COLLABORATION WITH: MEGAN, DR. WOO & JAMES

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What a pleasure it is to share Megan's story. I'm always moved by tattoos that originate from literature and poetry.

‘World enough and time’ is quote from the poem To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell. It is a poem that is huge in its comprehension of time, and space, and love. It sums up the idea that time is racing past, taking everything with it, which is a feeling I’ve had ever since I was a little girl. This poem is also featured in my favorite novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It is used as a toast throughout the novel: ‘to world enough and time.’

The idea of time racing past, myself powerless to stop it, has plagued me for a while. When my aunt passed away a couple of years ago, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would never have enough time. On the other hand, I kept telling myself, that life has given me a wonderful gift: the world and time, if I am brave enough to embrace it.

I love that this tattoo captures these two beliefs so perfectly. The first being that time will keep moving no matter what I do. That’s life. Then again, I’ve been given the most beautiful, glorious gift imaginable, the ability to see the world; and use the time I have here to love, go on adventures, seek new wonders, and experience all that this great world has to offer.

Now I have my own personal ‘carpe diem’ mantra with me forever

Reading Megan's story brought to mind two references in my own life about this feeling of time passing. The first is INXS's Not Enough Time, a song that's been on repeat lately. And the second is a quote from Renaissance polymath Girolamo Cardano, as quoted in Nancy Siraisi's book: "The studious man should always have at hand a clock and a mirror. A clock since in such confusion and mass of things it is necessary for him to to keep track of time...; a mirror to observe the changing conditions of his body." A clock, a mirror, the world enough, and time.

Thank you to Megan, photographer James Bean, and to tattoo artist Dr. Woo in Los Angeles. 

COLLABORATION WITH: EMILY, ROGER & SARAH

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Emily just sent along these pretty photos of two tattoos she commissioned to honor her grandmother. One of my favorite parts of these collaborations is discovering new words, music, or poems I was previously unfamiliar with. Such is the case with "Georgy Girl." The lyrics are awfully moving. Here's Emily...

After a lot of contemplation, I have decided that my next tattoo would be dedicated to my grandmother. 

To preface the significance, I would like to mention that I am an identical twin. Our lives are so intertwine that many of our memories are shared; I do not have my of my own. 

One memory that I hold dear to my heart dates back to my early childhood. As a young girl my grandmother would sporadical hum/sing the song "Georgy Girl" by The Seekers. Till this day, I am unaware of the exact significane, but she would only sing this song to me. Nobody else. 

My grandmother is not doing very well due to multiple strokes over the past few months. All motor function has been lost and I would love to show that I got this tattoo for her. As we sing the song "Georgy Girl" my grandmother's eyes still light up. Full of love.

Thank you to Emily for sharing her story, to tattoo artist Roger Egbert in Seattle, and to Emily's sister Sarah for the photos.

COLLABORATION WITH: KATIE, FELIX & MIA

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I love working with clients to commemorate triumphs that never would have occurred to me. Katie's story fits that bill. Reading her story I was reminded of all of all the friends I had who had moved to New York after college. There was a fierce tenacity and commitment to making it a city that was often times impossible to survive in. 

Memento mori means remember we are just mortals. This tattoo reminds me to always depend on God. It also to commemorates what I have learned from the four years of living in New York. and the possibility of what humans can achieve. We are merely humans and have limits to what we can do. Trying to survive in New York, many of us overlook and break these restraints and limits to go after dreams and goals, and many succeed to overcome these impossibles. 

Now I have New York with me forever.

Thanks so much to Katie, for sharing her story, to tattoo artist Felix from White Rabbit Tattoo, and to photographer Mia Yen. 

BIRTHDAY GIFT TO YOU & COLLABORATION WITH JESSICA VALENTI

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Hello dear readers, 

Three events conspired to bring you this blog post.

The first event is that I had the honor of collaborating with Jessica Valenti, a writer I have long admired.  Jessica commissioned the tattoo above in honor of her daughter. She writes:

My daughter was born under pretty precarious circumstances - I was 28 weeks pregnant when I developed severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. We had to deliver by emergency c-section to save my life, and my daughter - Layla Sorella Valenti-Golis - was born weighing just 2 pounds. 

