LIZ VAN PAY

the ramblings of a music journalist and nearly-published author.

A colorful life.

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As funny as it sounds, I never intended to become heavily tattooed. At 24, I have approximately 30 pieces, and I never thought for a second that it would extend past one or two. Many people have long-winded stories about their pieces (think the typical tattoos done on a show like LA Ink), and most of them involve death, loss, and sadness. My story isn’t like that at all. I am a bubbly person with a personality much like my mother, and have tried to let that reflect in the tattoos I’ve chosen to wear for the rest of my life. Not every tattoo has to be surrounded by sadness. Mine are a look into who I am, what and who I love, and how I choose to live. I don’t regret a single thing, and that’s what stays most important to me about the act of getting tattooed – no matter how serious or how ridiculous.

My first piece was a memorial tattoo. It was for my grandmother who I was very close to, and who I lost at the age of fifteen. Shortly before her death, her, my mother, and I went to a small store in Green Bay, WI called Mico Femina. During this trip, she purchased one of Amy Brown’s prints, called “Forget Me Not”. When I lost her, I was deeply affected for a long period of time, and I wanted to commemorate both her life and how much she meant to me with a tattoo. Almost immediately, I thought of that piece, and it was my first tattoo, and has since turned into the main part of a custom sleeve by Little Lisa at Titletown Ink in Green Bay, WI.

Family is a large part of my life, and I don’t only have a tattoo for my grandmother. My chest piece, worked on by Ryan Monahan of Naperville, IL and Adrian Valdez of Colt’s Timeless Tattoo in Appleton, WI, is a dedication to my parents. Two sugar skulls; one to represent each of my parents in the Día de los Muertos respect, in that while they’re still breathing they can enjoy the pieces, and when they’re gone, I will always carry them with me. The cupcake I carry on the inside of my left wrist also carries my niece’s name, Sarah. It took a long time for my sister and brother-in-law to conceive a child, and when Sarah was born the family treated her as our own miracle. When Sarah was three, she was afraid of many of my tattoos that featured skulls (especially the aforementioned chest piece), and I showed her the cupcake and showed her that her name was there. I asked her if that was scary. She shook her head, blushing, and laughed. “No, Auntie. That’s not scary.” I will never forget that day, and will never regret the great amount of love I carry for my family and friends.

Some of my best friends in the world have tattooed me, even if they aren’t tattooers by trade. Some apprenticing, and some just because. Most of those tattoos? Teeth. At current, I have four teeth tattooed in various places, all with a different look and all with their own stories. The world of tattooing has also given me an outlet to meet people I never would have, people who all come from different places and have their own interesting stories. Every tattoo is a memory, and my memories are a gift that I’ve chosen to show off on my skin.

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Written by Liz Van Pay

June 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm

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