I’m currently 22 years old, and I have 23 tattoos at this point, so I’ve been getting tattoos at a good pace. I had my first tattoo couple of weeks before I turned 18. It’s a tattoo of Lake Inari, and the X marks my home.
I knew since the beginning that I would get plenty of tattoos in the future. Many of my other tattoos are related to my roots in Lapland as well.
I love traveling, and I’ve also got tattoos in Tokyo, Budapest and Berlin besides Finland. Wanderlust tattoo is related to traveling, and I had it in the same year as my first tattoo. This piece and my first tattoo are both made at Ironbeard Tattoo, Rovaniemi.
The boat tattoo is my only memorial tattoo so far. It’s dedicated to my grandmother Alisa. Grandfather and grandmother used to arrange boat trips to Lake Inari, and grandfather had named their boat “Alisa” after my grandmother. Later my dad and his brothers continued the work they started.
This tattoo is designed after an old poster which they used to advertise the boat trips. This and the Lake Inari tattoo are both very dear to me.
Before I got my first tattoo, I spent a lot of time thinking about its meaning, but later the meaning of my tattoos has started to feel secondary. Nowadays I think that if you want to collect art to decorate your skin, it’s a very good purpose itself.
Every tattoo doesn’t need to have a huge story behind them in order to be meaningful. I think it’s equally fine to get a tattoo after a flash or go to a tattoo artist simply with an idea and let the artist design the rest of it.
When I’m getting a new tattoo, I’m not very pedantic about the colors or the placement. I have both color tattoos and black&grey tattoos. Mind over matter and courage over fear are those few tattoos where I’ve paid attention to the symmetry. In the future, I’d like to get some symmetric tattoos on my thighs as well.
If I wanted to name one of my tattoos a feminist one, I guess the Groke would be it. Many people see the Groke as a gloomy and scary character, but I see her more as a sad figure instead of a scary one.
The Groke is just a poor lady who happens to wander alone in the darkness. Apparently, many people don’t even know Groke is a female character. I wanted to portray her as a kind figure with a flower garland on her head and her eyes closed.
It’s frustrating that even today you can hear negative comments about tattoos, especially if you happen to be a tattooed woman. A while ago I was going to see my friend, and I had a fresh tattoo wrapped in plastic wrap. I shared the elevator with an elderly man who asked if I had got tattooed lately. As I said yes, he started to complain about how it’s wrong that women get tattoos, since they don’t look good on a woman and they only make women ugly. Seriously, do you really need to share your personal views about tattoos out loud, even though nobody really asks for your opinion?
The pin-up girl is made by tattoo artist Csiga in Budapest. The tattooing took maybe seven or eight hours, which is the longest time I’ve spent on a tattoo chair so far.
Many of my tattoos are made by Blackcap Tattoo’s Kerttu. The goat, the mandolin and the panda are her artwork, for example. In some way, I see panda as my totem animal – it’s a warm and kind animal who sleeps a lot and loves eating, just like me.
Moonassi is a Korean visual artist, and this tattoo is made after Moonassi’s artwork. I asked him for a permission before I got the tattoo. I like this illustration a lot, and at the same time, I see this as one of my tattoos with a deeper meaning.
I see the masks as a depiction of how everyone has many faces – the work self, the home self, the school self and all the other faces you show to other people. Each time you must decide which face you want to put on today. If one half of a human being is their basic character, the other half is their ideal self, the person they decide to be.
As a contrast to the Lapland-themed images, I also have tattoos related to Asian and especially Japan themes. I’ve been interested in Japanese culture since I was a kid, and I’m still very fond of all kinds of Japanese stuff. I could even imagine living in there someday.
I’m currently studying to become a teacher, and a year ago I did my internship at an international school in Tokyo. There are still pretty strict rules concerning tattoos in Japan, and you have to hide your tattoos before you can go to the gym, for example. Most of the Japanese bathhouses, onsens, also prohibit tattoos.
Even though it’s okay for me if my tattoos are visible to other people, on some occasions I’ve thought it’s easier to cover my tattoos just to avoid negative attitudes. When I applied for the internship in Japan and had an interview beforehand, I chose my clothes so that my tattoos would be hidden. Going to Japan was such a great matter to me that I didn’t want to lose my chances just for the negative attitudes the interviewer might’ve had towards tattooed people.
When I got selected for the internship, I received a code of conduct that tattoos should be covered at work. Still, there were times when I noticed other people at the international school also had tattoos. If a colleague had rolled up their sleeves, for example, I could still notice they had a half-sleeve tattooed underneath. Apparently, some of the pupils noticed my tattoos as well, because on my last workday I received cards where pupils had written notes like “I know you have tattoos” or “I like your tattoos, you’re so cool!”
I’m interested in multiculturalism, and I’ve been considering that I would apply for international relations studies at some point. On the other hand, many of the job opportunities in that field of work are located in countries where tattoos are still not widely accepted.
Although it’s not allowed to discriminate job applicants because of their appearance, in many areas of work you can still face discrimination just because of your tattoos. It feels like there’s some sort of double standard that still exists – no matter how qualified you were, the employer might still base their final selection on the question whether the applicant is tattooed or not. It’s a shame, since my tattoos are all very dear to me. After all, I have chosen them to be a part of me.