I got my first tattoo when I was 24 years old. I wanted to wait for so long on purpose, since I already knew I would immediately get hooked on tattoos. I wanted to have Metallica’s Ninja Star either on my leg or my arm, but finally I ended up on this leg tattoo. I’ve been listening to Metallica since I was a child. I figured that even though I would quit listening to their music at some point, their music has nevertheless traveled with me for so long that I wouldn’t regret this tattoo even by then.
I was in Turkey a few years ago, and in the local shopping center, a woman suddenly patted me on my shoulder. As I turned to her, she pointed our tattoos, since she had this same tattoo on her arm. We didn’t share a common language, so we couldn’t continue our conversation any further, we just smiled to each other, gave thumbs up and so on, and then we both kept on moving into our own directions. It was a small and delightful coincidence anyhow.
My next tattoo was the snake, which is from the cover of the Black album by Metallica. For some reason I’ve always been fascinated by snakes. At the elementary school, I used to draw all my papers full of snakes, and I’ve always liked snake jewelry too. There’s no explanation for it, I guess I’ve been a snake in my previous life or something. In addition to cats, snake is a bit like a totem animal for me. There’s just something exciting in them. When I was younger, I considered having a snake as a pet, but that idea has mainly stayed behind. But you never know, maybe someday I will have my own snake!
For a long time, the reaper was alone here on my chest. I wanted to get the reaper first but knew already that I would expand the tattoo sooner or later. You could say the sand running from the hourglass is the sand of life. As long as there’s some sand left, you’ll still have life in you. Memento mori and memento vivere, remember that you have to die and remember to live, are of course related to the same thing. This is my favorite tattoo, I like the fact that it’s quite large and located in a nice place. When the rest of this was being designed, I couldn’t even explain what kind of hourglass I actually wanted, but somehow my tattooist Billy drew me exactly the kind of image I had on my mind. I have no idea how he did it. It wasn’t even the first time, so I guess he just somehow reads my mind.
On my neck there’s my only tattoo that has color in it, everything else is grayscale. I’ve named this tattoo The brightest flame burns quickest, which is quite a self-explanatory name. I got this tattoo after my accident. In 2009 I broke my spine and was quite near to get paralyzed. After the accident, I had to learn again many basic things from the scratch, starting from walking and so on. As I finally felt I could carry on everyday living, I decided to get this tattoo. I just saw this on the internet, and it appealed to me with all these themes like barb wire, the heart, and flames… all these powerful themes in one, small picture. It fitted quite perfectly to my life on that point.
The accident happened during skydiving, but I like to think of it more as a leisure-time accident in general. While I was in the hospital I shared the room with an old lady who had hurt her spine on her own home stairs, so you don’t have to go any further than that to hurt yourself if you’re unfortunate enough. It’s still more likely that you end up in a car crash when traveling to the airport than to get yourself hurt while skydiving. I didn’t abandon my hobby after the accident. When you get injured like that, of course the memory of the accident remains with you, but for that reason it’s even more important to continue living as normally as you can. Otherwise you easily begin to fear everything that could happen and finally you end up being too scared to leave your house, as you fear you might hurt yourself again.
On my foot I have a Thor’s hammer attached to a chain. It’s designed after the cover art of the album Tales of the Thousand Lakes by Amorphis, so on one hand this is a tribute to Amorphis, on the other hand to the Scandinavian and Finnish mythology in general. Ever since the accident, I’ve been having a chronic pain in this leg, and since the pain ends up here in my foot it feels like I’m having a knife or other sharp object struck here. That’s why the hammer looks like it’s partly hidden under the skin. Of course, this tattoo is also inspired by the fact that I love Finnish Kalevala jewelry, and here I have an everlasting jewel that won’t be broken or lost. This is the other of my favorite tattoos. I actually fell asleep while doing this. The leg tattoo is the only one that really hurt when it was being made.
After the accident, my life changed also in the way that I decided to educate myself into a new occupation. I would have shifted my career from office work to healthcare anyhow at some point, but I’m sure the accident caused me to change my career more quickly. I was a mathematician and had a job as a wireless communication researcher – that was interesting work too, but I have always known that I want to work in healthcare at some point. I currently work at the care of the elderly and disabled people. I think it’s good that things have gone this way.
Right after graduating from comprehensive school I still would have been such a different person that it’s good I ended up on healthcare sector when I had grown up a little first. The main thing for me is to have a certain meaning and purpose in going to work every morning. Unfortunately, in my previous job I lacked that purpose, even though it was a nice field of work nevertheless.
So far, my current job has affected the placement of my tattoos and I’ve been trying to have my tattoos in places that I can easily hide. I’m working with the elderly, and some old people still find tattoos horrifying. I’ve figured I rather hide my tattoos than always share the same discussion on why a girl would want to get herself tattooed. Still, some elderly people have spotted my neck tattoo and wondered it, but as I have told it presents the flame of life, they have been quite OK with the explanation. Older people still often share the idea that tattoos are made by sailors or prisoners with dirty needles and so on. Actually, I once had a customer who happened to be a former sailor, and he especially wondered how a girl could have tattoos on her skin. He didn’t have any tattoos himself, he said they just wouldn’t have suited him.
Some of my tattoos are consequence of the accident, or at least you could say it worked as a catalyst for getting those tattoos. I will always bear the scar from the surgery after the accident, and many people have asked me if I ever want to cover the scar with a tattoo. I’ve been thinking that I don’t want to cover it, I think it can remain as it is. I’m sure the Flame of life tattoo is mostly due to the accident, as well as the chest piece. After the accident, I began to see more clearly that you really have to remember time is limited. As long as there’s still sand left in the hourglass, you have to carry on.
I’m planning for new tattoos all the time, currently I have three ideas waiting. At some point, I’d like to have the Lady Justice on the back of my leg. “The justice is blind” has a significant meaning behind it, and of course it just looks so awesome. I would also like to have a quote from Pink and her song Try somewhere on my skin. My next tattoo, however, will be made soon, as I’ve been dreaming for so long of having a tattoo dedicated to my son. It will be a pocket watch with my son’s time of birth in it, and below the watch there’ll be the text: “I gave you life, you gave me a reason to live mine”.