Saturday, 7 May 2011

145: I is for Ink

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The A-to-Z of the GFFA.

Well, let's not bury the lead: I've got two Star Wars tattoos, me.

Soldier for the Empire (bonus points if you can name the prop)

Nothing groundbreaking in itself, they also happen to be the only two tats I have (for now). There are people with far more ink-coverage than me, including people with far more SW-based coverage. So what's the big deal? Well, that's kinda the point: it's not that big a deal at all, just something I enjoy sharing (which, coincidentally, applies to the blog in general as well as the tats).

This is how we do it in my neighbourhood...

Leaving aside the cultural and/or historical implications of tattooing (this has been discussed elsewhere and far more comprehensively than I can hope to accomplish here), what the hell would be so important to me that I'd want to permanently mark my body as a testament to it?

My BFF Porlé with The Seal of Rassilon.

Going back to my late teens, I'd thought about getting a tattoo of my favourite band. Even then, I was aware that this really was a transient concept. Circa 1988, it would have been Bon Jovi on my arm. Move forward a year, Iron Maiden would be there instead (or as well). Moving on, Metallica, Slayer or Cradle of Filth were all potential candidates for inking. Now, as much as there'll always be a place in my heart for the bands I've mentioned, I no longer love any of them enough to wear that badge for the rest of my life. The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that the only band logo I'd get tattooed on myself would be my own (although having been in several bands, this hasn't happened yet, either). I think the equivalent would be getting the name of your significant other tattooed; ie fine if you want it done, but it's not for me. The potential for wearing evidence of a failed endeavour on your arm is massive enough to put me off, thanks. There's also the 'will I get sick of looking at this' angle, and for Exhibit A, I refer you to Ozzy Osbourne's dragon tat. Through interview-spreads in Kerrang!, I got sick of looking at that in 1988 - who knows how Ozzy copes with seeing it every day?

My good friend Rixy's SW tats...

So anyway, I trundled along quite happily with a few piercings but no tats until mid 2001. It was in July '01 that I moved from Kent to Oxford. Leaving my BFF down in the South-East, I decided that I'd like a tattoo in honour of all the Star Wars cinema visits we'd made since 1997's Special Editions, all the toy-runs we'd made to Toys'R'Us and the smaller independent shops looking for that elusive PotF2 Tarkin, and all the hours spent in our houses, watching, debating, analysing and re-enacting our favourite movie series of all time. I decided that a Star Wars tattoo was hugely appropriate.

Doctor Who sleeve (wip)

It wasn't just because of the previous four years, but essentially for every year since 1977; moving from my obsession as a four-year-old through to 1985 when I pushed it to one side in favour of Transformers, through the late 80's where the arcade and Amstrad versions of the SW vector-based games kept my hand in the GFFA, and through the times when creating and listening to music was my main focus, with the 1994 re-releases of the OT reminding me of how my favourite film of all time was still Episode IV. From 1994 to 1997, the fever slowly built momentum again, with familiar perspectives on the OT hooking me back in. From 1997 onwards, it was full-steam-ahead. New media, and the internet in particular, made it clear that Geek was the new Cool. Which, for a geek like me, was an absolute godsend. It became clearer, the more I thought about it, that Star Wars had been with me since I was four, in one form or another. Like a relative that you might not see every day, but who's always there.

So the decision was made, all that remained now was to choose the tat itself. With my design background, I'm a big fan of symbols and logos. The classic Star Wars logo itself is a bit too literal for my tastes, and I prefer the idea of something which other fans will recognise, but civilians won't give a second glance to. Oh, and I also love the guys with the cool uniforms, so I went with the Imperial Cog (originally designed by John Mollo):

The Imperial Cog in the Original Trilogy

Obviously, I'm aware that I'm not the first or the last person with this tat, especially in the shoulder location, but it makes me smile. And, perhaps more importantly, I never get tired of seeing it. So, the pain of the tat was fleeting and manageable, the outcome was something I was happy with, and I decided it was something I'd do again.

Now, Star Wars is always revealing new things to me. In the 2004 DVD documentary 'Empire of Dreams', there's a shot of the first draft script of Star Wars, and it's dated May 1973. For some reason, I genuinely can't remember seeing this information before. It may mean very little to you, but let me elaborate.

• The first draft of the Star Wars script committed to paper in May 1973. It wasn't when Lucas first had the idea, of course, it was conceived before then. But, from a certain point of view, Star Wars was born in May 1973.

• I was also born in May 1973.

• The film was completed in 1977, and arguably, changed the world forever. It changed my world forever, that's for sure. A large amount of who I am today is, for better or worse, down to Star Wars.

With that in mind, my second tattoo is in Aurebesh (a letter-for-letter typeface used in the SW universe, not a language). It says:

The Aurebesh


So you see, the markings on my skin aren't an addition as such, they've always been a part of me. Worn with love and with pride.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• Photos and videos appearing in this blog post are for informational and reference purposes only, and no ownership of copyright is claimed or implied by me. The intellectual and physical copyright of such material belongs to its creators and owners.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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