Blog / 2016 / Irreversible
September 29, 2016
I’d been teasing my friend all week, saying I was only going along so I could take funny pictures of her crying. Little did I know that as soon as the whir of the tattoo machine started, I’d be the one to get teary-eyed. That’s the funny thing about being with someone when they make an irreversible choice about their body. It’s actually quite moving.
I met Kaity over the summer in my new home on Long Beach Island. She was interning at the gallery where I was showing. Neither of us really had any friends in the area.
I won’t pretend I saw myself in her and decided to mentor her because of it. She may be 20, but she has a curiosity about the world that’s more suited to a 6 year old or to the best kind of 60 year old. She is nothing like the know-it-all I was at her age. I admire the way she’s always trying to get at the core of why people do the things they do. Plus, she was my ticket to a tattoo experience.
We went to New York, to Joseph Bryce’s studio in Chinatown. Every part of the process was fascinating, and Joseph was patient with all my questions. I was intrigued by the way tattooists market their art and by all the strange requests they get. Joseph talked about the ethics of ink and the true purpose of tattooing yourself.
I am pretty sure he thought I was working my way up to getting one too, but that wasn’t it. At 35, I’m finally learning to be more like Kaity. I’m curious about the world and I’ll take just about any excuse to experience more of it.
Weird thing: I caught some crap about “encouraging” or “enabling” a young person to tattoo herself. According to some, I should have been the voice of reason, the Adult (with a capital “a”), but these people have it all backwards.
Maybe one day Kaity will hate her tattoo. Maybe she’ll even blame me. But I don’t think either of us should live our lives worrying about that day. The best we can do for ourselves is to be conscious in our choices as much as possible. The best we can do for the people we care about is to listen as they work things out and make sure they’re being safe in their choices. In other words, the best we can do in every situation is be a little more curious.
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