“which one?” is my usual response, even though I’m fairly certain that the one that is being referred to is the one that “looks like barbed wire.” it’s still so unnatural to me to have people just staring at them, and while it’s awkward, I’d rather that people ask questions instead of silently analyzing me. just please don’t touch me if I don’t know you… no, my arm does not turn 360°.
for my nineteenth birthday, my dad drove the two of us to Chicago to Lollapalooza to see Black Sabbath, and then a few days later he gave me a gift certificate to pay for my first tattoo. let’s just say that my mom and grandmas weren’t the happiest about that. it took me a few months, but on the twenty-ninth of May, 2013, I went down to Door County Tattoo and Polly set me up for my first taste of addicting pain. my dad came with me and ended up getting another one while he was there. I feel that I can get away with the cliché “forever young” tattoo since it’s my last name, and therefore I always will be Young. I always knew that this would be my first tattoo, I just thought it was going to be a few years before I got it. I fell in love with this font a long time before I got it permanently inked onto my skin, and a few months later, I officially adopted it for my watermark too.
my Dark Songs raven (designed by the multi-talented Geri X) is of course for my Holiday Music Motel family. I got it exactly one year after my forever young tattoo. customarily, each star symbolizes each year after your first Dark Songs. this would mean that I’m six behind, but for me, my one star represents Dark Songs 2010, the first time that I was really around for an event at the Holiday. that was the week that changed my life and the reason that I decided to stay here.
I purposely got both of my first tattoos on May twenty-ninth to add some happy memories to that day because I was annoyed by something that once happened on that day. I have a thing for numbers and twenty-nine has just stuck out too many times, for positive and negative reasons.
(for what it’s worth, I really just am in love with fresh tattoo photos when there’s red annoyed skin and the tattoo is not only the brightest it will ever be but also puffed up from the skin. both of my tattoo artists - two of the most wonderful and gracious and incredible women: Polly and Tara - have said that my skin is a beautiful canvas which is why I try to avoid the outdoors and keep my skin extra pale.)
it was nearly two years before I got my next tattoo on May 4, 2016. I get a lot of questions and compliments on the little girl. She’s from the Oliver Jeffers’ book The Heart and the Bottle. I am a big fan of Oliver, from his handwriting to his artwork to his stories. for a quick synopsis of the story, there is a little girl who learns a lot from her grandfather, and when he dies, she puts her heart in a bottle so she no longer has to feel anything, and therefore she stops exploring the world around her. she meets a little girl who is able to get the heart out of the bottle (that’s the image I have on my arm) and she goes back to the wonder of the world. paired with a 333 in Billy Triplett’s handwriting, this one is for the ones who have passed before me and a reminder to always learn and explore.
this was my first time working with Tara, and I think she was amused by my desire to not cover any of my freckles. I don’t hate any of them, but there are some that I truly love more than others, like the clump next to the little girl’s head. Tara’s done more than half of my tattoos by this point, and it makes me so happy every time I go into her studio for a consultation or some needle therapy.
only a month later, on the ninth of June, Geri and I went in to get a little surprise SBSF tattoo. she somehow managed to get pat to write the lyrics to the Timbuk3 song Wake Up Little Darlin’ (which she does a beautiful cover of), and we pulled out the line “bad dreams don’t last forever” with Tambourine lightning bolts on either end. pat was going through chemo at the time, but it’s become a personal daily reminder for me. no matter what crazy and heartbreaking stuff my life may bring, it’s not going to last forever.
on the first of March, 2017, I had a consultation for my next tattoo. there was a snowstorm, so there weren’t really a lot of people out, and both places I had appointments that day were pretty quiet because of people cancelling due to the weather. I brought some extra artwork with me to the consult, not expecting that Tara would have extra time. I was running on only a few hours of sleep after a couple terrible phone calls the night before. Tara had time for a little zap, so I added the last “love” from the lyrics of Deeper Kind of Love (in the late great Chris Aaron’s handwriting) added to my arm. it was perfect for redirecting the pain, and I’ve been told that it’s also a reminder that love hurts.
eight weeks later, it was time for number six. Luna Lovegood is my favorite character from Harry Potter because she is a positive influence showing that it’s okay to be weird and have beliefs that not everyone agrees with. this is another one designed by Geri, and colored by Tara. Luna wears these spectrespecs to see the wrackspurts (invisible creatures that floated through one’s ears causing their brain to go fuzzy - thank you Harry Potter wiki for the correct info on that). these winged glasses have the word “SANE” in them for Luna’s quote, “Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.” it’s okay, I think you’re weird too, but weird people are wonderful.
lucky number seven was obtained on the third day of 2018, and it was Tara’s first session of the year! I feel honored to have been that person this year. let’s start by first stating that it is a rooster and not a chicken or rainbow chicken, and we found the image through a google search. he’s beautiful, but the thirteen colors - especially the tail, which was layers on a tender spot - were brutal. not only was my dad’s first tattoo a rooster on the same upper arm that I chose, but I was born in the year of the rooster. rooster years, according to some website that I read about Chinese new years, are hard, but notoriously so for those of us who are roosters. the last year of the rooster started on January 28, 2017 and ended on February 15, 2018. it was a rollercoaster year for me, and I wanted to get something to commemorate that. a rooster seemed quite perfect.
I’m not sure what my next tattoo will be, but I am fairly certain that I know what I’m going to have done next year on May twenty-ninth. it’s a secret, but I’ll say that it comes from a great book that I read earlier this year.
a photographer with the desire to hide behind the camera a little less and let the light shine through.