I guess I got the idea of getting tattoos while I was still in middle school. I admired tattooed people and felt that tattoos might be an essential part of my own style as well. One of the people that I admired was my tattooed aunt. She’s always been one of my greatest role models.
After I turned 18 and graduated from high school, I decided to get my first tattoo. I was a bit scared since I didn’t know what to expect – I was nervous about the whole process and tried to imagine the feeling of having something extra on my skin. I also considered what would happen if I got so tired of my tattoo that I’d begin to hate it.
For that reason, I decided to get my first tattoo on my neck. I reckoned that if I didn’t see it every day, I might not get tired of it so easily. As it turned out, I had no reason to be scared. It’s been three years since I got my first tattoo and I’m still in love with this.
The bird is from a painting that I made myself. Before I got my first tattoo, I had heard people saying that tattoos should always have a meaning or else you’d get bored with them, and I tried so hard to think about the meaning of the bird as well. It just didn’t feel right to get a tattoo just because it looks nice. Eventually, I said to myself that it doesn’t matter whether my tattoos have a meaning or not. Even though tattoos wouldn’t have a meaning, they always tell something about the person, their values and interests.
In the beginning, I decided that I want to design my tattoos myself. I’m a person who likes to be in charge of my life and do things in my own way. Later I’ve begun to consider how it would feel to get someone else’s art on my skin as well. I follow a couple of interesting tattoo artist on social media but haven’t quite yet reached the point where I would allow someone else to design my tattoos.
I knew from the beginning that I would keep my tattoos black and grey. I want to maintain a unified visual style, and I think black and grey tattoos are easier to combine with different clothes, for example.
If I decided to get a color tattoo someday, I’d keep the colors very composed. I also think thoroughly about the placement of my tattoos and how different shapes work in different parts of the body.
I got my fox tattoo in January 2016. It reminds me of a particular phase of my life and in a way, I think it’s symbolic that the fox looks kind of sad. In the previous autumn, I had moved away from my parents’ house and started my university studies, and in addition, I had to spend lots of time far from my boyfriend who entered his military service. So, many things in my life changed, and suddenly I was in the middle of a completely new situation, surrounded by completely new people.
The amount of changes led to a point where my mental health issues that had been hiding suddenly broke loose. The year 2016 was a bad year for me in general. Even though this tattoo didn’t have a meaning back then, later it has started to remind me of that phase in my life. Still, seeing this tattoo feels rather comforting than sad. It reminds me that things aren’t that bad anymore.
One day, I was sitting at my kitchen table and started to sketch this character. When the image was ready, I noticed that it would look good on the skin, too. At first, I was a bit scared to get a tattoo this big, but I’m still very fond of this.
I gain strength from nature, and I love botanical and animal-themed tattoos. I spent my childhood in the countryside, and when I was a kid, I used to spend lots of time at my granny’s place during the summer. When I was leaving, granny used to give me poppy seedlings so that I could bring them with me and plant them in the garden at home. The poppy tattoo is related to those summer days of my childhood.
I think that my respect towards nature partly derives from those memories. Nowadays I consider myself somewhat urban, and tattoos are one way to keep myself connected to nature. I still notice how it feels easier to breathe whenever I visit my childhood home. I just think oh, so that’s what it feels like!
As I started to collect more tattoos, I began to wonder what my granny and grandfather might say about these. Once I was at a family gathering dressed in a short-sleeved outfit, and I knew that the moment had come when I’d hear my grandparents’ opinion about my tattoos. I was sure they wouldn’t appreciate, but as my surprise, granny asked me about the price of my tattoos – she said she’d like to get one as well!
I guess that I’ve avoided hearing negative comments about my tattoos partly because they represent themes that are familiar to everyone – people rarely see nature and animals as provocative themes. In general, I think that the only person who hasn’t been happy about my tattoos was my mom, and later she has changed her mind as well. I guess parents sometimes have a negative attitude towards tattoos because they fear that you might lose certain opportunities in life if you’re tattooed.
