Tattoo Artists and Art

An epic birthday week of matching Palm Springs (California) and Moana tattoos

So, this has been the best week, ever.

I don’t normally make a fuss of my birthday. It suddenly creeps up on me and I have to spend a few minutes trying to remember how old I am this year. Is it 28 or 29?*

*does anyone else do this?!

Anyway, 2017’s day of celebrating my own existence – for no particular reason – quickly manifested into a bit of a momentous occasion. The week-long celebration included a Chinese buffet, a posh pub dinner, a new camera, humungous burgers, three cakes, four bottles of fizz and two new tattoos.

Stephanie tattoos Angharad earlier this year

Stephanie tattoos Angharad earlier this year

I spent my actual birthday with my friend, tattooist Angharad Chappelle, who was giving me a tattoo of Moana.

Yep.

Best present EVER.

This first tattoo actually kicked off a week in which we both received ‘matching’ Moana and California tattoos. So – why did we do this?

“Becky and I often joke that we are separated at birth as we are so similar,” says Angharad. “We support and encourage each other and are obsessed with the same things. These matching tattoos of things we are both obsessed with are no surprise!”

Photo: Disney

Photo: Disney

I’ve blogged previously about why I’m personally in love with new movie, Moana.

At the centre of the story are themes of ambition and emotion, and of course insanely catchy songs. I knew it would take place as my favourite Disney film about five minutes into watching it.

After leaving the cinema with Angharad last December we continued to geek out about Moana almost every day – spending countless hours and pounds in the Disney store and sending endless (often musical) Whatsapps to each other about why this girl was so memorable and influential.

A new tattoo was obviously in order, right?

Also read: Disney’s Moana showcases the beauty of tribal tattoos

Moana design by Angharad Chappelle

Moana design by Angharad Chappelle

The same week I was due to get this damn cool b’day gift, Angharad was also booked in with tattoo artist Stephanie Melbourne to receive her very own, differently designed, Moana tattoo. I was booked in with Stephanie earlier that day to get a new piece too – a Californian bear that Angharad had already gotten from Stephanie a few months ago.

Are you still following?!

Specifics aside (I’m confusing myself), it was safe to say that this has been one pretty momentous tattoo-birthday-week (you can check out our vlog of the day at the top of this article, or on my YouTube channel).

On a side note – I’d normally not get tattooed twice in one week as my body needs time to recover after each session. I’d accidentally booked these appointments close together because I was evidently a) not paying attention b) too excited to care.

Moana represents determination, ambition and following your heart. We all face challenging turning points in life and her journey in the film reminds us to listen to the voice within at all times.

Tattooist Stephanie, who is based in Solihull (UK), was the perfect person to design Angharad’s tattoo as she was equally obsessed with the film.

Moana tattoo by Stephanie Melbourne

Moana tattoo by Stephanie Melbourne

On Monday, myself and Angharad were screaming soundtrack lyrics throughout the streets of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Three days later, the three of us were swapping views on why we all agreed that Moana made perfect tattoo material.

If you haven’t already experienced it – when you have a shared interest with your tattooist over the subject they’re putting on you forever, it’s absolutely priceless. 

Moana tattoo by Angharad Chappelle

Moana tattoo by Angharad Chappelle

Angharad says:

“Palm Springs (which I know I’ll talk about more in a moment) is a place that has changed me. It truly has, in many ways. My desire to make a life out there in California is now stronger than ever before. But moving to a completely new country doesn’t come without its challenges and the concept of leaving your loved ones behind. These thoughts have been at the forefront of my mind at the moment.

This is why I wanted a Moana tattoo. The emotions she feels are very relatable. Although she loves her life and those in it, Moana feels a calling outside of her reality. No matter how she tries to fight it, what calls her persists.

The journey to get there is challenging but she is led to her destiny and in the end… it all works out. Whatever is meant for me, my Moana tattoo reminds me that as long as I follow my gut and my heart, I will end up where I am meant to be – whether that’s living in America, or not.”

It’s safe to say that we both had an emotional connection to our new Moana tattoos. I feel like I’ve barely touched the surface in explaining how she’s inspired me over the last few months.

