ink and skin tattoos elle dee garance dore photos

9 years ago by


Erik Melvin

I never took the plunge and got a tattoo, and living in New York, where you see tattooed people everywhere, makes me think it’s better to stay that way.

But that doesn’t stop me from loving them on others, or from being super curious about what they each mean (I’m the annoying girl asking “what does your tattoo mean?”). I love to look at different styles, from those who opt for tiny ones to those who go for full body art, or are very precise about symmetry…

So today, we asked Minka, Ian, Elle and Mateusz, who all have very fascinating tattoos, to tell us a little bit about them. And, listening to them, you realize it’s much deeper than a trend.

What do you think ? Do you have tattoos ? Want to have one ? Or are you scared it’s just a trend ?

elle dee tattoos ink story garance dore photos


You have two tattoos that are in the same position on each arm. What drew you to this kind of symmetry?

Well, I believe everything in life is about balance. Even when I started the work I felt weird, as work on the first had started and I had nothing on the other side. And that was only 24 hours. The body’s natural symmetry is beautiful and I didn’t want to disrupt it. So, I couldn’t have it any other way.

How did you come up with the design of these tattoos?

I always wanted to have half sleeves… actually, I almost went for the full arm. I was lucky to have one of the best artists of Japanese style tattoos living in my hometown at the time, Ivan Szazi. At first, he didn’t want to work with me because Japanese tattoos are usually very colorful and I wanted to go for a fully black piece. I will never forget him asking me: “aren’t you afraid of the black?” and my answer was “no, I’m afraid of color.”

He sent me home but, over a week later, he called me back in because he had found a picture in one of his books where a girl had a black piece. I picked the background according to my sign and the flowers since they are winter flowers (my birthday is on the winter solstice).The rest was up to him. He does freestyle so nothing else can be planned ahead. You just have to trust.

What significance do these tattoos have for you?

A lot. It’s really hard to describe it to someone else because tattoos are about the moment. It’s relevant to the things and feelings happening in your life at that time. After that, they are a eternal reminder of that time. Bad or good, something you don’t want to forget.

Do you find yourself incorporating your tattoos into your everyday style?

One hundred percent. I play with the way I show them, or not. Transparency, cut outs, peek a boos. It’s great when I dress up, but I usually cover them during the day. It’s just easier to go by without having to explain myself to strangers on the street haha.

Are you thinking about getting more tattoos? If so, what’s next?

Perhaps. I don’t have anything in mind at the moment but, hey, never say never!

elle dee tattoos ink story garance dore photos

It’s really hard to describe it to someone else because tattoos are about the moment. It’s relevant to the things and feelings happening in your life at that time.

ian bradley tattoos ink story garance dore photos


Why do you like tattoos? 

I like tattoos, especially mine, because they tell a little part of my story and my personality. Each tattoo has a funny story and I’m reminded every time I look at them.

How are your tattoos representative of your personality? 

A friend once told me that my tattoos are like ‘binder stickers’, which is totally true. Most are mementos from my teenage days or look like doodles I would have drawn. They are all very me.

Tell me about your first tattoo. 

My first tattoo was a Chanel logo. I saw a woman at a bar with the tattoo and thought it was stupid. But, after six months of obsessing over it, I realized I wanted it. My friend gave me it to me as a stick-and-poke tattoo in her dorm our freshman year.

What is the process you go through when choosing a tattoo?  

Most are said as jokes that I put on a list in my phone. If it survives edits, after a couple of months I get it.

And what is the tattoo that holds the most significance for you? 

My dad’s barber shop logo (with the scissors). It reminds me of my family and childhood… some people have their family crest, I got a sick logo!

ian bradley tattoos ink story garance dore photos
ian bradley tattoos ink story garance dore photos

Each tattoo has a funny story and I’m reminded every time I look at them.

minka slickinger tattoos ink story garance dore photos


You’re an artist. How did tattooing become one of your mediums?

Tattoos were always something I was very interested in from a young age, as I always had a fascination with the study of anthropology and, particularly, other cultures. I began to get tattooed out of meaningful curiosity, I guess, but by the third one it had evolved into a very personal ritual for me and, subsequently, years later led me to teach myself how to tattoo… learning how to manipulate my art to be able to apply it to flesh… as well as really find a medium that allowed me to connect in a very personal way with every single person that “owns” a piece of my work.

