Monday, July 23, 2007


Tattooing is a tradition that spans thousands of years and different cultures. According to Wikipedia:

Tattooing has been a Eurasian practice at least since Neolithic times. Mummies bearing tattoos and dating from the end of the second millennium BC have been discovered at Pazyryk on the Ukok Plateau. Tattooing in Japan is thought to go back to the Paleolithic era, some ten thousand years ago.

I've always wanted a tattoo. When I was much younger, I loved butterflies. Believe it or not, there was a time in the early/mid-nineties that it was very difficult to find butterflies. My Mom and I would see one here on a necklace or there on a t-shirt and buy it up immediately. Then at some point - it became a fad. A flurry of butterflies saturated the market - and the lower backs of women. There goes my desire for a tat. I decided that while I may still get a butterfly at some point, I could not do a butterfly on my lower back as my first tattoo. Even though I was Butterfly the clown for years. Alas, it just wasn't meant to be.

Many people get symbols that relate to their personal history and culture. While I think this is beautiful and meaningful (assuming it really is their story, and not just a symbol that "looks cool") - I have a hard time even identifying what my cultural heritage is. We can't trace Smithhart outside of the United States. Maybe at some point I'll get a Polish phrase on my body...

About a year and a half ago, I was browsing some interesting jewelry online and came across a power symbol necklace. The icon grabbed me. It's something I've seen for years and have carried around gadgets holding the symbol - but I'd never really thought of it as a symbol on its own. It is something I've taken for granted for its function, being oblivious to its purpose.

I'm drawn to the symbol for its simplicity and its symmetry. I love circles and curvy things.

I like the juxtaposition of a very modern, universal symbol that is used on pieces of the latest technology - and putting it on the human body in an ancient art form.

No, it's not a cyclops smiley face. -)

I also really believe in embracing one's own power - whether it be intellectual, emotional, spiritual or physical. Humans have an incredible amount of power within us. The power of free will, the power to push ourselves to physical limits, the power to pleasure ourselves and those around us, the power to build enormous structures, the power to invent, the power to shape the world around us. The power to create change. Sure, you could substitute the words "freedom" or "ability" into these phrases - but I like where the word power takes you on an emotional level.

Power is fierce.

In a time where our cultural awareness of energy consumption is part of our daily dialogue - the awareness of where we get power is becoming a correlating theme. We have so many devices in our lives that feed off the power grid. This is a cool video that illustrates this concept:

The human body can survive "off the grid." It makes you question what we actually need for survival vs. what our culture has told us we need.

Think about the disposable, temporary nature of most of the devices in our lives that require power. Our computers, cell phones, palms, blackberrys, mp3 players, video game players, etc. They're our latest obsession; and then a new model comes out and we can't move on quickly enough. Even the biggest Luddites among us eventually get one of these gadgets and it becomes a tether to a virtual life.

In contrast, a tattoo on my body is a permanent choice. It is there for the rest of my life. There won't be a new model of me - no upgrades, no version 2.0s, no renamings or rebrandings. I'm me. And while we all exist in a world of constant change - the permanence is comforting. I am not disposable, tossed to the side for a newer, better me. I'm just me. Powerfully me.

On Sunday, July 22nd, I got my first tattoo from Josh at Slave to the Needle in Ballard.


Mackenzie said...

Cool tattoo Noelle! I love the way you write too! great pics!

Jonathan said...

Amazing document to your journey with this tattoo and the significance behind it. Power is truly within you. =)

Site Meter