My arms are covered with simple little tattoos. I have twenty-three now, but about a year ago, I added two specific tattoos that had a very special meaning to me.
I absolutely love getting new tattoos; I just can’t get enough. For some reason, which I sort of understand, tattoos make me way more confident. I always feel like my confidence gets a little better when I add new tattoos. It’s literally having art on your body and it makes me feel good about myself. I like how it looks and I like walking around in short sleeves to show off my new ones.
I have a random assortment of tattoos: my dog’s face, a shark, quotes, stick and pokes, a Harry Potter tribute, and a biker tat, an elaborate cherub and memento mori coin, and quite a few others. Considering how much of an art fanatic I am, I knew I had to pay homage to some of my favorites.
Some of you may know that I’m particularly obsessed with Belgian surrealist art. But I’ve recently become entranced by the neo-expressionist movement of the 80’s. The stars? Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Two friends with different styles, but who were genuinely good, creative, passionate people. I could go on and on about what makes them so unique and revolutionary, but that’s a whole other post. Right now, I’m going to talk about the tattoos I got in their honor.
First off, I knew I wanted two tattoos, and I knew I wanted them to show my affinity for art, so I decided to make them by artists who were somehow connected. Then it hit me: Basquiat and Hering. An iconic duo.
On the top of my left wrist, I got the chicken scratch crown that became an icon for Basquiat.
Jean-Michel Basquiat passionately believed that every line, every brush stroke, meant something. This crown he drew was just one line, drawn fast and a bit sloppily. But it reflected his heart’s deepest desire.
This was the thought behind it (or something like this.) Kings would adorn these majestic crowns, encrusted with jewels and made of gold, to prove their importance and power. In a humble way, Basquiat wanted something like that. He always wanted to be more than he was. This crown he drew, which is now the icon of his art, represented his yearning to be important and recognized.
And that’s why I want it on my body. I want to be important and relevant and seen. I want to feel like I’m making a difference, or even an imprint, in this world. So many of us die and no one remembers anything we ever did. I want to be remembered. I want to further the boundaries of human endeavor and change someone’s life. I want to be more than I am, just like Basquiat did (and became.)
This tattoo means a lot to me.
The Keith Haring tat is one of his classic dancing man drawings. It’s not as representative as the Basquiat tat, but it is still be very meaningful and instantly recognizable by Haring fans.
As much as I love having tattoos mean a lot and hold a lot of symbolism, I still truly believe that sometimes I don’t need a real reason. It’s okay if I just like how it looks. It doesn’t have to be some groundbreaking meaningful piece. It just has to be something I enjoy seeing every day for the rest of my life. For example, I have a sloppy smiley face on my wrist, just because it’s goofy.
Regardless, I do love having tattoos with meaning; something that I can look at every day and be reminded of its significance. I have tattoos that remind me of what I want out of life, my personal philosophy, how I feel about death, homage to lost friends and family members, and an optimistic reminder that love isn’t a sham.
Every day I wake up and look at my body and feel like a canvas, like an actual piece of art myself. It’s a good feeling.