Do you prefer to be giving or receiving the tattoo?

Honestly, I dont know how to answer one way or the other. They are both very different experiences and outcomes – one I get to walk away with something, the other I get to give someone else something to walk away with… in the end I win both ways!

Do you have a personal tattoo philosophy?

Getting tattooed is a ritual. There is an energetic value to both the act of getting tattooed and the piece you walk away with. You are sharing a very intimate and vulnerable experience with your artist that will be with you forever and that is something to consider. Tattoos are the recording of a moment in your life, and I feel there is no point thinking about it as something you will love for the rest of your life because who knows who or what you will come into contact with that inspires new philosophies, ideas, practices… life is long and always changing.

What are your thoughts on “fashion” tattoos?

It is so easy to get tattooed in this day and age and, with the stigma and taboos around tattoos lifting as rapidly as it is, people really should make sure that they are getting tattooed for the right reason. It is a personal experience and to get one to emulate your favorite celebrity, personality or to fit in is unnecessary. Know why you like it before you give up that piece of skin and your hard earned money!

Do the crows on your shoulders have a significant meaning?

I have always considered crows very enigmatic creatures and, over the years, I have done a lot of research on them. They appear in many different cultures – with various significances – and are always seen as harbingers of wisdom, insight and knowledge, both positive and negative. For me, my crows serve as two of my guides through life and remind me to carve a path of truth, light and inspiration to the best of my ability…

minka sicklinger tattoos ink story garance dore photos

minka slickinger tattoos ink story garance dore photos

minka slickinger tattoos ink story garance dore photos

There is an energetic value to both the act of getting tattooed and the piece you walk away with.

mateusz lillpop tattoos ink story garance dore photos


What was your first tattoo and what is its significance?

I got my first tattoo when I was young. My mom was practicing Rei-Ki and made me do the course – it really connected the two of us, so I got Rei-Ki (Japanese symbol of universal energy) tattooed on my lower back. It’s a bit trampy, but means a lot to me.

Did you always love tattoos?

My stepdad had tattoos all over him. He was a lawyer and one of his clients was in a biker gang that operated through a tattoo shop. I remember going to court with him once and, as he was a big fellow, he sweated. During cross-examination he took his jacket off and all his tatts showed through his shirt. The witness freaked out and the judge asked him to put his jacket back on to not intimidate the witness. He is the reason I got into tattoos and my first one was at that tattoo shop.

Tell me about the script tattoo on your ribcage.

I used to work at a psycho-social rehab center in Sydney. I loved the job and learned a lot about myself – and the reality of life. We take so much for granted and don’t realize what other people with mental illness deal with on a daily basis. When I left the job to move overseas, one of the clients wrote the quote I tattooed on my chest in my going away card. That tatt reminds me whenever I’m down that other people are dealing with much bigger things.

How connected to a design do you need to feel before getting it tattooed on your body?

All the tattoos on my body represent family, friends and the story of my life. All design aspects are so important to make the story paint a clear picture of who I am. Usually something significant happens in my life, and then I see an image or motif that describes that moment, and then I get it tattooed that very day if possible.

What’s the next tattoo you’re planning?

I just travelled back to Sydney after not being back in ten years. I saw my friend had his own design of a cockatoo tattooed on his arm. He said he would draw one up for me, so I guess that one is on the cards for me. But you never know, something might happen tomorrow to take me on a different path and that would take precedence.

mateusz lillpop tattoos ink story garance dore photos
mateusz lillpop tattoos ink story garance dore photos

Usually something significant happens in my life, and then I see an image or motif that describes that moment, and then I get it tattooed that very day if possible.


Add yours
  • I’ve loved reading the stories behind the tattoos. Tattoos connect mind and body in a ver special way for each person. I have two little ones, and they remind me of so many things…
    Great great post!

  • wow, awesome! Very beautiful, but I never had the courage to make a tattoo!
    Passa a trovarmi VeryFP

  • Gorgeous pictures as always!

