This month for Tattoo Thursday, I interviewed Kirstyn Smith, a Morrissey fanatic about her three tattoos dedicated to just him…
Where did you get your tattoos and would you recommend the studio?
I got them at a few different places: the lyrics ‘I am mine
‘ were done at Tribe Tattoo
in Edinburgh, the signature was done by Brooke at Love Ink (also in Edinburgh, and she also did the inkwell that features in the lyric tattoo) and the silhouette was by Darren while he was at Edinburgh Ink,
but I’m not sure he works there any more. I’d recommend all the studios, yeah.
Talk me through them all, how they came to be, what inspired them and why Morrissey?
The lyrics: I was coming out of a period of my life where I needed a reminder to never compromise my life for the needs/wants/expectations of another person. As with a number of Morrissey’s lyrics, the phrase ‘I am mine’ had been rolling around my head for some time and I (somewhat impulsively) thought, why not harness the positivity of the phrase because, while the song it originates from is kind of a sad song, there’s something weirdly empowering or uplifting about the those three words in any context. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel as though I’m carrying a reminder at all times to stay true to myself, which has frequently been reassuring and comforting to me over the years.
The signature: A friend and I met Morrissey in 2011 after one of his gigs. I always told myself that if I was ever in the position where I had Morrissey in front of me, I would ask him to sign my arm and I would get it tattooed on. My friend had a Sharpie to hand, so I think even before I said ‘hello’ or anything, I just blurted out ‘will you sign my arm?’ It was about midnight and we’d been queuing for the gig since the early hours of the morning, so I was a complete mess. It wasn’t my most composed moment. I slept with my arm hanging out of the bed so that the ink wouldn’t smudge and then ran to see Brooke first thing in the morning, who, thankfully, had time to fit me in that day before I had to get the bus to another gig. She kept it true to the original signature, right down to the smudge where I accidentally gesticulated and nudged his hand away.
The silhouette: This one was just for fun, really. I really like the picture the silhouette comes from and always figured I’d get it done at some point. Someone I worked with mentioned that she knew a guy who was opening a studio and he would probably tattoo me for free. It was a slightly spur of the moment thing (would never really recommend a free tattoo under the majority of situations), but I’m always pleased whenever I catch glimpse of it. It was the most painful of all my tattoos; sore to the point that I was really angry at Darren by the end of it, even though he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
Why Morrissey? Morrissey is one of those people who inspires a remarkable level of devotion in his fans. The Smiths captured a part of me or a point of view or some intangible notion which hadn’t really been expressed by any other musicians or lyricists I’d come across before. Once you begin that relationship (as it were), you’re in for good, I think. Normally I’d balk at name tattoos, but there was absolutely no hesitation. There’s pretty much nobody I love more in the world.
How have friends and family reacted?
They’re fine with the lyrics, though I do have to explain what they mean a lot (‘I just like them’ is my stock answer these days). A lot of my friends thought I was joking when I said I’d got the signature tattooed on. I don’t think it really surprised anybody, though. I think by the time I got the silhouette done they were just despairing. The most common thought is that whoever I end up with (if indeed I end up with anybody) had better be a fan, or at least not despise him too much.
Has Morrissey himself seen them?
I doubt it. I’m just another face (and arm/hand) in the crowd. So many fans have signature tattoos or lyric tattoos or portrait tattoos. It’s sweet. He does this thing where he reaches into the crowd and takes the hands of people in the audience and that’s happened a few times, so perhaps it was subliminal messaging. If I were him, I’d think it was madness. Perhaps it is.
Do you plan on getting more?
I have eleven already (and a couple of cover ups) and plan to keep going until I run out of space. My next one is also going to have Morrissey lyrics, cos apparently I just can’t get enough of that.
Tattoo Thursday is a monthly segment in which I interview people about their tattoos. If you’re interested in getting involved email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! x