For the past few months, my struggle with my identity has been at its worst.
When I began tattooing, I mapped out my entire career path, all the way up until the time I was 50. I figured I’d re-evaluate things if necessary and move on. This career path did not touch on me having a family or having the desire to be the best parent I could be. I also used to tell people that “I am starting early, that way if I get to be 25 or whatever and decide that its not for me, I’m still young enough to do something else”. But the truth is, I never thought that time would come.
I still enjoy tattooing. However, between stress with shop-related issues and my own personal issues with some clientele vs my home life, my excitement started to dull. Questions and doubts kept coming up in the back of my mind.
“Wouldn’t you rather stay at home and raise your son?”
“Are you really going to be able to make enough money to justify this for another month?”
“Many people you do business with don’t respect your time.”
“You’re taking an awful lot of abuse just to have a friendly face.”
While I feel that my desire to be a better mother or my son by being there and possibly picking up a more stable part time job to help support my family is a noble cause, I was in turmoil. Tattooing was part of who I was for nearly a decade. When people heard my name, I know that tattooing was associated with it. This dream I have chased for 8 years, was it for nothing?
No, absolutely not.
I have met amazing people. Changed my outlook on life. Appreciated things I wouldn’t have ever thought could have meaning to someone, but they did. I changed lives. I memorialized loved ones. I empowered people to make statements that they firmly believed in, and I’ve been blessed to be trusted to do these things for them. Some of them became my friends, and that in itself was amazing to me.
The shop I’ve been in for the last couple of years has been on shaky ground recently. Between artists leaving and those of us who are left going through transitions in our lives, things have been very uncertain, and they have been for a long time. We’ve decided the best thing for the shop, and ourselves, is to appreciate the opportunities we had and close the doors.
Along with my fear of losing my identity, I worried about my clients. Will they discontinue working with me altogether? Can I maintain business ties with them? Will they be mad at me? I don’t know. But I do know this. While tattooing was always my number one priority, when I met Raine, things changed. When we became pregnant, things changed. And when my son came into this world, EVERYTHING changed. However, I hadn’t yet recognized that other identities were about to change. I am first and foremost, now, a mother and a wife. My identity as an artist has suffered because I’ve been focusing too much on what other people want, and not on my own art.
Do you know that I used to paint 4 nights a week? Produce 2-4 finished pieces per week? Used painting and art as a personal therapist and that I wasn’t so confused and forgetful because of it?
I forget that sometimes. And my title as an artist has dulled. And I think that depresses me more than the potential of not tattooing full time. Maybe I’m ready to just be a mom and an artist. I don’t have to give everything up, but I do need to set my priorities. I’ve felt so lost without my art, and this process of mulling over what the hell I should do keeps coming back to my desire to paint for my own well-being and be the best I can be for my family.
I don’t care if Tobias grows up telling people that his mom is a tattoo artist.
I care about him telling people that his mom was there for him
That is what I want.
The cocoon has cracked.