Tuesday, July 19, 2011


lately i've been giving a lot of thought to my next tattoo. i only have one right now, which i got exactly a year ago. it symbolizes my great adventure of moving clear across the country to san francisco after college, without knowing anyone, having a place to live, nor a job.  i sold everything and went.  i completely started over as an independent woman and wouldn't you know it, i survived!  i now have a tree swallow on my upper back/lower shoulder to remind me of that part of my life.  i have plans for a couple others {it's true what they say, once you get your first, you'll definitely want more}, but nothing has been solidified yet.

{clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4}

when i was in thailand on the elephant ranch we worked side by side with the mahouts {elephant trainers}, who were a bunch of rough guys who spoke absolutely zero english.  they gave me one look and figured they had nothing in common with me, that i was just another tourist... until, that is, they saw my tattoo.  oh how their faces lit up.  they began rattling off what i imagine to be "you have a tattoo, just like me!" in thai as they rolled up their sleeves and raised their shirts to show me incredibly gorgeous tattoos, most of which were done by buddhist monks {it's very spiritually significant to get a tattoo in thailand}.  it was such a beautiful experience to be able to bond with these men on the other side of the world {from the back of an elephant no less}.  i made meaningful connections in a way that i would have never been able to do had i not gotten my tattoo, which just made me love my tattoo even more than i already did {you can see my tattoo towards the end of this post, as i took part in a buddhist ceremony in thailand.}.

yes, i love tattoos.
i love that they tell a story,
i love that they can serve as reminders of important things in our lives,
and i love that there are so many beautiful, sweet, and feminine tattoos out there.

{clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4}

for those of you who may be thinking about getting one, i have a few words of advice for you...

1} if you're on the fence, have someone draw the image on the part of your body where you want {or several places if you're not sure about placement}.  leave the drawing on for a day or so and see how you like it.  i thought i knew exactly where i wanted my tattoo until i drew it on and discovered i hated it.  you should always give yourself a trial run of anything that will become a permanent part of your body.  

2} research your artist! i can't stress this enough.  never just walk in and get it done.  sure there may be people who had good experiences with that, but the risk far outweighs the exceptions.  the other issue with this is that every tattoo artist has their own twist, their own style, for each drawing.  you want to make sure that you find an artist who is not only very talented with a needle {because you know, it's permanent remember?}, but is also in tune with your style.  it's also important to find an artist who can work easily with you as a person.  openness is key.  you never want to feel like you're being pressured by your artist.  instead, you should be able to ask for what you want and have plenty of time to get your artwork and placement exactly how you want it, even if that means redoing it a hundred times before the needle is used.  your tattoo will represent YOU, and should reflect everything you're wanting it to be.  your artist should create the kind of atmosphere where you are free to make those important decisions on your own.

3} take your time.  there's no rush in getting a tattoo.  give the design, body placement, and artist plenty of thought before taking the plunge.  i was planning my tattoo for a couple years before i got it done.  i had several ideas over the course of those years, but there was one that i kept coming back to.  if i hadn't allowed myself that time to really think about it, i might have gone with some random idea of the moment and missed out on what i really wanted. 

overall, i think if it's meaningful to you, and represents an important part of your life, you won't have any regrets.  people get scars all the time, stories that we don't get to choose.  but with a tattoo, you tell your own story, and that's really beautiful.

{clockwise from top left: 1, lauryn's awesome new tattoo, 3, 4}

do you have any tattoos? if not, would you ever want any? 
what story do they/would they tell?
and if you'd like more tattoo eye candy, you can check out my pinboard.


  1. oh my, these are all so beautiful, tempting me to get another one, too (I agree, once you get one it's addictive!)

    I rushed to get one before college, it was my own private act of rebellion, I think (plus, a sign of my sometimes too spontaneous leap before I look personality ;). Regretted that one, but I consider it my own little learning lesson.

    I have an African word on my foot, now, that was meaningful from my time spent volunteering there, and a peace dove on my shoulder. Living out in Portland, Oregon, where tattoos are everywhere, I am so tempted to get another one, but I am trying to restrain myself before I am certain. (Your tips are right on point!).

    Just took a look at yours- love it!

  2. i don't have any, but i've definitely been playing with the option.

