Virgin Skins

“What I have learned over the years is the main desire we have is the drive to be tattooed. Design comes in secondary. The main drive is to be tattooed and that is wonderous.” – Master Tattoo Artist, Filip Leu

A Book of Wonderous Tattoo Stories

Seventy percent of the Western population between the ages of 18 and 45 is now tattooed, and the majority of this demographic is ruled by women. So what is it within us that drives us to invest and suffer for the permanent privilege of wearing, what is most often, a stranger’s art? The Iban people of Borneo believe, “A man without tattoos is invisible to the gods” and the esteemed mambabatok Whang-Od of Buscalan Village in Kalinga Province of the Philippines has said that the only thing she will be taking with her into the afterlife is her tattoos. Do we share these deeply rooted cultural and spiritual concepts? How can we respect indigenous cultures and avoid appropriating their traditions? Does the process of gaining our tattoos transform us or alter our choices after we have become inked? Do we form a connection with our tattoo artist during the process of being tattooed? Can we carry a piece of them with us afterwards? 

I am interested in your connection with your ink as a tattooist or tattooed individual. Has being tattooed transformed you beyond what you expected? Who and what do you carry in your skin and why? Virgin Skins is a collection of your stories, a book for those of us who feel the wonderous urge to be tattooed, to be marked and mark our journeys through the world. 

If you have wondrous tattoo story, contact me! I’d love to hear about experiences and interview you for my book or blog! 

Photograph is of the author receving a traditional Filipino tattoo from Apo Whang-Od in beautiful Buscalan Village, Kalinga Province, Philippines. Author has received permission directly from Apo Whang-Od to write about her. This beautiful photograph was taken by my good friend David Sosmena and used with his permission.

Kayla Geitzler is from Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, and she is the city's inaugural Anglophone Poet Laureate. Recognized by the CBC as a poet who reflects "the enduring strength of the literary form in this country", Kayla is an award-winning author. She holds an MA in English Creative Writing and a Diploma of University Teaching. Her first book, That Light Feeling Under Your Feet, about the surreal world of cruise ships workers, was shortlisted for the 2018 NB Fiddlehead Poetry Prize and Alberta Publishing Awards. Kayla's work has appeared in literary magazines across the country. She is the host of the Attic Owl Reading Series and editorial assistant to The Fiddlehead and Galleon. Kayla's adventurous spirit has taken her around the world. She loves yoga, weight lifting, art, history, tattoos. She is currently working on her second poetry collection and Virgins Skins, a book of wonderous tattoo stories.

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