No matter what we do here at Weber Shandwick, creativity is a part of who we are. And for most of us, our creative side doesn’t shut down with our laptops when we leave the office. Weberites are in bands and dance troupes, are writing novels and creating art. And a whole bunch of us are expressing our creativity with tattoos.
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After years of contemplation, I got my first tattoo in the spring of 2013. And looking back now, overcoming that initial fear was the hardest part. Like my own creative process, taking the leap into an unknown can be daunting. But sometimes you just have to go for it, without the fear of failure or fear of regret. I try to remember that on every project I start.
When it comes to tattoos, each has a story. I was surprised to discover just how many of my coworkers had interesting tattoo stories to tell.
You Always Remember Your First
I remember my first tattoo appointment like it was yesterday. I walked into the studio in jeans and a plain tee — no piercings, no crazy hair, no…tattoos. The front-desk coordinator looked at me like I was lost. Palms sweating, I was nervous and excited, eager to just get going with it.
And in talking with my coworkers, it seemed like everyone had a story about their first time. Here are a few:
“After talking with my sister about the tattoo I wanted for at least two years, she convinced me to get it. She drew the initial artwork, and we headed to the shop. It was too complex to get on the spot, but there was no turning back — something was getting tattooed on me. So I got the pattern from the tattoo shop curtains on my ankle. I love that one because it reminds me so much of my sister and that day with her.” – Jennifer Humiston
“My first tattoo is a drawing of an old-school knapsack with a camera and the words “Go. Do.” Love it!” – Laura Miller
“The first tattoo I got is a lame design I did right out of high school with my two best friends. It’s on our ankle and after we paid the $25 for a terrible tattoo that we’ll have forever, we realized (after the damage was done), that it looked like a cat’s butt. So one of the two friends and I updated ours and had it covered with a more ‘sophisticated’ design after we moved to Seattle. But now it just looks like a spider got smashed onto our ankle. The third never updated hers and has the original cat butt tattoo on her ankle.” – Tanya Stockland
“A friend gave me my first tattoo when I was 17. It’s a little blue star, just above my right collar bone. One of my favorite movies is a John Hughes film called Some Kind of Wonderful. One of the main characters — Watts (played by Mary Stuart Masterson) — had that tattoo, although you only see it once in the movie when she covers it up with makeup. The first time I met my best friend Stephanie 15+ years ago (whose name is tattooed on the top of my foot), she saw the star tattoo, pointed at it and said “Like Watts! Your tattoo is like Watts!” She was my soulmate from that moment on. Since then, I have had a few other stars added to that area, so it’s not completely “like Watts” anymore. But that is where it came from.” – Andrea Courtney
Storytelling Through Tattoos
For many of us, a tattoo is way of capturing a memorable story or chapter in our lives. Mine helps me remember days spent in the jungle and the years I dedicated to studying the environment. For others, like Justin Tsang, it’s a tribute to someone that affected us deeply:
“My first tattoo was Chinese characters on my back. I got my great grandfather’s Chinese name, along with with characters that translate into love, loyalty, determination and prosperity. It was during my second year of university. It has a lot of meaning, as my great grandpa played a huge role in raising my dad, since my dad grew up in Canada away from his parents. He was also instrumental in helping my young parents (and their tiny son — aka me) get on their feet right after they got married. He was the patriarch of the Tsang family. Although I was a small boy when he passed away, I still remember him being a good, kind man — a person that everyone in the family still fondly speaks of today as a self-made, well-respected man who always put his family first. The type of man I aspire to be.” – Justin Tsang
“I got my tattoo in memory of my grandfather. It’s a simple cursive “I” to represent my middle name, which was my grandfather’s last name. Funnily enough though, now that I’m in Seattle, I can’t tell you how many people have asked if it’s the Ivar’s “I.” – Nikki Flynn
“All my tattoos have special significance. I usually only get them when I am marking a particular point in my life. Usually milestones like significant breakups, jobs, graduation, moving, etc.” – Andrea Courtney
“I love photography and one of my tattoos is the exposure of my favorite photo I’ve taken. It’s a great conversation starter — people are always interested in what the numbers mean, and other photographers can spot it from afar and strike up a conversation.” – Megan McMullen
So You Have an Affinity for Pain?
They say tattoos are addicting. I started with a quarter sleeve and now I have my entire arm covered in ink. As I found out, it seems most people are considering another tattoo:
“I toy around with it. I have a couple of ideas but can’t commit to where I want them. One is the French saying “Joie de Vivre,” to represent my love of everything French and my time in Montreal. The other is a poppy, as a nod to my California roots.” – Nikki Flynn
“Yes, always planning to get more — just waiting for that next milestone. I’d like a chest piece or more on my arms.” – Andrea Courtney
“Of course. Once you tat, there’s no going back. Yep, horrible phrase I just thought of that doesn’t really rhyme, but totally true. Although I have a few ideas floating around, I’m not sure what’s next.” – Justin Tsang
“Yes – Gemini constellation on my wrist. But I could change my mind at any moment.” – Jennifer Humiston
Creativity and Fearlessness
The tattoo was monstrous, in both senses of the word: Huge black horns wrapped from my deltoid to the middle of my upper back. The horns grew from a skull centered between my shoulder and elbow. Bats and tree roots swarmed the surrounding flesh. Finally, after years of contemplation, I was a getting a tattoo.
And now looking back, overcoming that first step was the hardest part. Like my own creative process, taking the leap can be daunting. Sometimes you just have to go for it without the fear of failure or fear of regret. I try to remember that on every project I start.
That’s it, folks. Now, go get that tattoo you’ve been putting off.