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Decoding Ink

Decoding Ink:


Sue Wood shows off her newest ink, done by Noel Hare at Jade Monkey in honor of mother’s fight against cancer.

The seedy tattoo parlors and un-sterilized engraving pens of yesteryear are only a faint glimmer in the tattoo industry’s history. Today, the tattoo’s rough-around-the-edges past has matured and been graced with a refined and delicate touch in its popularity. As the case may be: Delicacy and refinement, it seems, still look pretty bad-ass.

Getting inked is a commitment—to the body, mind and spirit. When Sue Wood’s mother was diagnosed with malignant cancer, Sue decided to honor her mom with such commitment.

“I had been tossing around lots of ideas, but, after a conversation with her one day, I decided to pay tribute to her by having some of her favorite things tattooed on me.”

All of Sue’s tattoos have meaning: the word “believe” on her wrist, the initials of her family on the other, and the phrase “scarred but smarter” across her left shoulder blade. For this new and most precious of pieces, and for all of her work, Sue chose artist Noel Hare at Jade Monkey Tattoo in Wilmington to ink the design. In two sessions, Noel covered the length of her bicep with a wonderfully elaborate and detailed depiction of a hummingbird, wild daisies and silhouetted butterflies. “I’m so pleased and impressed,” she says. “It’s everything I hoped it could be and so much more.”

With this new piece covering a good portion of her arm, Sue’s commitment is clear. Still, not everyone may understand it—and that’s OK, too.
“I like that there is still some taboo associated with the tattoo,” Sue says. “It’s a mark of distinction. Even now, when more people are being tattooed, there is still some uniqueness in it.”

Though rarity exists in all aspects of getting tattooed, there seems to be something sacred in its process. Something that evokes release even among pain.

“I like the act of getting tattooed,” Sue says. “Most of the time it’s uncomfortable, sometimes painful—but I feel comfortable in the shop, with the guys there. The adrenaline kicks in, and even that Pine-Solly smell of a new tattoo is incredible.”

While intricate and highly artistic tattoos like Sue’s are quite the contrast to the pre-stenciled bannered “mom” hearts of the sailor’s work from the last century, the stigma associated with them still exists. Understanding this duality of tattooing’s reputation is what further emphasizes Sue’s love for her newest piece of skin art.

“I’m all about not making decisions out of fear,” she explains. “As I’m getting older, I don’t want to be afraid to make changes or be afraid of what people think. Life is too short. Be daring. Seeing Mom go through what she is going through, we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. You want to get a tattoo? Get a tattoo. You want to sky dive? Sky dive. Live life.”

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