Living Canvas

Today’s post was motivated by this Facebook status update from a friend.

I’ve admired my friend’s creative choice since I met her during my very brief and, not so illustrious derby, career!

First, the art itself is skilful and totally “my cup of tea”.  Secondly, it does take “balls” to appreciate your art so much that it covers a large portion of your skin when a hell of a lot of the planet (aka SOCIETY) deems it “inappropriate”.  Third, the art negates the need to “fake tan it” and suffer the Oompaloompa-like consequences for special occasions!

I’d like to celebrate personal, artistic choices by sharing my friend’s living canvas and her story.

Hollie is a 26 year old professional chef who got her first tattoo (a star on her lower back) at the age of 18.  She currently has “too many [tattoos] to actually count” and her skin gallery collection includes a full sleeve, chest piece, hands, knuckles, back, feet and neck.

My tattoos are an expression of who I am.

Having tattoos doesn’t stop me from doing my job.  Sure, people look at me and say “you’ll regret them one day” but I disagree.  Would you regret memories of great times you’ve had in the past???   No… Well thats what my tattoos are to me – memories. Some people make scrapbooks, I get tattooed.

My tattoos are an expression of who I am.  

I see my self as a blank canvas in need of painting.  Each of my tattoos represents something to me.

I dedicated my left arm to cooking in order to illustrate my passion for my career as a qualified chef and pastry chef.

The two swallows on my chest represent both my sisters.

My knuckles say “Dead Girl” which represents my roller derby name “Corpse Carbie”.

My family has come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to stop getting tattooed any time soon.  They love me for who I am and they dont judge me, although a lot of people do.  I’m used to the stares, weird comments and frequent questions and I don’t mind answering them.

I remember one older lady asked me if she could see the rest of my pin up girl on my arm (my top was covering most of it).  I showed her and she said that she absolutely loved it!

I don’t have trouble getting a job as most people will look at my qualifications before my appearance.  I recently went for a job interview where tattoos where not a problem yet they asked if I’d be willing to take out my body piercings!!  This made me laugh.

Tattoo acceptance is becoming a part of everyday life.  I know lawyers, doctors, teachers that all have tattoos!  I guess one day I will eventually stop or run out of room on my body but for now I’m just filling the canvas!”

And my views?

I like Hollie’s method of expression and the calibre and style of art she wears on her skin.  I have a few tattoos myself and am planning more.

I’m a big believer of “live and let live” so I can also appreciate that other people choose to put their art on the wall, rather than their skin.

I think there are some amazing tattooists out there producing super stunning, and award-winning, artwork and some very lucky people sporting this art work on their skin.  I think the skill and design of tattooing should sit in it’s own genre – for starters, what other form provides you with no room for error?!

As for “appropriateness” of tattoos –  what bollocks!  In this day and age can we really discriminate on the colour of someone’s skin?  Even if that colour is chosen?  I should think not!

Regardless of my views and the slowly changing perception of tattoos, I suspect that if I wanted to continue to work in a “corporate” environment that I’d have to cover up any existing tattoos or not be able to get more – unlike Hollie’s positive employment experiences.

I’d like to change that, would you?  

Do you discriminate (or find yourself discriminated against) due to tattoos?

11 thoughts on “Living Canvas

  1. To ink one’s skin is a massive step into taking control of one’s identity.

    Sadly yes, we do live in a society where people do get judged instantly by their looks, piercings, tattoos, dreadlocks, choice of clothing, etc. I don’t agree but I think it is so ingrained in our DNA that it takes time to change. Slowly, I think we are moving into the right direction, but at a pace a snail could leave us eating dust.

    I think it all boils down to the lifestyle you want. Higher paid jobs come at a price, to look, act and present oneself in a conforming way. This enables you to do things you might want to do. Of course there are exceptions to the norm and I could be totally wrong too about what pays well and what does.

    In no way I am dimishing the career path of your friend Michelle, my bro is a chef too and think that these people are also artists in their own right.

    Personally, if anyone has the Balls (yes with a capital B) to say… “I don’t give a what society thinks of how I look. This is me and I am no different with or without tattoos and piercings”, then I will pat them on the back and take my hat off to them.

    Cause I do not think I have those kind of balls.

  2. Interesting take George, I agree it happens but I don’t think it is fair that appearance should dictate earning capacity and lifestyle. Personality, dedication, attitude and drive should dictate these things.

    Do we discriminate against someone because of their size/weight or because they have acne or thinning hair? Should these physical attributes also dictate our earning capacity?

    I believe this may flow nicely into another post I have brewing!

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