So, it’s been a while. I’m working on a film, which tends to keep me very busy. The holidays kinda swept me up as well (still haven’t taken down the decorations, let’s add that to the to-do list) and then there was my birthday.
As I’ve said before, I selfishly consider my birthday to be the true New Year’s day since it’s a week into each new year. For the past few years, I’ve been working on a project that I was both incredibly aware of and a bit unconscious to: birthday tattoos. I established rules for myself because I realized from the get-go that I would get addicted to body art.
Rule #1: Don’t get a tattoo you haven’t considered for at least a year. For me, this meant designing all of my tattoos with the artists who tattooed me. Nothing from the wall.
Rule #2: Only get tattoos on odd-numbered birthdays until your 30th, when all bets are off.
So, starting with my 25th birthday, I’ve gotten a tattoo every other year on my birthday. I broke both my rules only once by getting a tattoo of a fleur-dis-lis on my foot. It wasn’t my birthday, and I hadn’t really thought about the tattoo much before I got it.
The only other time the rules were broken was last year, on my 29th birthday when I got my Ganesh tattoo. After work, I rushed to Hell or High Water to get my tattoo and shortly after I arrived, the power went off because there was a devastating fire at a church nearby. I ended up getting it the next day, January 8th, right before the Saints lost their playoff game.
It’s ironic that there were so many obstacles to getting that tattoo of Ganesh last year: since he is known as the remover of obstacles. But he is also the Lord of Beginnings and a patron god of artists and writers and so he is very special to me.
As many of you may know from reading this blog, Banksy is also pretty special to me, including my favorite Banksy graffiti/art. While I like a lot of Banksy’s work and he intrigues me, there’s really only one image of his that I like enough to tattoo it – forever – on my body.
This image invokes hope and childhood, but also poignant nostalgia and unfulfilled desire. It is immediately evocative for most people who see it, yet it is a complete contradiction, both delicate and stark. Of course it would become part of my birthday tattoo project.
Hence, my Banksy tattoo:
I went to Hell or High Water again and while Tony was tattooing me, he surprised me completely by asking me why I’ve gotten all my tattoos. I don’t strike most people as the type, I know. How did I become a girl who has five tattoos? And why? My brother is covered in tattoos and I don’t think anyone’s questioned why he’s gotten them. It just seems like a natural extension of his personality. Well, actually, I know our family has questioned WHY he’s gotten so many tattoos and while they disapprove, his tattoos probably do make more sense to them than mine make.
But that’s okay, because they make sense to me. My tattoos are each important reminders to me that I am always seeking balance in my life between extreme contradictions in the world and in myself. Which is why, except for my first, most of my tattoos are visible to me. When Tony and I were discussing the placement of my Banksy tattoo, I stressed how important it was that my tattoo be facing me, something I could look at whenever I wanted or see accidentally. He came up with a brilliant placement for it that accomodated the necessary size.
I told Tony this was my only tattoo that I hadn’t designed in some way, the closet to an “off the wall” tattoo, one that any number of other people are also carrying around on their bodies. He told me how much he enjoyed Exit Through the Gift Shop and we started joking about how Banksy sort of stole the documentary that started out about him. Ultimately, we decided that Banksy should make another documentary, this one about the people who tattoo his work on their bodies. I would watch that documentary and it really seems like something he would do.
I’ll be your first subject, Banksy. ;”)
Shortly after getting my Banksy tattoo, I realized that it may very well be my last tattoo. It might not be. Who knows? But the birthday tattoo project is over. I got 5 tattoos between the ages of 25 and 30. They were done by 5 different tattoo artists at 4 shops on 3 of my important birthdays and in 2 different cities. All of these tattoos have a central theme of balance and they remind me daily of things and people I love. They also remind me of who I have been and who I want to be. I’m happy with the results.