Tattoos may not be a favorite among some, but this city is filled with the art of it. As I help patrons check out books or talk to my fellow co-workers, I see a rose on a shoulder or a pair of wings on a forearm. I know each one of those tells a story, whether good or bad; each one represents a time, a mood, a place, or a person; there are so many possibilities. I have three and I fall in love with them over and over again…and each of them has a story. Today I will share one with you.
It was 2013. I walked into a tattoo shop on Magazine Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. For the past three years I had gone down to New Orleans for a week with fellow volunteers to work on rebuilding houses broken and splintered by Hurricane Katrina. This year was the last time I would be in New Orleans in that capacity. I wanted a tribute to the Big Easy — “the city that care forgot” — to the city that stole a bit of my heart, while I was giving it my sweat and tears.
I had a picture in mind of what I wanted, but the tattoo artist, Neal Aultman, took one look and he said, “Nope.” I was devastated, but he reassured me that he was going to take a moment to see if he could clean it up…and what he did was magic. It took forty five minutes for that beautiful piece of art to transform my skin. For me it symbolizes death and renewal, up close you see flowers blooming, but if you step a bit away you see the shape of a skull. Death is something New Orleans is all too familiar with, but it renews itself in wonderful ways, with a vibrancy that can never be taken away. This is one girl that will always care about New Orleans, what happened there and the steps I took to be a part of its rebirth.
Here are just a few books in our collection should you need some inkspiration:
Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo by Margot Mifflin. Travel the fascinating history of tattooed ladies as performers, artists, and rebels. This book was unique and empowering!
Pen & Ink: Tattoos & the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald. Simple and lovely in its execution; from the stories to the illustrations, a book sure to rest on my coffee table.
Forever: The New Tattoo. Highlights the tattoo artists of today, those making a name for themselves. Wicked cool photography and epic designs.