While couples in love always wish to leave behind some kind of mark, tattooing each other’s names on their bodies remains troublesome, with 90 percent of those who did so eventually breaking up and returning to “erase” the tattoo, tattoo parlor owners said.
Republic of China (ROC) Trend Arts and Crafts Creation and Promotion Committee chairman Lee Yao-ming (李耀鳴) said that winter and summer vacations, as well as Valentine’s Day, were popular times to get a tattoo, and with the growing acceptance of tattoos among Taiwanese, tattooing is no longer for young people only.
“I’ve done tattoos for married couples or other couples that were middle-aged,” Lee said, adding that they usually choose to tattoo their backs and were less blatant about it.
Lovers varied in the kind of tattoos they asked for, with dating couples who are still in the grips of passion usually wishing to “lock the other up,” with the man usually choosing the tattoo of a lock and the female the picture of a key, Lee said, adding that some couples would each have half a puzzle tattooed on them.
Dating couples were partial to romantic heart-shapes, or something that was a mutual hobby for the two of them, or particular memories, Lee said, adding that the other option was to tattoo each other’s names as a show of fidelity.
According to tattoo artist A-yu (阿獄), experience shows, quite ironically, that couples who tattoo each other’s names tend to come back and ask for the tattoo to be “erased.”
“It really is quite odd,” he said.
Now, whenever he meets young couples who want a tattoo of each other’s name, A-yu tries to dissuade them. Failing that, he recommends that the couple use artistic word-forms to replace standard print.
Lee, who has been a tattoo artist for 12 years, said he discovered in recent years that tattooing has become a method of how people commemorate their loved ones.
Lee has a tattoo that shows his daughter’s life story. He had the first design made when he became a father and said new tattoos would be added until his daughter turns 21.
Another tattoo artist, who goes by the name A-ting (阿庭), has on his chest a picture of his entire family, so that his late father and grandparents would always be with him.
A-yu and his wife each have tattoos on the back of their hands the picture of a thorn apple, a pair of rings and the date they got together.
A three-day tattoo show opens today at the National Taiwan University Sports Center, hosted by the ROC Trend Arts and Crafts Creation and Promotion Committee.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer