I got my first tattoos at a young age: the first one when I was 13, the second one when I was 14 years old. My very first tattoo was a black widow spider on my shoulder blade. I got the tattoo together with my best friend after my dad gave me permission.
The pain of tattooing came as a complete surprise. My friend got tattooed first, and I can still remember how horrified I was as I watched her crying in pain. At that point it really crossed my mind that maybe I should give up on the idea after all.
I guess those early tattoos were mainly just an attempt to be somehow different from others, though they didn’t make me any cooler in the eyes of other kids, anyway – the boys in our class chuckled when they saw my black widow tattoo, and that was pretty much all about it. It’s like that when you grow up in the countryside, I guess. If I had grown up in a city, my tattoos might’ve been a bigger thing among other kids as well!
My second tattoo was a small lizard. Neither of my two first tattoos held a personal meaning for me, and later I’ve had them both covered up by better and more meaningful tattoos. I’m still thankful for the tattooist, as he refused to carry out the original tattoo idea which I had developed in my 14-year-old’s mind. I dreamed about getting tribal-styled wings on my lower back, but he just said well, maybe we should tattoo something else instead. The wings would’ve been much more difficult to cover up than the small lizard, and I guess the tattooist might’ve had the same idea in mind as well.
I was patient enough to wait for my next tattoo until I was 18 years old. It was a cover-up tattoo for the lizard. The cover-up tattoo is a fairy who sits on a rock and dips her foot in the water.
Later I’ve continued the fairy tattoo with a cherry tree that reaches from my shoulder blade to my lower back. The tree is also one of my few tattoos that includes some other colors than black & grey.
I’ve wanted to collect memories on my skin, even from the bad things that have happened. In my previous relationships, I used to tolerate far more than I really should’ve. Those relationships have left permanent scars on my heart. Although I still don’t have any experience about living in a normal, balanced relationship, at least nowadays I’m more aware of my own limits, and my tattoos are a good reminder of that.
I guess I find my tattoos as a kind of mental cover with which I’m able to hide myself from other people’s eyes. Later I’ve noticed that they often seem to work the opposite way, though – the more tattoos you have on your skin, the more attention you’ll get from other people, even if you try to avoid it.
I have many meaningful tattoos, but my frog tattoo is the one I’m not very satisfied with. I could even say I regret this a little since this turned out to be very different from what I originally planned. My intention was to get a small frog climbing on my ankle, but the tattoo artist wanted to do something different instead. The result is quite massive and not exactly the pretty design I was planning.
Luckily, I have a lovely elephant tattoo compensating the frog tattoo. The tattoo is made by Denis Sivak who is originally a Ukrainian tattoo artist. I’ve always loved elephants – they are such sympathetic creatures who have a strong bond with their family.
I’ve been tattooed by seven different tattooists at least, and I finally think I’ve found myself the right artists. Nowadays my personal advice for someone who’s considering a tattoo is that if you find yourself a tattoo artist whose style you appreciate, then stick with that particular tattooist.
If you get tattooed by all the great artists whose style you admire, you might end up having quite a mixture of different styles, as each artist has their own, individual touch. If you intentionally want to collect different styles on your skin, then it’s a different thing, of course.
I wanted to have a tattoo of Finland on the same side where my heart is. This tattoo appears right for me, even though the tattoo artist proposed we should turn it upside down so that it would appear right for others.
I wanted to get the tattoo this way, though, because it has a significant meaning for myself, and I’m not very interested in how other people might see it. I’ve been thinking that I might leave this arm otherwise empty.
I’ve been told I’m like Little My from the Moomins. People say I’m stubborn and too outspoken. The Invisible Ninny is related to my youth when I was still searching for myself.
I’ve always enjoyed reading, and especially in comprehensive school, I could often be found reading a book intensively. I guess it was also my way to escape loneliness. Both of these Moomin tattoos are made by Ida from Tattoo Sampo. She’s the one who has tattooed the rose in a glass dome and Finland on my skin as well.
Recently, I’ve started to like especially realistic tattoos, and I’ve been collecting these fictional female figures on my skin. As a counterbalance, I’ve wanted to have these smaller designs such as Finland and Little My. Small tattoos are so easy, as they are quickly made and they heal quickly, too.
I easily get frustrated with tattoo projects that are made in many parts – just when the tattoo is successfully healed, you have to return under the needle for the next session, and the next few weeks you’ll spend healing your tattoo again. Luckily Mikko Inksanity who has made these female figures is a quick tattoo artist. He’s able to do such wonderful work in a short time.
I’m not happy with the current situation where social media feeds us certain beauty standards. Sometimes it feels like everyone should fit in a narrow box, and the external beauty seems to be the only thing that matters anymore. These female portraits are my personal rebellion against modern beauty standards. They might not fit in the box, but I find them beautiful nevertheless.
I want to keep my tattoos as my personal thing, and that’s why I want to place most of them somewhere that’s usually hidden with clothes. I used to write a diary when I was young, but as I’ve grown older, the writing hobby has been buried under work and all the other adult obligations in life. Maybe my tattoos are some sort of continuum for keeping a diary. They are a collection of my thoughts, hopes, experiences and memories from the past.
My tattoos remind me of the fact that even though I have sometimes made the wrong choices, my life didn’t end in those situations after all. Tattoos are my way to remind myself of the lessons I’ve learned so far.