Tattoo of an octopus on an upper arm

Ben was a very special guy. I mean, everyone’s special. But he was very charismatic, very good looking, very funny, and people warmed to him. Even when we were kids, he was inspirationally naughty, if you know what I mean.

We were nineteen. We were in Thailand. One night, I don’t think we’d slept, and we went deep sea diving the next day.

And there was a little octopus. I was swimming around it and it started changing colours. It was like blue, and green. Apparently, it’s like a defence mechanism, it warns off hunters.

The deep-sea diving instructor made a fist, which means danger. And I remember Ben pointing at it, and bubbles coming out of his mouth, and I think he was saying Get it! And I thought, Yeah, I’m gonna get the octopus.

So I basically reached out and tried to grab it. It lashed its little tentacles around my arm. It was only small, but under 18 metres of water you panic.

I couldn’t get my arm away, and I thought I was gonna drown. And I basically vomited in the mask, and all these fish swam around my face.

Ben was like: 'You had a head of fish, like a helmet of fish.'

After we’d go out, and meet people, and they’d go, ‘Oh Hassan, are you the octopus dude? Ben told me all about you!’

Ben was my best friend, like a brother.

He took a heroin overdose in my house. He had a bit of an unspoken habit. I mean we were both pretty fucked up. It kind of caught up with us. I’m better these days. He died at the age of 29.

When he died, I needed to solidify something. A unique memory that nobody else had.

My dad’s Syrian, he’s quite strict. He once said to me ‘Hassan, you’ve got a tattoo of an octopus on your arm. Like, who the fuck’s gonna take you seriously?’ He didn’t like it at all. It’s not a very Syrian thing you know. I stand out like a sore thumb there. He’s not used to it. But he actually quite likes it now.

told by hassan


Tattoo on a neck of the word utopia

Utopia is just my way of seeing life. Especially my life.

I was born with a hereditary blood disease, haemophilia. The main feature of this disease is that the blood of the sick can not coagulate. So the wounds don't heal without medicine.

I discovered I had this disease with the extraction of a tooth. And for a simple tooth extraction, I was going to die.

Today in Italy, out of 60 million people, there are 4000 people with this disease.

Children have many dreams, and I had many too. But growing up I realised that for me no dream could be fully realised.

This disease prevents me from doing so many things, it hinders me in many things, even daily.

I feel as though I am in a glass bubble. Fragile. I still can't accept it much.

I chose Utopia as my word, and I chose the neck as the place to tattoo it, because I can get up in the morning and look at it in the mirror.

I remind myself how beautiful dreams are. Even the ones I can never accomplish.

As I said most work I can not physically do. In my country, manual factory work is too dangerous for me. There's a good chance of getting cut, or bruised.

For about a year I have been trying to express myself as I can with drawing.

Art is above all a therapy. Art is a psychophysical cure.

When I draw I can still dream, as I did as a child. And I hope that what I do will help everyone, even those like me who have often felt "lost", without a place in this world.

Art helped me. I had dreams in my hands, and when I opened them, dreams flew away like flies.

written by alessio


Tattooed quote on an arm. The quote says In a man's attachment to life there is something stronger that all the ills in the world.

I was in my early twenties in my third year at university but got heavily depressed, and never graduated and my ambitions collapsed.

Afterwards I moved to another city, took a low paying job, and was struggling financially and wasn't enjoying life.

Already a bit of a loner, though one who enjoyed solitude, I became extremely lonely.

I got the tattoo after I landed a new job and recovered from depression.

The tattoo is a quote from and symbolises the writings and philosophy of Albert Camus.

To me the quote, taken from The Myth of Sisyphus, has multiple meanings: not to give up on life nor despair; not to turn away from the problems in the world; to retain a strong ethical outlook when it comes to others - both people and animals, and to continue to strive to live a passionate life as a form of rebellion against the apparent meaninglessness of life, as well as anyone and everything that threatens to hold us back.

The tattoo is on my inner forearm in a plain font as it was my own personal reminder.

Now in my mid thirties I recently recovered from a second bout of depression, during which I had suicidal ideation.

This quote and the writings of Camus helped me a lot to endure it all a second time.

Though still a bit of a loner, I continue to try and make the most of my solitude and strive to live a passionate life.

written by jon


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