We came up with her name in the midst of a lot of confusion and fear, but I wanted 'Sorella' both as a nod to my feminism (it means sister in Italian) and to honor my own sister, Vanessa. 

Layla spent two months in the NICU and continued to have prematurity-related health issues for the first two years of her life. When she turned 3 this past August - healthier and happier than ever - I wanted to get the tattoo to commemorate all my family has been through, and all Layla has overcome. She is truly a wonderful, smart, funny kid and I feel lucky every day to have her in my life.

So I was getting ready to post Jessica's story when is started to think back on all of the incredible women I have worked with on tattoos. Like Jessica they've commemorated transformative, difficult, life-changing experiences. There is Deb who took the leap and overcame her professional fears, Natalie who mustered the courage to start her own business, Stephanie who overcame cancer, Catherine who memorialized her remarkable, in spiring grandmother, Lisa who conceived despite being told she couldn't, Sabine who conquered her fear of heights, Courtney who inked a reminder to walk towards what scares us, not away from it,  Claire who honored the passing of a friend who saved her marriage. Karen who left her job as a corporate lawyer to defend the rights of prisoners on death row. The list goes on. And on. Not to mention the remarkable men who have honored incredible women in their lives, like Sam and Karl.

The final event that brought me to this post is that I turned 34 this weekend. It has been a blessing and honor to work with every brave, inspiring client who has crossed my path. And I wanted to mark the occasion and give thanks. So, inspired by Jessica and all of the like-minded sorelle (and fratelli), I'm offering 10% tattoo orders (just mention the promo code SISTER when you contact me), and I'm donating 10% of proceeds from these commissions to Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. now through February 10. Thank you to Jessica, my muse and collaborator! 

{Tattoo by Stephanie Tamez, Saved Tattoo, Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Vanessa Valenti}

COLLABORATION WITH: KATELIN, FLICKA & PHILA

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Katelin just sent along photos from our collaboration.  My yoga practice has deepend these last months (thanks to this wonderful studio in Portland).  I remember at the very beginning of my practice teachers would talk about setting intentions and it sounded like they were speaking Greek. But now, it makes a lot more sense. Katelin's story explains how powerful this can be. So much so she had the intention inked. 

The literal translation of Jai Ma is: hail to the mother. The interpretation of this Sanskrit mantra that most resonates with me most, however, is: the love is so strong. In essence, it refers to the deepest, most selfless, and radical kind of love that I can imagine. In the Buddhist tradition they say it's like the kind of love a mother has for her only child, however, instead of reserving this magnitude of love for just those who are close to or alike us, it's meant to be extended far and wide. It's the ultimate mission: love unbounded for all, and the subsequent presence in the world that follows. 

I was in a relationship some time ago with a woman who lived, slept, and breathed this. She didn't talk about it, she just gave. heart wide open. Her love was big. Not just for me, but for everyone that crossed her path. Boundaries of self extended to include other in utter compassion and kindness. The love limitations of a hardened ego- barely existent, in fact, none that I could see. At the time, I couldn't commit to her in a lifelong kind of way, although our bond and connection was of the cosmic kind. The following separation was emotionally crushing for more than a dozen reasons, but amidst the heartbreak, a deep well of love remained. My only refuge during this time was a vow of the heart, to try to embody the beauty that she represented for me. 

So… on my wrist I tattooed the mantra 'Jai Ma' as a lifelong reminder to let my guard down and let fiercely open-hearted love exist in the spaces within, without, and in between 'the silky oscillation between me and we,' as poet Mo Lohaus puts it. The wrist was the perfect place.. as a yogi, every time I practice sun salutations, I lift my hands overhead, look upwards, and am reminded why I practice, my very reason for existing. This gorgeous piece of art is dedicated to my Heart Teachers, my Mom, all the mothers and brothers, sons and daughters, sisters and fathers, and to my future self: the mother I one day hope to be.

Thanks so much for sharing, Katelin. And thank you to tattoo artist Flicka and Phil Manijak the photographer. 