  • Great pictures great stories..i love the tattoo on other but i too afraid to get tired of a tattoo and be with that forever,,,
    the most amazing tattoo i have ever seen are at the Marquise island..where a tattoo is like an identity cart it tells the story of who you are and where are you coming from….
    Yael Guetta

  • Coucou,
    C’est vrai qu’aujourd’hui, se faire tatouer est devenu un acte assez répandu. Ça n’en reste pas moins une démarche que je qualifierais d’ intime. J’ai fait mon premier à 26 ans du lierre sur la cheville droite. Puis les deux autres 14 ans plus tard : un que j’ai dessiné qui représente des lignes entremêlées avec des feuilles sur le bras droit et enfin une pivoine sur l’avant bras gauche. Ils n’ont pas de signification particulière mais sont tous des éléments de la nature.
    Je crois que le tatouage, c’est un peu une manière soft de ne pas complètement rentrer dans le rang. Refuser une norme ou des codes sociaux auxquels on doit se conformer tous les jours ( et dans mon métier d’institutrice, je trouve amusant les regards surpris des parents. Les enfants ont un rapport beaucoup plus simple et n’hésitent pas à poser des questions simplement).
    Et j’adore l’idée que je serai un jour une vieille dame avec des tatouages.
    Bises à toute l’équipe,

  • Je trouve que les tatouages peuvent être mignons, quelques fois, sur les autres…
    Le besoin d’inscrire ses souvenirs sur la peau, pourquoi pas?
    Mes intérêts changent au fur et à mesure que la vie avance, alors j’ai peur que ce qui me semble important aujourd’hui soit insignifiant demain. Mais avant tout, c’est une liberté dont il ne faut pas se priver si on en a envie!
    F de

  • Très beau sujet… très intéressant d’avoir fait parler les gens sur cela…Inscrire dans sa chair est un acte sacré qui a quelque chose de définitif et de très personnel, d’intime. Effectivement, les significations de l’art du tatouage plongent leurs racines profondément dans l’Histoire de l’humanité – avec un grand H ! Apanage des fuyards, des bagnards, des marginaux en tout genre, des prisonniers, oeuvre d’art, signification rituelle tant de cultures différentes…Ce que chaque modèle interviewé a révélé c’est un peu de lui-même. Ils ont fait un vrai cadeau en parlant, en acceptant d’avoir été photographiés, interrogés. Les réponses sont édifiantes… Comment, pourquoi, quand….Au fonds, on en revient toujours un peu à la même chose : comment s’approprier ce corps avec lequel on doit vivre, parfois encombrant, cohabiter avec lui, réconcilier le corps et l’esprit… Je crois que je suis un peu comme Garance, le tatouage me fascine et m’interpelle – l’homme est le seul animal qui se fait tatouer – mais je ne peux me résoudre à en porter un. Encore une fois, très beau sujet de société… Massive hug and smille from Marseille to Garance and Studio… no snow but cold and rain here ;-)

  • Je n’ai pas de tatouages mais moi aussi je suis fascinée par ceux qui en ont, leur signification etc..
    Si j’en faisais un, ce serait quelque chose de très discret, un mot, une phrase ou un truc poétique!


  • I have two tattoos, both with a story…
    XOX, Gap.

  • I have tatoos. They are personal and have deep meaning. I definitely don’t think that they are for everyone. If they are just for beauty, you could definitely find yourself feeling deep regret… but that is life :) These images on the other hand are beautiful and there is no regret there. The tats are equally beautiful.

  • I can relate to the annoying “what does your tattoo mean?”-girl! But I like tattoos way more if I know their meaning!!

    My mom has a beautiful designed Ankh, which has many meanings, but personal ones for her.

    Beautiful photography by the way, the pictures really tell stories!

  • Génial, et très belles photos, je me suis envolée de mon bureau pendant quelques minutes, ça crée une atmosphère incroyable !

  • bavarian_blue February, 4 2015, 10:04 / Reply

    here are really beautiful tattoos shown and interesting insights about these brave people. I never thought about a tattoo. I think we get over time a lot of natural marks of our life-experience like scars, wrinkles and moles. What I would wear at once is a traditional henna painting.

  • I used to think just like you and want to be special without having one, however that all changed when I moved to LA!
    Here there are so many great artists too so I couldn’t resist getting some after about two years.
    I am now happy and proud to have my art with me everywhere.

    Great article!

  • A beautifully illustrated post, both photographically and by the tattoo artists themselves. I have a very small tattoo located above my left breast. That location gives me a choice about revealing and/or concealing. The tattoo is a Chinese character that means rebel. I got the tattoo to commemorate my 50th birthday and to signify my control over my body even in the face of it changing. I really enjoyed the narratives in this post.

