Going out in warmer weather usually means wearing more revealing clothing. For those of us with tattoos, this is the season to show them off. When my girlfriend and I go out together, we are usually both showing a pretty large amount of ink. As you can see from the picture below, we are some hardcore, bad ass, thug-like, intimidating looking people that nobody would want to mess with. People see us coming and run to the other side of the street to avoid confrontation as would be expected when faced with a couple of heavily tattooed criminals. Just look at us.
All kidding aside, our ink does definitely garner some attention. In a vast majority of cases, it’s nothing but positive. I have written before about some of my experiences since getting my tattoo and have since lost count of the number of people I have started conversations with due to nothing but the simple fact that I am tattooed. It’s probably in the dozens by now and continues to grow on a regular basis.
The types of people as well as the reactions I get are quite varied. The most common questions I get asked are if it hurt, followed closely by how much did it cost. I get a lot of people who want to know where I got it done and who the artist was. Some people choose to share their own tattoos and stories. It’s also pretty common to hear people tell me that they have wanted a tattoo for a while but either don’t know what to get, are afraid that it’s going to hurt too much.
Because the Koi is not exactly the rarest image seen in the tattoo world, I would say that I get more comments from people who know less about tattoos. Based on the language used to describe a tattoo, it’s usually very obvious when you are talking to someone with little knowledge of ink, vs someone who has been around their share of tattoos. Someone knowledgeable about tattoos will immediately recognize the Koi, and those who know fish but not tattoos will refer to it as a Carp and want to know if I’m a fisherman. The conversations can lead down very different paths, but I’m always more than happy to talk about my work.
Heidi’s tattoos always seem to get a lot of attention because they are so unique. I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she’s a cute girl, making her just a bit more approachable than me. Her vine tattoos run all over her body, covering her back, across her shoulders, on her toe, and even a small piece in her ear. It’s that small bit in her ear that seems to grab most people’s attention. Even those who are already covered in tattoos will ask her about her ear piece because it is such an unusual place for a tattoo.
Her new work has been getting a lot of attention lately as well. It was done by Megan Massacre for TLC’s new show ‘NY Ink’ and should be featured some time this season. It’s a bold, unique design that always seems to catch people’s eyes.
We spent this past July 4th weekend together and encountered different people who we had conversations with about our ink every single day of the long weekend.
We started out the weekend by attending a Howie Day show at the City Winery on Friday night. Most of the seating at the Winery will place you at a table with other people and we happened to be at a table of 4. 10 minutes after we arrived another couple sat at our table. We introduced ourselves to each other and went about ordering food. Heidi happened to be wearing a jacket and I was wearing a long sleeved shirt, so neither one of us were showing any tattoos at that time. A few minutes later, Heidi decided to take her jacket off within seconds of them spotting her tattoos all four of us were engaged in full conversation. This continued throughout the night at the Winery and eventually into another bar after the show. The night finally ended with us all exchanging contact info and what I believe was the start of a new friendship.
The next night, we walked down to the wine shop below Heidi’s apartment where they were having a small tasting. Within minutes we were talking with 3-4 people who were interested in both of our tattoos. It was a nice change of pace from all of the wine talk.
On Sunday, we took a trip to a small farm in Lehighton, PA. 10 minutes after arriving, before even touring the farm, I was having a conversation about my tattoos with one of the guys on the farm who has a friend that is a tattoo artist and was considering getting one himself.
Finally, on Monday night after a long day of exploring the back roads in and around the Delaware Water Gap, we stopped into Salt Gastropub, one of our favorite places to eat in the area. We exchanged a few words with a couple sitting to our left at the bar, but the conversation didn’t really start until the subject of tattoos was brought up. It was only then that I saw the koi tattooed on his arm, and he told me about his plan to get a dragon on the other arm.
Could we have found something in common and started conversations with all of these people if we were not tattooed? Yes, we certainly could have. But would it have happened? Would the conversations been as easy to start, or would our discussions headed in a completely different direction? I can’t answer those questions with certainty. But what I do know is that nobody has ever approached me and said, “Hey, I noticed your beautiful, un-tattooed skin, who is your dermatologist?” The fact is that in the span of four days in four drastically different locations, spanning three states, ranging from The Lower East Side of Manhattan, to a small town in rural NJ, to a farm in them middle of PA, our tattoos were the catalyst to many great conversations and I’m sure there will be many more to come. For me, my tattoos could just be the ultimate icebreaker.