The Concept 1
Here it is! As I said, I would start a series of blogs explaining the ideas behind my tattoos. I’m going to start it off with my newest piece and go forward from there talking about all the tattoos that I’ve had done by Dennis Sullivan, owner of Sullivan’s in downtown Clarksville, TN. He’s been buzzing away for almost 20 years now and is one of the best artists I have ever met. The guy is easy-going, a great conversationalist, and a total dork which worked out for the Red Dead Redemption tattoo. So, let us be on with it. This is the first color session of the piece and this picture does not do this thing justice. I am scheduled to get the background in mid-January. We sat for about 3 hours to fill this in. The tattoo is of John Marston, the main character from Rockstar’s game Red Dead Redemption. I’ve known for a very long time that I wanted to get something referencing my love of gaming. It started with the idea of getting a single piece and then shifted to a half-sleeve, then I’d change my mind and want a full-sleeve of gaming goodness only to go back to wanting something that stands alone. I wanted characters, set pieces, icons, logos, locations, anything I could think of. I wanted it all so much that I became overwhelmed to the point that I just gave up. I figured that I would know what to get when the time came. What led me to choosing a Red Dead tattoo was actually from a post on 4chan. Someone made a topic about what it is that video games do that make gamers so incredibly happy. People were saying things about wide-open spaces, dynamic weather, a great soundtrack, day and night cycles, believable characters, fantastic combat, traveling mechanics that are fun, endless content to keep the game going…and all of these things just kept making me think of Red Dead Redemption. I will NEVER forget that moment when you ride out of McFarlane Ranch heading into the town of Armadillo. For my playthrough, the sun was rising over the desert of New Austin as if to herald my arrival into one of the best games I have ever played. It was only a matter of finding the reference material and telling Dennis, who is also an avid lover of Red Dead Redemption.
Dennis did this for me in May of 2011. This skull is sitting in my right elbow ditch. My skull tattoos easily have the weirdest meanings behind them. This one is quite personal and serves as a reminder to me. I have always struggled with selfishness. It is one of my greatest character flaws. I used to be very egotistical, stuck-up, and greedy but luckily that has shifted over the years. I’ve tried to become more selfless, kind, and genuine with people. This tattoo reminds me of all of this. The skull itself is representative of death, and you may notice the fangs. I look at this vampire skull as a reminder that until the day I die, I will always want more than I will need. Much like a vampire that can never quite get it’s fill of blood. I understand that it is simple human nature to want things, but this tells me to accept that and be better about it.
This is the photo of the 3rd sit I did with Dennis to finish out my half-sleeve. I have always been a huge fan of Japanese art and culture. I love the bold lines of traditional Japanese paintings, woodblock carvings, and I love Japanese mythology. I always knew that I wanted a tattoo showing off my affinity for the Far East. This is a depiction of a Yuki-onna, a spirit from Japanese folklore. I first heard the story about the Yuki-onna from a book I was reading back in 2008 when I was getting another tattoo. After hearing the myth, I had decided that I wanted to get a tattoo of one. This is one version of the story, taken from Wikipedia:
“A long time ago, there lived two woodcutters, Minokichi and Mosaku. Minokichi was young and Mosaku was very old. One winter day, they could not come back home because of a snowstorm. They found a hut in the mountain and decided to sleep there. On this particular evening, Mosaku woke up and found a beautiful lady with white clothes. She breathed on old Mosaku and he was frozen to death. She then approached Minokichi to breathe on him, but stared at him for a while, and said, “I thought I was going to kill you, the same as that old man, but I will not, because you are young and beautiful. You must not tell anyone about this incident. If you tell anyone about me, I will kill you.” Several years later, Minokichi met a beautiful young lady, named Oyuki and married her. She was a good wife. Minokichi and Oyuki had several children and lived happily for many years. Mysteriously, she did not age. One night, after the children were asleep, Minokichi said to Oyuki: “Whenever I see you, I am reminded of a mysterious incident that happened to me. When I was young, I met a beautiful young lady like you. I do not know if it was a dream or if she was a Yuki-onna…” After finishing his story, Oyuki suddenly stood up, and said “That woman you met was me! I told you that I would kill you if you ever told anyone about that incident. However, I can’t kill you because of our children. Take care of our children… ” Then she melted and disappeared. No one saw her again.”
Yuki-onna are described as being incredibly beautiful young women who have died in a snowstorm and drain the life of travelers stuck on mountain trails. They have long black hair, black eyes, and are typically said to wear a white kimono that allows the Yuki-onna to disappear. When it came time to draw this piece up, I had two ideas. The first was to do a woodblock print-style piece showing a Yuki-onna standing in a blizzard on the side of a mountain. We felt that there would not be enough attention on the subject herself, so instead went with this idea. A Yuki-onna wearing a kimono that shows the mountains she calls home.
I am looking forward to sharing the concepts behind my tattoos in the future. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it because I still need to finish thinking up my top 10 favorite albums of the year. That is a daunting and ambitious project because I’m going to do short reviews of each of the albums as well as posting links to music by those top 10 along with my honorable mentions and most disappointed albums. Keep coming back!!!