    Accidental Icon

  • Sunny Side February, 4 2015, 10:15 / Reply

    Je sens les tatouages comme quelque chose de très tribal ! il n’y a plus de rites d’initiation et ceux qui le font ont l’air d’être en quête de ces rites qu’ils gravent dans leur peau. Je me souviens d’un film japonais incroyable où la femme est initiée à l’amour pendant son tatouage avec l’assistant du tatoueur.Tu devrais le voir. C’est un film qui a vingt ans ou plus.

  • Tattoos…they are the topic of contemplation in my household at the moment because my 17 year-old son wants some. I am not against tattoos…but I think he has to be at a point of his life where he has a better idea of what he wants to do or what his priorities are before he gets them. I also suggested he get them somewhere it can be covered when he is in a business or formal setting.

    I know I sound like the conservative MOM…but I actually have a tattoo…..

  • I absolutely loved this post Garance. All the pictures are so beautiful and delicate. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ahhh I’m the person who asks about people’s tattoos as well! I used to work as a sales associate at a slightly higher end brand, and one of our jobs was to talk to people beyond just asking the what they’re looking for, and if someone came in with visible tattoos, I always asked.

    I’m not a big fan of tattooing my own body in such intricate ways as above mostly because I’m afraid of how easily I change my mind and the patience/tolerance of pain it would require. I did get a small tattoo of an infinity symbol done on my wrist recently in Seoul, Korea because of what the infinity symbol has meant to me over the years, and that was about my limit.

    I think tattoos are beautiful when they have meaning and a story.

  • I am definitely not a tattoo person — at least not for me. I can appreciate them on others and I do appreciate the art of them. They’re very fascinating, and so are the meanings behind them

  • Stéphanie February, 4 2015, 10:44 / Reply

    J’en ai trois. Un qui n’a pas vraiment de signification autre que j’aime bien les coccinelles : ce sont des bestioles jolies et sympathiques! Le deuxième est inspiré des dieux égyptiens tels que représentés dans la trilogie Nikopol d’Enki Bilal, et le dernier se rapproche de ce que vous avez appelé les micro-tatouages : le gamma des transformations d’Einstein-Lorentz, issu de la théorie de la relativité restreinte. Les prochains à venir : un chat de Schrödinger et mon jonc d’ingénieur.

  • this was an absolutely gorgeous post.

    i both love and have tattoos – and what i adore about them, is that they make me feel more like myself. and, though i may share traits, characteristics, and lineage – they are wholly mine. they’re bits of autonomy inked in my skin – disclosures of affection, and remembrance. //

  • I had been planning on getting a tattoo for a long time. I am an architect and was a perfectionist too, so I spent DAYS designing my own tattoo. It is a small piece and the moment I got it, I understood something that really changed me:

    *my body is not supposed to be a temple of perfection, it’s supposed to be fun and give me joy!*

    Since then, I am not such a perfectionist anymore, I really think that people who get tattoos are great because they don’t take their own bodies too seriously and do not obsess about perfection. Instead, they opt for art, expression, joy, fun, beauty, meaning :) I LOVE tattoos and will surely get a next one.

  • I’m also ink free and don’t think I will ever get one. But it’s so nice to see it on people when it is done amazingly. Of the people you introduce us to in this piece, Elle and MATEUSZ visual presentation is so artful and tasteful. Their tattoo blend into their bodies, adding something intangible and not taking away or distracting. It’s very elegant! It’s funny to say that about tattoos but I think in this case is true. There’s a great taste level and restraint that makes it so in my eyes at least.

  • I’d stay away from tattoo as well., besides the nice stories told in this article I believe the majority of the people doesn’t have a clou of what they are getting on their skin, just following a trend that so far is going on and on. It strike me as a lack of personality.

  • I also love most the tattoos that accentuate the symmetry of body. I think they’re most beautiful and transform your body into a godess :) i much prefer them over tiny little ones scattered around :)

  • Dare I say this is my favorite story on your blog ever. What beautiful portraits.I have been getting tattoos for several years now, I have about 10 and plans for more, some big, some small. Tattoos are not for everyone. I don’t think it is a trend, in that adornment is part of human history and tattoos have been around for millennia and I suspect always will. What I love about tattooed people is that they generally don’t judge those without tattoos. Though that is not always the case the other way around. Minka has been a tattoo inspiration of mine it is great to see such beautiful portraits of her work. This is a lovely story. Thank you so much.

