my monochrome tattoo tour;

Don’t you just hate it when all your favourite bloggers write about the same things at the same time? I’ve spent the past week moving this blog over to Tsohost, resulting in many of my planned posts being delayed – which is why my heart sunk a little when I spotted Lynsay’s colourful tattoo tour over at Miss West End Girl on Monday morning.

Gloriously colourful and featuring bright lipstick, cupcakes and lucky cats, Lynsay’s tattoos are an extension of her personality: bright, striking and always perfectly accessorised. In a way, they’re the opposite of mine which are all black ink tributes to my favourite bands and artists – and, as much as I love to show them off, they’re subtle enough to get away with when I’ve got my Serious Professional face on.

So, I think this post is still worth doing – and I hope you agree! But if, for some reason, you don’t read Lynsay’s blog already go check it out now and get it added you your regular reads: it’s one of the few blogs I’ll head to immediately when there’s a new post, as her sunny disposition and open-eyed take on life in Glasgow always make for a brilliant read.

Tattoo Tour - Cold Roses

My first tattoo was the Ryan Adams-inspired “Cold Rose” on my left wrist, which I got in 2008 after walking out of a Cardinals show in Edinburgh. I’d been toying with the idea for a while and both the inspiration (the great musical love of my life while I was struggling with my second major depressive episode) and the position of it were symbolic. I didn’t have an appointment or anything: I just took the design – which, handily, was on my main keyring at the time – to the only tattoo parlour I knew of, and 15 minutes and fifteen pounds later it was done.

Although there is a reason and a story behind all of my tattoos, that’s not something I necessarily subscribe to: it’s your body, your choice and as long as you are committed to your idea that’s fine. I’m not one of those snobs that turns her nose up at the increasing popularity of tattooing, although I know enough that I winced when someone popped into the shop while I was waiting that first time. “How much for a tattoo?” he asked and, when further questioned on what he had in mind, replied “anything”. It’s a good thing you can get tattoos removed with a laser these days…

My abiding memory of the reaction to that first tattoo of mine was the colleague of mine who grabbed my wrist, sighed dramatically and said “well, at least it won’t show up in your wedding photos” (not that I was engaged at the time, of course). Which brings us nicely onto my second tattoo, and possibly my favourite-ever photo of me:

“Certain Songs” is the name of a track from the Hold Steady’s debut album Almost Killed Me, and the ellipsis at the end is supposed to indicate that the tattoo is a contraction of the lyrics. Specifically the line “certain songs, they get so scratched into our souls”, but in reality most of the whole thing:

guess you’re old enough to know
the kids out on the east coast
roughly twenty years old
get coaxed out by a certain perfect ratio
of warm beer to the summer smoke
and the Meat Loaf to the Billy Joel
certain songs they get so scratched into our souls

It’s the most beautifully-expressed verse about finding that perfect soundtrack to the nights you don’t realise until later have become the defining moments of your life, and is it any wonder that if I ever take the music blogger’s obvious next step of setting up a tiny record label that’s what I’ll be calling it? This particular tattoo was my birthday present to myself when I hit the 27 Club back in 2009.

Last Year's Girl tattoo by Bones and Smithereens

The most recent of my tattoos took that theme and ran with it, as well as bringing some much-needed gender balance to the festival lineup on my skin. It’s also the first of my tattoos done in collaboration with an artist – in this case, my good friend Steph Wood of Bones & Smithereens in Gourock – since it’s stretching it a bit to call tracing paper and letters “art”.

Although this was again based on an existing design (the artwork for Bikini Kill’s 1998 The Singles compilation, which I love as much for its DIY ethos as well as the tracklisting), what makes this really special is the music streaming from the turntable: it’s the “oh you’ve got the darkest eyes” stanza from the Sleater-Kinney song “One More Hour”. So two of my all-time favourite bands in one crafty little tattoo.

Perhaps some day I’ll feel confident enough in halterneck tops to turn my lower back into a full-on discography of the songs that are “scratched into my soul” – what do you think?

DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own and unbiased. See my full disclosure policy.



  1. Stephanie Hartley
    March 31, 2016 / 11:23 am

    This was such an interesting post – I love learning more about bloggers I follow! The rose is so pretty, and I love the story behind each of your tattoos.

    Steph –

  2. April 1, 2016 / 2:45 pm

    I love learning more about peoples tattoos! I really love the turntable one on your back – it’s beautiful 🙂

  3. April 9, 2016 / 6:22 pm

    Thanks for the sweet words! I think your tattoos are awesome, and I love the phrase about music being “scratched into our souls” – I can totally relate to this! Also, a welcome return of the Rizzo top (YASS) xx

    • April 10, 2016 / 8:01 pm

      Actually, this one’s a dress version! That’s my outfit for next time sorted! x