COLLABORATION WITH: MEGHAN, DAN & ANDRA

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Excited to share the latest tattoo story with you, one honoring an adored son. It was such a pleasure to work with Meghan. I'll let her tell you more:

My children are my world and the reason I feel so blessed in life. I have always been drawn to the story and meaning of tattoos and knew that I wanted to put my children's "stories" in ink. Seven years ago I took my toddler to draw her own name so that I could have it inked and forever a reminder of our story & bond with each other. With the birth of my son in 2011, I knew that I wanted to also get his name in a tattoo but I was determined to make it different. I wanted something unique, beautiful and personal. Calligraphy was the only way to go because of the simplicity yet flow & beauty of the writing. I searched for almost two years before I found Mara and instantly knew that this was the answer. To me the tattoo reminds me of the pure beauty of having a child - it's something that I will cherish for the rest of my life!

Thanks so much to Meghan, Dan of Tattoos by Danny, and Andra Edwards of Andmade Photography. (Also, how great is Meghan's jewelry?!)

COLLABORATION WITH: CLAIRE, (KEKE), STUART & ERROL

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Whenever a client requests a tattoo, I leave it up to them to share the motivation behind it. Some do, some don't. I'm honored that many clients choose to share the life-changing stories that have inspired them to mark that moment in their lives on their body. These stories, in turn, inspire me (and hopefully you!). Claire's is the latest. It comes at a time when I've been thinking a lot about death, having had three friends lose loved ones in the last month. How remarkable to have the strength to salvage a marriage, and the grace to honor the person who believed so fervently that salvation.

My dear friend Keke showed me the true meaning of love, friendship, patience and compassion. In the midst of the breakdown of my 13 year marriage she spoke of restoration. She spoke of my marriage being bigger and better than it was before. I couldn't see it. She diligently prayed, believed and got excited for the prospect of my renewed marriage, while I questioned and doubted.

Cliff and I had gone away with our children - things were still a little strained, but starting to get better. It was at this time that out of the blue, I received a message that Keke had collapsed and was quickly diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. 
Despite her own situation, she continued to champion my marriage. She never stopped believing that it would be something great. 
Keke astounded the doctors with her generous spirit, and was passionate about praying for those who were battling cancer like herself. She put others before herself daily.
My last text message from her ended, "...arohanui, keeks xx". Sadly she passed away in November 2012.
Arohanui, is a maori sentiment of encouragement and strength. It means to be large, plentiful, abundant. In its basic form, Aroha means to feel love, concern, compassion, empathy. Nui expresses a state or condition rather than an activity.
Arohanui symbolises everything that Keke was as a person. It was a privilege to know her, and it is a daily reminder and encouragement in my restored marriage.

Thank you to Claire, tattoo artist Stuart Archibald at the Family Business in London,  and photographer Errol Bennet.

WORKSHOP WITH EMPRINT PRESS, PAPERFINGER & NEITHER SNOW

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I am stupendously excited to announce this collaboration with my two of my very favorite friends: Emily Johnson of EmPrint Press and Bryn Chernoff of Paperfinger at my very favorite space in Portland, Yale Union. This is such a dream come true. By some miracle we all find ourselves in Portland, Oregon this month and so we have seized the moment to teach a two-part workshop on calligraphy and letterpress. On day one (Monday, September 23) you will find me and Bryn at the beautiful, chandelier-lit YU farm table where we'll be leading a workshop on contemporary, pointed-pen calligraphy. We'll play with styles, nibs, and inks. You'll walk away with some bit of text (your name, a saying) that you love that we'll turn into a letterpress plate. Day two (Saturday, September 28) we'll head down to Emily's magical printshop in the basement of YU where you'll get an introduction to the presses and then print your very own goodies (stationery, bookplates, etc.) from the work we created on Monday. Won't you please register and spread the word?  Can't wait to see you there!

COLLABORATION WITH: CATHY, RENE & GARY

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Cathy's tattoo was a fun one. And what an delightful word to have inked! Of course any mention of joy reminds me of Ingrid.  Here's what Cathy has to say:

joyful: experiencing, causing, or showing joy
Sometimes we need a little reminder of the joy that surrounds us every day. I wanted my reminder to be tangible, visible and beautiful. It brings me joy each time I look at it.

Thank you to Cathy, Rene at Liquid Amber Tattoo (Vancouver, BC) and photographer Gary Bremmer