Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On tattoos

Heraldic crest with labels via
So I'm starting to work in earnest on planning my next tattoo. I'm designing my own heraldic device, often incorrectly referred to as a coat of arms. Heraldic symbols are pretty fascinating, and I have a lot of work to do before I'll be satisfied with the design. Technically, as I don't belong to an arms-bearing family, I have no right to a crest, at least according to the British government, but as I'm an American and as I don't give a shit, I'm going to go ahead with the idea.

Did you know that there's really no such thing as a "family" crest or coat of arms? Sorry to break it to you, but each design was specific to a particular person - they were originally used as a means to immediately identify someone, so it would be kind of dumb to have a dad and all three of his sons on a battlefield with the same design. A typical way to work it was for a coat of arms to stay mostly the same for the first son, but have a minor change, like color, to differentiate. A child might have the coat of his father and his mother smashed together into a new design. There were all sorts of ways to personalize a crest. But if you've got a keychain with the ancient Whatever Family Crest, you really lay no more claim to it than any stranger.

I've been checking books out of the library like crazy on the subject of heraldry and arms. It's so interesting! Some of the choices, like which helmet you have over the shield, is very meaningful and each choice signifies something different. Some of the choices, like what kind of mantling you have behind and around the whole shebang, means nothing in particular and you can pick whatever you feel like. There are all sorts of websites that will tell you what your choice of charge or color signifies, but that's all certified bullshit because there is no accepted meaning for the very vast majority of that stuff, so even if there was you could be like, "No, mine means this," and no one could contradict you. It's crazy.

So I'm trying to decide what to do with the final product. I know where I want it, and I know that I want to commission the tattoo artist to make me a few copies of the design, in color, so I can get myself some stationery and/or a blazer bearing the design, but I don't know what I want to do about the internets.

Tattoos are just such a personal thing, and it would kill me if someone happened upon a picture of my tattoo and was like, "Bingo! I'm getting that!" I mean, once you put a picture out there, on Facebook or a blog or wherever, it's a battle to maintain control, right? And I know that I'll be thrilled with the final result, but I don't know that I want other people to have the option of stealing my awesome.

What say you, Internets? Do you have pictures of your art or tattoos or whatever online? Any bad experiences? Any AWESOME experiences?

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