Tattoos: Colorful Art To Express Colorful Life

Karol Mato shares the personal story behind each of her tattoos.

Tattoos: Colorful Art To Express Colorful Life

Jonathan Nunley, Writer-East

Tattoos! They can turn people into walking coloring books—each with its own colorful story.

Tattoos could depict anything from a devil horn to a unicorn to a famous quote. In one way or another, all tattoos are personal. They might commemorate a vacation through palm trees and dolphins or express a particular passion in life, like motorcycling or surfing. What’s interesting is that some people get tattoos with sentimental value so they can remember a loved one through angel wings or having that person’s name tattooed on their heart. 

The true beauty of a tattoo, however, is not what it looks like to the outside world but what it means to the person who wears it. For some people, it brings closure and reassurance; it shows that they don’t have to listen to anyone and what they say about them. Other times, tattoos are just visual reminders to the owner of how beautiful they are inside and out.

However, tattoos don’t come without a price. Most range between $80-$200, depending upon the size and amount of detail. The good part is that they stay forever; the bad part is…that they stay forever. If a person doesn’t like the way it came out or just doesn’t want it anymore, it costs even more money to fix or remove it. Nobody wants to spend a fair amount of money to do that! That would be so pointless and a waste of hard-earned cash. So, people need to think it all through carefully before the permanent ink starts flowing.

Ever heard the phrase “no pain, no gain”? That’s true with tattoos, as well. Tattoo artists lay the person on the table—or chair—and first start creating the outline; that’s pain right there, for sure. But, when the needle goes through their skin, it hurts even more. They press even harder with the tattoo machine gun. But, the result may be worth both the cost and the pain.

Take Elkhart-East senior Karol Mota, for instance. She’s been through the process six times. And, each one holds special meaning—except for the one with fire. “It’s random, actually. I just really liked the design!” Mota admits.

The rest, however, are far more personal. “This one on my neck,” she begins, pointing to the word art, “is to remind me that our human body is art, and for me to remind me to take care and to love myself always—and never hurt my body how I used to.”

The first tattoo she ever got, however, was on her arm. “I got it when I was fifteen years old,” Mayo recalls. It is of a “peace” image with a wave next to it. “I love the ocean, and it brings me peace,” Mota explains. Reflecting momentarily, she adds, “Peace: it’s what really matters to me, more than money, love, etc.”

Next, she adds the French phrase Tout ira bien, which translates to Everything will be fine. “It’s a reminder from me to the past that it doesn’t matter what I’m feeling right now or how the situation of my life is, everything will always be fine.” Clearly, there is a therapeutic theme running through all of these, which might also help explain the tiger tattoo on her back. “For me, it symbolizes strength, determination, focus that I need to have to achieve my goals in life,” Mato asserts. “They’re lonely and beautiful animals, too,” she adds, as if speaking not only of them but of herself, as well.

Pointing toward her foot, Mato indicates her latest tattoo. “I have an unopened delta and a little ‘up’ arrow near to my ankle,” she states. “The unopened delta means open to change and the arrow means forward.  Clearly, the further down her body she gets, the more her story progresses. From the healing of her mind to the strengthening in her backbone to the ability to move forward in life, each serves as a reminder of not only where she has been but also where she is headed.

“So, for me, it’s basically that I’m always open to see things differently and to see new perspectives of life—discover new places, meet new people, change my appearance,” Mato concludes. “I’m just open to change. For me, that’s what life is about—and always moving forward.”