Inka Dinka Doo
Tattoos, I’ve had a fascination with them for most of my years. I grew up in a time when getting a tattoo meant you were totally a badass – more heavily on the bad than the ass (tramp stamps would come later). In the years since I’ve watched the world cover itself with sea of ink. When I lived in St. Louis one of my best friends, Jen, worked at a great tattoo joint named Iron Age. Jen has a lot of tattoos. The other day I asked her how many she had and she promised she would count them…I think she is still counting them.
About 30 years ago I started thinking “I’m a graphic guy, I should get a tattoo.” I love the idea of a tattoo – saying something in a permanent fashion that people can see and gain some insight into you. However this is me and I really started getting deeply in the weeds about what would be there. What is something that I will forever look at and have warm fuzzy thoughts about? I considered crying bear from Radiohead. I loved that band in the late 90s and early 00s and love the graphic quite a bit, but my attachment to the band is less so now. Similarly, I also love Randy Newman, The Beatles and The Fall, but I am not tattooing any of them on my body. A woman I lived with a long time ago had Beatle’s lyrics tattooed around her waist. When you are 20 that seems like a good idea. 20 years and several kids later I wonder how “Strawberry Fields” is holding up.
This year has been momentous for me with big changes and a hope to start a new chapter in life. A really good friend noted something I often talk about – mindfulness – while we were on a trip. My goal, I said, was to be more present. In conversation the phrase “be here now” often came up as shorthand for being present (also a great book) and my friend took it upon herself to go to Conscious Ink and have them fire me off some temporary tattoos with that specific phrase. They arrived a few weeks after I had moved in to my bachelor apartment in Denver. I put one on in a spot I knew I would see – inside of my arm equal distance from wrist and elbow and aimed so I would stare at it when driving or sitting at my desk.
As tattoos go it resonated. Being present is not something I’ve ever been good at and need constant reminding about. It was not subtle in any way. I never have to explain what this symbol means or even what the words mean. Also, it came from someone I love and find inspiring. I’ve often told her she is what I want to be when I grow up. I wore my temporary as sort of a tester tattoo while I thought about what I would need to do to make it permanent.
At first I thought about making the phrase look a little nicer. The press-on was pretty basic – American Typewriter type, right aligned and containing a period at the end of the phrase. I thought about redoing the phrase in a more flowing font and lengthening it. Funny thing though, I wore that press-on out in public for a full two weeks and people went out of their way to say how much they liked it exactly as it was. There was some conversation about whether a period belonged there, but I think it lends weight and importance to the phrase. The simpleness of the type with its suggestion of Kerouac, Strummer and Hemingway made the phrase more weighty and suggested the zen of the piece. One other thing, I came of age as a designer at the moment we went to desktop publishing. My first job went from a typewriter to a PC in about two years. I have a soft spot for typewriters.
I went to EOD, a very nice shop right around the corner to my apartment and within an hour I had a permanent message on my body. Every day I look at it and it makes me smile. At the moment, my ink is not fully a part of me in my mind because I still feel its newness, but I know it will influence me forever.
15 Sep 2017 / Mr. Dunn /