Literary Tattoos

I have tattoos. I don’t have as many as I would like since I’m a poor, starving artist and new tattoos rarely seem to make it to the top of the priority list, but I have some. The tattoos I have are all big and visible, e.g. my arm, my leg and my knuckles. There ain’t no hiding knuckle tattoos.

I got my knuckles tattooed specifically so that I could never be a corporate stooge ever again. In the late 90s, I sold my soul for a corporate job where I pretended to like Dave Mathews Band, Ally McBeal (which I’ve never actually seen), and sort of had to imply that I was Catholic and voted Republican. Gulp. This particular company had just quashed the rule that women weren’t allowed to wear pants in the workplace right before I started in the late 90s. I was told that my dark purple nail polish –my nails were the one place that I still thought I could express myself a little bit –was unprofessional. How can a color be unprofessional? I hated every minute of that job except the paycheck. When I finally left after four years of soul suckage, I swore that I would never take a job again where I could not be myself. As reinforcement, since I don’t trust myself where large paychecks are concerned, I got the knuckle tattoos. It worked.

My tattoos have no significance to anyone else but me. That’s the way it should be. Do I love a book or an author enough to get them tattooed on me forever? Probably not. I love the hell out of Charles Bukowski, but I wouldn’t get a book jacket or a portrait of him tattooed on me. I might do an interpretation of something relating to something he wrote, but I don’t think I would ever get a straight-up literary tattoo. Just as I don’t put bumper stickers on my car because I don’t like the concept of people judging me based on them, I wouldn’t get a tattoo that meant anything to anyone but me.

I have friends who have literary tattoos. One of my friends has the guy from the cover of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 tattooed on him. It’s the same basic outline, but he has customized it to him. Being an artist, I’m not really a big fan of using someone else’s art on my body (other than the tattoo artist’s, of course). The huge tattoo I have on my leg was drawn by me and refined into tattoo form by the tattoo artist. It is my favorite tattoo because there’s a lot of me in it. I can’t imagine getting something tattooed on me that didn’t have a bit of me. Then again, not everyone is an artist.

Tattoos are, or at least they should be, very personal. If a book means enough to you to get it tattooed on you permanently, I say go for it. Do what you like. Just try to refrain from getting any Ayn Rand tattoos, please.