Confessions of an ‘Inkaholic’

Mark Linville

This past year, I voluntarily subjected myself to pain. This pain can be compared to 1,000 tiny needles stabbing me simultaneously. In reality, it was only three to nine needles.

In July 2009, I started my first tattoo, which illustrated my fraternal name, Element.

The tattoo consists of a Grim Reaper, Japanese influenced versions of the iconic comedy and tragedy mask and each of the natural elements. This tattoo may have too much meaning for someone else to understand, but isn’t that the point of a tattoo: for others to admire and for you alone to know the personal connection and meaning?

The experience was very new to me and kind of a disappointment.

When watching shows like “Miami Ink” or “LA Ink,” I noticed no one ever bleeds or screams and cries like the girl did at Freaks on 39th during my session.

It seemed unfair to me. Why couldn’t my blood and pain be edited out?

Since the recent completion of my second tattoo, I have found myself a torn addict.

When lying on the table thinking to myself that tattoo artists should add anesthesiology to their repertoire, I nearly swore off tattoos.

I sounded like an alcoholic saying I would never drink again. Ss sure as me writing this forum, they go right back to the bottle.

Maybe I am an ‘Inkaholic’.

Like all habits, good or bad, you have to ask yourself, “Why do I do it?”

Well, I know why I get tattoos and somehow force myself to endure the pain and loss of blood.

Yes, it is somewhat thrilling to see how much pain I can endure while watching art form on what once was blank flesh, or as I call it, a canvas.

But the reason I get tattoos is for the end result.

It is an amazing concept that your thoughts, feelings, memories and creativity fill the various layers of skin with vibrant ink. It is literally a painting on your flesh.

For me, tattoos need a story. They must have your thoughts and feelings attached to them or else they will be just a spot of ink and quite possibly an imperfection.

You have to include yourself in the planning of a tattoo.

The concept of going to a tattoo shop and flipping through a book just to pick a star or heart is appalling to me.

I think random skulls, fairies and cross bones are pathetic. I would never get a tattoo for the sake of getting a tattoo.

Like my tattoo artist told me, “If you’re going to spend your hard earned money, then you should get something good.”

My tattoos come from my heart, mind and experiences.

My most recent tattoo is dedicated to a friend who recently passed away.

He enjoyed Japanese culture. He used to have an antique Hannya mask hanging in his room in Johnson Hall. My tattoo depicts that mask. The Hannya demon represents human emotion and malice.

I see this tattoo every now and then on other people, but I decided to get it for a reason.

My friend showed me how to live and enjoy life by not taking things too seriously and living one day at a time.

There are many things in this world to become addicted to, and some can be good. I perceive tattooing as a great addiction.

I plan to have at least 12 more in the future, all in locations that won’t prevent me from getting a job, of course.

In the mean time, I’ll have to learn how to suck up the pain and “take it like a man.”

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