Club Tropicana

11 Tattoos and Why You've Got 'Em

26 August 17 words: LeftLion

We asked your lot to tell us about your inky endeavours, from the great to the gutterous, and here are the results...

Pigs on Board

This is a line from Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere. There's a group of us from Long Eaton and we call ourselves the ‘pigs on board.’ Don't really remember why. We had stickers and a flag that we took to Kavos with us and, while we were there, we decided to get a tattoo. Thirty euros. Everyone else had it on their leg so no one would see. I said ‘Watch this’ and had it on my wrist.” – David Winsbury

Bird

I got this because I thought it would be cool. A flying bird would symbolise 'freedom', because I just got out of a two-year relationship. It gets worse. My friend at the time had a tattoo gun but had only tattooed bananas and pig skin. Being a teenage me, I got him to come over to my house when my parents were out, draw it on with a purple felt tip and create this dodgy fella. I still love it because it reminds me of where I was at that time in my life, but you have to admit, it's pretty awful.” – Dani Bacon

Bum

One night, when I was about sixteen, we'd been on the lash and gone back to my mate's house to continue drinking. I finally passed out in a pile of pizza boxes at around 6am, and woke the next afternoon dazed, confused and dreadfully hungover, with my trousers around my ankles. It wasn't until two days later, after finally making it home and into the shower, that I found hot water to be slightly warmer in that particular area. I looked in the mirror and, ‘boo’ indeed, there it was. To this day, I'm not sure who did it. Ten years later, I've had time to make peace with the face on my arse, and the other half smiles when I get up to piss in the night. Oh, to be young again!” – Max Jeffries

Origami Fishing Boats

“At the 2015 Melodica acoustic festival in Reykjavik, everyone was given fake tattoos of the origami fishing boat festival logo. All the musicians that played had a bet to see who’d get a real version done first. 24 hours and one plane ride later, I won the bet.” - Rob Maddison from Spaceships are Cool and Revenge of Calculon

Traditional Bamboo Tattoo

“I got this during a rainy week on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand, and it took twenty painful hours. The process of bamboo tattooing is longer and more painful than a gun-style tattoo, but with the amazing Thai artist Ai, Fat Freddy’s Drop blasting, and pizza on tap from across the way, the whole experience was made a little more bearable.” – Christina Catherall

Mandala Design

“When we went to the temples in Chiang Mai, the monks spent hours creating huge mandala designs on the ground using sand. When they were complete, they’d wipe them away and start another. The monks had boards up saying that this process represented life as being full of hard work that ends in beauty, and that’s easily taken away or destroyed. Instead of being sad that something ends, it’s better to live life in the short-term beauty and start again on a new venture. That’s why I got this tattoo.” – Bethany Warner

Magpies

“I wrote magpies into my first book as a symbol of change, connected to the first person to ever believe in me and make me feel safe. After the most important interview of my life, I saw one solitary magpie and felt like it was a sign. I got the job, and it led me to meet great people, and become a poet. Since then, every time I've done something important and it’s gone well, I’ve seen a solitary magpie. Likewise, if it goes bad, I notice I haven't seen one. When I left that job, my colleagues bought me this tattoo at Danny’s Tattoo Studio. Now, I always carry a magpie with me as a reminder of the things I've achieved.” – Hayley Green

Sky is the Limit

“This tattoo was done on a girls’ holiday in Bulgaria. Hence why it's so shit. Before I went, I knew I wanted a tattoo but didn't know what to get. Anyway, we were on a night out, got absolutely blindo, and decided to go on a bungee jump. Bearing in mind I'm terrified of heights, it didn't go well. To cut a long story short, I came off it green and went straight back to the hotel half dead. The next day I got ‘the sky is the limit' as it really was my limit. Now every time I look down at my foot I'm reminded of that bungee jump and to never be so stupid again.” – Sharlie Murphy

Mermaid

“Mermaids are supposedly a mythical goddess: half woman and half sea creature, as well as being conventionally quite beautiful and mysterious. It was between her or a fifties pin-up girl, but Wikipedia used the words ‘elusive’ and ‘powerful’ about mermaids, which sold it for me. I'm all about the empowerment of women celebrating women, instead of competing. These days, there’s more than enough opportunities to be vetted against others, depending on if you've mastered the art of contouring or not. It was a bit of an ‘embrace that inner goddess’ statement, because everyone’s got one. Fishtail or not, she’s her own type of gorgeous.” – Kimberley Dennis

TV Workshop logo

“This is one of the best hungover decisions I’ve ever made. My mates and I had been talking about getting this tattoo – The Television Workshop logo – for ages, but in the end, only me and one other girl were brave enough to get it done. I trained at The Television Workshop for nine years, and this tattoo is a celebration of that and the family I’ve made there. It’s the only visible tattoo I have, and I get asked about what it’s for all the time, which is fine, cos I bloody love talking about Workshop.” – Molly Deakin

Lioness

At 25, I'd had enough of dressing in fear, of feeling uncomfortable in my skin, of feeling like my legs were too big, or my skin wasn't clear enough, or my hair was too wild. I stopped hiding. I walked down the road in whatever I wanted to wear. I danced how I wanted to dance and continued to be a poet, an academic, and a writer. I wanted to break the idea that you can either be sexy or clever: Kim K or Theresa May. In Cape Town, where I celebrated my first gay pride as an out, pansexual woman, I got this tattoo: my own coat of arms with a lioness in the middle, ‘Mouthy’ in Arabic (one of the many languages of my Egyptian-born Nonna) at the bottom, and splashes of the pride colours bleeding out. It’s a reminder that I am building my own, fresh narrative of what a woman can be. And that my massive legs are fantastic, and I should feel no shame in getting them out whenever I want to.” – Debris Stevenson

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