"My body is a journal in a way. It's like what sailors used to do, where every tattoo meant something, a specific time in your life when you make a mark on yourself, whether you do it yourself with a knife or with a professional tattoo artist."
He is without a doubt one of the best actors in Hollywood, with a knack of choosing some of the most intriguing and interesting roles, and when Johnny Depp talks about tattoos and the stories behind them, well, you tend to listen. But you do not have to be a big star to have a meaningful story behind the mark on your body.
For most people, it is important to get tattoos that have a personal meaning, a symbol of something deeply touching. After all, this is a piece of art that is going to remain with you for the rest of your life, and if the design is nothing more than a passing fancy, chances are that you will not only get bored of the design, but will start hating it as well.
The Symbology of Tattoos
While it has taken centuries for tattoos to be accepted as more than being tramp symbols and for people to let go of the negative associations with body art, the fact of the matter is that tattoos have been around for a long time now and they have been intrinsic to several cultures.
In fact many tribes held the belief that tattoos were important to serve as marks of identification for a person's next life. It was believed that when a person died, the soul despite being free from the body, retained certain traits of its earthly being. To ensure happiness in the next life, it was important to retain these marks in the form of a tattoo.
Visit a tattoo parlor and generally, the first question a tattoo artist will ask you (apart from the technicalities regarding the design and placement of the tattoo), is the reason behind getting the tattoo. Most tattoo artists believe that for a tattoo to be genuine and mean something, it has to have a story behind it.
In the seminal book, Bodies of Inscription, by Margo DeMello, there is a section from an interview with a tattoo artist named Leo, "[A] genuine tattoo... tells a story. I like stories and tattoos, no matter how well done, and if they don't tell a story that involves you emotionally, then they are just there for decoration, then they are not a valid tattoo...
...There has to be some emotional appeal or they're not, to my way of thinking, a real tattoo. It tells people what you are and what you believe in, so there's no mistakes." We do not think there is anything else that can define the importance of having a tattoo with some meaning.
Choosing Tattoos with Meaning
Most people who want to get a tattoo will always have an image in their head of the first tattoo that they want to adorn their body with. And generally this tattoo will always have a deep personal meaning for the person. It is natural to always look for a design that you can explain to people who ask you about it.
It is difficult for someone else to tell you what design you should get yourself tattooed with. But if you really are at your wit's end regarding what tattoo you should get, then here are some tips that may help you decide on the final artwork.
● Firstly think about all those incidents which have changed you as a person (for the better). These are incidents that you would always want a reminder of. Think of those images that are synonymous with these incidents and get a tattoo that serves as a remembrance.
But be careful with such tattoos because there are many stories abound of people who have got their bodies tattooed with their lover's name and then broken up with them.
● If you have a sense of pride in the culture or community that you as a person are representative of, then getting a tattoo that is significant of your community is a good idea. It is also extremely common to see people getting tattoos that is symbolic of the groups that they belong to.
The reason that many people stress upon getting tattoos that have a personal meaning is because these marks are permanent. You cannot get bored of the design after a while and choose to expel it like it is a shirt or a gadget. It is a commitment of a lifetime.
Whichever design you choose for your tattoo, remember that without a story behind it, you will never retain the love that you have for it.