I’m not exactly covered in tattoos, but I’ve accumulated a few small-scale pieces over the years- I like to think of them as tangible memories which point to certain happy times in my life and the women who lived them with me.
Like all respectable first tattoos, mine took place in a seedy tattoo parlour while on holiday with my childhood best friend. Being the daft, carefree 17-year-olds that we were, it won’t come as a surprise to know that neither of us had a clue what we wanted when we moseyed on in to the place and chose the first emblem on a poster that took our fancy; a peace sign for her and a very generic looking love heart for me. I let out a nervous giggle when mid-tattoo, so it’s probably not exactly like every other generic love heart tattoo since this one has a wee dent in its side! Despite this, I still love this tattoo, and it will forever serve as a token of those mischievous, hilarious formative years we spent growing up together.
My next tattoo came the following summer, but this time I wasn't getting my tattoo inspiration from some poster; oh no, this time I had a Pinterest board and everything. I decided on three little birds from my compelling digital catalogue of birds, stars, feathers, and flowers; now, I had to convince my mum. While visiting family in York, I spied a tattoo parlour opposite the beer garden I'd suggested we pop into (fancy that?!). When I pointed out said parlour to my mum, she wasn't having it. But, after a tipple or two, she mentioned how she had always fancied a nose piercing. I might have been daft enough a year earlier to get a dodgy love heart, but I could tell this was my in. Before we knew it, she had a shiny new nose ring and was holding my hand while I got my *first* tattoo (sorry mum). I probably wouldn't choose the exact same design today. Still, I don't regret it in the slightest because every time I catch sight of those three little birds, I'm reminded of the cheeky, spontaneous nature my mum and me share... and the disapproving look from my Grampa when we got home.
A few years later, the next equally impulsive and special tattoo came when my nearest and dearest friend surprised me by flying all the way over from Canada! I felt like I was dreaming the first few days she was here. More of our friendship has been long-distance than not, other than the time we shared living on the same street during our terrific yet tumultuous teens! Originally from Australia, she now lives in Canada, but we met in the Middle East, so it felt fitting to get a tiny compass tattooed for my long-distance best pal on her last day in Scotland!
My most recent tattoo is my favourite and was done in tandem with one of my nearest and dearest friends last year at Earl Grey Studios by the talented Harrison, an apprentice at the shop. We had the idea to get these tattoos back in 2018 (I know - I considered this one for longer than a hot second before having it branded on me for life; am I sensible now? Maybe). This tattoo signifies the reuniting of old pals entering a new chapter (and perhaps a sprinkling of co-dependency); after years of working together, she moved to Glasgow, and amid the post-graduating uncertainty and blues, we both worked various thankless temp jobs until summer 2018, when we both applied for the Visitor Assistant role at V&A Dundee. We couldn't believe our luck when we both got the job offer within hours of each other that August. The inspiration for the tattoos came from one of our favourite books stocked in the shop, ' Bruno Munari: Design as Art', which is full of enlightening, entertaining graphics. Our mutual appreciation for his ability to bring beauty and fun to the mundane, often overlooked object felt like the perfect way to commemorate this much-needed change in our lives. I'll forever be grateful she made me laugh through the tears during what felt like a hectic yet necessary point of early adulthood, and the tattoos we chose from the book felt fitting, as they mark a new era in our (healthy) co-dependency as friends and colleagues again in Scotland’s first ever design museum.
If you find yourself in Dundee, be sure to check out this brilliant wee parlour on Dock Street; Earl Grey Studio. This is not your typical tattoo studio; it also houses a beautifully curated shop front supporting over 20 local artists, so it's much more than a studio; it's a design-led community of like-minded people supporting each other's work, which gives it that extra pizazz.