“Some couples find intimacy in less permanent acts like picnic dates or cinema trips. Loulou and I went to more drastic extremes”

WORDS BY ANEZKA TUREK, IMAGE FROM PIXABAY

A golden rule in the world of body art: never get a tattoo that you might just regret a few years down the line. Do tattoos of a lover’s name fit into this category of potential regret? Yes, perhaps more so than any other.

Although this unspoken rule of tattoo etiquette was one I had completely agreed with up until a couple of months ago, I seemed to have no issues with jumping at the idea of giving my girlfriend her very first tattoo.

Despite being together for just five months at the time, Loulou, my then 19-year-old art student girlfriend who I met through Tinder, was more than willing to turn her box-style university dorm room into a makeshift tattoo studio. We replaced the sheet from her bed with a slightly discoloured orange towel, and next to a glass of ink-stained water were a box of cotton pads, antibacterial gel and some rubber gloves. The atmosphere certainly lacked a professional feel, but was comfortable nonetheless.

Queer culture certainly has its links to the artistic world, the tattoo industry being one great part of this creative sphere. Loulou and I had first learnt about stick and poke tattooing on Instagram, scrolling through the Explore page to be met with images of neatly drawn thin lines, like the work of Patrick Bates, or better known as @europianson420. Having had two professional stick and poke tattoos by Bates myself, I felt I had some, although not a lot, of knowledge about this style.

The art itself involves repeatedly poking one single ink covered needle into the skin, creating thinly drawn lines as a result. Although not advisable by any means in terms of safety, these at-home tattoo kits are as cheap as £5.00 on eBay. Not quite worth the price of possible infection some may say, but despite this Loulou decided to take the risk and let me tattoo her with natural non-toxic Indian ink.

I am no professional in the art world by any means. Clumsily left-handed with a terrible attention span certainly doesn’t make for the best artist, but recognising the very permanent result I was about to produce seemed to kickstart just the right amount of adrenaline to stay focused.

Positioned rather precariously on her side for around 40 minutes and after what Loulou describes as “one too many” harsh jabs to the ribs, all fears of a possible tattoo disaster soon subsided. Despite my rather awkward display of attempting to find a comfortable position to tattoo in, one knee balanced on the edge of a mattress followed by an accidentally flung elbow almost knocking over the bottle of tattoo ink, the letters of the word “Full Bloom”, a favourite song title, formed nicely in black without any major tattoo-related catastrophe.

But why did my girlfriend allow for me to do something so permeant to her body?

“Because I wanted a tattoo and I didn’t want to pay for it” she jokes when I ask.

In reality, not fancying the idea of splashing the cash on artwork from a skilled professional tattoo artist didn’t quite seem the only reason for this decision at all.

“I know it sounds really stupid, but it’s just so much more intimate when someone you know does a tattoo for you. You’ve done this for me, and it’s always possible that we might break up and stop talking one day, but this is a memory I’m going to have of us. You gave this to me and that’s a big thing. It’s intimate and I really like that because it means more, just to me,” she tells me, shouting slightly through the half closed bathroom door where she stood carefully examining the finished result.

Knowing that the letters I have drawn are going to be inked on my girlfriend forever is still a slightly surreal concept, even six months later. Although at the time neither of us thought much about it, looking back I’m sure regardless of how our relationship develops over the next few months or years, this story will certainly be an interesting one to tell.

Whilst some couples find intimacy in less permanent acts like picnic dates or cinema trips, Loulou and I went to other slightly more drastic extremes to create the same feeling. Although I don’t by any means recommend this experience to everyone, I think this process certainly was an intimate one, and led to a new level of closeness as a couple. The encounter for Loulou can’t have been too painful either – she asked me to tattoo the Venus female gender symbol for her, just months later.

For now, and although slightly contradictory, I am a little too sceptical to let Loulou return the favour and tattoo me. More so for worry of a botched tattoo, rather than a fear for the future – not to doubt Loulou’s artistic skill! But who knows what the future may hold. Maybe a DIY stick and poke tattoo done by the hand of a partner is something I’m destined for. For now though, I am more than happy to take control of the tattoo needle myself.

Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of DIVA magazine or its publishers.

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