11.21.2014

Link Your Ink: My First "BIG" Tattoo


I always knew I wanted tattoos. BIG tattoos. By the time I was 19 I had two small tattoos and I had begun the work on my second largest: my Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, skull on my left shoulder. The Day of the Dead is a holiday where family and friends gather to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. My skull was a way of honoring those in my life that had been lost in a way that was beautiful.

Since this was going to be my first big tattoo, I was very careful about finding the right artist. I wanted someone that was skilled in Americana-style tattoos and that had a stellar portfolio. Thankfully, I stumbled upon an artist by the name of Keegan whom worked at a local shop owned by a guy from my hometown in California. I hung around the shop quite a bit trying to get to know Keegan better, stalking his portfolio, and watching him tattoo. Like I said, if I was going to put something on my body forever I wanted to make sure that it was done by the right person. Keegan was really great; even despite the fact that I was a naive 19 year old.

When I shared the idea with him, he was excited and sat down with me to draw up a few sketches. It was exactly what I wanted and I couldn't have been more excited. It's funny how close you can grow to an artist when you spend hours upon hours sitting in a chair while they tattoo you. After our first 3 hour session, the outline was done and I was sent home to heal before my next session.


About six weeks later when I went to go make another appointment, I got devastating news. Keegan had taken his own life just a few days prior. Somehow, this really impacted my life. I barely knew this guy but next thing I know I am at the tattoo shop donating to his benefit, meeting his family, and attending his funeral. It's funny how such a seemingly insignificant part of your life can leave such a lasting impact on you.

I didn't really feel right about working on my tattoo after that. I was left with an outline, and I wasn't sure if that was how it was always going to stay or not. Many artists won't touch other artist's unfinished work, and I didn't even know that I wanted them to. The owner of the shop, after almost a year, encouraged me to finish the tattoo. He reassured me that he had a talented artist that would give me just what I wanted. I gave in and decided to do it.

I don't even remember this guy's name to be honest. However, I do know that he did a great job on my shoulder. The tattoo isn't at all the idea that Keegan and I came up with originally, which took some adjustment, but in the end I was really happy with it.

A year or so later when I was ready to get my sleeve started, I tried to reach out to this artist again. This is when I took another hit. The artist who had finished my shoulder had overdosed on heroin and died.

I often joke with people that my tattoo is cursed. My current artist always jokingly says things like "I hope I don't die when I finish this piece." That's the only way you can make light of a situation like this.

What started as a memorial tattoo for a few people in my life, turned into a memorial for those whom I lost in the process as well. It's funny how things like that happen.

Although the circumstances are unfortunate, a lot of good has come from losing Keegan. I am still in touch with his wonderful family, whom have gotten me pretty involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and I have this amazing tattoo to remind me of what a talented artist and person he was.

Do you have any "memorial tattoos?"

Kaitlin and I hope that you will grab the button below and link up with your own tattoo story! The linkup will be open until next Friday so if you can't link up today be sure to sometime in the next week!

Link you Ink Link up on Sage



One last thing: in honor of tattoos use the code "TATTOO" to get 30% off any ad space (excluding the medium space) through next Friday!
 
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Hello Neverland

46 comments :

  1. Your tattoo is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you so much for providing a great link up so that I can share a piece of my life :)

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  2. I love your tattoo! I have been wanting another for years - I have always loved them. Unfortunately my husband is more on the conservative side and doesn't care for them much and I can live without anothing major if it makes him happier. I will probably end up getting the baby one I've had my eye on for a while though!

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  3. It is beautiful and its meaning is beautiful and I love it. And you.

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  4. That tattoo is absolutely beautiful and now it has such a powerful meaning behind it. It's awesome that you still keep in touch with Keegan's family!

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  5. They are beautiful. When a tattoo has meaning like this, the story is beautiful, even in the sadness.

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  6. wow.
    what a stunning tattoo, and what a sorrowing story.
    i honestly don't know what to say other than i'm so sorry for your many losses, especially those who were added while you were getting this piece done. ::hugs::

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  7. What a crazy story... thank you for sharing it. I've always wondered about this tattoo and loved the way it peeked through your wedding dress. Now I love it even more!
    You are beautiful, my friend!

