Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Theresa Christine

theresaTheresa Christine, 26, Travel blogger, freelance writer and editor, and virtual assistant in Los Angeles, CA

I wrote a post about 50 Ways to Have an Adventure Without Leaving Town and Theresa writes a blog about living an adventurous life, so I think we might just be kindred spirits. Tremendous Times is a gold mine for anyone who wants to explore, travel, and make the most out of life even on a ramen noodle budget. Plus, this badass blogger babe has a budding collection of tattoos that I couldn’t help asking her about. Here’s what she had to say…

How old were you when you got your first tattoo? What was it?
I was 24. I’d always liked the idea of getting a tattoo but had never really sat down to think about it too much. At the time, I was living in San Francisco for about a year when one of my best friends moved to the Bay Area. She moved to SF like I did — not much money, not really sure what she was doing or why she wanted to be here. We were hanging out at my place one day and she was like, “I want to get a tattoo!” I told her that was a great idea but she should probably wait until she was actually making money to pay for it. So we talked about it and made a deal that once she found a job we’d both go out and get tattoos together. I think it was about a few days later and she texted me saying she was employed.

I got a very small tattoo on my wrist, “be,” in my own handwriting. It represents one of my favorite quotes, “If you want to be happy, be.” It’s actually in the perfect spot, and sometimes when I’m having a rough time I just look down and see it, and it makes me feel a little better.

theresa2How many tattoos do you have now?
In addition to my tiny wrist tat, I’ve gone into a shop for 4 more tattoos and had a few stick-n-pokes done on my knuckles.

I had my best friend do a few knuckle tats with a needle and some India ink. Painful but totally worth it and they are all great memories! I have a blue moon on one hand which was my first stick-n-poke. I have an earth and airplane on the other, which is actually what landed me a scholarship to The Blogcademy! It was kind of crazy, but I’m obviously glad I did it.

I have an anchor and some birds on my torso and shoulder and bows on the back of my legs. I’ve started some back art of a world map made of butterflies, and an intricate sleeve — both of which are still in progress.

What are your thoughts on tattoo regret? Have you ever had any?
I usually go into a panic mode right after getting a tattoo and think What have I done?! It happens pretty much every time without fail. But then the shock of being poked by thousands of needles wears off, I realize that hey, I actually have a pretty cool piece of art on me. That’s why the number one thing for me is to trust the person tattooing me. I don’t regret any of my tattoos — even the silly stick-n-poke ones I did with my friend.

Generally, I think that if you really like and trust your artist and the tattoo is important to you, then you’re way less likely to regret whatever you get. People put a lot of weight into tattoos — too much sometimes, I think. They’re like, “It’s forever. It has to be perfect, it has to be the perfect place and just the right design.” I honestly never have specific art in mind when I get tattoos, simply an idea of what I’d like. I decide on an artist, go into a shop, tell the artist generally what I’m looking for and I let them design it. It’s a little scary, but I’ve never been disappointed.

The truth is, it’s never going to be perfect. It’s a form of body modification and it’s man-made. The best thing anyone can do is find an artist that they trust 110%. I’ve scoured so many websites and looked through so many artist portfolios in order to find just the right people to do the ones I have. And when I’ve found them, I feel like I would probably let them tattoo whatever they want on me, they’re so talented.

The way I see it is that, no matter what they put on my body, it’s going to look good. And yes, tattoos are forever, but a well-done tattoo that is important for you at the moment will still be special years later. Perhaps in a different way, but it will still be a part of you.

theresa3Do you think tattoos need to have a special meaning or can they be purely aesthetic?
It’s sort of like, what came first: the chicken or the egg? I think tattoos can be purely aesthetic or they can have an incredibly special meaning. I also think the way you view that is fluid, and a once meaningful tattoo can become purely aesthetic over time, or vice versa.

For example, the anchor and birds on my sternum, ribcage and shoulder had a deep meaning for me when I got them. To me it represented this time in my life that I felt grounded in my personality, in who I was and in what I wanted, but that I still felt flighty and strangely unsure of things. Honestly, I don’t think that holds true for me anymore and I’m totally okay with that — it’s one of the most beautiful tattoos I have. It’s so fun to have that little bird on my shoulder (many a “Put a bird on it!” jokes have been made), and I especially love getting to show off the larger bird on my ribcage at the beach or something. In my life right now, they’re purely aesthetic.

I also think tattoos can gain meaning over time. I got the butterfly map on my back because of a similar beautiful image I’d seen online. But the more I travel and see of the world, the more of a connection I feel to that art.

Do you have a favourite tattoo? What’s the story behind it?
That’s tough! I love them all for different reasons, really. I am pretty excited about the sleeve I’ve got started that is still in progress. I had about 5 billion ideas going into the initial consultation, and the artist, Amanda Passero has really designed something amazing.

I wanted a tattoo centered around travel, particularly the quote “I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth, then I ask myself the same question.” But I really didn’t want to just get a bunch of text tattooed on my body. So I had this idea of getting a few different images that could be viewed as two different things and tying it all into one tattoo. While it’s still in progress, there’s a compass that’s also a star, clouds that are also peonies, a sun that is also a moon, as well as a v-formation of birds and a big, beautiful stained glass window looking out at all this. When I told Amanda, the artist, some of these thoughts, she totally ran with it. She had these great ideas to add on and she drew some sketches that got me even more excited about it.

I love that all the art is inspired by that quote, and while parts of the tattoo can stand alone they also work together in a beautifully chaotic way. And while it’s certainly inspired by travel there are small elements that also mean more than that to me. I remember my mom saying years ago that she loved the way peonies smelled. I find it interesting how people are constantly looking for some kind of direction in their lives and that we all have our own personal moral compass. I also remember exactly where I was when I was looking out this huge window at my friend’s house, watching the world outside and feeling so incredibly small. The tattoo has a lot of stuff rolled up into it for me, and it’s incredibly satisfying seeing it happen.

theresa1Are there any artists you’re yearning to get work from?
I love the work by Dr. Woo in LA. It’s incredibly delicate and the lines are so fine, and I would probably freak out if I ever actually got to have an appointment with him. I have other tattoos in mind that I’d like to get in the future, but I’m trying to focus on finishing the art I have in progress right now.

Can’t get enough of Theresa in your life? Check out her blog and give her a follow on Facebook and Twitter!

Are you a tattooist or tattoo collector who’d like to be featured? Drop me an e-mail; I’d love to chat!

Love, tartan mini-skirts, and croissants for breakfast,

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