I got this tattoo in 2005, I think. I guess I'm a little hazy on the exact date. But that's not very important. What's important is that: 1. this was something my cousins and I did together as a commemoration of our bond, 2. we designed them together, and then 3. I got to draws the tats!
If you're already familiar with my art style, it should be pretty easy for you to tell this is my handiwork. The line weights, shapes, and angles are distinctly mine. The tattoo artist* did a killer job. Frankly, I think it looks like I drew it on my own arm.
My cousins -- Ben and Josh -- have similar-yet-different tattoos, all featuring the same skull character, as well as the same tablet** marked with the letters K and M (for our family names, Kobylarz and Marino).
In Ben's tattoo, the skull is surrounded by billowing smoke. It has red eyes and the tablet has a red inner line. Josh's skull sports a huge top hat with a lime green band. His skull has matching green eyes and there's a green inner line on the tablet.
For mine, I decided to go with a spider, a web, and the color purple. Why? To me, my spider represents Anansi and his storytelling tradition. It also represents a creature that's both a predator and a protector, gentle yet lethal. And I see a spider's web as living, functioning art. As for purple? I'm sure I could come up with some kind of poetic reasoning, but honestly I just like purple.
You can see all three of our tattoos here.
Currently, this is the only tattoo I have. I've thought about getting more over the years, but nothing has spoken to me like this one. This tattoo is about more than just a cool image... it's about the experience my cousins and I shared by getting them together, the strong bond we share to this day, and the symbolic qualities of the design. Plus, I like having one of my drawings forever etched into my arm.
*I'm no tattoo expert, so forgive me if I say something that sounds implausible... but from what I remember, our tattoo artist put together some kind of thicker-than-usual needle when we brought in our designs. Whatever he did, I know he was working with a much thicker point to try and mimic the thick lines I used in the drawings.
**The shape was originally supposed to be a playing card, as suggested by Ben. But the shading I added ended up far too thick, almost like a stone tablet. We dug the look and decided to go with it.