Tattoos, tattoos and More Tattoos. 

Ever have a dream so vivid, so real that it kind of stuck with you forever?
I was 10 years old and I was spending the weekend at my grandparents. I had a dream that gave me an image of myself I never thought would ever be my reality. In this dream I very vividly remember pulling in to my grandparents’ driveway where I went from feeling like I was driving the car to watching a movie of what seemed to be my life. Thankfully it was one of the shortest movie I’ve ever seen because it creeped me the heck out. I saw woman covered in tattoos all on her arms, some on her legs; her hair was dark, long and wavy, she had a few lip rings, nose rings, I do remember one major event from that dream and that was me thinking she looked awesome!

I woke up FAST when I realized I was looking at grown up version of me, a version of me that I thought was unattainable. Scared the crap out of me! My family would disown me if I ended up with all those tattoos, or so I thought, but I kept telling myself that I knew if they loved me as my family, they would love me no matter what. I knew exactly how I wanted to look as an adult from that moment on.

I went to get my first tattoo at 17 (shhhh… don’t tell anyone, that’s not allowed) and honestly never turned back. I started off getting one or two a year to deciding it was time to work on more and even something bigger than that. Each tattoo I have reminds me of a time, place and phase in my life.

They start as ideas and I always make sure they are done as I envision them. I’ve learned to stay quiet about my tattoo ideas mostly because I appreciate their authenticity. I’ve seen a few people walking around with my ideas, let’s just say it taught me a lesson. I have a few artists that I’ve been to and I love that my pieces reflect each person’s artistry but I don’t want to walk out and see 5-10 other people with the pieces I’ve come up with.

My tattoos are my version of my own personal art collection from some of my favorite local artists.

My first tattoos were ones that remind me of high school and college, the beginning, middle and end, an experience I knew I would never want to forget. I had a few more random pieces added to my collection in random spots on my body but the funny thing is although they may appear to be random to everyone else, they each have a meaning of some sort. I won’t go through them all but the main one people always ask me about is my sleeve.

It started as a thought that always lingered. I ended up going to photo shoot for moral support and I remember one of the women there had a sleeve started and it was like the spark woke up in me. She was a model, she was beautiful and she wore most of her tattoos elegantly; I knew I could do the same. I told myself I want a sleeve, something different than any other person would get, something I knew I wanted people to say they had never seen before and I’ll be honest that goal has been met.

I started my sleeve with the intention of keeping it at a quarter sleeve and dedicating it to my childhood aka happier times. The theme is Candyland and Mario Brothers mixed together. Once I stopped at the quarter I wasn’t satisfied, it wasn’t enough. The more my sleeve grew, the more detailed it became, my life being parallel in growth, I was growing as a woman and as a mother. I went through heartbreak, loss, addiction, I lacked confidence as a mother, I had suicidal thoughts and when I thought I had no one to turn to, I focused most of my energy on to my tattoos, getting more and finishing my sleeve. It was a process to complete, I had two artists work on it and it came together right at a time in my life where I was confident enough to see myself and my life as it was deserved to, further than what I initially had. Once it was complete (and it’s still not even 100% complete) I told myself that if I could direct my energy into something as simple as a tattoo, something good and not bad, I could do that no matter what.

Each time I saw my sleeve grow longer, each time I added a piece to my opposite arm I felt like I was coming together. The puzzle pieces of what made me were finally coming together on my arms and in my life. 

Although the judgment, the looks and stares come, I love my tattoos.

In large part my tattoos helped saved my life and,

I wouldn’t have it any other way.



Val Monique

Rebel with a cause… Kind of.

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