Emily (/Em or Emma), 27, works full-time from home as a ‘department assistant’ for a local health care organization.
What is the story behind your favourite tattoo?
I really love all my tattoos equally because they each have special meaning to me, so I always have a hard time when people ask me that question! But, my most recent endeavor, a gigantic peacock tattoo that will serve as the focal point in my sleeve, is my current favorite (for obvious reasons!) It is big and beautiful, just my style ;] I’ve been working on the peacock with Steve Anderson, co-owner of 920 Tattoo Company and a personal friend of mine. Steve first tattooed the names on my elbows (Marilyn & Clyde, my grandparents – for those wondering) years & years ago when he was an apprentice. Now he owns his very own shop and is bangin’ out beautiful tattoos like this peacock. He is an amazing artist, but the thing I love most about his style is his handwriting! He is very skilled in the art. I encourage you to look up him and his other half, Carrie Olson, the next time you are in central Wisconsin! Carrie is the other co-owner of 920 Tattoo and equally as awesome. I choose a peacock because they are said to be prideful – something I try to be… prideful of who I am and the things I stand for… But, I am also obsessed with birds, especially birds of prey, birds of paradise and peacocks. I always knew I wanted a bird tattoo, but what sealed the deal with the peacock (and this might seem weird) is that I observed the courting ritual of peacocks at a local zoo. The zoo allowed the peacocks to just roam around and there were tons of them, so that was cool enough, but then all of a sudden a male peacock started doing the most majestic dance I have ever seen, just to impress the female. It blew my mind, it was SO cool. From that point on, I knew I had to go with a peacock. I’ve been to a few local artists, but stuck with Steve because of his talent. The peacock is not fully done, but will be soon! Steve lives 3 hours away from me now since I have moved so it’s a little tough, but I hope to finish it this summer! We just have to add some whites/browns and make the circle behind the peacock’s head a moon!
What other tattoos do you have and where?
I have several tattoos :] I currently have a “star trail” of different sized stars crawling from my foot up and around my ankle. I also have my zodiac sign on my left wrist, two “homemade” stars on each shoulder blade, my 18th birthday present from my mom (a small goldfish in a “circle of life” tattooed in between my shoulder blades), my grandparents names (one on each elbow) and what started as two separate flowers (a hibiscus and an oriental lily) on my chest has now become part of my sleeve.
Do you plan to get anymore tattoos in the future?
Absolutely! The one and only thing stopping me right now is money. Tattoos are expensive, but for good reason though! They are a form of art and by getting tattooed, you are supporting that artist and their work. So, I am not complaining by any means – but definitely wish I had more dough to spend on tattoos. I have so many ideas, but my main goal is to finish my sleeve. Then I will expand to other parts of my body (I really want to get my upper thigh tattooed and the skin right above both knees. I also want a rib cage tattoo and am leaning towards a chest piece too.)
What appeals to you about tattoos and tattoo culture? Is there anything about tattoo culture that you find off-putting?
I cannot exactly put my finger on what draws me to this culture. Ever since I was little, I was in love with people who had tattoos. In fact, I find tattooed women to be even more breathtaking than men. I’m in a seven year relationship with a great man, but I can proudly say there is something very sexy about a tattooed woman. Most little kids (at least the ones that have met me) have been scared, thinking that I was “bad” somehow because I have tattoos on my body! For me as a child, though, it was different. I was taught to respect everyone, no matter what… so if I did see someone that was tattooed, I didn’t treat them any different. I think that has a lot to do with my love and acceptance for them.
Also, tattoos are a beautiful art form and some of the best artwork I’ve seen is in tattoo form. Tattoo artists are extremely skilled and talented, so it’s important for me to cherish that and support the artists that I love. Tattoos are also very meaningful expressions of a person and their passions. As I’ve grown older, my love for the tattoo art form has not faltered one bit. I still love tattoos as much as 15 years ago and I know that this passion will continue throughout my lifetime. I will never regret my choices and will always want more!
The only thing I find off-putting about the tattoo culture is the vibe that you get when you walk into certain shops. I am not saying all shops are like this, don’t get me wrong, but if you’ve been in a shop with this atmosphere, you know what I’m talking about.
For the most part though, it is our society outside of the tattoo culture that bothers me. Our society is not very accepting of people who are tattooed, even though the majority of us have at least one! Employers say they are “equal opportunity” – but let’s be real… if you were to walk into an interview, even if you were dressed super nice, most employers wouldn’t give you the time of day. I have personally been treated badly, even though I always cover my tattoos, simply because my employer knew I had them! Our society needs to wake up and start treating people who are tattooed as real human beings. Many tattooed individuals are our doctors, our nurses, the people who fight for our freedom in wars. I am one of the hardest working, dedicated women you will ever meet. That does not change simply because I have tattoos and I am certainly not a criminal because of it!
