Sink or Swim

Literary Tattoos:

This is Jessica’s tattoo.

All my life I have delt with anxiety. At age 10 I was diagnoised with OCD. Growing up I was afraid to go into stores, make business calls or do anything that was related to speaking to strangers. My mother would say to me “sink or swim, Jessica” Her words inspired me to overcome my fears and do what I had to do. Thank God for my mother reminding me to swim.


Literary Tattoos: Charles Bukowski

This is Dan’s tattoo.

My tattoo is from an interview with Charles Bukowski in Life Magazine.

“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

The font is Papyrus. This tattoo was done by Ray Jimenez at Bad Apple Tattoo in Las Vegas, every time I’ve gone to that shop the work has been phenomenal.

Note:  The source of this quotation is Life Magazine December 1988. You can read the article text here.

Maya Angelou

Literary Tattoos: Maya Angelou

This is Laura’s tattoo.

I just got my Maya Angelou tattoo yesterday. It says:

“I did then what I knew how to do.
Now that I know better, I do better.”

It’s a reminder to myself not to beat myself up over what’s happened in the past…because what’s done is done, and I’ve learned from it. Thinking back and going “what if” is unreasonable, because I didn’t know then what I know now. I continue on, and keep on learning every day.

Keep Calm and Snap On

Literary Tattoos: Slogan Keep Calm and Carry On

This tattoo belongs to Kaitlin Bledsoe.

My future career is hopefully going to be Photojournalism (New York Times Photojournalist to be specific). I’ve always been passionate about photography, and even if I don’t make it in the small world of majoring and having a career in it, it’ll always be a love of mine. So I decided to get my first Digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera tattooed on my back.

To further add meaning, I added the words “Keep Calm and Snap On.” These words come from 1939, when the British government created a poster to raise the morale of the British public in case of invasion. There has been several remakes of these posters, including one for photographers, with the words, “Keep Calm and Snap On.”

It’s important to us when we are out shooting to always think about the photograph and how we can affect others, instead of doing what’s best for ourselves. We need to keep our heads screwed on tightly during an emotional event, and not allow our own thoughts, feelings, and emotions get in the way of capturing the image that could become famous worldwide and help the subject of the image in ways never thought of before.

dum spiro spero

Literary Tattoos: Latin Cicero

This is Jane’s tattoo.

It says “dum spiro spero,” Latin for “While I breathe, I hope.” This is the South Carolina state motto. When I was in third grade I went on a field trip to the State House, and they read the phrase to us off the State Seal; ever since then I’ve felt really attached to the idea. It’s a representation of where I’m from, which is a place I have mixed feelings on, but it’s my roots no matter what. And I really love the philosophy; it’s always a reminder to have faith that things will get better. Anyway, I was toying with the idea of this tattoo for a long time, but what really sealed the deal is what I discovered when I was researching the phrase. It was officially made the state motto on March 26, 1776 — I was born on the same date 215 years later.

Why white ink? As I said, I’ve got mixed feelings on my home state. I plan on moving away from here once I’m done with school. The ink makes this tattoo just for me, not for anyone else. It keeps me mindful of where I come from, so I don’t forget some of the values, lessons, and memories I have from this place, but it doesn’t scream that at anyone else.

Don’t Try

“Don’t Try” is written on Charles Bukowski’s grave.

Literary Tattoos: Charles Bukowski
By navarrd on Flickr – shared under a Creative Commons License.

Literary Tattoos: Charles Bukowski

This is Shauna’s tattoo.

I got this tattoo during a trip to Los Angeles while visiting my best friend at Immaculate Conception in Hollywood. I’ve wanted it ever since I began reading Bukowski and while visiting Los Angeles, there seemed no better a place or time. As an aspiring author, such advice has never resonated as true.

Literary Tattoos: Charles Bukowski

This is Lucero‘s.

Literary Tattoos: Charles Bukowski

This belongs to Andrew “Heid” Heaton.

“Somebody at one of these places [...] asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: ‘not’ to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.”

- Charles Bukowski in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington