Colouring book misfits

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We are believed to be irresponsible with our money and to not value the body that we were born with as we insist on permanently altering its presentation. - Sarah Nakonechny Pile O Bones Tattoo Convention via Facebook

You might think that my tattoos are a disgrace, but at least I’m artistically disgraceful

We’re rough, we’re tough, and we’re ready to challenge anyone who questions us. Who are we, you might ask? Obviously, we’re anyone who has the audacity to alter our body with permanent ink. Who else would go to such great lengths to alter the way they look to the outside world? You know, besides people who colour their hair or get their ears pierced or shave any part of their body or have had braces. But you know, the effort put in to alter their physical presentation is acceptable, of course.

Those of us with tattoos are the ones that have been in biker gangs since they were 14 years old and are one step away from serving time behind bars. Naturally, the giraffe on my arm screams “warrant out for her arrest” louder than anything else. We have no sense of self-respect or any idea about self-care even though we put hundreds if not thousands of dollars into our artwork, are meticulous in ensuring that it heals properly, and many are very diligent about wearing sunscreen and applying lotion for years afterwards to ensure that their art doesn’t fade as quickly as it otherwise would.

How could I forget? These random lines that permanently scar our bodies don’t mean a single thing to us. We only have them to annoy our parents and to ensure that we are less employable compared to the rest of the world. Isn’t that what all the family pieces I have scream? “Does not care about anything, avoid working with at all costs.” Silly me how could I forget that?

There are entire conventions like the Pile of Bones tattoo convention that took place in March 2022 that aim to promote this lifestyle. It allows us to celebrate the colouring book misfits of the world without fear of ridicule for those who feel the need to fear and shame us. We are believed to be irresponsible with our money and to not value the body that we were born with as we insist on permanently altering its presentation. There are still countless individuals who don’t understand this as being an acceptable form of self-expression and will steer their loved ones away from our detailed linework as quickly as possible.

Deciding that we are the misfits of the world could not be further from the truth. If we didn’t care for our bodies, why would we spend so much time and money designing items to go onto our bodies for the rest of our lives? Honestly, the commitment that we make to our bodies and creations that we put on ourselves are an accurate representation for how seriously we take the process and the outcomes of these products. I forgot; we just endure all the pain from going under the needle to spite others. It has nothing to do with our own desires.

Knowing that this art form is slowly becoming more popular and less frowned upon is a breath of fresh air for many of us. However, there is still the task of making it through the professional world where many people still consider tattoos to be unprofessional or undignified. Again, I would like to know what makes little flowers or a quote in calligraphy unprofessional? Are the colours too pretty and distracting for the office?

I, like many others, pride myself on being considered the equivalent of a walking art gallery. Having various pieces that describe the things that we find important or enjoy for not only our own personal enjoyment but for the enjoyment of others is truly beautiful. You can learn a lot about a person by what they choose to place on their skin – you just need to take a look.

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