Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mississippi Animals

I love to teach people about nature, especially in our current climate of outdoor educational deficit. Kids and adults don't seen to get outside much anymore, since we're glued to our screens. So I've been doing nature-related classes for years, in the hope that one time, just one kid (or adult) will get inspired enough to be interested in the living world around us. One of the classes I teach is about identifying animal tracks, a class I myself had taken about 12 years ago. I had been wanting another small tattoo, similar to the three tracks I already had under my watchband, but I also realized that the detail was limited because of the size.

This led into looking at making them a little larger, which led to looking for other natural history images--in particular, an owl, which is a symbol on another business I own, Night Bird Design. While searching for clean, clear images of owls, I found an artist on-line at (of all things) a clip art web site, who had drawn not only an owl, but also a bunch of other animals in a style I loved, sort of flowing, but not tribal. I bought all the images he had of Mississippi animals and started trying to put them together in a design pattern that I liked. Some images worked better than others, so eventually I whittled it down to 13 (h
eron, bear, snake, wildcat, fox, coyote, armadillo, owl, deer, alligator, otter, raccoon, and skunk). Another consideration was the final size of the work, as I'm a fairly small person, and had to rule out any place that would be seen while wearing a bathing suit, as my parents STILL don't know I have tattoos (I'm 48).

Finally, I saved enough money, and it was my birthday, so I went to a tattoo parlor about an hour away. I had been there before to talk to one of the owners, and examine the pictures of their work (and assess the cleanliness and professionalism of the shop), and had been duly impressed.

The tattoo artist's name is Adam at the Classic Tattoo Studio in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He did an excellent job, and I'm so pleased, I MAY even show it to my mom...but not my dad, quite yet.

Robin Person
Branch Director
Historic Jefferson College

Want to share your own story and tattoo?
Email Beth: beth (at) redmond-jones (dot) com or Paul: info (at) orselli (dot) net.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Aim To Please

I've worked primarily in museums and libraries for over 17 years. I have a handful of tattoos, none of which were conceived with any reference to museums or library science. However, there's one tattoo that I got the summer I became a museum person, which speaks a lot to why I'm still a museum/library person.

I got my guns from the talented Mike Stobbe at Avalon PB in the summer of 1998. I was home from college for the summer and working as an intern at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the mornings, while bar tending at my uncle's bar in the afternoons. I was straddling between a La Jolla fine art institution and Mission Beach happy hours; college-life and hometown; living with parents and trying to be an adult. I was trying be a lot of things and thought the "aim to please" was a true sentiment to the in-between sort of place where I could make everything work.

Sixteen years later "aim to please" now reminds me why I enjoy working for museums and libraries. We are a service industry. We connect people to knowledge, to history, and to culture. We tell stories and invite stories, encourage conversation, and promote traditional and visual literacy. It doesn't make sense to me if it isn't benefitting an end user, an audience.

Why guns? Besides the play on words, the western iconography identified me with the rockabilly crowd I was involved with at the time. Also, while I am definitely not a guns rights advocate, I still appreciate a gun as an object of mechanic beauty.

Kara West
Library Arts and Culture Exhibition Manager
San Diego Public Library

Want to share your own story and tattoo?
Email Beth: beth (at) redmond-jones (dot) com or Paul: info (at) orselli (dot) net.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blue Feather

After finding a brilliant blue feather on a hike and reading how the color comes from external light and not from the diet of the bird, I decided that my first tattoo would be a blue feather. On the day I had been in Seattle one year, my daughter and I celebrated the pain and excitement of moving here with the pain, in her words — "of course its going to hurt!"— and excitement of a tattoo. Now the image reminds me of 'lightness', of hiking in the NW and of stepping outside my comfort zone once in awhile.

Kris Morrissey, PhD
Director, Museology Graduate Program
University of Washington

Want to share your own story and tattoo?
Email Beth: beth (at) redmond-jones (dot) com or Paul: info (at) orselli (dot) net.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Though I was a late-comer to museum visiting, as soon as I was truly exposed to world-class museums in college, namely the Carnegie system in Pittsburgh, my love of them took root inside me and has only grown exponentially since. One may think that working at a museum might change that feeling, but for me, it never did. Almost as soon as I got my first museum job, I wanted a museum tattoo. I waffled on designs, and never really committed until I was completing my graduate degree in museum studies. By this time, museums were such a part of my identity, it felt necessary to wear a symbol of that love on my skin.

I still didn’t have my design though, and it began to feel important that the tattoo to represent not just museums generally, but the Pittsburgh museums of which I am so fond. I considered a number of different ideas (a Warhol-ian shoe, for instance), but nothing felt perfect---until I thought about Diplodocus carnegii!  Dippy was the first dinosaur in Carnegie Museum of Natural History, is named for Andrew Carnegie, and casts of the Pittsburgh Dippy now sit in 10 locations throughout the world. Diplodocus has come to be an important icon at the museum, but also for Pittsburgh itself. It was decided.

On February 1, I went to Unique Ink in Greensburg, PA, with Dippy design in hand and my mom in tow (she also got a tattoo at the same time to make it more special. My Dippy is not scientifically accurate (which I know because museum work gives me easy access to world-renown paleontologists, a daily privilege I don’t take lightly), but its mine. And now I wear my heart on my sleeve….er, Diplodocus on my wrist….and proudly show the world that I’m a museum person through and through.

I should also note that my first tattoo, a butterfly on my hip which was acquired weeks after my 18th birthday in an act of teenage rebellion, years later would also come to have deeper museum meaning. For my Master’s thesis project, I observed visitors and recorded their conversations at a display of 30 drawers pulled from the butterfly collection. Now, I can’t see my butterfly tattoo without thinking fondly of that project or of my own museum experiences that I hold so dear.

Leigh M. Kish
Interim Director of Marketing
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Want to share your own story and tattoo?
Email Beth: beth (at) redmond-jones (dot) com or Paul: info (at) orselli (dot) net.