  3. I've seen all of these popping up on pinterest! Haha. I like the short word ones like "no fear" or ones that are simple but elegant like the feather. I like the elephant for you because of your story but I look at that and think "that's a big elephant!". I like your bird from last time too. :)

    This is a great example of the blogosphere opening me up more. In my area (literal, physical area) tattoos still have a small stigma but it's getting past us all now. Teachers have multiple piercings and a few small tattoos. Wouldn't have seen that here when I was growing up. It's good that we're judging now on talent instead of holding onto old stigmas.

    I don't know if I can think of something I want permanently on my body. Hah - or WHERE? I'd say foot but I'm ticklish. I did see a tattoo recently that was only 3 numbers but it related to Harry Potter. Maybe that? Or something related to my mom? I don't know!

    Good luck with picking out your next one and great advice!

  4. I look at the underside of my wrist now and then and think about how much I'd like something there. I just don't know if I'd want it there forever. But a tattoo from a Buddhist monk? I can imagine how special that must be. I'm going to try drawing on my wrist and see how I like it. I've been meaning to since I wrote about tattoos but somehow I never got around to it.

  5. because of my religion, i can't get a tattoo but i think that feminine tattoos are beautiful and such lovely art work. a girl at university had a tattoo of a tea cup around her wrist and it was stunning- done in all different colours.

  6. ps thats so amazing you found a connection with those you met in thailand through tattoo art. xo

  7. Those are some lovely images. I have thought about getting a tattoo but I'm a little baby when it comes to pain. Plus, a friend of mine recently passed out while getting one. Lol.That did little to convince me it was ok. If I ever got one I think it would be a hummingbird or tree of life or maybe a saying.

  8. I'm currently obsessed with figuring out my next one....but I can't 100% decide on it. It'll be my fourth. I have a Hebrew design on my back, a kokopelli on my lower back and a butterfly by my lower tummy (my mom and sisters have the same one). Next up is my wrist.

  9. I LOVE that elephant. How beautiful. I have lots of tattoos, and most of them are silly. I think next I want to get an ice cream cone with two little cherries on top. :)

  10. I have been debating getting one for quite some time, but I just can't make my mind up on a design because I want something really special and unique to me. All of these are gorgeous though!
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. these tattoos are so chic and cool, so its yours!

    I love how they all tell stories, sometimes I want one, but I am too chicken.

  12. I have 3 and am currently working with a friend to draw my 4th (it's going to be Hedwig from Harry Potter). I love tattoos. When I got my first one I said I just wanted one. Then went back for a 2nd one a few years later and after it bled like crazy I swore that was it. After my 3rd I gave up saying I was done, lol. I have at least 5 tats in mind right now. They're so addicting and such a great way to express yourself!

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  14. Your tattoo is so cute! I loooove looking at pictures of tattoos - I could do it all day. I have a swallow on my low back that I got for my father after he passed away of cancer. I want another one but can't seem to make up my mind on what I want!


  15. Wow, Kim! I can't even express into words how much I LOVE (and NEEDED) this sort of post! I've seen so many posts by bloggers saying, "I'm thinking about a tattoo...what do you think?" But this one is really what I needed - how to go about it if you're on the fence, what steps to take...I have definitely been on the fence for awhile. I'd really love one, but I can't think of what :) Oh, maybe we can talk about this when we get a chance to meet up one day - this post was brilliant!!

  16. your tattoo is PERFECT! that i just know the next one you get will be pretty, especially if these are your inspiration (i love lauryn's too!)

    i really love that first one! i tried to get all of mine where i can hide them easily, except for the one on my foot but i love that one the most so i like that it's always showing (well usually). you're right, they tell a story and the one on my foot is the japanese character for "heaven"-- a gift from my twinkie :) i wanted something i KNEW i would never change my mind about... not "beauty" or "Friendship" or even "love." Heaven.

    the other two are a fairy on my lower back (a hs graduation gift to myself) and a butterfly on my lower belly-- a 6th street in austin night ;) ha

    i'm itching for another one and was THIS CLOSE to getting one in Haight/Ashburry when my gf jessie got "imagine" in john lennon's writing on her foot (sooo cute!) but my husband is not a fan of my tats and said he would inspect me for any new ink upon my return HA! still... i really want one. ;)

    ps. speaking of that husband of mine, SO GLAD when he picked your name out for the giveaway win! i just know any of soaktree's earrings are going to look GORGEOUS on you! : http://dolcevitamicaela.blogspot.com/2011/07/as-charlie-sheen-did-say-winning.html

    get the sugar forest ones and we can match ;)

  17. one "r" meant for ashbury ;) oops!

