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Author Information

James is a contributor at The Hudsucker and Indianapolis Monthly. He's also a full-time student at IUPUI where he's one year away from a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in Sociology. Music and friends are his main interests. He also loves sports, vinyl records and photography. Born and raised in the Midwest, he loves Indiana. But in a perfect world he would take Nashville, Tennessee and place it on the coast of St. Augustine, Florida, where he would live and never leave.

Tattoos Are More Than Just Ink

For me, tattoos are the ultimate way of transcending feelings I’m only able to explain with worn out words or tiresome actions, which are personal dilemmas. Aside from having to create an already tailored first-impression at specific job, other people’s opinions about the art on my skin never cross my mind.

Photo by: James Layne

However, I have no problem talking about my tattoos or showing them off. Any piece of work I get defines me and I’m proud of it, so attempting to discuss it with others would just be a bonus.

Another reason I love tattoos is the forever factor. My favorite line in the world is memories of a lifetime. I depend on the memories I’ve made with others, good or bad. On the other hand, I thrive off of the moments that have shaped me. From spiritual connections with music and nature, to the wholeness I feel after long talks with loved ones and best friends, these are the things I live for.

Clearly, I express myself in other ways the majority of the time. I like photography, writing, reading, talking, etc. But tattoos are a way I personally express the most important memories and moments in my life.

Before I talk about the next line confused people cherish saying to those with ink, I must say if you’re worried about what your tattoo will look like in the eyes of others when you’re in the final chapter of your life, you probably got it for the wrong reasons.

And for the people, usually the age group a few decades in front of me, they’re favorite line is, “What’s it going to look like when you’re 80? You’ll probably hate it.” That’s a myth I’ll let art historian, Dr. Matt Lodder explain:

“Harris polls taken in America in 2003 and 2008 found that a steady 84% of people with tattoos did not regret them. Of those who did regret, most rued that they had gotten a tattoo too young, with many also stating that their tattoo was poorly executed, or that they picked the wrong design…

…this strikes me not as an admonishment of tattooing in general, but of hastily acquired, impulsive tattoos done by unskilled artists. The myth that tattoos will look “green” or “faded” once the wearer reaches the autumn of their lives comes from the fact that tattoos on older people today were done decades ago, when inks, machines, needles and healing technologies were all vastly inferior to those we have today.”

(Click here to read Dr. Lodder’s full piece)

Obviously, If you get work done by lazy artists, don’t take care of yourself or your skin, and neglect the tattoo altogether, there’s a good chance it won’t look the same in 50 years.

Some would probably say I think too much into it, and that’s fine. If there’s anything to really delve into before you do it, it should be something you’ll carry with you even after you die. Tattoos are so much more than something cool. I see them as beautiful pieces of art telling stories about what makes people click.

Again, this is just why I love tattoos. If you love Notre Dame so much you get the Leprechaun inked on you, more power to you. If you think getting tattooed sounds fun for the weekend, enjoy! Just don’t get too carefree and end up like these people.

Here are my tattoos:

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5 Comments on “Tattoos Are More Than Just Ink”

  1. eddienatalya August 31, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Cool tatts, I have 6 and all of mine have meaning. I didn’t get them just to get them, like you said there is a story behind each one. I’m not done, got more to get!

    • James Layne September 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      They do seem to be a little bit addictive. But as long as they always mean something to you, that’s all it matters. Glad to hear yours have a good story. :)

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Andrew Rogers September 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    I find people’s opinions about tattoos fascinating, whether for or against. I, personally, don’t think I’d ever get one but I’m not at all opposed to them and my best friend, sister and boyfriend all have them. I guess, for me, they mean the same thing as they mean for you and, whether sad or not, I just don’t feel like there’s anything I’d want to permanently put on my body. I express my love and joy for things in other ways, but I think it’s cool that people express them that way so, for me, this article was a very interesting read. Also, even though it’s not my opinion of them that matters, I think your tattoos are pretty awesome.

    • James Layne September 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed the read, Andrew. I totally understand how it’s hard for people to grasp something on their body forever. I definitely respect that you see the other way as well, though. Photography and writing are my favorite forms of “forever statements” but there’s just something about tattoos.

      Sent from my iPhone

  3. artofscottk September 22, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    I am merging my art to tattoo art and it has been the best experience and so rewarding to work in this new medium. The bottom line is tattoos are deeply personal and what other people think should always be very low on your things to consider. I am jumping in a little later in the game to be picking up tattoos and that has even made it better on making decisions and I hope it helps in advising people on what they want and expect with a tattoo. Good article and keep working on your art collection

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