Old School Views
My parents grew up in the sweet little suburbs of Kansas City; high school sweethearts and married at only eighteen. They were not without fights and arguments, but they loved each other intently. As their only child, I think they just wanted me to be perfect.
I steered clear of most of their concerns, but I loved tattoos. I would take a Sharpie and design my own small wrist tattoos or ankle tattoos. There were times when my skin was stained grey in areas from me drawing on myself. My mother would make me wear clothes to cover my designs, and then proceed to scold me about writing on myself.
I remember sitting in my room for two straight weeks as a punishment for drawing tattoos on myself and on my friends. I had designed a beautiful rose, with spiraling pointed thorns as a small wrist tattoo for my girlfriend. During my solitary confinement in my room, I drew intricate designs on my upper thigh and torso; places I knew my parents would not see.
Their views on things like small wrist tattoos and other visible tattoos drove me to want them more. In school, I loved art and told my teachers that I would become a tattoo artist one day. I never shared that information with my conservative parents.
I remember the conversation we had the day I told them my major. My father furrowed his brow and asked what in the world could I do with a degree in graphic design. I knew what I was going to do, tattooing, but I told him that computer graphics are the way of the world right now. That I could get a job pretty much anywhere with what I can do.
Loving What I Do
While I was in college, I told my parents I was going to study abroad for a semester. In reality, I went and started my certification to become a tattoo artist. My internship was with a local tattoo shop and I spent as many hours as possible by designing, watching, cleaning, and learning. My passion for tattooing continued to grow. I realized that I would have to tell my parents, but I wanted to wait until I had a job that was paying decent money.
During my internship, which lasted roughly three years, I was able to start doing my own tattooing under careful supervision. I had tattooed myself a few times before I had my first client. She wanted a wrist tattoo of the infinity symbol. It is a pretty popular wrist tattoo choice for women. It is simple and straightforward with no shading or blending required. Sometimes small tattoos are the most meaningful tattoos.
The girl had several other tattoos, so she wasn't new to the ordeal. She sat completely still for me and didn't whine at all. I wanted to do a great job and wanted to make sure it was done correctly.
My boss and Frank, who I apprentice under, gave me a hard time about the length of time I was taking on such a small wrist tattoo. I told Kimmy, the girl I was tattooing, that I don't rush something that is permanent on a person's skin.
Once I was finished and I cleaned her up and put the gauze on her tattoo, I felt accomplished. It was my first tattoo, and I loved every minute of it.
Parents vs. My Career Choice
I finally broke down and told my parents that I had become a tattoo artist. I pretty much interned at the local shop every moment that I wasn't in classes for college. I slept maybe two or three hours each night since I would be at the tattoo studio until it closed, and then I would have to get up early to complete homework and study for my classes. Didn't matter to me, I still graduated with my degree in graphic design.
How could my parents be mad? I got a degree and a job and I won't be living in their basement for the next ten years.
But I loved my job. I loved designing tattoos from simple tattoos to complex full back lettering tattoos, seeing them come to life on people's skin, and working with like-minded people. My passions are things my parents just don't understand.
I knew eventually they would get over it. Similarly to how my father bought a red Corvette on my eighteenth birthday for himself. He didn't even tell my mom he was going to do it.
I'll never forget seeing her face when he showed her the car in the driveway. I'm not sure which one was a brighter red, her steaming face or the brand new car. She said nothing, and they didn't speak to each other for almost three weeks. But she got over it. She loves riding in the car even now.
I think the same will happen for us. They'll be mad for a while, then they'll get over it.
Tattoos on wrists and arms and legs are so commonplace now. Even if I left the tattooing world, I could still find a good job. I've tatted teachers, businessmen, nurses, doctors, lawyers, computer programmers, and thousands of others; giving them everything from wrist tattoos to full back pieces. Tattooing is an art form that millions of people love.
So maybe my parents don't, that's okay. We have to live life for ourselves, right?