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  8. Yes, I couldn't agree with you more.

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  9. Thanks Sarah! And yes it is pretty cool.

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  10. Thanks Kalyn! Baby tattoos are fun too :)

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  11. Thank you!!! So glad you joined us

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  12. Wow. That is CRAZY! But it's true, we can really feel close to the artists who put ink on us. I've had the same guy do all of mine and I feel like he's a friend by now. I would link up, but none of my family even knows I have tattoos, so I've gotta keep the charade up longer, lol.

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  13. They don't know! That's crazy! haha

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  14. What a crazy but touching story about your tattoo. I really love the finished product. it's so pretty. I really love that you still stay in touch with his family. :) so sweet!

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  15. It is definitely a crazy story! Thanks for reading :)

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  16. Such a beautiful tattoo and what a touching story! I love tattoos that have a deep meaning behind them. I haven't gotten anything big yet, although I do want one.

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  17. You definitely should :) And yes it really is quite the story, I still feel like it's not real some days

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  18. Your tattoo is so beautiful and what a moving history it has. How incredible the way Keegan impacted your life and lead you to work with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It is so amazing to hear how people can have a profound impact in our lives no matter how short or long we know them.

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  19. Isn't that true. Some people really have the ability to leave a lasting impact, and it's unfortunate that this is how his impact ended, but I'm thankful I have this tattoo to remind me!

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  20. Such a tragic, but beautiful story. God always has a way of bringing beauty from ashes. Your tattoo is stunning. Thank you for sharing!

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  21. That is a remarkable tattoo - I love the color in it! Such a sad story, but how meaningful that you made lifelong connections with Keegan's family and with a wonderful foundation. One of the beautiful things about body art - it can move us with the sentimental, the memories relating to it, just as much as the visual itself can move us.

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  22. One of the main reasons I got my Hello Kitty bow behind my ear was for my aunt who passed away when I was 6. I always associated Hello Kitty with her, and most of the objects I inherited from her were hello kitty themed. I think that's why Hello Kitty became one of my favorite things as I got older. A lot of people probably think it's cheesy or childish, but to me there's a much bigger reason behind my love for HK.

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  23. That couldn't be more true. Thanks for reading :)

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  24. How fun! People are quick to make judgments without knowing the story behind things in life... too sad.

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  25. Such a touching story. I don't have any tattoos but I just love the heartfelt stories that come with so many of them. My sister has quite a few and despite all the stares, negative comments, and naysayers she has always maintained that they are an important part of who she is. It's a beautiful thing.

    V
    Life+1

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  26. I feel very similar! Your sister sounds great!

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  27. Ummm Holy Crap. what are the odds I just can't get over two people, super crazy! Love the story behind all tattoos!!

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  28. I don't have any tattoos and I don't think I'll ever get one. They're just not for me, but I love hearing the stories behind other peoples' tattoos! It's great that there's so much meaning behind yours.

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  29. Glad you can enjoy other's even if they aren't for you personally :)

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  30. That is gorgeous!!! I want to be brave enough for a big one but for now I have 2 small ones and I'm planning a ribcage quote.

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  31. I'm terrified to get my ribs tattooed so you're far more brave!!!

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  32. I SO love this link up. And your ink is awesome. So sorry to hear of the passing of the artists involved, but it was really cool to read about how devoted you were to your artist search.

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  33. Thanks for reading and linking up Kelly!

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  34. Oh, Cassie! The story behind your tattoo is heartbreaking, but what a tribute to the artists who contributed to it.

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  35. Wow, what a heartbreakingly beautiful story. Those artists quite literally left a mark on your life, and I would think as an artist, that's a really personal and special thing. Thanks for sharing :)

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  36. Thanks for reading :) That means a lot..

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  37. What a sad but in a strange way beautiful story. I'm glad you're still in touch with Keegan's family! That's pretty cool.

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  38. Your tattoo is beautiful. I love how their legacies continue to live on.


    ashortblonde.com

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