  • Took a yoga class today and there was a woman with fully tattooed arms. I never really pay attention to tattoos’ significance; I rarely register what they are supposed to be pictures of or supposed to say or depict. I think they distract from the real person when they are so prominent. All I saw were her blackened arms! Tattoos are definitely not my thing. Never! But very typical of the Garance approach, this almost childlike interest in absolutely everything, especially that which is different. Sometimes I wish I were less critical!

  • Leah Wilson February, 4 2015, 11:26 / Reply

    Ahhhh, I love this post. These people are all super cool and have great tattoos.

    I have seven on my arms, want to get more. I work in the music industry so I can get away with it, but I still get pigeonholed by them, judged by them, and yes I also, like some of the people you interviewed, cover them up during the day just to avoid stares and questions.

    But I would never change them for the world. They are me, they are reminders of who I am, what I’ve endured, and who I turned out to be. How do you explain that to someone? It takes a lifetime, not a couple of seconds.


  • mon grand père était tatoue : il a été déporté 9 mois à birkenau . je déteste tous les tatouages.
    çà me rappelle les tristes heures de l’histoire.

  • Although I´ve loved reading this stories…I´ve always found tatoos quite shabby and common, not my thing…It is a very personal option, which I really understand and respect but I do not love at all. For me the nudity of the skin is so beautiful that adding some ink (no matter how beautiful is the drawing) just spoils the beauty of it.

  • It seems like so many people have tattoos nowadays that it’s almost more of a “special” thing if you don’t have one. I think they are beautiful though, especially the more meaningful they are to the person who’s wearing it.

  • Garance, I really really enjoyed reading this! I LOVE the direction you’ve taken with this platform; fashion is not only about clothes but about one’s lifestyle. I LOVE IT!
    I have a few tattoos myself, the first time, my parents FREAKED OUT, granted I was 25 when I got my first one. I am soo scared of needles so I think about each tattoo for at least 2 years before I gather the courage to get it. My tattoos are great reminders of certain stages in my life, they all mean something to me and they are all great reminders. They are mostly words and they’re definitely not big at all, I can hide them off easily or show them off.

  • Thank you for taking this up – I am also one of those who like subtle and tasteful tattoos on other people, but I would never get one myself. When it comes to tattoos I think less is more, many people completely overdo it and the outcome is seldom attractive. I don´t understand the need to tattoo a statement on your body. Why not buy a statement T-shirt, “recycle or die” or whatever you want to convey to the world – and wear it for some time and then replace it with the next statement you feel an urge to carry around? I go to the swimming pool every day and see a lot of tattoos on people – believe me, as the person ages so do the tattoos and then they don´t look so cool anymore.

  • I loved this post, I got three tattoos already and I can’t wait to get more x

  • Les photos sont superbes. Peut-être qu’un jour je ferai des photos au Studio avec mon corps que j’aime et un peu tatoué. C’est très intime un tatoo par sa signification et son emplacement et en même temps on reste un peu en marge. J’aime beaucoup lire ce post parce que je m’y retrouve! Merci! A quand les piercings des oreilles? Il y a une personne formidable chez Love Adorned : Colby a une notion d’esthétique de l’oreille et du visage en général incroyable et surtout des yeux bleus inoubliables! Un rituel à chaque passage sur NYC.

  • J’adore les tatouages à fleurs et son débardeur!

  • Quel merveilleux article et les photos sont vraiment Top !!!

  • Liahliah February, 4 2015, 1:14 / Reply

    Beaux portraits! Il y’a un site intéressant sur l’univers du tatouage chez thetattoorialist.

  • I would never get a tattoo and I find all but the tiniest single tattoos desecrating. I actually feel a stab of sadness and regret for the wearer each time I see a perfect young body covered in tattoos. Add to that the fact that most tattoos have something just very slightly “off” about them in real life.
    I don’t really think they’re trendy either…..they’ve been around since I was born and that was, uhm, quite a while ago ;).

  • Wow. This post was incredible. Tattoos are trendy right now, but this proved that there is so so so much more to them. This quote, “It’s really hard to describe it to someone else because tattoos are about the moment. It’s relevant to the things and feelings happening in your life at that time. After that, they are a eternal reminder of that time. Bad or good, something you don’t want to forget.” rang so true for me. I have a few tattoos, one of them says “Afterlife” which had so so so much meaning for me at the time. Now that meaning is less present in my day to day, but the tattoo is a truly great reminder of that point in my life, and I love it.

  • Love this post and these photos! Minka’s tattoos are especially striking. An artist/journalist named Wendy MacNaughton recently published a lovely book on tattoos and the stories behind them. It sprang from a simple blog project called “Pen & Ink”–definitely worth perusing:

  • Love this post! I am really into seeing what other people’s tattoos are and the reasons behind them.

  • Super article ! Les photos sont magnifiques !!
    J’aimerai vraiment avoir un tatouage mais je bloque sur le tatoueur et aussi sur l’encre… J’ai pas envie qu’on mette n’importe quoi sous la peau !

  • I have always admired tattoos — but as you say, Garance, on other people. There would have to be some major event or upheaval in my life that would prompt me to get one at this point.

    That said, I think they can be very meaningful. My younger son got a tattoo after returning to the U.S. from Morocco, where worked with teens as a Peace Corps volunteer. He fell in love with the country and it’s people. He now has the symbol of the Berber people tattooed on his right forearm. It is beautiful and it reminds me of how special his time there was and how willing he was to share the experience with us. (And, oh yes, I did get some beautiful henna tattoos while there from a friend of his landlady.)

    He was so funny about showing it to me…. even though he’s a grown man, he was worried about what I would think!

    Thanks for this post today — it reminds me of a sunnier place and is a respite from the sea of snow surrounding my house right now.

  • Magnifique vraiment ! C’est le genre d’articles qu’il faut continuer à faire. Les photos sont très belles, les interviews intéressantes. Je suis scotchée par la beauté de leur tatouages. Pour le coup, on voit qu’ils (surtout Minka, Mateusz, et Elle) se sont fait tatouer par de très bons tatoueurs. Au delà de l’aspect intime de leurs tatouages, je trouve que ça sublime complètement leur corps. Whaou !

  • Kristina February, 4 2015, 3:34 / Reply

    Now I want one! :)

  • My very first tattoo was inspired by a Garance Dore drawing…still one of my very favorites

  • Ana @Champagnegirlsabouttown February, 4 2015, 3:48 / Reply

    I love tattoos and the fact that they often tell a story. Mine is Daedalus and I got it during my big adventure with aviation. I was also at the end of a certain chapter in life and Daedalus for me signified achieving one’s goal. Years on I still love it.

  • Excellente idée cette article !!!!!

  • Alexandra February, 4 2015, 5:00 / Reply

    GARANCE!! I LOVE THIS POST! Minka did an amazing tattoo on me last winter and I am so into her art and style. I am so happy you featured her! I have many tattoos and, like your models expressed, they all are deeply significant and represent a meaningful time in my life. You rock and roll!

  • I’m one who likes them on other people, somewhat. There are beautiful tatoos and there are prison blue tatoos and sometimes you cant tell what is what. I think the neck should be off limits but it appears to be fair game for tatoos now.

  • apart from matters of taste/beauty/style/fashion/personal expression/whatever, skin is a living organ. it just can’t be healthy to infuse it with ink.

  • super nouvelle formule d’articles !! J’adore le principe.
    C’est la citation de Elle qui me fera répondre à la question posée :
    “un tatouage, c’est quelque chose qui a du sens à un moment donné, en fonction de ce que l’on vit, ou de ce que l’on ressent à tel ou tel moment de sa vie. Ensuite, ça devient un souvenir de ce moment-là.” => c’est exactement pour ça que je n’en veux pas, pour ne pas porter des valises qu’on ne peut pas enlever, pour rester libre du présent et du futur en faisant en sorte que le passé pèse le moins possible ! Je souhaite que l’avenir soit ouvert et sans obstacle, je souhaite pouvoir faire table rase du passé si je veux, je souhaite être légère. Pour moi les tatouages ou souvenirs indélébiles embarqués sont exactement le contraire.

  • I love tattoos, but I’m not brave enough to get one myself. These beautiful photos are making me feel tempted though.

