The Tweetie Story

I had a pretty regular client who had told me that his daughter wanted to get something small for her 18th birthday. We did all the regular preliminary stuff and the daughter (who I will call Amy because that is not her name) came in for her appointment. The tweetie design had been selected at an earlier date and we were ready to go.

Amy was a”difficult” to tattoo. All the nightmare customer behaviors. She wiggled. She squealed. She pulled away from me at all of the exact wrong times. That nice dome head of tweetie’s that is difficult to do on a good client became an almost insurmountable obstacle. In the end I pulled it off and on top of that I managed to remain patient, professional and caring throughout the process. Amy was ecstatic about her new tattoo and went on her way. I heard no more from or about her for several years.

One day I return to the shop and there is a vague message that some woman had called looking for me. She wanted me to locate a stencil for a tweetie tattoo that I had done several years prior. She had left no number and had said that she would call back. I secretly hoped that she would not. The odds of finding a particular line drawing from several years ago are not good.

The next day I got a call from an old client (the Dad from the beginning of the story). Once he explained who he was and what the tattoo was I was pretty sure that I could find it and/or recreate it. He told me that it was extremely important but didn’t really get into why. I was able to locate the line drawing and he stopped by to pick it up. When he got to the shop he told me about Amy’s experience with the tattoo from her point of view. He wasn’t really sure why she had chosen the tweetie in the first place. She had liked tweetie – but it hadn’t seemed like a big enough part of her life to get it tattooed on her. When she had gotten the tattoo done it had been really hard for her (this part I knew and remembered without him reminding me, but I let it go). The tattoo was painful and hard for her to sit through – but once she had she was so thrilled with it, everything changed. The tweetie became a badge of courage to her. It represented to her that she could do anything. She became a bit of a tweetie fiend and started to decorate everything that she could tweetie. I was happy for her, but still confused about why he was there looking for the stencil from the tattoo.

It turns out that Amy had passed away and the family had decided to put the tweetie design on her tombstone. I was flooded with emotions. I won’t get into what all of them were here. I am sure you can figure some of them out for yourself (especially if you are a parent also).

Once the tombstone was finished and set in place, they brought me a photo of it. I keep that picture readily available and I look at it often. Why you may ask. Why are you telling me this story? Because for those of us who tattoo for a living it is vitally important to remember the significance of what we do. What may be a simple or “stupid” design could mean the world to the person who is wearing it. We have to remember that every single day.

Yes, we have a responsibility to make sure that the design is visually appealing and will last in the skin…. but we have no right to look down our noses at other people or decide that their tattoo concept is “dumb” or insignificant. It makes me sad when we as artists lose sight of this. If you tattoo, please remember this story the next time you get angry over having to do the same ol’ tattoo yet again. These people are trusting us with their skin and their memories.

It’s important.

~ by justteejay on November 17, 2009.

3 Responses to “The Tweetie Story”

  1. Fantastic story.

    It is often easy to get caught up in the day to day, and to somehow forget about the very art you are creating.

    It is important.

    Great, great post.

    Thanks.

    -Threewinds
    http://threewinds.wordpress.com/

  2. I know this story, you’ve told me about it many times, and I still love to hear, or read it. Thanks for telling it again

  3. […] If you don’t know why you can read the original post on it here: The Tweetie Story […]

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