Two tattoos with two very opposite stories. Kennedy is from the gorgeous state of Colorado. She was born and raised a Christian and a hippy (no direct correlation) and an artist. Her tattoos are considered, by her sister, the most badass thing she’s ever done. Kennedy moved to New York City as an 18 year old (which might be a contender for the ‘most badass thing’) to attend The King’s College studying media, culture, and the arts.
The day she moved to New York City, Kennedy and her family hit the ground running with unpacking. Her new neighbor, Catherine, stopped in to say hello and welcome her to New York. Her new roommate stepped out to let the family organize. Boxes slowly turned into home. She took off her socks, as one does in their home, which revealed a fading cross tattoo on her ankle. Still unbeknownst to her father, he stopped in his tracks. He silenced the room by saying, “is that a tattoo?” recalling his rule for the family: “if you get a tattoo, I won’t pay for college.” Catherine quickly backed out of the room.
You can see the immediate danger of the situation.
Kennedy recalls the halo of fear hovering over her head. Would she be in trouble? Would Dad pull the college funding? Luckily, he didn’t. Though he appeared to be disappointed, he knew Kennedy would be an adult solely responsible for caring for her mind, body, and soul. Even if that decision was a stick-and-poke tattoo, it would be hers.
A stick-and-poke tattoo is a tattoo completed with a needle or pin and ink, typically in situations where the client can’t afford a tattoo or is not old enough to go to a tattoo shop. Kennedy was 17 when her and her high school sweetheart went to Frontier Ranch Young Life Summer Camp. One evening, they took 20 minutes to decide they wanted matching tattoos. Their mutual friend Jesse grabbed a pin and calligraphy ink and went to work.
After a painful night and another one a week later to touch up the ink, Kennedy stated for the record that she does not recommend a stick-and-poke. “We did it with calligraphy ink. We don’t know what we put in our bodies!”
That pain didn’t stop Kennedy from aching for another tattoo. Two years in New York City came with trials testing her dexterity. She navigated each new barrier with graceful strength, consistently choosing friendship, family, and love. When she turned 20 she found an old letter from her mother which read, “I love, love, love you so.” After an afternoon walk in Soho with her roommates Rachel and Taryn, she was handed a flyer for $50 tattoos. She returned that night with a new stamp on her arm.
Her mom had secretly helped Kennedy in hiding her first tattoo. She noticed it about 6 months before her father did, but let it slide under the radar. Kennedy had been considering this design for roughly two weeks and ran the idea past her mom. Once she unveiled the new spontaneous tattoo, her mom burst into happy tears. The two shared a joyful FaceTime call followed by a message in Kennedy’s inbox, “at least you’ll always know how much I love you.”
As a tattoo veteran Kennedy shared her recommendations for those considering ink:
- Do your research. Know what you want and pick a parlor that makes you feel comfortable.
- Bring a friend. You’ll want someone to support you.
- Consider picking a spot you can cover up easily. In case you decide to cover it for job interviews, weddings, or family gatherings.
- Aftercare is so important! Talk to your artist about proper treatment.
- Stick-and-poke tattoos…2/10 recommendation. That is if you followed all her other recommendations and found a talented artist to do it for you.
Adulthood…how terrifying! Kennedy’s tattoos remind her of how well she has been loved through the motions. A true self-made woman cannot disregard how the great loves of her life built her too.