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So, I got this tattoo at Great Lakes Tattoo in Chicago on Saturday. The design was drawn by a Jennifer Lawes, a tattoo artist based out of Toronto. One of my friends asked me to explain it to him over text, so I posted what I sent him below.
The artist posted the image on her Instagram, so here's the link for that!-
Throughout the past year or so, I feel like I've become very emotionally-immersed in Mark's music. It's something that's hard to not listen to and has enlightened and positively contributed to many life experiences. Almost everyone has had an experience similar to this with an artist they love (I've definitely had the same occur with Radiohead, James Blake, Joanna Newsom, D'Angelo, etc). When they do, the listener wants to latch on to something. That something represents the product of their emotions and makes them think about how special that artist truly means to them.
For some, that something could be the artist themselves, the human creating the music. For example, when people think of their love for the Beatles, they think of their favorite Beatle and what they stand for. This could inspire someone to want to be close to that person, be a friend, or have them answer an question only they can answer.
It's an idea that I observed in a documentary about JD Salinger, where an avid fan spent a large chunk of his life searching for Salinger to ask a question only he could answer. When he finally found him, the author told him that he couldn't help the fan- having that idea put a lot of pressure on Salinger. He's not a psychiatrist, and, sometimes, he brought up questions in his writing that required the reader to develop their own answers.
This scene got me thinking about how I connected with Mark. I know he's a fairly private person, and I wouldn't want a conversation with him to be strictly about his music. I would an face-to-face interaction with any artist to be on an honest and human, rather than assuming who they are based on what I've learned through their music.
As an alternative, I chose to use a set of tangible objects to represent my emotional connection to Mark's music, things that are nonhuman but can be brought to life with a purpose, and thought it would be a cool tattoo idea. After looking at all of art for all of his studio albums, from Down Colorful Hill to Benji, there's really only two tangible objects featured- the bed from Down Colorful Hill and chandelier from April. The rest are pretty abstract or alive (the cow from the Finally LP, the girl from Ghosts of the Great Highway) and didn't really fulfill my purpose. Not to mention, the bed and chandelier are also two objects that can be found in the home. The home is a place of comfort and peace, which are things I also find in Mark's music.
The tattoo artist suggested the circles are the objects, and both of them turned out really well. I'm stoked that this is my second tattoo and first visible one