At the end of July, a young woman named Emma missed her train in Penn Station and had some time to kill. Her wait was shortened when I chanced upon her and asked about this lovely tattoo she had going on her left arm:


She explained the origins of this wonderful body art:
"I knew that I wanted a monarch. And I knew that I wanted it on my arm. And I knew that I wanted it coming out of a chrysalis ... I did a lot of research online and ... didn’t know who I wanted to get it done by and was just in San Diego for the day with my cousin. Pacific Beach, actually, and was ... shopping in Pacific Beach and walked into a tattoo parlor, just like 'Oh, let’s go look at tattoo parlors!' and was flipping through all the catalogs and it was like dragon, dragon, dragon. Samurai guy, samurai guy, samurai guy. And then opened one and it was just all these amazing beautiful naturescapes and just amazing detail and I immediately, right there was like, 'whoever this is, I want this person to do my tattoo'. And they were like, 'Hold on. She’s in the back' … her name is Rebecca Min and I basically came to her with the idea and was like, 'You’re the artist, so I want it hanging from a dead branch. I want the branch to be black and gray and I love monarchs.'


I have always loved monarchs for my whole life from when I was three. That’s one of my earliest memories, I found a monarch caterpillar with my great aunt and took it home from Wisconsin to, at the time, Chicago, in a jar with some milkweed and watched it spin a chrysalis and then hatch out of the chrysalis and then let it go and ever since then I’ve just loved monarchs …they’ve reminded me of the older women in my family, my grandmother, my great aunt.

It’s still a work in progress and she combined all these pictures, she put them together and I knew that I wanted the chrysalis to be empty, like it had just come out of the chrysalis, like a rebirth sort of thing and we both had the idea to make it translucent so that you could see the branch through the chrysalis...


We’ve been working on it for over a year and a half now, just bits and pieces , my longest session was three and a half hours and I had the idea to do a whole swarm from different perspectives and once we have all of those one, she’s going to pick a light source from one direction and do shadows….and she’s  gonna do moss on the branches, a white lichen."

The shop where Emma began to work with Rebecca Min was Chronic Tattoo. Emma says Rebecca has moved on to Eden Tattoo, although she is still listed as an artist on the Chronic website.

Emma also has these tattoos on her wrists:


The left wrist reads, "Les roses ├ętaient toutes rouges et les lierres ├ętaient tout noirs" which translates to "The roses were all red and ivy were all black."

The right wrist reads, "Voici des fruits, des fleurs, des feuilles et des branches" which translates to "Here are fruits, flowers, leaves and branches."
 
Emma elaborates:
They are the first two lines of the last two songs in a set called "Aria T'oublie" by Claude Debussy. The poetry is by Paul Verlaine. I was a classical voice major in college and I wanted to do the set for my senior recital and I am obviously not your normal opera singer and my voice teacher said, 'Okay, that’s fine you can do the set, except for the last two songs. They’re too hard for you.' And I said, 'Fuck you.' And I took a year off and did nothing but practice and did lessons and studied and performed the set and was, too my knowledge, the first undergraduate ever to perform the set in its entirety. And so this was my badge of honor. Now seven year later, eight years later and until I’m in my eighties, I can look down and read these first two lines and remember every single word in French to both of these songs.
I was in West Hollywood, I was 23 and had 50 bucks and was like 'who can do this for really cheap?' and I don’t remember what his name was but I do know that at the time he had a sprained wrist and he was like 'I’ll do it. I’ll do it cheap. But I can’t believe you’re making me tattoo in a foreign language, upside down, with a sprained wrist.'
A hearty thanks to Emma for sharing these cool tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!


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