Writing down thoughts, feelings and experiences in a journal is one way to do it. Another way, the more permanent way, if you will, is tattooing your body. I’m going to dive right into this and start off with my mom’s feelings on it.. I think she gave up a few years ago when I started tattooing my whole arm. Actually, just kidding, she still groans every time I get another. Mom loves some of them, the small dainty ones, but not so much the larger pieces of artwork on my body. She gets it though, finally I think.
My tattoos started when I was 16 years old. It was 2003, and I was in 10th grade. I wanted stars on my lower back, but to the right a little. My dad was like “Courtney its your body, if you want stars on your back, thats your decision, I’ll sign for it.” My dad is cool AF, I love how he let me make my own decisions, fuck up sometimes, and never really punish me. I actually didn’t really fuck up that much when I was younger because my parents gave me so much freedom. No curfew, I could come home at 3am on a school night if I wanted to when I was in 10th grade… I know it may sound like maybe they didn’t care but they did. They were always at home with me, helping me with my school work, at every school function, making sure I was going in the right direction, but they never hovered over me. I didn’t feel controlled. I felt like I controlled my own life to some degree. If they saw me going the wrong way, they would definitely reprimand me 100%. After I graduated high school, I moved to NYC and I had the same amount of freedom as I did in high school so it didn’t feel weird, I knew how to run my own life, I was used to it. SO many of my friends went off to college and got fucked up every night and partied. I didn’t really party until I was in my 20’s. The last thing I want to add to this story is.. in high school all my friends took shots before a high school dance, and they got caught at a school dance. We all had to take breathalyzers, and I was the only one who didn’t drink, the only one who passed. I didn’t drink because I didn’t want to let my parents down, after giving me so much freedom.. I knew they would take it away if I fucked up too badly. I definitely got high a lot in high school, but that was it…. and as we learn now Mary Jane is a good thing.
Back to the tattoo… so I got some colored stars and I think I was the only cheerleader in my grade with tattoos at 16… I wore crop tops for the next month, I thought I was hot shit. Oh to be 16 again. I went to South Side Tattoo in South Side, Pittsburgh. That’s where all the cool kids went back in the day. LOL.
AND so the addiction started. I want to add, those stars are one of my fav. tattoos to this day. It looks vintage, colored pink and blue. Its dope and I want more colored stars on my lower back.
Then I went back a year later and got another baby red star low, low, low on my hip.
My best friend and I ended up back at South Side Tattoo, we were now 18 years old. LEGAL, for tattoos on our own. We got little colored butterflies. I got mine flying over the stars on my back, because obviously butterflies fly over stars. It made sense at the time.
My three tattoos from high school remind me of my teen life, best friend, being young, etc… I would NEVER take them back! EVER!
Corinne, Carl, Courtney. The three C’s. That’s what it stands for. Three C’s on my wrist that look like backwards horseshoes now, because someone shitty did it at Shamrock Tattoo 10 years ago. My mom, dad and myself all have C names. My mom and dad got pregnant with me when they were dating and then half way though her pregnancy, they were like, I guess we’ll get hitched on halloween night. I LOVE THIS STORY. Conventional things make me uncomfortable. I want to keep the tradition going and get hitched on halloween night as well- if I get married. IF.
There is a day that is yours for embracing. On my side, in the most ridiculous writing ever, it looks like a little kid did it. I LOVE IT. I hated seeing live music and one of my best friends dragged me to Coachella nearly nine years ago. She made me see Hot Chip (I hated Hot Chip prior), that performance changed my life. Nothing has ever made me so happy aside from being in love with my two exes. Finally life had more of a purpose. Music. I remember the lights and Hot Chip singing their song “I feel better”. I LITERALLY felt better in that moment. Ran home and got the tattoo. In Pittsburgh, while I was visiting the parents, back where I started at South Side Tattoo.
Bliss on the back of my neck with a line through it. It means ignorance is not blissful. Not knowing is not peaceful. I was dating a guy who had a girlfriend he lived with and we had a little thing, I wasn’t sure what was going on in their relationship, but it wasn’t blissful at all for me. My good friend Louis Carreon took me to Shamrock Tattoo in LA, sketched it, and it ended up behind my neck. Ignorance is not blissful.
GO. Got that with this girl who I became really close with. We were drunk on Hollywood Blvd. and popped into a random shop and were like lets just go. Do it. Get it. It means don’t think too much, and just do. Go.
Hearts Collide. Lyrics from the Cut Copy song Hearts on Fire. That’s to my biggest love of my life. I got that one on Sunset Blvd. at Prix. It looks like a biker tattoo. Really love that. Thin is cool sometimes, but its also nice to have variety.
Pineapple. I went to Hawaii for the first time, Maui specifically. It was one of the most magical places I had ever been. Ran home and got a pineapple tattoo, to signify. One of my good friends who took the trip with me set it up with her friend Rustle. He doesn’t even really tattoo, only friends. His work is sick though!
Peter Viereck “unthings”. I took this part of the poem. Come stay with what can’t stay. Trust only what fades away. Go leave with what’s not staying. It means something different for everyone. I interpret it as, we are all part of every extreme. Also- the specific part of the poem I have on me, kind of means to do things without purpose. Just live in the moment, regardless of the outcome. Oh and Daniel of Winter_Stone did this one me. Its the first time we met. He’s my guy now. He does most of my tattoos. HES MY FAVORITE.
OK, I kind of forget what comes next… the order is kind of out of whack now, but I’ll still number them…
Picasso- naked girl on my side. Done by Daniel again… because women are beautiful, and have the most beautiful bodies.
