Just this last year I spent the majority of the the winter and spring sitting, lounging and bleeding in Magnetic North Tattoos in Burlington, Vermont for, what I estimate to be, a compiled total of 50+ hours spent dedicating my whole right arm to the Nintendo universe. It was an incredibly tedious but life-enriching experience as anyone who has ever gone under the gun will know, but I am not here to brag about pain tolerances nor am I here to tell you it didn't hurt, because it most certainly did.
My artist, Eli Wood, did a phenomenal job. He worked with me on every image/idea I brought to him, and most times provided ideas of his own. It was very much a collaborative effort that left me owing him an immense debt of gratitude. For some one who has spent the better part of his life, from 3 to 30, gaming and, in one way or another, immersed in the Super Mario Universe, it serves as a display of my allegiance, dedication, and a solemn reminder that Nintendo will always be my first love of Video Games.
And even though I may own other competitors' consoles and play many other games, it is Nintendo that first introduced me to the world of Video Games. I know I am definitely not the first or the last to get these world famous characters tattooed on their body, but I feel we’ve managed to achieve something unique and special.
During the process I made sure to include a couple of characters from each major release, including Donkey Kong, because Mario's first appearance was as "Jump Man" in the originally arcade release of Donkey Kong. When I first set out on the herculean task of a full sleeve of Mario characters I didn't anticipate the outcome really. I figured I would complete the sleeve and be done with it, although some very unexpected results have presented themselves on a regular basis.
I almost daily get a remark from someone who recognizes one of the many characters. "I like your_____ tattoo (Insert Character Name)" which is usually followed by a story of how the person played various Mario games during childhood.
I watch as they are transported back to their youth and they experience that same warm nostalgic feeling that Nintendo characters provided me with, reminiscent of simpler times when platformers reigned supreme and the only challenge to Nintendo's domination was a small company called Sega, and their hip new Mascot – a quick moving, youthful and edgy blue hedgehog named "Sonic."
Thousands of dollars as well as getting tattooed in two different states later I sit here in reflection. What if I never attempted such a feat? I most certainly wouldn't have had the chance to experience most of these interactions as well as missed out on the pleasure of connecting with some individuals I would not have normally had the chance to connect with, as I get people from all walks of life commenting on my artwork; young, old, businessmen/businesswomen, police officers, school teachers, and many others.
Who would have thought that not too long ago there was a negative stigma associated with tattoos, and most people wouldn't have approached a tattooed individual for casual conversation. I am grateful that as a society we have become a bit more open-minded and accepting in that respect, although I know this does not hold true everywhere. I hope that somewhere out there, reading this right now, is someone who this is resonating with. Maybe even a person, or few, who have gamer ink as well, and I would love to hear from you.
Please share your thoughts, comments and perhaps even some links or pictures of your own video game inspired tattoos.