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{INTERSECTIONS} MIKE DIETRICH/13TH HOUR TATTOO & PIERCING STUDIO + PERSON L + KIMBERLY GESWEIN FONTS + FERNANDO GALISTEO ROBERTO + FOREVER WHIMSY PHOTOGRAPHY

“those boys don’t come around here no more, probably all moved far away and if they return on the trains from the big cities, i wouldn’t recognize their face ’cause they changed so much that they might as well be someone else. at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, ’cause lord knows i’ve changed myself.”

i got my first tattoo in 2004, at age 18, like so many others. it really doesn’t have any meaning, it is a tattoo of an open stylistic heart on my right hip that i found on google, which i then saw a year later on hershey kisses marketing around valentines day while browsing market district in shadyside, haha. i acquired a few others as well over the years, with more meaning as i really thought about what i wanted on my body. an open star on my right foot, angel wings on my left wrist, birds on a wire with my best friends on my right shoulder, stylistic flower with my sister on my left clavicle, a vine and the word “forever” on my left ribs. my latest tattoo though. it has the most meaning.

but what exactly is it? it is the lyrics to, i suppose it is my actual favorite song because it is the only song that has been tattooed on my body! (its so hard to pick a favorite!) the words “still got this smile on,” an excerpt from “the positives” from the album by the same title, by person l, the brainchild of kenny vasoli and the other musicians in the band as well as producers and designers of the album. Most of them happen to be from philadelphia, pa (so cool) – musicians who use instruments and their voices as their mediums of art. please do listen to it. this song gives me such a calming feeling – i especially love the way the instruments play at the beginning.

i actually had designed the tattoo 2 years prior to getting it, using gimp, a graphic design application which is free to download and use which i love to use for graphic design (heh, i’m also a self-taught graphic designer – i designed my logo and blog and even a magazine from scratch!). the font that i chose was made by kimberly geswein called “kg sunshine in my soul.” (her fonts are outstanding, so fun!) i have the words below written in that font. i used a flower bouquet drawing (below) that fernando galisteo roberto drew (it appears as if he made it, but i can’t find anything about him other than this pin on pinterest) tweaked it a little bit, duplicated the layer and flipped horizontally to make a somewhat wreath of wildflowers. i had planned to get it but plans fell through. i had kept it in my wallet because i didn’t want to lose it and it was a safe place for it to remain until i finally could get it.

then came the issue that i didn’t know where to get it – im kinda weird in that i want my body to be even. and this was my 7th tattoo, so, i had to get over that i wouldn’t be even anymore (and i’m still not, haha). finally, in july 2021, i got it tattooed on my upper left thigh. the photo below is what i gave to mike dietrich, the owner of 13th hour tattoo & piercing studio in butler, pa – a tattoo artist, using inks and skin as his mediums. (i was really nervous, as this is the largest tattoo on my body! he did great!!)

the final artist in this awesome intersection of a handful of artists, is me. i use cameras and subjects as mediums.

maybe you are left wondering. why though? why those lyrics? and the answer is because exactly like this song says;

“yeah, i still got this smile on, i’ll wear it across my face and if you still can not see the positives, then you’re just not looking my way.”

this lyric to me – represents that it doesn’t matter what life throws at me – i “still got this smile on” and life has thrown a lot of shit. right. at. me. over and over again. i will spare you of all the horrid details (i touched on those things briefly in this blog) but death by suicide, death by cancer, divorce and drug addiction all by the time i was 14. 14 years old until this very second and up until the moment i leave this earth, i have trauma that follows me. it creeps in every now and again to remind me every so often that my life has been far from perfect. it has been quite literally hell at times. so this lyric, it has basically become my mantra because despite all of the bad, no good, horrible things that i deal with, i have so much to smile about. and when i really sit and think about it, i know that EVERYTHING has led me to where i am today. i simply would not be the same person if the things that happened over my life didn’t happen exactly how they did. with trauma, you also have guilt at the fact that you can smile because of the things have happened to you and people you love. it requires you have to talk yourself out of feeling guilty and remind yourself that you are a better person because of it and you deserve to smile.

i’m pretty sure that anyone you ask to describe me, that they would say that i am always laughing and smiling. it’s true – i do love to laugh! many people know its me by my laugh without even seeing who is laughing and i know this because they have told me. i smile at strangers in the hallway at work or that i am passing by in a store. there is no way on earth we could ever know the extent of what others have gone through in their life because we haven’t experienced life from their point of view. what we can do is be kind to others. a smile costs $0 but it could mean everything to someone who just needed that simple act of kindness.

so, in case i happen to forget, i will just look down and be reminded that “i still got this smile on,” and appreciate the beauty of art as a tattoo made up of graphics and fonts that i designed from a song that i am so glad i got to listen to.

“and you changed so much that you might want to be someone else. run the risk of being an impressionist ’cause we should all become ourselves.”

so in coming up with the idea for this blog, i thought it would be interesting to share the {intersections} of artists by featuring individuals sharing their lyric tattoos and the inspiration behind them. if you are local to armstrong county, pa or are willing to come here for a quick 5-10 minute session in my backyard between april and october 2023, please sign up using this google form. it will also ask you some questions that you can fill out now or 1 week before your session, about the tattoo artist, musician and any other artists involved with the making of your lyric tattoo (please just indicate that you will fill out those parts later as it is required to enter something on those parts of the form). of course, i would love for you to share the meaning behind your tattoo – as much or as little as you want to delve into it. your blog will be a little bit different than mine, since i wrote mine myself and yours i will be writing using the information that you give on the form. you will need to sign a model release and i will gift your images to you via digital download. my goal is to be sharing ten{intersections} on my blog in the future, with the help of anyone who sees this and is interested in collaborating.

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