The tattoo

This is the story about Gabrielle’s tattoo. Gabrielle is my 19 year old daughter. In one month, the passage of her Mother, Kathleen Roberts, will be nearly one year.

Since the passing of her Mother, she’s thought of doing something for her, the memory, in celebration of her life, her passing. And there’s something that Kath used to do, when she signed her name — a kind of K, or heart, with a series of little radiant lines. Sometimes three, sometimes four, sometimes more.

Gabrielle and I’d talked about the idea of doing this, a tattoo — and suggested that instead of trying to duplicate something her Mom did, in a signature, instead we’d create something that spoke to her, from Gabrielle. And what she wanted was a kind of heart-shaped monogram. Inside, would be the three characters of her mom’s initials: K A R. The A stands for Angelique – since this is something that was handwritten on her birth certificate. We are thinking that this might’ve been done by her Mother, Nellie Craven’s sister. But, we are not sure.

The design was drawn by hand, by me, and successively redrawn and finally converted to a digital file by Paulina Permatasari, an Indonesian designer, employee and friend. In this manner, we could precisely size the imagery, in our meetings with the tattooist. The work is precisely balanced and drawn in a manner that is exacting. And while the tattoo artist would rather work on designs of his own making, he did a good job. Why black, you might wonder? Simple. Black is simple. And then, you might ask, what about that size? The stroke of the monogram is needle fine — nearly hairline in weight. To make that stroke weight visible — possible — for the tattooing needle, that is the right sizing.

I’ve never designed a tattoo before. And designing something that is going to be on your daughter, permanently, is a real challenge. It was hard for me to do that. But, in a way, it’s Gabrielle’s way of remembering her Mom, in the context of a daily connection; and rather than let anyone else do it, I took it on. Happily.

Love | tsg | seattle + nyc


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3 Responses to The tattoo

  1. Sharon Dodge says:

    I love this. Thanks for sharing it. You have me the personal so accessible, and so gentle, Tim

  2. Sharon Dodge says:

    “Made” the personal so gentle.

  3. Brad,
    Not much of tattoo fan…but this is a beautiful idea and even a more beautiful tattoo!
    Laura

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