This tattoo belongs to Jakk Mulligan.
The quote is the opening line from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I originally read The Fountainhead by chance when I met a nice young fellow on a cross country train trip. He had just finished the book, and I was looking for a good read. I absolutely fell in love with Howard Roark (the main character) and Ayn Rand, the author. I eventually got around to reading Atlas Shrugged and realized that it was something that contained ideas and moral values I could live with, even if not in their entirety.
"Who is John Galt?" is stated many times throughout the book, and ultimately became something of a comfort phrase and reminder to me.
This is Barbara's.
I couldn't be happier with it. The gears and chain were also inspired by the book. The lotus is for myself, and the dove is for my grandmother-- the greatest woman I've ever never known. I doubt if I will ever encounter someone who will know the answer to this question. But I know and now I carry it everywhere and that is enough for me.
This one belongs to Justin Schmitz.
I read Atlas Shrugged the summer after I graduated from college. I had just signed my enlistment contract for the US Army, and had 6 months to kill before I left for basic training. I picked the novel up on a whim one day, and immediately fell into it. Rand's Objectivist philosophy struck a keep chord with me, and upon completion of the book, I felt light and free. My outlook was altered. I adapted my own imperfect Taoist lifestyle to include Ayn Rand's principles of objectivism, and felt more whole than I had in a long time.
"Who is John Galt?" stuck with me ever since. To me, it represents the dual feeling of helplessness in the face of something beyond one's control and hope for the future despite that. Life gets difficult, we shrug and say "Who is John Galt?," and vow to work harder to achieve.
Matthew Drake has an answer:
Atlas Shrugged has been my favorite book for years, and I've always agreed with Rand's philosophy. The tattoo pays homage to the book that sparked my quest for intellect, and serves as motivation for me to never give up my ambition. It also (unintentionally) serves as a quip: "Who is John Galt?" "I am John Galt." If only people that haven't read the book would stop asking me if my name was John!