Picasso fish. Its next to the Peter Viereck poem on my hand. Which is kind of ironic, because I got it for Pisces reasons. I’m such a fish, wanted to move to LA from NYC at 20, because I needed to be by the water. I did it… here I am. The poem kind of reminds me of my Pisces self, its funny they’re next to each other. The fish is another Picasso from a design on a plate. Daniel did this one also.
Wave on ankle. Life is a wave, you just have to ride it out, and be as chill as possible- done by Daniel again.
Daniel’s work again, “I have no fear, I have only love”. On my back. From the Fleetwood Mac song Gypsy. It’s my favorite song of all songs. My number one. I belt it out and cry sometimes when I’m sad. I have a really bad voice though, so not when anyone is around. The words speak for themselves. I don’t live in fear. Only LOVE.
Duck on my wrist. By Daniel. A drawing that Renzo does on every piece of paper, napkin, etc…. he drew 100 ducks on a piece of paper and I picked my favorite and Daniel tattooed it.
Palm Tree on my finger. Just for fun. I like palm trees, I love LA, LA is home. Never leaving. By Daniel.
NUMBER 17 & ONE HALF:
Doberman on my foot. Daniel did this for me months ago. Turbo passed away a little under a month ago, and after putting her to sleep in my arms and feeling her soul literally leave her body, the most powerful thing I’ve ever felt in my life, I texted Daniel 10 minutes after this happened. I was literally on the ground outside the vet hospital, because I had collapsed in tears and I was still grabbing for my phone, texting Daniel 911, it’s an emergency I need to come see you now. I told him what happened and how I needed to release my pain in a tattoo and add wings to my doberman, for Turbo, angel wings. I showed up there 30 minutes later, of course he told me to come immediately (I want to add that he’s booked for like 8 months out, and he immediately was like come now, clearing my schedule). I found out when I got there, the reason his instagram handle is “Winter_Stone” is because his Weimaraner, Stone. Stone lived to be 17 years old. He was devastated. While I bawled my eyes out he drew wings on her. I didn’t even look at it pre, I was just like do whatever I trust you. Tattoo artists become therapists to some degree.
So I’m really out of order now, because I saw another tattoo artist that I also love, in between all those ones above from Daniel.
NAL, @nal_tattoo on instagram. He’s also the shit.. he did all of the below..
Wish you were here, in red on my forearm. I wanted to get something in color that looked like a postcard from LA in the 70’s. I always listen to the Pink Floyd song, and I heard it for the millionth time one day and I was like thats it.. LITERALLY, Wish You Were Here.. its so old school post card. Also- so many of my friends and important people live in different parts of the world, so I always wish you were here.. to all of them.
Rose. Just for fun. I like the way it is. I guess I can also sting sometimes. Sometimes I’m insensitive and I need to be a little better about that.
Thin outline of the girl with power outlet feet. This one means Girl Power. I love being a woman. We all need to not be so caddy to each other and help each other rise, and love each other, as women.
Gothic C on finger. For Courtney. Basic. This one and the next one are both done when I was in Paris last season for fashion week, by JK Kim @jk.tat A bunch of friends and myself ended up in an apartment somewhere in Marais, and she did them for all of us.
She also did lips on my collar bone. Just for looks. Making out is fun too… I guess we could look at it that way.
ABC, on my arm (A, bumble bee, eye for seeing). Got this one with a very good friend in NYC randomly. The A is for his husband who is one of my closest friends, and will be for the rest of my life. The bee is from a piece of artwork, and eyes are for seeing. I don’t know its fun and Veit (my friend’s husband) and I both got the same exact ones. Connected for life. OK, @tattoobyok on instagram, did this one. His work is INSANE!
+62. The Bali area code. I got this one late at night with my three friends who live in Bali. Bali is my happy place. The area code where I’m the most at peace. Now the four of us all have +62.
Wave picture on back of my arm. Done by @sdgttt_ on instagram at @babayaga_tatoo in Bali. Back in Bali for the third time. His work is insane, especially the dot work. I wanted another wave, because it reminds me of the beach in Bali. SO HAPPY THERE.
Okay, so I shot this 2 months ago, and now I’ve gotten a ton more since then. Picasso flowers on my arm by Daniel. We’re going to color them in next month. Not sure what colors I want yet. I wanted something in color on my arm.
“Smiling on the inside”. Daniel did this one for me too. I don’t smile much on instagram. I’m always smiling on the inside, though. People assume since I don’t smile I’m not happy. WRONG. I only share my smile with those closest to me or people in passing, IN REAL LIFE. I don’t want to smile on instagram all the time. Its not about my smile. Its about helping people put outfits together, and what beauty products to wear. This tattoo also signifies that I’m generally a happy person. I like my life. I guess I’m not always happy per-say, but I do like my life, I’m thankful for my path so far and I wouldn’t change any of it. I wouldn’t ever want to be anyone else but myself. So I’m smiling on the inside, where it matters, inside. I don’t have to physically walk around with a smile on my face just because. I think its more important to smile on the inside, plus doesn’t smiling cause wrinkles?
Well, not the end.. clearly. The end of this post though…
I think tattoos are a very personal way of expressing yourself and a constant reminder of different times in our lives, no matter how much a tattoo has bled, or how unflattering to the skin it may look after years, I would never remove any of them. I never kept a written journal on paper. This is my journal, and I’m forced to never forget it.
Photos by Scott Leon.