Except for what peeks out from my upper arms when I’m wearing short sleeves, most of my inked real-estate lies beneath my shirt. My first tattoo was an eagle on my upper right arm. Around four years later I got a dragon that covered the left side of my chest and upper arm. Some time after that I added a tiger on the other side. The scene under the tiger resembles a rocky mountain with trees and a waterfall. It looks as though the tiger could have traveled from out of the landscape below it. Looking at my chest head on, it looks like the dragon and tiger could be joined in a conflict. I suppose there are all sorts of interesting psychological implications one could draw, but frankly I just think it all looks cool.
Now, on to the tattoo represented in the photo above. This is the first tattoo I’ve gotten that is easily seen without my having to remove my shirt. The reactions of everyone except my family or close friends when they heard about or saw my previous tattoos were universally the same: “You don’t seem like the sort of person who would have tattoos.” Really, it has been funny how little that response has varied. Apparently my persona is very straight laced and the tattoos just don’t fit the impression people form when they meet me. The tattoo you see in the photo is on the inside of my right arm. I put it there because the inside of my arm isn’t as hairy as the outside, so it’s a better canvas. But probably the biggest reason I had it inked there is so people will see it and make comments. I want it to provoke a conversation. I gave my life to Christ in my teens, but later on, as an adult, I allowed my relationship with Jesus Christ to lose its high priority in my life. When I rededicated my life to the Lord I began looking for ways to share that. This tattoo is both a symbol of my love for God and a witnessing tool. It is both an outward manifestation of my belief and a way to start conversations. The symbol of the cross represents Christ’s ultimate sacrifice to atone for our sins, so that we may have everlasting life. The sword represents the reverence I have for the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
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© Joel Tipple
7 thoughts on “Meaning in Ink”
That’s always been a reason I’ve contemplated getting a cross tatoo. I want to be branded as a Christian.
I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how many people have made comments. I’ve had to learn how to be ready for that, because I’m naturally an introvert. It also takes some thought to find the right design and placement for you. Something people don’t always consider is how the tattoo will age. If you’re young you want to think about what it will look like 20+ years down the road.
Sad to say, I fall into that majority that would never have placed you in the category of individuals seeking tattoos. Shame on me for making an instant judgment. That’s wrong and I know better. I read your blogs with pleasure and always learn and am delighted with the different directions I’ve been able to reach out and explore on my own. My first adventure into the world of tattoo artist occurred in Greensboro, NC when a well known artist asked me to ghost write his autobiography. I learned far more about the industry than I ever wanted to know. Once I learned the artist was also a member of the Hell’s Angels, that was enough for me to bow out of my contract and suggested he would be happier with someone else writing for him.
I’ve certainly enjoyed the reactions, too. Definitely not something that has bothered me. Your note reminded me of something. My first three tattoos were from the same artist, a friend I had worked with who went on to have his own successful tattoo shop. He said several times that he never thought he would find himself giving me a tattoo. The cross was done by a woman who had experience with Celtic designs.