  • Tattoos are fine as long as they are not in my line of sight :-).

    But the interviews are fascinating; I never knew the subject of tattoos could be so deep. So the Irish in me started making up some jokes: maybe one day a tattoo will cure cancer. Or: maybe one day a tattoo will solve world hunger. Or: a tattoo will invent a weight loss pill where you can eat whatever you want and stay at your ideal weight. Etc. etc. I know they’re all super corny, but I thought this discussion needed a little levity!

  • Hi! Like you, I had loved tattoos on others for a long time.. before I got my own. Like many others, I figured there was enough tattoo-ed cool kids in NYC already but my perspective radically shifted the first time I got one (a pretty small one too!) Circumstances lead me to getting tattooed by my oldest friend rather than a total stranger which made it significantly easier (but I was still anxious as hell) and also what really lead to me to take the plunge.

    I think when you don’t have tattoos, you perceive them mostly as ambiguous visual adornments, which is ultimately what they are to you, because it’s not your history.. When you do get them, it becomes a totally different visual. I see my tattoos as my own history personified and like others said, distilled moments of my life, much like scars, wrinkles, and imperfect skin. I perceive them as an opportunity to write my own history and as reflections of ideas, and beliefs.

  • I think, Elle is adorable. She is so beautiful, and her tattoos are beautiful as well. But all stories and pictures are great. I like tattoos in every different way.

    Greetz, Steffi

  • Bernadette February, 5 2015, 3:34 / Reply

    Whoauuuu! Wonderful post! I don’t have any tattoos, but I’m intrigued by them… Or should I say “inktrigued”…

  • Interesting stories. Always good to know why people do what they do..

  • Beautiful, inspiring and moving

  • This is such an emotional post, I love how the photos and the stories come together to talk about the experiences of these tattoos. It’s an amazing relationship. I also love how thought out it all is.
    I never wanted one, when I was in high school and college getting a tattoo of a Chinese symbol was very trendy but half of them didn’t mean what people thought they did so it was almost silly.
    I don’t think a tattoo would suit me, just doesn’t seem to fit. But I do think their are artistc and I am not bothered by them unless it’s some gang or violent reference, then it’s more fear to me then art.
    Beautiful photos.

  • Great article, and beautiful pictures! As an artist, I’ve had a long time fascination with tattoos. I’m a figurative oil painter and did a series of tattooed portraits called “Altered”(you can see it on my website I finally took the tattoo plunge myself at 38 and love it! Now 46, I have 6 tattoos and am planning more. It’s a wonderful form of self-expression. Mine speak to me of life’s moments, love, and remind me who I want to be.
    -Marie Vlasic

  • Ohh these people are so beautiful with (obviously also without) their tattoos. And I can really connect to their stories, a tattoo is a piece of your life, really…

    I got my first (and so far only) back in November just after my birthday. I have wanted one for a long time but I did not know what and where. But after a year full of events and changes I suddenly realized what I wanted, something that reminds me of my heritage and that change is good and I should not be afraid of it. So I got letter H of the old Hungarian alphabet that stands for the moon and symbolizes change. It looks like two x on top of each other (xx)

    Since it’s on my side just next to my breast I decide who sees it and can hide easily because it fits right under my bra. It was also important to me, to be able to hide it easily as I plan to be a flight attendant in the future and they are pretty strict on visible tattoos.

  • Super article et les photos sont vraiment magnifiques !
    je suis tatouée également, deux petits tatouages en souvenir de deux personnes disparues.
    Ces tatouages m’ont permis de faire une partie de mon deuil en acceptant leur départ mais en gardant un souvenir d’eux graver à jamais dans ma peau.
    Ils sont placés à un endroit discret et je ne m’étends pas trop sur leur signification quand on me le demande mais je suis très fière de les porter !

  • After wanting a tattoo since my teenage years, I finally had a life event that prompted me to finally take the plunge – the birth of my children…my twins. On my 34th birthday, I had their birthdate tattooed in roman numerals on my forearm. Since then, I have had one more done, more representative of myself + my life’s journey (it’s in French). I’m actually wanting to build a 3/4 sleeve…I love the Japanese style sleeve featured above! Gorgeous. Tattoos are certainly having a moment, but I would never consider them trendy. They’ve been around since the dawn of time and aren’t going anywhere.