Do many of your friends and families have tattoos? Have you received any adverse reactions due to your decision to be tattooed?
No one in my family is tattooed! I am the only one. So, yes, I have definitely dealt with adverse reactions from family. Nothing harsh, more so just pity. They often tell me that they think I will regret my decisions in a few years, what they don’t understand is how much I love them and how passionate I have been for them ever since I could remember. Nothing will ever make me regret my tattoos. They have such symbolism and meaning to me. I also think that because they are not tattooed themselves, they feel embarrassment for me because they don’t know what it’s like. But again, they do not understand that I am not even embarrassed :]
As far as my friends, many of them are tattooed. I have several friends in the business and the majority of the rest of my friends are heavily tattooed (sleeves, ect.) I will always receive adverse reactions from strangers. It’s just how people are. Some parents do not teach their children to be polite around tattooed individuals, so the children point, stare and hide behind their parents when they see me because they are scared.
I keep my fingers crossed that I will find an employer accepting of my tattoos so I don’t have to cover them up constantly, but I am not sure that will ever happen. And as much as I want people to smile when they see me, I will always see facial expressions from people that say “OH MY GOD” (even though the person doesn’t actually SAY it.) But, you know what? That’s okay with me because I am proud of who I am!
Who are your favourite tattoo artists?
Well, my three favorite local artists are Steve Anderson, Carrie Olson and Peter “Heavy” Kuehl. Of course I have some “dream” artists, and those are Mary Joy, Jake Schroeder, Nikko Hurtado, and Cally Jo – to name a few! :]
Do you have advice for anyone interested in getting their first tattoo?
Yes! Here are my top five tips!
1) Accept that it is probably going to hurt: This is the most common question I get and I always tell people the truth, it does hurt usually – but understand that it’s a totally different kind of pain than you are used to. I think people imagine that it’s like dying or getting a limb cut off or something, haha, but it’s a much more tolerable pain than you might think, more of “scratching” feeling than anything. Don’t go all anxious and fearful. That will make your experience and the pain worse, I’m telling you. Go with the acceptance that it will probably hurt but don’t be fearful. Take it all in… the buzzing sound of the tattoo gun, the feel of the needle on your skin, you will soon fall in love with it all, I’m sure.
2) Do your research: Another biggie is people ask me what spots of the body hurt. They look at my massive bird and say, “Wow, that must have hurt so bad!” or “Did the tattoo on your chest hurt?” – the best thing to understand is that everyone is different. So, what hurts for me might not hurt for you. I had a friend swear the foot was the worst spot ever, but my foot didn’t hurt at all. My artist, Steve, was tattooing my “ditch” (the ‘bend’ between your upper arm and lower arm) and looking at me with anticipation, saying “How’s this for ya?” – I think I spoiled his fun by saying that it didn’t hurt me at all because apparently he had a really hard time getting that spot done. So, really, the only way you can access your pain level is to get tattooed. Start with something small, if you tolerate it well, go larger. If you do your research, and find an experienced artist – their “hand” will most likely be “lighter” (they ‘dig’ less) because they are experienced with tattooing. Now I’m not saying that an apprentice won’t have a light hand, or someone with little experience, but – if you’re concerned about pain – go to someone who has some years under their belt.
3) If you have a feeling your going to regret it, don’t do it: Tattoos are expensive but tattoo removal and cover ups are even more expensive. Think about what you want to get and think hard before getting it. If you think you’ll regret it now, you probably will. Make sure your heart is really in it for the long haul and be prepared for society’s reactions like I talked about earlier.
4) Don’t drink ahead of time: Oh my, I cannot tell you enough how bad this is. People think they are fine by drinking ahead of time, saying that it eases their fears and looses them up to pain. NOT. Drinking thins your blood and makes it nearly impossible for an artist to do a great job on your tattoo because you will be bleeding so much – in fact, most artists won’t even tattoo you if you’ve been drinking!
5) Enjoy your tattoo. No matter what haters say, tattoos are beautiful. Flaunt it!
Thanks so much, Emily! I can’t get over how beautiful that peacock is and I can’t wait to see the entire sleeve when you’re finished. You can see more from Emily on her blog, blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
How about you? Do you have tattoos you’d like to share? Just drop me a line!