Tattoo of a butterfly and the word gentle

A few weeks before I headed off for university my brother died. Out of the blue.

No signs or warning, no answers or closure.

And I had to make the decision to go to uni or stay home.

I chose university and I got through despite it being difficult because I wanted to make him proud.

He was described by most as gentle, there is a photo of him holding a butterfly in his hands and looking at it with such awe.

This was the basis of the tattoo design. I feel a butterfly is a really great representation of gentleness.

It is born from something that doesn’t hold much outer beauty but becomes a beautiful, gentle animal.

Oli found beauty in everything, from the smallest liquid crystal to the inner workings of the biggest machine.

I got this tattoo when I was finishing university.

It's a reminder to be gentle, kind and always strive to learn and understand the world around me.

written by hex


Tattoo of two daffodils on a woman's body

“I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds. Sometimes in smiles.” – Laurie Halse Anderson Recovery from an eating disorder is scary. Really scary. And hard.

But I’m getting there, one tiny step at a time.

In 2014, my uncle Dale passed away unexpectedly. He was the first person I ever told about my struggles with distorted eating.

His birthday is March 1st, and the daffodil is the March birth flower.

The stem in this tattoo is the eating disorder recovery symbol.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m struggling right now.

I keep reminding myself though that recovery isn’t linear. There are going to bad days, maybe even bad weeks, or months, but it all depends on how you bounce back and decide to carry on.

Having this tattoo will be a constant reminder that I have an angel watching over me and that recovery is possible.

Although I’m not there yet, I’m working my ass off to get there.

written by amanda


Tattoo on an arm of the number 108 repeated four times in alternate red and green ink

During the early months of 2016 I had been making pictures in red and green ink, often made up of numbers. I decided I wanted to make a picture using the number 108.

It is the number of suitors who are coveting Penelope's hand on the island of Ithaca in Homer's Odyssey; an important number in all Dharmic religions; the internal angle of a regular Pentagon; the collective number of labourers in the employment of Boggis, Bunce and Bean in Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox, and many other things besides.

So I drew a grid pattern on a piece of card and wrote the number 108 in alternating red and green ink 108 times. I made myself laugh out loud at the thought of producing 108 cards and placing them in a box.

Soon I had ordered 108 boxes and 11,664 pieces of card and I embarked upon this enormous task.

The first box was completed in a week. Each card took approximately 30 minutes so I must have worked at nothing else for 54 hours that week. After that I would mark out and complete either 3, 6 or 9 cards a day. Unlike the first box it didn't get in the way of my life because I had begun to wake up very early.

I decided to call the project 'Ithaca', the home and destination of Odysseus.

I was unaware at this time that I had entered into a very extreme hypomanic state. Whilst about 2/3 of the way through the 4th box I woke up, set out my cards and then laughed so much I spat a mouthful of tea all over them. I abandoned the project for the remainder of my high.

The inevitable low that followed was almost completely debilitating, but I forced myself to complete the 4th box which I had abandoned in my manic state.

Since then I have been giving out the remaining boxes of cards to other people to complete in any way they choose.

My project had started out as something very solitary, even with the intention that the boxes would forever remain closed and only I would know what I had done. But my high had taken me out into the world again, and the world is full of other people. I hope by giving out the remaining boxes that the project acknowledges this in the way it has evolved.

There was a long period of coming to terms with this evolution though. The idea that I had somehow failed still lingered sometimes.

So eventually I had the number 108, in alternating red and green, tattooed onto my shoulder 4 times in a column to represent the 4 boxes I completed. To say to myself that 4 boxes was enough. That I'd done enough and that 'Ithaca' has a life of its own now.

I have continued to experience highs and lows since that time and continue to go through the arduous system of mental health services. I remain undiagnosed.

written by hywel