Tattoos and Their Owners

Abby T.

“I knew our entire family couldn’t be saints. Thank God for you Abby, keeping our family interesting.” — Aunt Rhonda

Abby T. has a very unique tattoo philosophy. She values tattoos that have meaning and embrace the unexpected nature of life. Which is to say, while you may set out to associate your tattoo with a time and place, it is now a part of you that will earn memories of its own (similar to a song or piece of clothing). 

Coming to New York City at 18 was no small feat. Abby’s tattoos remind her of these, as Rhonda said, interesting years. Along the way, they picked up meanings in the spirit of her times of growth. They don’t always symbolize a single place, person, or memory; they reflect memories of where she once was and how she became the woman she is today.

What was your favorite childhood book? The one you wanted Mom to read over and over? For a young Abby it was The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. Her mom read it to her and her sisters when she was just 7 years old and it instantly became a favorite. Memories of reading The Hobbit continually bring her happiness and memories of simpler times.

Photo Credit: Abby Tilly

Abby picked the character Smaug for her first tattoo at the end of a particularly draining year. A year that demanded mountains be moved and she spent many days feeling lost and a little hopeless. Nonetheless, she had survived and found herself tougher for it. On a spontaneous night in Battery park, Abby and a friend decided to go get their tattoos. It took her all of 30 minutes to pick the character Smaug, who lives in a mountain of his own. He is a powerful and fearsome dragon who guards his treasures in Erebor. He was considered “the greatest of the dragons of his day.” On dreary days, Smaug cultivates that same joy that Abby remembers from reading (and rereading) The Hobbit. 

“It helps me remember that in the end, darkness is only a passing thing and the sun will always shine again.”

Photo Credit: Abby Tilly

Abby grew up loving great classics from writers like Tolkien and Shakespere. The laurel wreath is a great symbol spotted through history and literature. Olympic champions are dressed in laurel wreaths, as well as the god Apollo. The timeless image of the evergreen laurel wreath lives on even in the english language (laurel, laureate, baccalaureate) related to terms of accomplishment. What a suitable ode to her years championing a challenging city, unpredictable relationships, and ruthless school.

Photo Credit: Abby Tilly

Her last tattoo is a tulip, partially for her love for the House of Ten Boom and partially for her love of the design itself.

Think like Abby: if you love a design, commit! You’ll remember the person you were when you picked your tattoo and be thankful for all they did to help you bloom.

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