Sunday, June 20, 2010

Taste of Ink.

Its no secret that I am a tattoo lover. Infact, anyone who knows me, knows that tattoos, and tattoo culture are a big part of who I am. A big part of the woman that I have grown into it. I have written about my love of tattoos here in my blog before, and I decided that I articulated the importance of this artform to my life perfectly the first time, so im not going to try and do it again, im simply going to refresh your memories... I love the idea of carrying my story on my body, memories on my skin. What a perfect way to document your life. I can remember each trip to the tattoo shop, the feeling, the excitement. The buzzing of the gun working its way through the layers, to permanently imprint a little bit of magic. My tattoos document the hard times and the good ones. The people I love and the things I need to be reminded of. They serve as not only decoration to my body, but encouragement to my soul.

Recently a few of you lovelies have asked to see my tattoos. I was a little hesitant in deciding to do this post, just because my tattoos are for me more than for anyone else. Dont get me wrong, I mean I love showing them off and having people admire the amazing craftmanship of the art I carry on my body, but I feel a little, well, funny! I dont know what the word is, but ah well, here we go. As of right now, I have 14 pieces. I am working on getting my legs complete from the knee down... a leg sleeve I suppose you could call it {maybe leggings? Or trousers? haha} I was 18 when I got my first tattoo... so Shall we start from the beginning? {oh yeah and you can click on the photos to make them bigger!}

The first tattoo I ever got is a treble clef, double quarter note and a eighth note clustered on my chest. I wanted something that represented my love for music, I wanted to be able to see it, and I wanted it to be able to be hidden when I wanted it to be. I still love this tattoo because the stencil was made of the exact drawing that I did, so its like i drew this on myself and volia, its on me forever. I remember being so nervous getting this tattoo, I went in to a studio I knew was reputable and thought I would book it in for a few weeks time, 40 minutes later I walked out a little financially poorer, with my first ever tattoo... and so the addiction started.

My 2nd tattoo is the outline of New Zealand on my right foot. I liked the idea that my home would always be with me, no matter where I walked, and I figured the bottom of the world, could go on the bottom of my body. It didnt hurt as much as I thought it was going to, even the guy who tattooed it was suprised how well I took it!

My anchor was my next tattoo. This was the first 'bigger' piece I would get done. Its located on my right ankle. This is a tribute to my faith, and also the start of my leg sleeves. {although I didnt know this at the time} Its based from a scripture that describes Gods hope for us being a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. I decided to place it on my ankle because it symbolises my faith keeping me grounded and on the right track. Like a guide I suppose. This was also the first tattoo I had done by the highly talents Karla Hansen. She has now done the majority of my work and also become a really good friend.

Within 3 weeks of getting my anchor I had booked a flight back up to Auckland to see Karla to get my 4th tattoo. I had to even myself out. So I got this rose, love, swallow tattoo on my right ankle. This is a tribute tattoo to my Aunty who passed away when I was 8. Old sailors use to get swallow tattoos to represent knowing the way home. I like to think that this little birdy is guiding me, and that my Aunty is guiding it. The traditional rose and tattoo font were included to tie in my love of the old school sailor tattoos too. One day I would like to add my Aunty's anniversary date under the wing of the swallow.

The next addition was this pretty Skeleton Key. You will find him on the back of my neck, running down from my hairline to the top of my spine. This tattoo serves as a reminder to me, that even when things get really shitty that we possess the ability to move forward and change the path that we are on. That we in essence, hold the key. {Cliche? Whatever! I was struggling in a really dark place, and this helped. Infact, it still does.}

My tape and camera were the next editions. I was feeling game, and so was Karla, and we did these in one sitting. Yip. The tape and melodies banner are found on my left calf. I guess the story behind this one is kinda obvious, music is such a huge part of my life, and so much of my life has a soundtrack, certain songs that remind me of certain times. The camera and memories banner, i suppose is just as obvious. The cool thing about this tattoo is that the camera is actually my camera. Karla drew from the actual object which is really special to me. Im always the girl with the camera out taking snaps, this just seemed a fitting tribute to my love of photography and capturing those memories everyday.

I got this little addition for my mum. I went to a tattoo convention in the city, and there were so many amazing artists, and the guns were buzzing, I couldnt help but book one {or two} in. To continue with my 'old school' feel i decided to honour my mum, by getting this little love heart with her 'name' in it. Its situated on the inside of me right ankle. I remember when I got home and showed her, she laughed and didnt think it was real. I think she actually really loves it now though!

I also got this little number at the tattoo convention. Its opposite my mum tattoo. It doesnt really have any great meaning, other than a reminder that im hard as rock, and precious as diamonds.

Number 10! I added this little beauty to my legs while I was on my american adventure. I was in San Francisco and decided to go for a walk up Haight St. I found a million cute little tattoo shops, but one in particular stood out. I went in and there was a guy wh could ink me later that night. I got a compass to remind me of the adventure that I had, to point me in the right direction and to remind me to not look behind me, but keep facing forward.

After getting the compass, I realised my legs were once again uneven, so I rung the studio in San Francisco, and they managed to fit me in the day before we left for Las Vegas. I wanted another reminder of my travels, and so an antique globe it was. The world is my oyster after all.

