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    • I was almost 35 years old before I got my first tattoo. I was never really opposed to them. I think that I, like many others, have gone through life without really being sure what I would want to commit to being identified with for the rest of my life. Finally going through the process of essentially commissioning an art piece and sitting through a collective 7.5 hours of chair time has made me think a lot about why we put ourselves through the pain.

      At the heart of it all, I think it all comes down to stories. Whether it's having something happen to you that you want to commemorate or bookmark, or a wild night and a spontaneous decision to get something on your body you'll have forever, it's a story we want to share with others or recall quietly to ourselves whenever we catch a glimpse.

      I've always been fascinated by these stories and the incredible beauty of the artwork itself. I'd love it if you would share images of your pieces and the stories behind them. I'll post a followup reply with my own.


    • Piece: Partially burned out tree with heart in trunk and nebula foliage

      Artist: Tivon H. Creager, Matchless Tattoo in Sebastopol, CA


      The last year and change of my life has been a living hell. In August 2017 I was 5 months pregnant and found out my baby had a severe heart defect and would require a lifetime of open heart surgeries. Then in October we became victims of the Tubbs fire in Northern California. We lost our home and everything we owned. The fires have been a part of our lives every day since.

      In December my son was born, and he had his first surgery at 10 days old. He had a complication and needed an emergency abdominal surgery which resulted in him having an ileostomy which required us to change an external bag attached to his stomach that he would poop into. We had to do this multiple times a day. I had to essentially stop working, sacrificing my business and professional identity. Since then he's had two more major surgeries, and almost died from catching a cold. We've spent 4 out of the last 10 months in the hospital.

      It's been trauma after trauma. I've been living every day of my life in a constant state of waiting for the other shoe to drop. PTSD is a real thing and it has effected every aspect of my life.

      We're finally in a place where we have started being able to have a "normal" life again, and dare I say even begin to plan for the future and feel hope that things will get better.

      So this piece is a celebration of all of that. It is a bookmark of the fire and how it scarred me but did not take me down. It is a reminder to be a tree - strong and resilient, that can handle anything life tries to throw at me. The heart runs through the core of the trunk, because my son's condition will always be what almost took me down but also made me stronger. The tree blossoms into a nebula because that's where new stars are born. It's a promise of the life to come, and the possibilities of the future.

      I just wrapped up the second session yesterday, a few touch-ups to go to add more contrast, but it's nearly complete. Sorry for the low quality selfie ;-)

    • Wow, Melissa, thanks so much for sharing that. I've watched your story unfold and I'm in awe over your emotional strength.

      I went to the SF Body Art Expo earlier this year and have to agree that for most people they tell a story that's very important to them with their tattoos. For each person I photographed, I asked about the story of their tattoos and usually got an unforgettable response. Twice I cried.

    You've been invited!