Many museum folks have a love for tattoos—their cultural significance, their artistic quality, their documentation of the natural world, and some, just for their own personal meaning. For years, we have talked about tattoos, the ones we want, the design, the stories behind them, and the artists who create them. So, lets post our tats and our stories!
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Old Fashioned Microphone
There’s a sort of mental snapshot from a time in my life that I remember so fondly I often think of it in my most difficult moments. It's of an abused and familiar microphone with a dirty yellow windscreen, on an unremarkable stand, at the front of a stage, at night, under blinding lights, outside, in front of a crowd of 700 people whose faces I can’t quite see out in the darkness.
A microphone waiting for someone to speak into it is pure potential. And the fact that is often tied to the presence of a microphone, that people would give you their complete attention, is something too valuable to describe.
I’ve been in a few bad bands (always as a singer because I've been too lazy to commit to any instrument yet) and absolutely love making an idiot of myself singing karaoke ("Total Eclipse of the Heart" is my go-to opener). I’m addicted to being in front of people. All the singing is all well and good, but what I care about even more is communicating, I’m obsessed with it. I love to listen to the way masters of the art take nebulous, complex ideas and gracefully capture them with words. A true genius can present ideas so perfectly that you’ll think you knew them all along but just hadn’t defined them yet. I want (but don’t really expect) to be that genius. I could listen to my favorite speakers do their thing for hours on end.
Wanting to communicate as badly as I do, I often speak about what I care about most: my faith, the Gospel of Christ. It is the thing that I filter every little bit of my life through and I’m totally crazy about studying scripture carefully and sharing the things that excite me about it with others. I worked for three years as a teaching pastor in New Mexico and I often preach at my current church. I relish every opportunity.
My tattoo is of an old fashioned microphone, specifically a Shure 55SH, a model that's been in production for more than 70 years. I chose this specific microphone for two reasons. First, because it’s built as a vocal mic, and has a reputation for capturing voices uniquely well (I’ve had a few professional singers see my tattoo and tell me how much they love this particular model). Second, much more superficially, I think it looks cool. It’s just a big block of steel, the actual mic is really stout and heavy. I have it on my left forearm because the left side of the body is traditionally the creative side. Also, when I do speak with a handheld mic I almost always hold it in my left hand to leave my right free to gesture crazily and fumble at the water bottle.
The microphone isn’t my first tattoo, but it is my first plainly visible one. People ask me about it all the time, and I love that. It gives me a chance to talk about my faith and my life. I’ve got good friends today who I met because they asked me about my tattoo.
I have a personal rule that I have to have a single tattoo idea, unchanged, for two years before I’m allowed to get it. I’ve been holding on to a way to fill my right forearm for about two-and-a-half. With any luck I’ll post again soon.
Traveling Exhibitions Manager
San Diego Natural History Museum
Want to share your own story and tattoo? Email Beth: beth (at) redmond-jones (dot) com
or Paul: info (at) orselli (dot) net.