For number 12 I branched out. Leaving my legs alone for a little while, I got this beautiful addition to my left arm. And oh boy, I love it. Its a feather morphing into a murder of crows. {11 to be precise} I guess this is all about moving and changing and morphing into something new. Really its just beautiful and thats why I love it.

And now... for my newest additions {you will have to excuse the redness but these photos were taken while they are still healing... infact they are only 2 days old in this photo!}

Isnt this little fella cute! I have named him Oscar. He sits just about my anchor on my right leg. This is to symbolise me graduating from University. The 3 books represent a year that I spent studying. And the Owl, well he is a wise old thing, a traditional symbol for wisdom and education. But I just think he is so cute! I want to cuddle him!

And finally... An antique perfume bottle and lipstick, with the word Beauty through the middle. This tattoo is another reminder for me to look for the beauty in life, not only on the outside but the inside. It also serves as a reminder for me to stay beautiful. Its easy to get caught up in the all bullshit that goes on in this world, I think sometimes we need to check ourselves out and make sure we are acting beautifully. Plus, I call all my friends beauty. So thats cool too!

Phew! haha. So there you have it. There is my art, looking all pretty and stuff. People always ask me if I plan on getting more. And the answer is without a doubt certainly YES! I want to finish my legs and then potentially do something over my entire right arm, for now, I will keep working away at my legs. I have so many ideas, my journal is bursting with them. The other thing people often comment on is the fact that I only currently have Black and Grey Tattoos. I dunno why I started this way, but I have kept going. Of course, I love coloured ink, and one day I would love to get some, but for now I will stick with my beautiful shades of grey {and that way my clothes wont ever clash either! ahha}

People also ask me what my family thinks about them. This is always interesting to me, because well, There are ALWAYS going to be mixed reactions to my art. I mean, some people love them, some people are indifferent to them, and other people dislike them immensly. My mum has come to realise that this is a big part of who I am and has accepted them, she likes some more than others, but I think thats only natural. My grandparents arent so fond of them, but I guess thats a generational thing. Alot of my friends are tattooed, so its no big deal to them, and for my friends who arent tattooed they also are most accepting. I guess, they dont change who I am or how I operate, and most people can see past the stereotypes and stigmas that use to be associated with tattooed folk.

As far as advice to anyone wanting to get a tattoo goes... all I can say is make sure you do your research. There is a saying "a cheap tattoo aint a good tattoo, and a good tattoo and cheap" I definitely think this is the truth. Make sure you trust your artist, make sure you love your design, and most important make sure you pick something that is important to you. Take the time to find an artist whose style you love, whose work you admire, and who you can build a relationship with. I mean, they are going to be repeatedly sticking needles into your flesh, you may as well like them right?


  1. Thankyou so much for sharing Tillie. I LOVE the new owl tattoo it is actually very similar to something I have in mind. I was going to ask you about whether you liked coloured tattoo's but you definitely cleared that up. I also love the camera and anchor. Once again thankyou for sharing.

  2. absolutely stunning darling <3

  3. Woo hoo! I love your art!
    I want a photo where I can see all of it at once! Haha. But I love the editing you did on the photos to keep the focus on one design at a time.
    These all rock. I love that you've got stories, I love that you've stuck to b&w for now... I just love that you can commit to something like a tattoo. I don't think I ever could. I second guess and hesitate too much.

    Seriously, ta for sharing. :)

  4. So glad you shared, they are all absolutely gorgeous- the art on the feather one is incredible and I think the little new zealand on your foot is adorable. :) The camera is also pretty amazing. Good luck with the rest of them!

  5. Your 12th is absolutely beautiful!

    There's a song by the HorrorPops called "Baby Lou Tattoo" and it's basically all about getting tattoos. The song even references the "buzz" of the machine that you mentioned above. It's a fun song that gives someone like me (without any tattoos) an idea of tattoo culture.

  6. Thank you for sharing those, Tillie. It's such an intensely private part of yourself to share with us... and they're beautiful, made even more so because they're all so meaningful.

  7. The cassette is AMAZING! Awwww, so good! I had no idea you had so many, I really love them all.. esp the NZ ones :)

  8. Would love to see a picture of them all together - I love how each piece has its own story.

  9. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful~ I love every single one!! Thank you for sharing! :)

  10. dude! i love this whole thing so much. my favorite is definitely oscar!

    also, i am not sure if you ever got my email, but i got your care package and i loved it so much! thank you thank you thank you!! i read 'the six pack 2' in one night, no joke. my sister is getting me 'the six pack 1' for my birthday because i loved it so much!

    in short, you are amazing.


  11. I love the owl tattoo! I just finished college last week and was contemplating an owl myself, just can't find the "perfect" owl yet. I, however, did treat myself to new ink for celebration on Friday night. Love it.

  12. love the meaning in all of your tattoos tillie. the self love that is so evident in all of them really struck me! i have a thing for feathers and love number 12 especially for it's meaning.

    you are so beautiful inside and out!

  13. Wow I adore every single one of your tattoos!!! They are all gorgeous and have a sweet story behind them all. I love how people wear their stories as artwork all over their body, it makes them very unique and it gives them character. I have such a love for tattoos, treating your body as a canvas and basically expressing yourself!

  14. Wow..your tattoos are beautiful:) I truly love them all and what a wonderful story behind them all!