The journey of a tattoo collector

Tattoo lover and blogger Siobhan (aka Shevy) du Toit wanted to chat about why our tattoos are so important to us as collectors and how our motivations to get them can change over time.

She’s spent over 80 hours getting tattooed so far and wanted to just take five minutes out to explore this huge passion in her life and the journey it has taken her on…

Tattoo by Brent Goudie

Tattoo by Brent Goudie

As a teenager, I spent many hours looking at pictures of tattoos. I always knew I wanted one but I distinctly remember my parents telling me that I couldn’t do what I wanted with my body until I turned 18.

My 18th birthday came, and the decision was made – I was going to get a tattoo. I knew very little about tattooing, and I also didn’t have many expectations about the finished product. At the time, it was a case of walking into a tattoo parlour, picking a picture off of the wall and waiting in line. Today, things have changed.

Looking back on that moment now, I am filled with a sense of embarrassment at my teenage naivety. I had no idea about placement and my suggestion was on my lower hip because I thought it would look ‘cool’ and the tattoo artist was very quick to agree.

45 minutes later I walked out with my very first tattoo. I couldn’t have been happier.

Tattoo by Brent Goudie (Carousel Tattoos, Worthing)

Tattoo by Brent Goudie (Carousel Tattoos, Worthing)

Tattoo collector, Shevvy

Tattoo collector, Shevy

I had absolutely no intentions of getting another tattoo but it wasn’t long before the memories of the pain faded and I was ready for more permanent body decoration. I was hooked.

I carried on getting smaller tattoos that held meaning for me. They were part of my life story and I felt it absolutely necessary to have tattoos that meant something to me. When asked, I could recount a memory or story that was evidence of my dedication to my skin-work.

Hand-poke tattoo by Belle Gelfwai

Hand-poke tattoo by Belle Gelfwai

I was misguided.

The more tattoos I had done, the more interested I became in the art, the history. I spent hours online researching and following various artists, reading up on the cultural aspects of tattooing as well as watching anything I could find on television that was about tattoos. I became friendly with more people like me, who were starting their tattoo journey.

Tattoos were suddenly everywhere. My small tattoos made me one of an ever-growing crowd of people. I just wasn’t content with ten meaningful, small pieces anymore. I made the decision to cover my skin with not just my own story, but also the stories of the artists that I had been honoured to wear.

Those longer tattoo sessions sparked a fire in me to cover EVERYTHING – all of my skin. No longer was I walking into a studio and picking a picture from tattoo flash, no longer was I bringing in reference material to artists. I felt like I was playing with the big dogs.

Tattoo by Keely Rutherford

Tattoo by Keely Rutherford

The most beautiful tattoos I have are the ones that don’t hold any specific meaning. They do represent my accomplishment of sitting down with that artist for an extended period of time, pushing through that pain, and the result – a phenomenal piece that I can wear proudly.

The tattoos that I am the most proud of are the ones that I gave artists the most free reign with. Tattoo artists are experts in their craft – for what these magicians have done, I am eternally grateful. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you should walk into a tattoo studio and tell them to put anything at all onto you but… if you’ve done your homework, built up a level of trust, put the creation in the hand of the artist – trust me, you will not be disappointed.

I have plans to cover my body in tattoos. This is my ultimate goal and my ongoing journey. I am not addicted to the pain but beauty is pain, and to be completely covered in amazing tattoos is beautiful to me. For me, getting tattooed is working on a journey to become myself… my true self.

Siobhan lives in Reading, UK

Siobhan lives in Reading, UK

Tattoo by Paul Collocott in Johannesburg, South Africa

Tattoo by Paul Collocott in Johannesburg, South Africa

For me, being completely covered in tattoos is a direct reflection of my self-confidence. I am always planning the next tattoo, saving for the next session. You could say that I have become tattoo obsessed, that to put so much emphasis on my body modification is some sort of body dysmorphia but – this is who I am. The tattooed Shevy that people know and love.

I have everything from snakes to foxes, to Harley Quinn and Jack Skellington. Memories of a trip to Vegas, ways to remember my children’s names. I have tattoos that I regret and I have tattoos that I would request to be framed after death. My tattoos range from cliché to exclusive but I am proud of them all because they tell one story, MY story.

Words: Siobhan du Toit

The above is edited extracts from an original post first published on Siobhan’s blog earlier this year.

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