I’ve never been a big fan of tattoos, and when I was younger, I used to say I’d never have one myself. To be honest, I’m still not very fond of tattoos, and I think the skin is more beautiful without them. Nevertheless, I currently have 7+1 tattoos on my skin.
In 2011, a friend of mine got a Bambi tattoo on her shoulder. It suited her well and was actually quite beautiful. She also tried to persuade me to get tattooed. I answered her I’d only have a tattoo in case I found a picture that would tell something about me that can’t be told by words.
We were die-hard fans of Scandinavian Music Group, and finally, my first tattoo was to be inspired by the lyrics of the songs Itkevä lintu (in English: A weeping bird) and Tahdon uudet silmät (in English: I want to have new eyes). I began thinking about a hummingbird tattoo and examined if there were any beliefs regarding the hummingbird.
After googling around a bit, I had in my mind an image of a bird which could carry incredibly heavy loads despite being so small, and which was also unique as it could even fly backwards and hover in one place.
During those days, I was a rising student organization activist who was known on one hand for working unbelievably long hours, but on the other hand for only thinking about himself. Outside, I was a hard-working and energetic person who had a reputation of a quite peculiar human being. Still, I was sensitive on the inside, but never showed it to anyone – at that point, not even to myself. So, a strong and diligent hummingbird who still wept somewhere inside him.
It took me over a year until I finally had the courage to get my first tattoo. At that point, I decided I’d never get another one. Six months later, I was on a tattoo bench again after considering my second tattoo for a week.
My second tattoo tells about my faith in love. James Bond movies were an inseparable part of my youth. Most of the viewers associate Bond with alcohol, killing, fast cars, and women. Still, only few people seem to know that James Bond has actually been married once, in the 1969 movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. His wife was shot during their honeymoon, and after that, Bond was never able to commit to anyone again. At least that’s how I interpret it.
Despite considering myself as a forever single person, I believed in that kind of love. That someday, I’d find a person who’d be everything that I had hoped for, and after whom I’d never long for anyone else again. I had never thought of getting a tattoo about that subject, but it happened anyway, mostly by an accident.
One night, I had just come home from a bar and decided to watch that Bond movie. There’s a scene where James Bond’s future wife drives an old Mercury Cougar that has a simple cougar hood ornament. During the same autumn, I had visited a car museum in England, where I had taken a picture of that very same car and its hood ornament.
After five minutes of serious Photoshopping, my next tattoo was designed, and a week after that, I had a fresh tattoo on my chest telling about the love that was waiting for me somewhere.
In a way, this tattoo became a prophecy. After tattooing this, I have been honored to meet a woman who was everything that I had ever hoped for, and a woman who made me give up my life as a single. I guess neither of these stories, however, was one of those love stories that would’ve had lasted for a lifetime.
My third tattoo is linked to both Scandinavian Music Group and movies. After hearing the song Casablanca for the first time, I downloaded the movie Casablanca on my computer and decided not to watch it until the moment and the company would be just right.
During the last lesson of our screenplay course in spring 2013, our teacher announced he was about to show us a certain, great movie. As the opening credits appeared on the screen, the following conversation took place:
H: ”This isn’t Gone With the Wind, is it?”
Teacher: ”No, it’s not.”
Me: ”This isn’t Casablanca, is it?”
Teacher: ”Why? Do you have something against Casablanca?”
Me: ”I have decided not to watch until the moment and company were just right. This isn’t the right time, and I’m quite sure you’re not the right company.”
The teacher laughed, told me to watch the movie anyway and promised to tell me later some trivia that would surely have an impact on that right person of mine.
I cried for the whole movie. After the movie had ended, the teacher went to switch the lights back on and asked: “Well, Daniel, what did you think?” I sensed my moment had come and declared: ”The war has ended, go back to Paris!”
The same text is now written on my left arm with a font similar to those quotes you can see on public toilet walls. This text reminds me of the fact that if you want to, you can make your life look like the stories in movies or songs if you’re able to seize the moment.
