Jenni-Reeta

In a way, I got my first tattoo already when I was nine. My mum had a job at the radiation therapy department, and before each therapy, the patient’s skin was tattooed with small dots in order to mark the right spot for radiation treatment. One day, a young woman came to the hospital as a patient. She asked my mum how big and visible the tattoo was going to be, and my mum showed her by tattooing the same mark on herself. 

A while later, my sister had her work practice program at mum’s workplace, and she wanted mum to tattoo the same mark on her skin. And of course after that, I needed to get the same kind of tattoo as well. I asked mum if she could do me a skull or heart tattoo instead, but she told that the dot is the only thing she’s capable of doing. 

I guess that’s when my interest in tattoos began to grow. If my mum sometimes nags about my tattoos, I can always remind her that she’s the one who did my first one, so she has nothing to complain! 

I used to be a piercing enthusiastic when I was a teenager. When I was 14 years old, we traveled with my family across Europe for three weeks. I would’ve wanted to get a piercing in Germany, but since I was so young, the artists weren’t willing to do it. After we had returned to Finland, I decided to get my lip pierced by myself. 

After that, I started to do more piercings, at first for myself only, and later for others as well. By the time I had over ten facial piercings, my mum and my aunt promised to give me money if I agreed on removing some of them. After tough negotiations, we ended up in a solution where I left two visible piercings on my face, and in return, both my mum and my aunt would sponsor tattoos for me. I was 17 years old when I got my first two tattoos with permission at a proper tattoo shop.

At that point though, I had already gotten one tattoo without permission. About a year before, I had moved to Raahe because of my studies. My classmate’s mum did tattoos at home, so I decided to get tattooed by her as well. The tattoo was supposed to portray a sculpture by H.R. Giger. But as people saw the tattoo and always started asking if it portrayed a golf club or something like that, I finally decided to cover it up. 

Some of my tattoos have a meaning, but I also have many tattoos just because they look so nice. Like this amanita, for example. Although later I heard somewhere that the amanita is a symbol of good luck in Germany, so it fits nicely in my own way of thinking as well.

I’ve always been a curious person, and I’ve wanted to try all sorts of things. In addition to piercings, I have tattooed myself and tried scarring with a scalpel as well. I still have a bit two-fold attitude towards home-made tattoos. Many of the tattoo artists I know have started tattooing at home and have become good tattooists, but at the same time, certainly many of the home tattooists aren’t good at all. On the other hand, the proper environment still doesn’t mean you’re good at tattooing. Even though someone would have their own tattoo shop, their tattoos might still look like garbage.

The Mom tattoo is a practice tattoo by a friend of mine. It has even been lasered once. Once I was substituting a familiar piercer in a tattoo shop, and during those days lasering was still permitted in tattoo shops, so we tried that on my skin as well.

Before I had a child, I used to work at a bar. Once we had a competition at work where we tried to sell as much Stolichnaya Salted Caramel as possible, and I got this tattoo to get people to buy more of it. We didn’t win though, but I can always say I tried my best!

I’m an introverted person by nature, and I’ve needed lots of practice to gain the social skills that are needed in customer service. Many people seem to think that since I look like this, I must be a certain kind of person as well. Once a colleague told me that I’m actually very different than how I look. It was meant to be a positive comment, and after I thought about it for a while, I noticed that it might be true. Although I am like this and that might make me look like a tough person or something like that, deep down I’m super soft.

I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider, and it’s still often difficult for me to get along with other people. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I’ve always had a dog since I turned 18. Dogs are often easier to understand than other people. A dog never lies to you, and it never fucks around with you.

Many of my tattoos are connected to certain phases in my life. In a way, it feels a bit strange to be someone who doesn’t like to open up about things and have a full life story tattooed on skin at the same time. Sometimes I think that maybe tattoos also work as a kind of filter. They may make me look like a person who’s not easy to approach, but if someone really makes the effort to get to know me, maybe it’s safe to say that their intentions are good.