  • Supers portraits… Evidemment il est plus facile aujourd’hui de se faire tatouer, la pratique est moins marginalisée. Cela ne veut pas dire qu’une fois tatoué on passe inaperçu ! J’ai quatre petits tatouages, relativement discrets. Je n’ai jamais eu de réactions négatives (même au travail), mais ils sont quand même fréquemment remarqués. Et justement, je dois gérer les questions sur les significations, qui me mettent toujours un peu mal à l’aise – je ne vais pas dire “non je n’ai pas envie de répondre” sèchement et en même temps, je ne vais pas raconter ma vie intime à tout un chacun… hum! Mais je suppose que c’est le prix à payer quand on se fait tatouer dans des zones visibles.
    Et puis… C’est peu face à la joie de les avoir. Ce n’est pas quelque chose qu’on dit souvent. Mais moi ça me rend heureuse de voir mes tatouages, ils font partie de moi, et ils sont beaux à mes yeux… Ca va paraître con mais je les embrasse. Tout simplement. Et parole d’une complexée névrotique, ça libère pas mal de s’embrasser de temps à autres! Merci mes tatouages!

  • Honestly, I’m more interested in Mateusz’s scar! Having large scars on my body that I’ve had to explain to many people many times over has perhaps been one of the biggest reasons why I’ve never gotten a tattoo.

  • Hello Garance !

    J’ai beaucoup aimé cet article, c’est toujours très intéressant d’avoir l’opinion d’autres personnes en plus de la tienne.
    Tout ceci me fait sourire, je suis moi-même tatouée huit fois et mon prochain est prévu pour la fin du mois. Les tatouages sont, à la base, fait pour nous démarquer, exprimer notre personnalité, la symboliser. Et puis, en lisant tes premières lignes, je me rends compte que tu fais sûrement partie des personnes qui se démarqueront le plus ces vingt prochaines années :)

  • I love this piece. Beautiful pictures, interesting stories. Thank you for sharing!

  • Hello,

    Joli article !

    Tu devrais suivre le projet complètement canon du Tattoorialist (sur son site et un très chouette bouquin) qui devrait énormément te plaire :)

  • Frederic Claquin February, 9 2015, 12:50 / Reply

    Beau site mais tellement proche de The Tattoorialist … Dommage que ça ne se démarque pas plus ! #easywaymilkyway

  • Article complètement inspiré (pompé!?) de Tatoorialist avec une introduction même pas au minimum syndical… #oupsyoudiditagain

  • Dainty & Chic February, 11 2015, 10:08 / Reply

    I lovelooking at other people’s tatoos, I find hypnotizing. However, for a strange reason I don’t like them on myself. I am even getting one remove with laser.

  • Nini piccola February, 11 2015, 6:23 / Reply

    Never. I think all types of skin are beautiful and that they don’t need permanent ornamentation. Buy a painting, a piece of art or a T-shirt. If it’s really about telling a story use you mind, your words, your intellect.

  • I was immersed in the punk/hardcore/goth scene for decades and have seen my fair share of tattoo art. Not for one second did I want one myself. I think bare skin is far more beautiful…and a true work of art. But to each their own.

  • Alors perso j’aime bien les tatouages. Mais pas tous les genres hein, les trucs gores avec des machines et tout, c’est pas du tout mon truc. J’en ai 4, 2 qui sont des oeuvres de Kandinsky, une trace de crayon à lèvres et une tête de panda roux avec deux flèches. Cool quoi :)

  • I love looking at tattoos and reading the stories behind why people got them. Myself, I can never commit to getting one. It’s too permanent for me. I’m now just happy to wear beautiful gold metallic temporary tattoos like the ones we designed for Starlight & Seaweed.

  • On voit de moins en moins de personnes sans tattoo, alors effet de mode, de propagation? Oui, en partie surement, des salons de tatouage, on en trouve de plus en plus dans les villes moyennes, ici en France. Après, un tatoo c’est très graphique, ça peut être hyper esthétique mais c’est aussi définitif. Pour qu’il reste beau dans la durée, il faut qu’il ait un sens ou alors réalisé par un tatoueur très talentueux.

  • Great piece.

  • Super article ! et j’adore vos photos .

    Personnellement je suis a mon 4 ème tatouage et j’espère m’en faire un 5 ème avant la fin de l’été.


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