphics by Savannah Rae
Suicide Awareness – Recently NBI had a client come in to commemorate personal growth of his journey with mental health. Jose was asked to tattoo the cover art for the song "Goodbye Angels" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers as the song touches on themes of mourning and the death of a bond between two people. This client found that he could relate to the strong lyrics.
While in public statements, lead singer Anthony Kiedis only touches on that the song is about his relationship and breakup with model Helena Vestergaard, it is clear the lyrics paint a much more vibrant story than just a typical breakup song.
Considering it’s a popular subject in mainstream media, most breakup songs tend to touch on bigger themes to intensify the listener’s perspective while also opening the song to more life experiences than just heart break. The song starts with suggesting that Kiedis possessed a negative outlook on life before meeting Vestergaard.
“Suicide a month before I met you | Deep regrets, I never could forget you”
Yet as Vestergaard was quite younger than Kiedis and was busy building her career the song suggests she was a free spirit, and due to this their relationship wasn’t definitive. At this part of the song the lyrics are starting to touch on Kiedis’ feeling like things are out of his control.
“Do not Dismiss the promise you made me” | “Overkill, you took another red pill”
By the second verse the lyrics start to imply that life, work, and other potential lovers have stolen Vestergaard’s attention, and their fading love is paralleled to themes of struggling with death.
“Sticky fingers find a way to take her” | “I know your days are numbered when it comes to this life” | “Slip away into the solar system” | “Give up the ghost before you go under”
While this song isn’t directly the subject of self-harm much of the same verbiage is used to paint the idea that similarly when we are in love with someone and put too much of our identity into a relationship, we feel a part of us dies along with the relationship. Similarly, there is plenty of room in these lyrics for listeners to relate to their relationship with themselves. We don’t need to go through a breakup to feel that a part of ourselves has vanished. Feelings of self-hatred or depression can often feel that another person has imbedded themselves in our minds and poisoned our former personalities.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide know that help is available
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Number: 988
or visit 988lifeline.org
*Tattoo By Jose Carire*
*Article by Savannah Harmon*
It’s Halloween time, and some of us have a particular interest in monsters and dark creatures. Piecing together some of mythology’s greatest villains’ origin stories is a puzzle that can be rejuvenating to the persona of these characters.
For many of us, we know Medusa to be an evil entity with snakes for hair that can turn any on looker to stone. For those of us who are a little more well versed in Medusa’s tale, you may know there is more than just this initial layer of characterization. Medusa was originally a priest of Athena who was cursed for breaking her celibacy. As many tales in mythology, there are multiple interpretations to these stories mainly due to variety of translation. Poseidon, God of the sea falls for Medusa’s beauty and has sex with her not only causing her to break her promise of celibacy but does so in the sacred Temple of Athena. In the great poet Ovid’s translation of this tale, Poseidon violates Medusa and rapes her when taking her virginity. Athena is outraged and like most Greek myths, the gods don’t often hold each other accountable for pissing one another off and instead bully other humans and creatures that were caught in the crossfire.
Stories like these are dark but can feel more relatable to our everyday experiences than the backstories of the hero’s we are told to look up to. Sometimes life is sufferable, and we react in a way that causes us to be the villain of other people’s personal stories, whether intentional or not.
Your interpretation of monsters and villains like Medusa while completely change how you view depictions of them in ancient and modern art.
Is Medusa beautiful?
Is she a victim?
Do you relate to her story?
Two people can look at a depiction of Medusa and feel very differently at the image in front of them. One will see a monster and wonder why artists choose to focus on dark energies and people. The other may see homage to the tale of a woman who was wrongfully punished, and assume the artist wanted to shed light on such a topic. And sometimes the imagery of these creatures just make for cool tattoos…
Art crossovers can be exciting. Seeing your favorite actor star in an adaption of a book you just read makes you confident about the quality of the movie, but still intrigued on how artistic perspectives will be changed for the better or for the worst. Borrowing characters, symbols, or scenes from other creative pieces for your tattoo is no different. Tattoo artists are notorious for having to collaborate on many of the designs they work with, whether willingly or not.
With the amount of money we spend on tattoos, most of us would like for others to notice and appreciate our ink as much as we do. Using subjects from familiar works of art will help strangers spark interest in your skin.
Take “A Trip to The Moon,” a short French film by George Méliès for example. The cover artwork featured in this client’s tattoo may look somewhat familiar. It is used to represent a scene in his movie where a group of astronomers fly their aircraft straight into the eye of what is literally depicted as the man in the moon. The man in the moon is a concept that we have seen many times. This abstract idea stems from many folk tales that have taken into consideration the designs craters have created in the moon and most of these stories will allude to a human persona of the earth's luna.
Like the art used for “A Trip to The Moon,” there have been many attempts to portray what a man in the moon would look like. In fact, we see it often in current tattoo flash and designs. Finding a tattoo idea that is somewhat familiar or has had some time in pop culture’s spotlight is not only going to be attention grabbing for other’s to notice your ink, but gives you room to make the tattoo your own; whether that means altering the design or having a really abstract reasoning as to why you got the tattoo in the first place.
What other movie covers do you think would make for great tattoos?
*By Jose Carire*
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Screenshot from Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902) VIA Wikapedia.com
360 of finished calf piece, maybe it’s time to start thinking about your next big tattoo!
Summer may seem like the go to season for tattoos as we wear less clothing and show more skin....but fall and winter are a convenient time for your ink to heal without missing out on a beach trip or having too much sun exposure while doing yard work.
Many may not realize, but tattoo artists experience somewhat of a slow season. Without people eager to get ink that they know can be shown off immediately, some shops may feel a little more dead than usual.
The Holidays can also impact a shops traffic flow as many people feel like they are spending too much money elsewhere to be getting ink. What most forget is that your favorite artist or shop probably have merch/gift cards that make for really unique gifts to put on the wishlist or to extend out to a friend who may need that extra push to get that tattoo they’ve always been talking about.
Saving booking your appointment for this time of year also gives you and friends something to do as sometimes our hobbies or weekend plans can feel limited during rainy and snowy weather.
Think about everyone’s reaction when you reveal a collection of new ink you’ve been secretly building up during the colder months.
Neckbone (Mike Harmon)
Shop Owner and Artist