As well as talking relentlessly about Disney and our new Polynesian BFF, me and Angharad are always sharing our love for America and California. Angharad has travelled to California frequently for years and Palm Springs has held the title of her favourite place in the world from a very young age…

“As an ex-flight attendant I have been extremely fortunate to see quite a bit of the world over the years. Despite that, I often found myself overcome with nostalgia for one place in particular: Palm Springs, California,

It began in 1998 when I went there for the first time. My family fell in love with the place instantly – my Dad and I in particular felt a sense of belonging there. We couldn’t face the thought of not being able to return, so we did.”

Angharad in Palm Springs, 2017

Angharad in Palm Springs, 2017

“Palm Springs and much of California has a hot desert climate – the quality of light makes me feel so happy. There are palm trees as far as the eye can see and everywhere you look you are surrounded by mountains. It is a place of natural beauty.

I have just returned from spending ten days out there. I spent time at a local tattoo shop – I was intrigued to see how the industry worked out there so they invited me to hang out with them for a few days while I was on my trip. I did. I loved it.”

Tattooist Angharad Chappelle

Tattooist Angharad Chappelle

I, myself, went to California for the first time last year and (like Angharad), I felt it was a truly life-altering experience.

Like so many other human beings I find at least one thing to feel anxious or worried about every single day of my life. When visiting the beautiful Californian coast last Autumn, I had an usual and uplifting feeling. I felt the sensation of complete peace and calm for approximately two weeks straight – something I hadn’t previously experienced.

Angharad in Palm Springs, 2017

Angharad in Palm Springs, 2017

Driving through the desert with my boyfriend as we left Palm Springs and headed to Vegas for the last chapter of our epic road trip, I vowed to never forget that feeling. I started a scrap-book, I wrote poetry again, I made the effort to document this personal state of nirvana.

The happy vibes of ‘The Golden State’ definitely came home with me. I made promises to myself and attempted to take that step into becoming a brand new version of myself. Everyone makes these steps of re-birth but we rarely stop to acknowledge them. It’s truly rewarding when we do.

California – with its endless roads that seem to stretch to the edge of the world, its blisteringly hot deserts where a motionless vapour of bliss never disappears – had changed me.

A new tattoo was obviously in order, right?

We’d been planning our matching California tattoos for a while. Stephanie’s neo-traditional design of the iconic Californian bear was filled with all of our favourite things – palm trees, sunny desert, blue skies. Pure heaven.

By Thursday night, we were scoffing burgers, with this new collection of matching fresh tattoos pulsating beneath our jeans. I knew it’d take a couple of days for me to (in-coherently) gather and present the facts – and sentiments – of this fun week.

California bear tattoo by Stephanie Melbourne

California bear tattoo by Stephanie Melbourne

On the surface, this birthday week was filled with girly giggles, sparkling wrapping paper and so much cake. But really it’s been about so much more.

Whilst these two (sorry, I mean four!) tattoos may seem quite different, there’s definitely something stringing them all together. Something that connects their wearers and artists.

We all get tattooed for different reasons and that’s a beautiful thing, but sometimes, we get tattooed specifically because we want a reminder of those potential versions of ourselves. A reminder of everything we can achieve.

Our future selves are yet to be created and dreams yet to be accomplished. Often in life we experience things (films, people, places) that invite us and inspire us to address where we have been and where we are headed. As tattoo lovers, we often feel the need to have those things on our skin as a reminder, a promise.

These tattooed vows mark the deals we have made with our inner voices. They remind us to be the very best versions of ourselves we possibly can.

Palm Springs, 2016. Photo: Inkluded

Palm Springs, 2016. Photo: Inkluded

California, 2016. Photo: Inkluded

California, 2016. Photo: Inkluded

The Californian flag with the state's symbol of the bear. Photo: all-flags-world.com

The Californian flag with the state’s symbol of the bear. Photo: all-flags-world.com

Palm Springs, 2016. Photo: Inkluded

Palm Springs, 2016. Photo: Inkluded

Palm Springs, 2016. Photo: Inkluded

Palm Springs, 2016. Photo: Inkluded


More reading on Inkluded:

Also read: Disney’s Moana showcases the beauty of tribal tattoos

Also read: 12 beautiful Moana tattoos

Previous articles about: Stephanie Melbourne

Previous articles about: Angharad Chappelle


Update:

WAH! I’m a terrible person and I forgot to mention the lovely Kirsty Johnston in the video who also tattoos at The Square in Solihull with Ashley and Stephanie – I am so sorry Kirsty, my post-tattoo brain was officially mush whilst writing this! Go check her out on IG @kirstyjohnstonink

Leave a Reply