Monday, September 15, 2014


Inspiration takes many forms, and sometimes can be a small miracle.

Cass is the type of lady that always does nice things for others. For instance she’d press flowers and then give them away to others on the bus. However, she didn’t treat herself very nice. As outlined in Bondage Girl she struggled with a poor self-image, bad relationships and even drugs. Yet in others she sees good and trusts blindly. Helping out with the 2002 Remembrance Day celebrations Cass thought of the many who had given so much. They suffered the ultimate price. How did she suffer? She started to cut herself with the needle of the poppies they were assembling in school. It seemed like right thing to do – join in the suffering. It turned out to be a distraction. 

The manifestation of pain would blot out her emotional concerns. One cutting episode let to another. Sessions became more intense and she started hiding razors in her bus pass. Like many cutters it can grow into a compulsion and any sharp object can take on an irresistible fascination. (see footnote) Regardless of the instrument, relief is just temporary and the underlying issues remain. Cass lost weight, developed eating disorders, started into drugs and then got pregnant. 

It was the baby she carried that provided the spark of inspiration. How could Cass do for this child what needed to be done if she maintained the life style she had. Always one to do for others, Cass had to care for her baby and that meant no more cutting and turning her life around. The tattoo “inspired …” is on her arm above the many cutting scars. It’s a reminder of where she’s been and the inspiration the helped her make the break. 

2 months after her daughter was born. Cass also had her daughter’s footprint tattooed on her leg. 
A part of her baby will always remain with Cass.  

As she grows, she is an ongoing inspiration to Cass. Sometime she puts her foot over mom’s tattoo and says “Look Mom, look how big I’ve grown”  


Footnote: Cutting is a form of self-injury -- the person is literally making small cuts on his or her body, usually the arms and legs. It's difficult for many people to understand. Psychologists say “cutting” helps them control their emotional pain. See Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning Signs and Treatment also S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends) at and

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bondage Girl

We are often tied down, trapped by our own beliefs, and blinded to the true reality. 

Cass writes: 
My Bondage Girl tattoo is often mistaken for some sexual meaning but to me it is all about being trapped. I drew her when I was only 14 and looked at her every day. 

She reminded me of just how much I felt powerless, tied-down, stuck in my own body.  Bind-folded, she saw no future.  

Facing depression, mental health issues and eating disorders, I weighted only 82 lbs and developed Osteoporosis at 16.
It started started as a child with a gym teaches saying I was too fat to do gymnastics. About the same time I found my in sister’s diet pills. I began to live in my sister’s shadow – stuck in own body – but trying to change to someone else. Reaching out I found myself in a cruel relationship with a much older man, got pregnant and had an abortion.  Life was very hard, I was a mess.  I began doing drugs and started cutting and going further down the road of self-abuse.   

Four years later at 18, tattoo artist Robert Person inked my Bondage Girl onto my arm. 
I was her: Trapped, Tied down.    
Her image was now permanent, 
just like my condition.  

Only a miracle could cut us free.   


Cass did find her miracle.

That miracle turned out to be her daughter
but that’s a different tattoo story.

The next instalment in Tattoo Tales. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Saguenay Memories

Tattoo tales is all about the story and less about the intricate artwork. It perhaps should no longer be a surprise, but the profound thought behind so many tattoos is still a constant source of amazement. So when Myna started to describe her ink, it brought a smile to my lips.

She says: 

A profound piece for me is the Rose with bubbles, waves, a sun plus the quote "I'd rather have a single rose..." - I got this one in memory of my great grandmother. She played a huge role in my life and I still miss her every day. My favorite childhood memory was running over to her house, she lived next door, and left out a bowl of candies for us. They were creme de menthe soft candies, and I remember he when I see them nowadays on those green and white wrappers.
She passed away of cancer when I was 14 years old, and before she did, she asked my grandmother to read a poem she had picked out for the funeral. The bubbles (5 of them) represent my family - my parents, two brothers and myself, the waves are representative of Lac St-Jean. I used to spend my summers at my great-grandmother's cottage, located right on the water front there. I still go every year. It is my slice of paradise...

The words are from the poem


I would rather have a single ROSE
from the garden of a friend,
then have the choicest flowers
when my stay on Earth must end.
I would rather have the kindest words
which may now be said to me,
then flattered when my heart is still,
and this life has ceased to be.
I would rather have a loving SMILE
from the friends I know are true,
than tears shed around my casket,
when this world I've bade adieu!
Bring me all your flowers,
whether PINK,or WHITE, or RED.
I'd rather have ONE BLOSSOM now
then a truckload when I'm dead.
Author: R.D. Richards

The blueberries on my left write are a favorite, a symbol of home for me. I grew up in Saguenay Lac-St-Jean and until I turned 8, my backyard was a blueberry field. I will never forget it. We used to spend days out there in the summer, picking blueberries for pies and eating them as we went. It reminds me of home, of my childhood and of course my great grandmother. It is also fitting that "Des bleuets" is a nice nick name for local people of my region.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


TinkerBell Tattoo with the work BELIEVE Some tattoos may seem so simple in their design but their meanings can be much deeper than one might first imagine. 

When asked Beca is likely to reply: "I've always loved Tinker Bell and wanted this tattoo since I was 5.  

Based on that simple reply, one might expect a charmed childhood and youthful innocence.

But like so many others, Becca was often picked-on and bullied in school. Her self esteem was eroded. This lead to other complications and even self abuse. With the help of family and friends she has regained much of that confidence but Tinker Bell is still a very special and personal reminder that everyday takes courage and the message of "believe" now translates to: 

Believe in yourself, 
Believe in your potential,
Believe,  you  will  succeed.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Health Care Angel

Anyone who’s met Andrea knows the profoundness of her caring and compassion.

Here is a lady who’s dedicated her life to the care of others. She’s already been to Africa several times to provide nursing, do development work, help with women’s empowerment and provide aid with maternal/child health. When at home , she works on a medical/surgery floor as well as provides palliative home care.

She says:
The tattoo on my ribs is a pin up nurse. 

I designed her myself and she's to commemorate my passion for nursing.

I’ve wanted her a long time and went through several designs over a 2 year period.  I finally settled on one that was inspired by registered nurse in Uganda with the blue & red cape and black belt. It has a pin-up edge because I wanted her to be different like me. I always got ribbed in school for my piercings, looks, and the clothes I picked. Personally, I think how someone feels and acts is much more important than their outward appearance. 

My tattoo nurse is sexy, but she's also listening to my heartbeat with her stethoscope, (doing her job) which kind of represents my view:
Looks should not affect your job or professionalism.  

Post Script...

Andrea and I also wanted to dedicate this special piece to the nurses everywhere who work so hard at making some of our most challenging situations more bearable. 

We tend to encounter nurses when we or a loved one is ill or dying. Our own patience is often low and we are in need of attention. 

Our nurses, typically overworked, find the time to listen, and words to comfort. Their special care makes our world more a little more bearable. 

Thank You for all you do

(click the image for a larger version)