by Rhys Ford
Well, I want to thank everyone for following the blog tour for 415 Ink: Savior! I’m going to use the same intro for every piece in case someone jumps in midway because that way everyone starts off on the same page. So if you’re joining midway, be sure to backtrack and catch the other posts because we’ll be exploring tattoos. Be sure to catch Savior, a second book in the 415 Ink series, on its release date of September 18!
This has been a crazy series to write and as much as I enjoyed it, it’s always a challenge to bring a fully fleshed character with very real problems to the page. I hope that when you read Savior you will fall in love with Mace and be with him on his journey as he in turn falls in love with Rob.
Since the tattoo shop, 415 Ink, is such a central heart of the series, I wanted to talk about tattoo symbolism very briefly because there’s a lot of opinions and cultural attachments to certain tattoos. What could be presented on this tour is just a small sampling of what people believe certain images mean and how they connect to the people who choose to wear them on their skin.
I’m going to say that tattoos are not for everyone but I do have a hard-core cultural association with them so I’m very fond of tattoos. I feel it is a very personal thing and should be taken seriously because you are going to wear it for the rest of your life. But, I also do believe even the tiniest flash tattoo means something to someone and everyone getting ink should be respected for their choices. Someone’s little flower on an ankle could mean their experiment into pushing themselves to fearlessness or capture memory of something they shared with someone. Not every tattoo needs to be huge or an artistic rendering of the Sistine Chapel. But they should have meaning.
I believe a tattoo should be a piece of yourself the inker draws out of your soul and embellishes on your skin. It should rise up from some part of you to realize its existence.
Much like love. And very much like falling in love.
So let’s talk about ink.
Traditional – Sailor Tattoos
Inspired by the ink they saw on the skin of the people they met on their travels around the Pacific, sailors began to mark their own bodies for luck and as badges of honor for milestones they’d passed in their journeys. The life of a sailor was dangerous, and the accomplishments they made had a great deal of meaning for them. Their tattoos were proof they’d sailed thousands of miles, crossed the equator, and survived storms and other dangers of the deep.
Norman Keith Collins aka Sailor Jerry had one of the first tattoo shops in the Western world, established many of the customary designs we see today’s flash art including: anchors, daggers, serpents, mermaids, and more. Collins has since passed away but his family and friends continue his Old School Traditional tattoo styles at Old Ironside, a tattoo shop that stands in the original spot of Sailor Jerry’s O’ahu shop.
Each had its own meaning. Some of the most common sailor tattoos are:
Anchor: An anchor placed anywhere on the body represented that a sailor had completed a voyage that crossed the Atlantic. It also was thought to bring steadiness.
Compass: A compass was so a sailor would always be able to find his way home.
Dice: A set of dice was often chosen by a sailor to show that he was a fearless risk taker. It was also chosen by sailors that enjoyed gambling.
Dragon: A dragon symbolized that a sailor had been to China.
Harpoon: A harpoon was a mark of having belonged to a fishing or whaling fleet.
Hula Girl: A symbol that signified that a sailor had been to Hawaii.
Lighthouse: A symbol of guiding light and protection against a ship crashing against the rocks. It was also known to represent home and shelter.
Mermaid/Siren: The call of the siren was a superstition. It was thought that the beautiful lure of a siren’s voice would misguide a ship, and cause it to wreck, or pull a sailor into the sea to find her where he would drown. Having a mermaid tattoo protected against the dangers of the sea.
Nautical Star: A nautical star was a popular emblem sailors would get to be sure they would be guided home safely.
Pig & Rooster: Both pigs and roosters were kept on board in crates that floated, so a pig on one foot and a rooster on the other was thought to protect a sailor from drowning.
Rope: A rope around the wrist meant that the sailor had served as a deckhand.
Rose & Dagger: Showing bravery and a willingness to fight, a dagger through a rose symbolized a fearlessness of conflict or confrontation.
Ship: A ship with full sails marked a sailor’s voyage around Cape Horn, which is where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.
Swallow: One of the most well-known of nautical tattoos, a swallow represented every 5000 miles a sailor voyaged. A swallow will always find their way home, and it was thought that the swallow would bring luck and mean that the sailor would return safely home.
Turtle: A hardback turtle was a symbol of passing the equator.
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