Tattoo stories: Convention-goers share the meaning behind the images

It was John Steinbeck who said, “We are lonesome animals. We spend all our life trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story.”

At the moment, one of our trendiest and most ancient ways of storytelling is the tattoo, which was celebrated over the weekend at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown Minneapolis, where the fifth annual Minneapolis Tattoo Convention held court and provided plenty of funny, sad and heartfelt behind-the-ink stories: 

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Dennis Lombardo, Wilkesbarre, Pa.: “I got this Budweiser tattoo on my shin, because me and my brothers have been drinking Budweiser since I don’t know how long, and we’ve been talking about getting Budweiser tattoos since we were about 15. I’m 26 now, my brother’s 24, and we just got them a month ago, so it was a big deal for both of us. We grew up in the mountains, in the woods, in northeast Pennsylvania. We hang out in the woods, light fires, and drink Budweiser.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jessica Rimmer, Seattle: “I have a photo-realistic portrait of Spock on my left thigh. It reminds me of my father, who was my sci-fi mentor, and we watched ‘Star Trek’ everyday at 5 o’clock after he got off work. He passed away this past year, so I got a Star Trek tattoo in honor of my father. Spock is my fashion, my style, my muse. I love Spock, I love how he acts, and I thank my father for introducing me to a character I can look up to in a weird way.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Johnny Nobody, Nowhere: “I have four kids, and my kids are always on my mind, so I got portraits of them on the top of my head.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Ariel Hanson, St. Paul: “My chest piece is the three faces of the moon, and it also represents the triple goddess. It’s a symbol that has a lot of meaning for me: the three phases of life; birth, adolescence, and the latter stages of your life and with death comes rebirth. For me, it’s definitely female empowerment over masculine empowerment, and I grew up in a very religious community and I was always fascinated by the Holy Trinity and years later when I read about the true form, which is the pagan form, I was amazed that I’d been drawn to the symbol without really knowing why. Then I did a photo shoot where I put gold crescent moons on my chest and I just had this instant moment of, ‘I have to have this here, I have to embody this.’ ”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jeff Monsour, St. Paul: “I have portraits of my grandmother and grandfather on my arms. My grandfather passed away 40 years ago, and my grandmother’s still here. She doesn’t really care for tattoos, but she liked it. Hers is kind of beat up because I got messed up in a car accident a while ago.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Taylor Mayers, St. Cloud: “I love my ‘Beetlejuice’ sleeve. I’ve watched that movie constantly since I was a kid and I just love Tim Burton’s style and Michael Keaton is hilarious. It pretty much explains that there is life after death.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Sam Bowers, York, Pa.: “On the side of my thigh, I have a piece of graffiti art that Banksy did. It represents my mother and how she raised me and how I was brought up and how she supported me in all my endeavors. It’s ‘The Anarchist’s Mother,’ with a punk rocker whose mother is telling him, ‘Don’t forget to eat your lunch and cause some trouble.’” 

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Amber Curtis, Detroit, Mich.: “It’s a portrait of my mom. Bob Tyrell did it a few years ago. She’s my best friend and I love her so much, and I’d rather do it now while she’s alive than later.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Johnny Tats, Bronx, N.Y.: “My parents are cremated, so I can’t go visit them at the cemetery, so I basically put the cemetery on myself. They visit me all the time.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Hayley Lorenzen, Grand Forks, N.D.: “My uncle was dying of cancer and when we found out he only had a couple weeks to live, I decided since he would have no hair I would have no hair and do a tattoo that celebrates his life, not his death. He was 34; I’ve had it since March of last year. It reminds me of him every time I look in the mirror, or when people ask me about it, and because it’s a bright tattoo it makes me think happy things.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Hannah Cowger, Austin, Texas: “My father died of leukemia recently, and this is the exact same and only tattoo that my father had. He woke up with it when he was in the Army when he was 18 in the ‘70s. I took a photograph of it and had (Alli Baker) do it.

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
 

Torey Strand, St. Francis: “It’s a self-portrait of me on a mountain bike. I’ve been mountain biking for 16 years now, so it’s a huge part of my life, and if something ever happens where I couldn’t do it anymore, I’d just die. So I got it to remind myself how good it feels and how good I look when I’m doing it.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply