Beautiful Baybayin Tattoo
The greatest gift of this blog is getting messages from y'all sharing your own beautiful works of art and the stories behind them. Unlike what reality TV shows tell us, not every tattoo has to have some great deep meaning. Much of my own tattoos were done simply because I like the way they look. But surrounding the tattoo -- whether it be the process, the symbolism, the design, and even just what your mama said about it -- is, indeed, a story.
Fellow New Yorker, Elaine, sent me a message about how she arrived at her recent work of art and was gracious to let me share it with you.
Elaine, who is of Filipino heritage, had commissioned West Coast-based artist Christian Cabuay for her own original Baybayin calligraphy. Baybayin was the ancient written language of the Philippines prior to the Spanish arrival in the 16th century. Christian is an expert in Baybayin, and I highly recommend exploring his site for tutorials and further information. Interestingly, Christian has a Baybayin translator on his site, but it comes with the warning not to use it for tattoos, as "the program is accurate but it's only as good as what you enter." As in most general tattoo advice, it's best to get it done custom and by an expert.
With her custom calligraphy in hand, Elaine was looking for an artist to translate the design on her body. She found Black Tattoo Art and my writing on the Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon Tribe -- a group of people, largely based in the US, of Filipino ancestry, who are reviving Filipino tattoo traditions. The Tribe works with a number of tattooists around the world in translating the ancient tattoo patterns and writing on skin, and one studio they work with is Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn, NY.
Tattoo Culture's renowned resident artist, Gene Coffey, worked with Elaine to create her Baybayin tattoo, incorporating his trademark splatter and color swath, resulting in this wonderful work shown above, which Elaine is "over the moon about." I love hearing that!
In sharing her story, I wanted to convey that coming up with a work like Elaine's could often take time and a lot of research, but the result is worth every bit of it all.