I’m going to be a Finnish language teacher in the future. I haven’t faced any problems because of my tattoos during internships or anything like that. I’m not worried about losing any job opportunities because of my tattoos. If an employer wouldn’t accept my looks, why would I want to be part of such an environment in the first place?
This birdwoman is also based on my own illustration. This tattoo is mainly a symbol of my own interests. My hobbies have always been more or less creative: I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a kid, and nowadays I make my own clothes as well.
Art is a huge part of my life, and I’m especially interested in representing the relationship between human and nature. I try to examine in my own work how nature and people can be combined even in a surreal way.
Many of my tattoos seem to contain birds. Birds fascinate me as I see certain mystique surrounding them. Maybe it’s partly because birds have no facial expressions. Some of my friends have said that this tattoo is even a bit scary – so humane and completely expressionless at the same time.
Tattoos have certainly improved my own body image as well. When I was younger, I often struggled with accepting my appearance. I’ve always been skinny, and when I was young, I was ashamed of my arms because I thought they were too thin. I tried to choose my clothes so that I could hide my arms under long sleeves.
After I started getting tattoos, I no longer feel ashamed of my body. Instead of looking at myself and thinking I’m nothing but skin and bone, I can feel happy because I have all these lovely tattoos decorating my arms. Tattoos have taught me to love even those parts of my body that I used to dislike.
At some point, I became interested in tattooing my own skin as a hobby. I made my first stick’n’poke tattoo with a sewing needle, but I’ve bought proper equipment after that.
My ankle tattoo is based on the hand of God in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. I try to leave marks on myself about the things that I love, and visual art is one of my greatest interests. Michelangelo was also a very interesting person, a truly impulsive artist. I especially admire the way he depicted human anatomy in his works. It’s so amazing to see the artwork he was able to execute in frescos, where you have to complete the work quickly before the wet plaster gets too dry.
I’m not a religious person, so the hand of God is above all a symbol of my own creativity. At first, I thought I’d add here the hand of Adam as well, but later it began to seem unnecessary.
The dino, Plough (in Finnish: Otava) and the eye are also self-made tattoos. Most of them are on my legs because that’s how I can hide them if necessary. When you tattoo yourself like this, you have to accept the fact that the result might look bad, but so far I’ve managed to avoid complete failures.
My skin looked a bit empty beneath the fox tattoo, so I decided to get a little filler there. Space is so big and scary, and I often have nightmares about the sky and planets. The familiar star pattern brings comfort to the daunting space.
Twin Peaks is one of my favorite series ever, and this bird is from the opening credits of Twin Peaks. I associate a lot of good memories with the series. I saw Twin Peaks for the first time when I was 17 years old and had recently started to date my boyfriend. He’s a real culture fanatic and knows a lot about movies, TV shows and books.
Once he asked if I’d like to watch Twin Peaks with him, as he was sure I’d like it. At first, I found it a bit boring because I waited for all the cool and scary stuff to happen immediately, but as we continued watching, I suddenly knew I was in love. I love the surreal and mysterious scenery of Twin Peaks and how even the weirdest things are just everyday situations. The vintage style of the series is also close to my heart.
I think it’s great how tattoos can connect people and their shared interests. For those who don’t know Twin Peaks, this is just a bird, but for those who do know, this tattoo has a completely different meaning. This tattoo has been a conversation starter in several parties!
Often when I design a new tattoo, I get a fleeting thought that what if I’m making a mistake and will start to regret about the tattoo someday. I think that’s how the human mind works, though – I guess everyone goes through the same phase before getting a new tattoo.
Still, I have accepted the fact that these images will always be an essential part of me, in the same way as other permanent marks on my skin. If one day I’d get tired of my tattoos, maybe I’d find comfort about the thought that they will always remind me of the person who I used to be. It was the same person who wanted these tattoos to always remain on her skin.