Sometimes I’m bothered by other people staring at me, especially when I’m somewhere with my kid. That’s when I often start to think of how other people see me as a mother. Even though nowadays I don’t pay attention to staring as much as I used to, I can still feel it. In a way, it feels confusing too, because after my teenage passionate punk phase, I nowadays look more normal than ever before. Every now and then, I just feel like screaming to other people like hey, I’m just a normal mother, what are you looking at!

When I was still pregnant and visited the child health center, I often felt that I just spent most of the time listening to the nurse wondering how she’s never seen a mother with so many tattoos before. I still notice their reserved attitude as I tell about how my child has developed since our last visit. The attitude always turns completely different when they start to test my son and see that he’s really capable of doing things that I said he would – that I was really telling the truth and didn’t lie to them.

My son’s name is Saku. This frog tattoo is dedicated to him. 

My first face tattoo was the heart I got in 2015. I already had a microdermal, and I thought a face tattoo could be a nice addition. In 2017, I had another facial tattoo next to my ear.

In 2017, I got maybe seven new tattoos. During those days, I constantly had new tattoo ideas coming up, and I just needed to get them done. My long-term relationship had ended a year before. We had been together since we were 19, and when we broke up at the age of 26, I just thought that from now on, I’ll be doing only the things that I enjoy. 

I’ve wanted to cover myself with important things that are dear to me. The Biker Mice from Mars was my favorite TV show when I was little.

I had already been dreaming of leopard pattern for a long time before tattooing it. I also have the postal code of Oulu’s city center and the three sixes tattooed on my head.

The guardian angel on my neck got its inspiration from a cemetery in Oulu. I wanted to get a guardian angel tattoo, but all the images I found were too glossy and polished for my taste. I visit cemeteries every once and while. I love the silence and peaceful atmosphere.

During this year, I’m going to get a tattoo of Virgin Mary on the side of my belly. I don’t consider myself as a religious person, but I love Mary – I even have an icon of her at home. And since I’m a keen fan of rap music, I also want to include the text Hail Mary on my tattoo, as a reference to Tupac Shakur’s song.

I also have a Jenna Jameson fan tattoo.

I have a biography of her at home, and originally, I had to order it online from a porn shop since I couldn’t find it anywhere else. The biography that I currently have must be the third version of the same book, since I’ve borrowed the previous ones to someone, and I’ve never seen them since. 

I see Jenna Jameson as a fascinating person, although people often seem to think that she’s just a porn star, what on earth could she have to tell – in that sense, reading her biography was an eye-opening experience for me as well. Sometimes I still catch myself judging people by their style or something like that. The story of Jenna Jameson is a good reminder that people are always more than meets the eye.

I read Animal Farm when I was young, and the theme of equality really hit me hard.

We moved often when I was a kid, and in every new school I got bullied by boys. I was a somewhat loud and restless kid who had colored short hair, earrings and a nose-jewel, and I guess I was a bit of a pain in everyone else’s ass, which was too much for some people. Already then, I felt that although everyone’s supposed to be equal, some people are still granted more freedom than the others – especially boys could behave how they wanted with the ‘boys will be boys’-attitude as their excuse, whereas girls were always waited to be kind, quiet and helpful. That’s the attitude I’ve always wanted to fight against. I can be whatever I want.

I have a Tank Girl-themed tattoo project on my back. The tattoo is still in progress. When I was young, Tank Girl was my hero – an independent woman riding with her tank out there in the Australian desert.

Especially after I’ve become a mother, I’ve started to think more and more about my own childhood. I was the middle kid, and in a way, I may have suffered from a certain middle child syndrome. Because we moved often, I always needed to find new friends, and that’s why I didn’t really have many long-term friendships or any stability in my life. Tattoos, on their behalf, are something permanent and lasting.

I have two quotes by Danko Jones on my skin: heartbreak’s a blessing and time heals nothing. Maybe today I think that even though time itself heals nothing, you’ll begin to understand and accept certain things as time goes by. Still, you’ll always carry your past somewhere in the back of your head. 

But it’ll always be alright.