My first tattoo is now 12 years old. It’s the armband on my right arm. At first, I wasn’t even planning to get tattooed. I had just turned 18 and told my mom I would finally get the labret piercing I had been dreaming about. Mom just answered me: “Please don’t get your beautiful face pierced, why don’t you get a tattoo instead?”
During those times, different kinds of Viking and Celtic themed tattoos were quite common among my friends. Even though I liked the designs as well, they weren’t exactly my thing. Then, one morning I woke up with this idea about two lines that would cross each other twice. As it still seemed like a good idea after a couple of weeks, I decided to book an appointment to a local tattoo parlor.
The tattooist, Mikko, was quite grumpy, yet a very nice man. Since it was my first tattoo and I was a young guy myself, he constantly threw some dry jokes to break the ice, like “Well… maybe we should move this stencil a little after all, don’t you think?” in the middle of tattooing. After six months I took another armband on my left arm to maintain symmetry.
Originally, I had an ambition that I would design all my tattoos myself, but later I figured that if I stubbornly kept on doing things based on my original plans only, I’d end up achieving nothing. Maybe it was also one of the reasons why I spent over ten years until I got my next tattoo after the two armbands. My third tattoo was the last one I designed myself.
I’ve always loved sci-fi and fantasy literature. Sci-fi author Robert Heinlein popularized the acronym TANSTAAFL – There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in his novel Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I loved the idea but didn’t want to have a plain acronym on my skin, so I designed this textogram-type of image based on the quote.
I can relate to the idea that nothing in reality comes for free. If a friend buys you a beer, for example, he’s either using his power over you or earning himself feel-good points. The beer itself doesn’t come for free either, because someone has to grow the barley and use water and energy for the production. The same principle can be seen in the whole universe by the laws of thermodynamics. Things just don’t come out of nothing.
This particular book also discusses interesting political themes like how to rebel against those in power, how to retain your own position and the difficulties of maintaining your authority. I’m still very fond of this tattoo.
When I got my next tattoo, I decided to give up on my original plan to design my tattoos by myself and decided to trust the artist’s vision instead. My next two tattoos are made by Blackcap Tattoo’s Kerttu (link).
I’ve been working as a bartender since 2015, and of course barley is related to beer and whisky. But most of all, this tattoo reminds me about my own roots and the barley flatbread made by my grandmother.
You could almost say that barley flatbread is one of the things that has shaped my identity as it is today. My granny has always been keen on baking, and when I was a kid, I sometimes helped her to make flatbread as well. Granny still makes bread for the whole family despite the fact that she can’t even eat any bread herself due to her coeliac disease. I think it’s a lovely, matriarchal way of showing that she cares.
Every time I visit grandmother, I still just have to get a few flatbreads with me as I leave. Sometimes I bake flatbread myself as well. It’s not as good as the original version, of course, but helps a little whenever I miss my granny and her bakings.
My intention is to get another tattoo of my granny as well. This photo is taken somewhere in Kainuu between the 1950’s and ‘60s. I’ve also been planning a memorial tattoo of my grandfather and have already decided the theme and a good place for it. I’d also love to have a tattoo of my other granny but have no idea of the design yet.
The raspberry tattoo is also linked to my family. Last year, my little sister got her first tattoo: a blueberry on her arm. My sister is far more introverted person than me and the rest of the family. After she had her first tattoo, I tried to mock her in an annoying big brother-style like: “Hey, now that you have the blueberry, maybe I should have a raspberry tattoo, don’t you think?” She just thought about it for a while and answered briefly yeah, that might be neat. Well, I actually thought so too, so game on!
Raspberry is one of my favorite berries and a very beautiful one as well. At the same time, this tattoo is a nice reminder of my sister. She moved to the other side of the country many years ago. There was a time we kept in touch only every now and then, but nowadays we play games together on Steam. She has also painted me a couple of awesome paintings.
Then I have these two text tattoos. Although the design is similar, these aren’t related to each other. At first, I had an idea of smaller tattoos, but I kind of got carried away when planning these. But the bigger, the better! Now these tattoos are loud just as I am. These and the TANSTAAFL are both hand poked by Joni from Red & White Ink (link).
In the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein coined the word grok, which roughly means understanding things so thoroughly you merge with them and they merge with you. In the book, the concept of grok literally means ‘to drink water’, but there’s also a deeper meaning behind it: as you drink the water, it becomes a part of you, and you become a part of the water.
Being in love also requires grok. To be able to love, you first have to understand it profoundly, and the understanding is what shapes you as a person as well. And if the love ends, those negative feelings are also part of the experience that shapes you as a person.
This grok it-tattoo is also my personal protest against the fuck it-attitude. I’m a person who tries to understand things rather than just saying I don’t care. Whenever I find something new and interesting, I try to find out how it works.
When I sit on a bus, for example, I often look at the buildings outside and think about how they are built and how the diffraction makes light bend differently around certain objects. In my opinion, the knowledge you acquire changes your view of the world. Eventually, you’re just a collection of the things you’ve learned.
I had been planning on getting a tattoo dedicated to my mom for a long time. Still, I wanted to have something different instead of the basic “Mom” tattoo. In the end, this tattoo turned out to have many different meanings. I love the German language in general, and Rammstein’s Mutter is one of the albums that has made me the person I am today.
I discovered most of my childhood’s music with my brother’s assistance, like Iron Maiden, Nine Inch Nails and so on. When Mutter was released, I was 13 years old and had already been studying German for a couple of years. My brother told me about this German band he had discovered and suggested me to give it a go as well.
Mutter is the album that made me a music enthusiast in the first place. Suddenly, I was obsessed in finding new bands and listening different kinds of music. I was also fascinated by Rammstein’s lyrics, as they told about things people usually don’t want to speak about.
I’m mostly raised by my mother, a mama’s boy through and through. My father died when I was 12 years old. Nobody knows whether it was a suicide or a half-accident. Since my big brother had already moved to Britain at that point, I was the eldest child in our house and tried to help and cheer up my mom the best way I could.
My father was an electrical engineer, an intelligent, but a very contradictory person. He had this typical “real men don’t cry” attitude. In my own life, I’ve wanted to do things in a different way than he did and break the certain values he lived by. He was quite a good father nevertheless, and I hold no grudges against him. Even so, I haven’t planned on getting a memorial tattoo for him.
I still have many tattoo ideas that I want to carry out. I’m quite pedantic about the symmetry of my tattoos, and that’s why I’d love to have tattoos that would be in balance with the older ones. I like color tattoos, too, but I guess I’ll probably focus on blackwork and grayscale tattoos on my own skin in the future as well.
I’m also kind of interested in tattooing my hands and fingers but have abstained from the thought so far. I haven’t come up with any good ideas, and on the other hand, I try to have only tattoos that are easy to hide when necessary. I’m going to be a Master of Science in Technology, and I still haven’t ruled out the option of moving abroad at some point. Although workplaces in Finland are nowadays quite free-minded towards tattoos, attitudes might still be very different in some other country.
I’ve never had any connotations that having tattoos would make you a more bad-ass person or anything like that. I just like how tattoos look, that’s all. I like drawing and I’m interested in graphics as well, and in a way, I think my tattoos make a nice continuum for those things.
For me, tattoos are mostly art on skin, and getting tattoos is a good way to appreciate art. I’m proud to carry my tattoos. Never regretted a single of them.