About My First Tattoo

by Mario Kaiser
updated September 21, 2022

It's a little over a year since I got my first tattoo from the amazing Chaim Machlev (opens new window). It has been a most interesting journey so far, and I thought I'd share a few words about it.

Picture of the tattoo

Recently my aunt told me she didn't like the tattoo too much, on account of my "menacing" look with it. I thought it was quite funny that my aunt of all people failed to see the beauty behind it and its placement. Of course I understand well enough how this tattoo might not be everyone's taste. But even then I'd expect a little effort to appreciate the work of art as such and maybe a little respect for the fact that I obviously love it.

I wanted a tattoo since I was in puberty, I just couldn't decide on a motive. It took me over ten years to realize that someone else deciding on a motive might be a better idea. It took some more time to find the right artist I wanted to be a canvas for, and it took even more time to get an appointment. But fifteen years later I have a tattoo which is way more than I dreamt of for all these years.

It's not just an entirely unique piece of art and the first of many tattoos in the gallery that'll be me – it also is a piece of art that carries my mark in the placement.

And this exactly is where we get back to the "menacing" look it is giving me: While I wouldn't call it menacing myself, I am aware it might be coming on strong – but that's exactly the way I wanted it. In theory, it was supposed to be like a cheeky teaser that I wiggle into people's faces along with the fact that they're probably never going to see the full thing.

But that some people might find it menacingly unpretty is even better: Because I'm fairly sure that I usually come across as a very friendly and not at all menacing person, this creates a beautiful dichotomy, a contradiction, a tension between what I am and what I might look like at first glance.

And I can see it in people's faces: sometimes it feels like standing in a museum, behind a painting with a little peephole in it, watching people's reactions to the art on my chest. It's art, at work from an entirely different perspective; and I just love everything about it.