  18. I have a (my 3rd) tattoo healing now. I would post a pic but its all scabbed over and not very attractive right now. On the inside of my right wrist in light blue it reads IV. I - The meaning is June 1st, or juuune fuuuust as my brother would pronounce it when he was a little guy. June first is my younger brother's birthday and the day that my family become complete :)

    - I went alone. I recommend doing so; it is very liberating.

    check out my blog: Peony

  19. I think that body art is beautiful and why not cover yourself in art you love. Tattoos are incredibly personal, and mean so much to the person who bears them. I used to have a desire for one, but had my navel pierced instead. Now I dunno - still have an image in mind - we will see. Love yours and this post.
    Ink rocks.

  20. I don't think I'd ever get a tattoo. First of all, I can almost guarantee I'd be allergic to it - my skin is ridiculously sensitive.

    Love some of these though!

  21. I would get a quote, if I were to get a tattoo (I don't have any). It would be on my arm somewhere, and have to be hidden by professional clothes.

  22. oh, gawd yes...i LOVE them! i have one. if it were more, um, "acceptable" to the family, i'd definitely have my sleeves done already! it is addicting. i am planning one more, but it is still in the works!


  23. I have one on my lower back that I got on somewhat of a whim six years ago at 19. I don't regret it it all because it's symbolic of a very special time in my life and still holds significant meaning today. The tattoo is of the comedy/tragedy masks, and was designed by me approximately 20 minutes before getting it done. Ack, I know how that sounds! But, it's only the size of a quarter and completely hidden in all clothing. My whole family is involved in theater and I was too, for a very long time. In a way, I like how I was spontaneous and free with getting it, because it's not indicative of how I usually am (much more of a planner). It represents a lot of who I was in college, too. All that being said, I think your tips are right on point and I am in full agreement! I nearly gave my mother a heart attack when I called her from the greenwich village tattoo parlor, five minutes after getting it done. Oy!

  24. That's such a neat story of bonding across cultures through your tattoo--what a surprise, no?
    I'm too terrified of needles (as in, I've passed out getting a shot before) and too indecisive to get a tattoo, but sometimes I see artful pieces done with so much meaning that I still want one. I love your sparrow, too! It's so simple and timeless.

  25. i always wanted to get one but the idea of forever was not so appealing to me... i wish there was a technique where you could have them for like 7 years and then one day it's gone... hahaha!!!

  26. I love your tattoo. I have one I got when I was pretty young 17, so I wasnt really thinking. But I'd like to get a compass or something geographic, but my mister is not so into the permanent ink. What are you thinking about getting next?

  27. as you know, i have one tat already but i would like to get two others although i haven't solidified plans yet... your tips are great, specially #1, it is a very good tactic.

  28. Love all the different tattoos you've featured here, and I completely agree with you about how tattoos give us the opportunity to tell a story.

    The feedback everyone gave me before getting my tattoo was so valuable! I definitely gave a lot of thought to placement and size and it paid off. I smile every time I look down at my foot :)

  29. You have such a beautiful, feminine tattoo. I also have been giving so much thought to getting one and the script bracelet is SOOOO GORGEOUS! I have been considering something like that, with maybe a line or quote from a philosopher. That could work b/c I also want it on my wrist... Some very awesome food for thought and I am bookmarking this post :)

    Thanks, Kim!

  30. First of all, your Thailand experience looks incredible! I so want to go there and experience it all!

    Secondly, I love this post! I'm actually planning on getting my second tattoo in a couple months...it's going to be my signature of my maiden name and so I loved seeing all these script tattoos. I've never thought to draw it on myself before getting it done and I think that's great advice. And I have to totally agree with you and stress that there is no rush! I knew what I wanted for over a year and the fact the I still wanted the same thing after that year made be sure that I was getting the right thing. Your tattoo is really beautiful!

  31. I dont have one yet, but I want one! I have thought so hard about what I want it to be...I know I want feathers to symbolize each of the kids and also the 2 miscarriages I had...so 7 feathers...which also happens to be my #! But I am not sure if I want just the feathers or if I want to add a gorgeous raven or even a griffin from which the feathers are falling....lots to decide! Good luck with your new tat....I know it will be beautiful whatever you choose! I love you sis!

  32. I completely agree with you about wanting more once you get your first. I have two and want to get at least one more. I'm looking for something to symbolize my husband and daughter. Love the tatts you posted!!

    ~ Wendy