What would we do without our pets? Whether they’ve got paws or hooves, scales or fur, wings or fins, animals are our constant companions, our confidantes, our sources of comfort and strength. We’re at times fortunate enough to experience a bond with an animal that is almost magical. These animals leave an indelible mark on our hearts–and when they are gone, we want to honor them in an equally permanent way.
For many, that means getting a memorial tattoo. For our artists, it’s an honor to get to be part of such a special experience: We get to celebrate your beloved pet with you while we forever commemorate the imprint they left on your life.
We sat down with our very own Chelsea Jane to discuss this unique area.
An Emotional Tattooing Experience
Loss is necessarily an emotional subject. When approaching a pet memorial tattoo, Chelsea tries to keep the consultation and tattoo session positive, lighthearted, and loving. “I focus on the happy memories and best parts of having that animal in their life,” she explains. “There is no escaping the grief of losing a loved one, so it is always a part of the memorial, and tears might come–but that’s a necessary part of healing. Many times, I even get watery eyes because it is such a bittersweet experience”
With the tears come valuable lessons: “Our animal companions teach us about love,” Chelsea reflects. “I’ve always felt it easier to be vulnerable and open with animals because they don’t carry the baggage that we do as human beings–and in turn that helps me become closer and more loving to mankind. I mean, have you ever loved something so purely and as much as your own pet? Without any fear of that love not being reciprocated? To love without abandon is so brave, and it’s their greatest gift to us.”
Reflective Tattoo Design
As artists, part of our job is to sift through the strong emotions and help you design a custom tattoo that reflects your unique bond with your pet. There are endless possibilities in how to approach this, and Chelsea encourages clients to delve into their personal experience and relationship with their pet to find the most fitting memorial elements: “A great memorial tattoo can be an actual image of the animal, a token or item that reminds you of them, or one of their favorite objects or toys. Your tattoo can be super unique, just like your relationships with your pet. What was their personality like? Were they wild and wolf-like or a princess? Tiny but strong? What images pop up when you stop and think of them?”
By exploring these questions and listening to client stories, Chelsea has gotten to design a number of truly personalized pieces that honor pets–from Loki the rat to Scooby the mystical Siamese cat.
A Favorite Tattoo
In our experience, a pet memorial tattoo is often the favorite or most meaningful piece of a client’s collection. Chelsea has even done multiple memorial tattoos for clients, typically with pets that were loved during the same time period. Typically, though, it’s a single pet that’s memorialized. “Clients love all their pets dearly,” Chelsea explains, “but one usually sticks out because they were the first love or best friend or because they had them during a transformative time in life. Sometimes the pet is what actually prompted the transformation or got them through it if it was painful.”
We asked Chelsea to share one particularly memorable story on the blog, to help our readers see why a tattoo might be the perfect way to memorialize a special pet: “Katie the showgirl was a huge part of my client’s life and her family’s life. They said she loved to dress up. Even in her old age, when she was not as mobile as her puppy-self, if they put an outfit on her she lit up like a performer. That was her greatest memory of Katie, so we tattooed her in a very fancy headdress and jewels. Not only does my client smile whenever she sees her Katie tattoo, but so do her loved ones. And the tattoo is forever! So she and her family can have a quick smile and remember Katie any time because she is always with her.”
A tattoo can never replace your beloved pet, but it can be an incredibly unique reminder of the bond you shared–a way of keeping them with you always. If you’re interested in a memorial tattoo, please give us a call to set up an appointment with Chelsea or any of our talented artists. We’d love to be part of this special way of honoring your dear friend.