On September 15th I will be starting my next tattoo. This one will be mostly floral, extending up my arm from the elbow and across my shoulder blade. As with all my tattoos there is a significant meaning to this one as well as an appreciation for beautiful artwork. As I cover my walls with paintings, so too I cover my skin with ink. This does not mean I feel a lack of appreciation for my skin. I am not covering up anything I find undesirable, I am merely enhancing that which I already love.
The depth and layers to my tattoos go far beyond what could be expressed in words. I would say there is less than a handful of people who understand the deep meaning behind the ink I've chosen to adorn my body. In the pieces I designed myself, when my artist of choice was someone just starting out and more willing to do my own work, there is as much significance as there is in my leg piece, designed by Karrie Arthurs.
This piece she is doing for me next is yet to be begun and so I haven't even seen a design, but the piece on my leg is done and not a day goes by where I do not love it intensely for what it means. In identifying and loving any artwork there is something deeply personal. We can rarely understand the emotive quality something will have on someone else. I do not pretend to be able to explain why I love and do not regret and could not regret the ink I've chosen. There is no reason to explain why as it is not necessary for anyone to understand it. As long as I understand it that is all that matters, but I think I can explain, to some extent, the importance of my ink.
What I've posted following this entry is what I wrote in an attempt to explain to my original artist of choice why a wolf, dragon and turtle could be included in the same tattoo. This artist evidently didn't understand what I was trying to convey and I accept that to some reading what I've written may not sway you to believe that tattoos are anything but foolish. However, Karrie has never seen this bit of writing and I feel, without hesitation or doubt, that her work on my leg has captured exactly what I wanted it to.
"The Commonality of a wolf, a turtle and a dragon"
I’ve always been better at writing than verbal explanations. My train of thought lacks a caboose and I often babble uselessly because I didn’t have time to think through my thoughts to the point of reasonable comprehension. I don’t want you to think that this particular tattoo is anything similar to some ditsy girl requesting a butterfly because ‘They’re pretty’. I know that everyone else on the planet might look at a dragon, a wolf and a turtle and see no correlation what-so-ever, but I am going to attempt to explain why I want this tattoo and why they do, indeed relate.
Since I can remember I have been absolutely in love with wolves. While every other girl in my class obsessed over horses, I obsessed over wolves. I had wolf calendars that I would take apart at the end of the year and cover my walls with and wolf t-shirts filling my closet. For my birthday one year my mum took me out to Kananaskis Country, where we got to track a pack and see a kill. I’ve sponsored several of the Kanasaskis wolves over the years and read and re-read every fiction and non-fiction book I could find in which they were the focal point. When I was eight or nine my mum and I went to a native spirit animal reading. I didn’t mention my passion for wolves at all before she told me they were my spirit animal. At this reading the woman also told me that my Earth sign was the turtle, another animal I’ve always been fascinated by. I felt that both sea turtles and wolves are utterly majestic. Once again, while every girl in my class loved dolphins and wanted to swim with dolphins, I wanted to swim with turtles. At seventeen I accompanied my parents to Hawaii and this dream of mine came true in the most beautiful way imaginable. We went snorkelling off a beach that was known for having turtles in the area. We were told that we might get to see one and I was extremely excited but trying not to be too hopeful because I didn’t want to be too disappointed, should we not see any.
I went out way ahead of my parents and was just swimming along in the current thinking about how far out I was already when I thought about sharks. It had just occurred to me that one could come up and snap me and that’d be the end, when suddenly there was this massive shape beside me. I turned quickly in the water and a green sea turtle, almost as big as I, was swimming right there! I could have reached out and run my fingers across its shell it was so close and it didn’t even seem to notice me. It just took a gulp of air and swam down to the ocean bottom. I practically cried it was so incredible. As incredible as when I’d been at the zoo during dusk and one of the wolves had come close to the side of the cage and looked right at me. It was as incredible as howling and having an entire pack of wolves howl in return. It was more amazing than I had thought it would be and it has become one of the best and most indescribable memories I have.
My memories have always been crystal clear because of how much I write and one thing I remember with great fondness was watching my brother and dad draw and trying to draw just like them. I was never very good at things like people but I was amazing (For my age) at doing dragons. I also fully believed in dragons as a child and even now there is no other mythical animal I wish were real.
I consumed Anne McAffrey books and spent ages looking through a dragon book that my parents had. It wasn’t until I was about eight that I realized that the book was fictional. I’d somehow convinced myself that there had to be something at least mildly similar to dragons which had truly existed. Letting go of that was a blow to my imagination, but did not cause me to suffer in artwork or writing. I continued to write about and draw dragons passionately.
So here it is, and this is going to sound cheesy but I really don’t care:
The thing these three animals have in common is ME.
I run with the wolves, swim with the turtles and fly with the dragons.
This tattoo is supposed to be about the three animals that have had the most powerful influence and impact in my life. I don’t care what order they’re in and I love the idea of it being full colour. I am dedicating my entire leg to it so they can be adjusted and moved around so all three fit in any way possible and any kind of background can be used to tie them together…but THAT is why I want this tattoo with all three animals, that is why I want it all in one piece and that is what a dragon, a wolf and a turtle have in common.