After that, there were very few occasions on my life that would’ve been worth tattooing. After all, I still had the principle of only tattooing things that were impossible to tell by words. I also loved my tattoos so far, as every one of them had helped me finding the right words in my story.
Three years passed, and during those years, I made a long trip to my own, inner self. During that time, I strongly began to identify myself with my astrological sign, Pisces. I planned for a long time either tattooing a Pisces sign or two fish on my neck, as it was the place that was practically impossible to cover. Finally, as I couldn’t decide between the two ideas, I ended up tattooing both; one on my left, the other on my right wrist.
This was the first time I had ever tattooed anything on the right side of my body. For some reason, I had thought of keeping my other side clean from any images. As I think about it now, though, the so-called smutching of my right side has been a right choice as well.
I guess this pair of fish tattoos also tells about how pedantic I am: I wanted the designer’s astrological sign to be Pisces as well, and in the end, it took at least a month until the designs were finally ready. During the process, the person who drew these received different kinds of style orders from Chinese characters to the shape of the nose of a Caravelle jetplane.
I got my next tattoo almost exactly five years after the first one, in the summer of 2017. It might be the ugliest of them all, but still the most important. And originally, it was meant to be something completely different.
I have practically zero dancing skills, but for many years, my greatest wish was that one day I’d be brave enough to dance a solo. Finally, the opportunity to do it came by accident. During the rehearsals, I had an idea of tattooing a silhouette of a dancer on my ankle, but I never managed to decide how it should look like.
As we began to plan the solo, my choreographer asked me to give a sentence on which the solo would be based on. I thought about a sentence I had seen on the public toilet at the University of Turku. It said: ”Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear”.
The solo dance project was indeed my journey to the other side of fear, and it was so difficult I almost couldn’t make it to the end. That’s why I wanted to tattoo that particular sentence with such a horrible font that five out of six who read it can’t even figure out what it says.
The tattoo is on my left calf, right under the hummingbird tattoo: the dancing managed to break my barriers so that I finally learned to show my feelings, those tears of a hummingbird.
At this point, my tattoos were mostly indie-styled outline tattoos and smudgy texts. I had thought black and white was an undisputed choice for me and didn’t dare to have any colors on my skin. Then, I asked the person who had designed the fish tattoos to design me a tattoo of my totem animal, fox, with an expression on his face that would describe me the best.
At first, it was going to be the same as my other tattoos: outlines only. However, in the middle of the design process, I listened to Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours one time too many and decided this time we would add colors on the tattoo as well.
That’s how I got Kettu Kettunen (in English: Foxey Fox) on my arm. It might be my favorite tattoo so far. An orange creature who either looks straight at you with a rage in his eyes, eyes closed with a slight disapproval on his face, or eyes closed by pain that is quite hard to explain. Currently, I have decided to go for the last explanation.
Kettu Kettunen is also other people’s favorite. Every time I meet new people and have a T-shirt on, someone comments this tattoo. The designing of the fox was even more difficult than the previous fish tattoos. However, my friend did such a great job on this one that I decided she’s the one who’s going to design all my future tattoos as well. Actually, we’re already designing my next tattoo.
The story of my 8th tattoo is yet to come, but there’s still one mark on my skin left. The last one of my so-called 7+1 tattoos is the scar on my left hand, which seems to fade slower than any of my real tattoos.
It was a Friday night, and for a change, I had decided to do sports rather than go for a beer. We went to play football with a group of people, and I was going to be a goalkeeper as usual. At the beginning of the game, I managed to fail badly in throwing myself and crashed down in a wrong position. As I was lying on the ground, I noticed that my other hand was completely numb.
I tried to pull out my glove, but it was difficult since the whole hand was so swollen. There was a pit on my palm, and my little finger pointed into a certainly unnatural direction. I went to the emergency room and from there straight to the operating table. The bones in my hand were put together again from three separate pieces.
And there it is, the scar that is still as visible as it was four years ago. It will always remind me of the fact that whenever you must choose between sports and beer, always go for the beer.
Original text: Daniel