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Your Tattoo journey

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It seems we all have different experiences of tattoos, different reasons why, and different emotional connections too. What's your story?

I first started seeing tattoos as a child, I grew up in Belfast in the middle of the war, and all the kids in school were getting tattoos supporting various terrorist organisations. There were a lot of skin heads in the city back then, and they usually had Nazi tattoos or tattoos relating to other terrorist organisations so tattoos were probably looked down on there more than in any other culture at the time.

I had some family friends, older guys who were in the merchant navy that had old school tattoos, collected on their journeys. They seemed mysterious and wise, and I wanted to be just like them.

When I was about 13 my cousins took me to a local bar where all the bikers and punks hung out. That was my first experience with booze and marijuana, and I was amazed at all of the tattoos on display. It was the first time I experienced a large group of people who were tattooed, and who were "cool".

The fighting was pretty bad at this stage,. Belfast had no night clubs, just a few safe bars, and only 1 tattoo artist. There were no concerts, no festivals or conventions and it was not unusual to have 10 or 20 bomb explosions in the one day.

You either got tattooed by school friends using Indian ink and needles, or you went to a guy called skull, who scared the life out of all of us.When I finally got the courage to go, in front of me was an american soldier who was HUGE. He fainted and slipped of the chair when the needle touched his skin, and I was up next, nervous and shaking.

I walked out of skulls with the same eagle tattoo that Richard Gere sported in An Officer and a Gentleman, and I felt like the coolest guy in town. I do not remember feeling prouder, as I strolled through Belfast city centre, my shirt rolled up and my tattoo on display. I was 16 and I felt like the king of the world.

10 years later I got that eagle covered with tribal, and its the biggest regret I have. I am having the tribal removed, and hopefully, somewhere below we will find the remains of the eagle, which I hope, will fly again.

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My Gawd that was a COOL story! What a whacky era to grow up in, Belfast was a "sub" culture. Thanks for sharing that.

As far as tattoo regret goes, I picked a lesser desirable eagle off the wall because it was facing the right direction for my arm as the people at the shop were not artists so much as they were tattooers, back then the acetate stencile was carved over the design and slapped on the skin which reversed the eagle making it face the wrong direction and in those days I would have been smacked out of the chair for making them change it before inking it. Ultimatly I had it covered and now in retrospect I wish it were still there, as crazy as that may sound to others, it would be a reminder/example and was still a bad ass stencil.

Thanks again!

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