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Monday, June 2, 2014

When Literary Tattoos Go Wrong

Yesterday I was doing some organizing in my apartment (you know how librarians like to have fun) and I came across a book of "Illustrated Librarian" temporary tattoos that I had received in grad school. Since I graduated approximately eight million years ago, I wanted to see if they still worked  - and they did! 


I've never seriously considered getting a real tattoo...not because I don't like them or because I'm afraid of the pain, but because I'm scared that I'll change my mind about whatever it is I choose as a design. I've toyed with the idea of getting something literary because, you know, BOOKS (side note: the Book Riot crew has a lot of inspirational literary tattoos, which you can see here), but I can't ever seem to be able to commit fully enough to an image or quote...at least not enough to feel good about it literally being a part of my body/skin for the REST OF MY LIFE.

However, applying the fake tattoo yesterday kind of got me in the mood to at least THINK about designs, so I asked my insanely talented boyfriend Michael if he'd help me sketch something out, just for fun. (Michael also created this amazing librarian pulp poster a few years ago, so you know he's got talent.) He asked what ideas I had, and I told him that it might be nice to incorporate a part of my favorite quote ("The world was hers for the reading") from my favorite book (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith) into a related image (a tree. Because I like trees and "tree" is in the book title. I'm so original!) I told him I'd do a rough sketch first to show him what I meant.

That's when things went terribly wrong.

Okay, well, that's when my drawing went terribly wrong. As you can see from the image below (and from previous posts in this very blog), I have absolutely no artistic skill whatsoever. I'm not being modest or fishing for compliments when I say this. It's a well-established fact, and I am okay with it. So, basically, my version of a tree looks like a whale tail with Chia-hair. Luckily, from my monstrosiTREE (I don't know) Michael was able to understand the basic idea of what I wanted and drew a beautiful version of the quote in a tree:

I don't know if I'll ever be brave enough to get Michael's design actually tattooed on my person, but I do love it. Or maybe I'll come up with another idea altogether that I'll actually decide is worthy of becoming a permanent "living" art exhibit. For now, I'll just stick with the temporary tattoo. (Maybe I'll trick the kids at the library into thinking it's real. Again, we librarians like to have our fun.)


  1. I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and am glad I am not the kind of Iibrarian who keeps just a few recommendations on hand for children.

  2. That's a really beautiful design! I keep toying with ideas for a tattoo, including literary quotes and pictures of trees (my sort of go-to natural THING for peace and calm), but I've never quite managed to nail down a design I like so much that I'm confident about having it permanently inked somewhere. I'll keep musing on it - if I find the right one, I'll know. :)

  3. Think long and hard,, I got a tattoo when I was 19 and now am regretting the design.


  4. Do NOT get a tattoo.

  5. I know a librarian who got one for her 60th - a book on the back of her wrist.
    I have nothing against them - just not for me...