To tattoo will undeniably mean something uniquely different from one person to the next. I've heard a wide spectrum of thoughts and while some ideas I agree with, others I would personally approach with hesitation and caution if at all. Regardless, I understand that every idea has potential for legitimacy in the right context.
My own perceptions are certainly not fixed. I've experienced tattooing from a number of different angles thus far and I find it undesirable to allow a singular perspective to take hold and funnel all future exposure into a limited dominating narrative. From the cheap, low lit, short of sanitary, less skilled, D.I.Y. underground to the world class, high end, upper echelon of tattooing, I've had some memorable experiences being tattooed. Some positive, some negative on both ends of the spectrum. I like to think that there is something to learn from every facet of tattooing throughout all of its history to its many current forms of existence in modern times.
One thing I've learned is that tattooing can be what you want it to be. Aside from inherent limitations, tattooing can be used as a tool to achieve a myriad of objectives. For myself tattooing fits into a larger trajectory of my life. It does not define my life, and my life is not consumed by tattooing, it is simply a means to an end. One of my life's objectives is to live free, an ongoing process in which I am in constant resistance to any influence which would hinder or deny my autonomy without my consent. A process of renewal and rehabilitation from the onslaught of daily oppression which I access through creative endeavors.
Tattooing offers me the freedom to live a creative life, to let my imagination run wild, to play but to call it work, to travel, and to connect intimately with real people on a daily basis. It allows me to acquire my fairly simple and moderate lifestyle needs while simultaneously benefitting those less fortunate. It enables the flexibility and opportunity to engage with and support projects which intend to mitigate the global destruction that industrial capitalism leaves in its wake. It gives me the ability to offer monetary and material support to those on the front lines of the environmental and social justice movements which I hold close to my heart. Tattooing keeps me intrigued and motivated, challenged and engaged, a stark contrast to the monotony and boredom that I often experience in the drudgery of a domesticated life. It's also just simply fun and if I can't have fun doing something I likely won't enjoy doing it.
So while tattooing may not be the end all, be all of my existence, it is definitely a key component in leading the life I want to live and I am extremely thankful, humbled, and honored to be able to participate in such a craft. I owe the debt of my gratitude to all who make this possible, to every client who has supported me, to every artist who has offered priceless words of wisdom, and to those who have inspired me by forging the life they want to lead with reckless abandon. Thank you, I can only hope to offer such inspiration one day.