Eve

I became interested in tattoos when I was still very young. I must’ve been 12 years old when I was browsing through a magazine called Suosikki and saw an article about the Finnish singer Ville Valo. I looked at his photos and thought “oh, his tattoos are so cool – I wish I had tattoos, too!” I’ve always loved drawing, and although I was so young, I remember seeing tattoos as a form of art already back then.

Pinja Naamanka

I got my first tattoo when I was 14 years old. I lived in a small town, and the local hairdresser had participated in some kind of tattooing course and started tattooing after that. And when you’re just 14 years old, you don’t quite realize yet that tattooing doesn’t actually work that way – back then I just thought yes, there’s someone who knows how to tattoo! I went to her shop and asked if she could tattoo me as well, and without hesitating, she just answered: of course.

When my mom found out I had a tattoo, she didn’t speak to me for two weeks. The tattoo was a small tribal, and even though it was ugly and poorly made, it was still my first touch to tattoos. Later the tattoo has been covered up twice. First my friend tried to do it, but the result was left a bit unfinished, so later Virve from Shaman Arts tattooed me a decent cover-up.

Nature and animals are close to my heart, and many of my tattoos represent those themes. My first tattoos were small, but later I’ve started to get bigger pictures on my skin. My first bigger tattoo was the angry octopus that I got when I was 22 years old. The octopus is tattooed by Terhi from Shaman Arts.

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I used to consider the themes of my tattoos thoroughly and think about their meaning as well, but nowadays I just usually think hey, this idea might be cool and ask the tattoo artist if they’d like to do it for me. As I’ve grown older, the choice of tattoo artist has become more significant for me. Earlier it was more important just to get the tattoos that I wanted, but as an adult, I want to choose the right artist carefully.

When I think about my most painful tattoo experience, there might be a couple of tattoos hanging on the top list. The most painful one, though, was the tattooing of my belly button. It was a part of a bigger, bat-themed stomach piece by Blackcap Tattoo’s Kerttu. The tattooing of belly button felt horrible, and I really hope that I don’t have to go through it ever again! Still, generally, my view on pain is that since I’ve wanted to get tattooed, I just have to deal with it. Usually, when the tattooist asks if it hurts, I always have the same answer: “well, a bit…”

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Instead of tattooing itself, I find the healing phase more unpleasant. Somehow I always seem to think subconsciously whether the tattoo is getting enough air and whether I should add more tattoo cream or not. When I was younger, I was even afraid to sleep properly because I thought the sheets might rub against the tattoo and it would be ruined!

I have tattoos on both sides of my neck. The other is made by Kerttu, the other by Sergio from Red & White ink. I actually fell asleep when Sergio was tattooing me and didn’t wake up until he asked if I was ok.

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Sergio has also tattooed my knees. The tattooing lasted only five hours in total, and they were both tattooed during the same day.

I have two face tattoos at the moment. Earlier I used to think that I’d never get my face tattooed, but then one day I just asked myself, why not – I mean, I have visible tattoos all over my body anyway, so why would it be any different to get a tattoo on my face as well?

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I got the lightning tattoo as a birthday gift to myself when I turned 26 years old. Both of my face tattoos are tattooed by Joni from Red & White Ink.

I got the dagger tattoo after I had got over a very difficult phase in my life. I had just been through a painful break-up and for a while, I was afraid that I would end up being homeless. I had already been piling up the bad feeling inside me for a few years, and finally, it all just came tumbling down.

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After everything had happened, I was feeling broken and tried to think about how could I get on with my life. Then one day, something just clicked inside my head and I got a strong feeling that everything would be okay, and I could turn all my defeats into victory. The dagger reminds me of getting over that difficult phase in my life and also of the fact that I will never let anyone walk all over me again.

Since then, I’ve started to respect myself more and be kinder to myself. It has been a completely new experience – there are so many people who know how to be kind to others but at the same time, they forget to be kind to themselves. Nowadays I think that although lots of bad stuff happened during that time, maybe it’s still a good thing that I had to go through it all. After all, it meant a total turning point in my life and in my mind as well.

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Last summer I also had to put my beloved dog Remu to sleep. He was my best friend, and it was a tough decision to say goodbye to him. Luckily, I got a portrait of him earlier, when he was still with me. It was lovely to first look at Remu and then this tattoo and think about how much I love him.

I’ve been lucky to avoid the meanest comments considering my tattoos, although I’ve heard all the basic stuff like whether I am a drug addict or have been in prison or something like that. Often when I’m at a bar, I meet these middle-aged men who approach me and tell that I’ve ruined my pretty looks with tattoos. I always feel like I should answer them that they’re not much of a catch themselves! But usually, I just let the comments go over my head and forget them. I don’t want to lower myself to the same level as them.

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Sometimes I’ve been thinking that I’ve had such bad luck in my life that I must be cursed somehow. Cursed is tattooed by Joni and it’s one of my favorite tattoos.

When I wasn’t as tattooed as I am now, I always felt somehow naked. I just felt that I’m not myself yet, I’m not the person who I want to be. With tattoos, I can be proud of my looks. And if someone is proud of their looks, why should anyone bother to give their own opinion about it? Let all the flowers bloom and people be what they want to be, with or without tattoos. I want to be like this, and I enjoy every moment of my life.

Pinja Naamanka