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  • Matt Graves

What Goes Into A Tattoo?



You were born, as all are, naked and pure. Markless, and pristine. But somewhere along the way you discovered that you could draw. If you were like me, your drawings went from paper onto your own skin. I can remember days spent in class drawing snakes and symbols up my arm to stave off boredom while fighting to stay awake in Western Civilization.


Don’t get me wrong, I was never good at it. But it felt great to have a new decoration on my arm to show off; it expressed how I was feeling in the moment.


And then we all grow up. We pass that age of needing our parents permission and we schedule our first tattoo session. Some, try it… get one small thing and decide it isn’t for them. They cover it up and are glad they tried it but wouldn’t do it again.


And then there are those of us who were invigorated by the experience. Sure, it felt like a cat repeatedly scratching at our flesh but what came from it was magnificent. Every day I look down and admire my aging tatoos. Not because of what they meant when I got them, but what they mean now as I’ve aged. In the last 15 years things have happened and life has become a whole lot more real than it was back with my first tattoo.


But this brought on a question to me. What goes into a tattoo? Why did you decide to go in and get your ink? And more importantly, why do we keep going back?

Unfortunately in our culture, women with tattoos are somewhat looked down upon. Like getting that ink means you’re any less of a person? I hope you disagree with that statement. I hope it makes you pissed off.


When I started down the road of Boudoir, I wanted to pick a niche that made me the most money and had an endless supply of clients. [see: bright lingerie based boudoir]. There was only one problem, I wasn’t drawn to it. I was good at it, but it didn’t move me or my clients in a way I wanted.


Picking up my camera with my first Suicide Girl was like adrenaline to the heart. I was instantly a livewire, the world grew brighter and there was purpose behind my photography. It was in that moment I understood what goes into a tattoo. Regardless of if it’s a Disney character like Cinderella or an abstract symbol it’s an expression of self on a much deeper level. It’s being able to choose how to decorate your body.


I would love to hear your story about your tattoos. And if you are in the Tampa area, even more, I’d love to document your artwork.

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