I think I want a tattoo. This thought has gone through my head for numerous years now. It’s a recurring idea that occasionally gets rekindled. The latest rekindling was this saturday, when my neighbour from across the street showed his back. I knew his upper arms were inked but had no idea they were connected through his back. It was an amazing piece of art that came to fruition in a conversation between the tattoo-artist and the tattooee.
What to get?
A tattoo is permanent. Therefore I think it’s stupid to embed on your body a temporal thing, or something that could disconnect from you at any time. The most stereotypical example of this is the name of a loved one. We all know the image of the sailor who goes to a tattoo artist to cross the last name and add a new one to his body. Another thing I would never do is the gimmicky tattoo. While it’s cool and all, what do you want to achieve with it? Just making people smile?
So names and gimmicks are out. To me, they lack the most essential piece of a tattoo: inspiration. It has to say something that is inextricably connected to you. While the name of your current girlfriend is nice, the younger you are, the more chance you have of that relationship ending. From what I’ve heard, having a tattoo removed is both expensive and bringing-a-man-to-tears painful. Better be safe than sorry!
I always thought to myself that if I were to get me some ink, it had to say something about me. And not just something about me, but something that just came to me. I didn’t want to force getting a tattoo. It sounded like a recipe for disaster.
I’ve since saturday changed my opinion. I started looking a bit more active at what I want. This is based on my idea that a well-chosen tattoo enriches your body and your mind. If you can think of images and/or words to combine into some sort of symbol of yourself, the very process is a process of self-discovery. The tattoo then becomes the result of your personal search, and a way of showing that achievement to the people around you.
Why did you post this on a Magic blog?
For those of you who are still with me, good for you. So let’s answer the question that is not coincidentally the header of this section. Magic is a big part of my life, and has been that way for a long time. It seems only natural that my tattoo should be something with Magic. Something that both shows my appreciation for the game as well as my connection to the game. I don’t think I’m overreacting when I say the color blue is not just my color when I play, but that color is me.
This should be the starting point. As I said before, I think a great tattoo is defined by the thing it represents. A good tattoo should be a symbol that is connected to the bearer. The blue mana symbol is a symbol for my devotion to and love for the game, as well as the friends I’ve gained and the fun I’ve had because of this game.
I have thought about individual cards. There are cards I like more than I should, like Big Jace, Top, Krosan Tusker, Mulldrifter, and so on. While these cards are cool and all, a new card is bound to come along that I think is just as cool. And besides, every card I fall in love with has some sort of card advantage to it. Pretty much every card I love (you should check my favorite cards-section) has something blue to it – that is, when the card isn’t blue. I can’t stop it. It’s not me, it’s my instinct.
This is why a blue tattoo feels right. It’s a symbol of the combination of my love for the game, my love for individual cards, and the rewards I have reaped just for playing this great game. And by rewards I don’t mean big money or something; as a casual player, the closest I’ve been to success I have experienced was third place in the 28-people Dissension prerelease, earning me a whopping five booster packs. No, the rewards are the friends I have found through the game, and the fun times I’ve had slinging cardboard with everyone from my closest friends to complete strangers.
Back to the tattoo
Yesterday at work I discussed the possibility of me getting a tattoo with two colleagues. They both did not seem to be able to bring the two (‘me’ and ‘tattoo’) together successfully. In other words, they just didn’t see me getting one. “You got to be the right person for it”, RJ said. Since it was the first time I heard that comment, I hadn’t really thought about it. (This is another trait of mine that can be associated with the color blue: think first, act later.) If someone would say this to me now, I would say that the matter of being a tattoo-person is not of foremost importance. Sure, you don’t get a sleeve when you’re not a tattoo-person, but I believe there is a right tattoo for everyone. And for reasons already given above, I think a person is both a physical and a mental enrichment for it’s bearer. For some people the perfect fit is a sleeve or an arm-to-arm back-covering tableau, for some people (like me) a simple, small and innocuous-looking tattoo is the way to go. In my opinion, people say tattoo-person when they mean ‘someone who has or could have a lot of tattoo’s on his or her body’. If you, the reader, take anything from this column, let it be that there is a tattoo for everyone. You just have to look for it, and in that search lies the biggest challenge of a good, fitting tattoo.
To conclude things, I don’t know what I want and when I want it to happen. I like the Japanese-style tattoo, especially since I’ve read the Kamigawa-cycle books with much appreciation for both story and setting. For sure the blue mana symbol has to be the top focus, but just a mana symbol isn’t really what I want. Just a mana symbol doesn’t say what I want to say: that my life is intertwined with Magic in some many ways I cannot possibly count them all, and that the color blue and me are two drops in the same river. And to capture that very message, I have some searching to do.
And if I don’t find anything I’m not going to force getting one. What I do know is that the search for the right tattoo is a journey into your core. When I do find a good fit, I believe I will feel as much a master of my craft as the tattoo-artist will feel. It is a combination of thought and craft. After having thought about it, I can see why tattoo artists on TV say a tattoo is the work of the tattooee as much as the visual artist him- or herself.