Hallowed be thy Ink talks about the magic combination between alternative music (like metal, rock, punk,...) and tattoos.
In this column we will share the stories of regular people with music and/or band tattoos, why they got them and how this band/music style made them stronger.
Furthermore, we will talk with musicians and other artists about every aspect of their inks and tattoo art in general.
---A tattoo has the power to decorate the body and meanwhile enhance the soul---
Right before the show of Eluveitie in Trix (Antwerp), I had an interesting talk with frontman Chrigel about his tattoos. Considering his interest in Celtic history I was pretty convinced he could tell me some very interesting stories about his tattoos. The meaning of his tattoos, drunken stories and his opinion about fan tattoos, you'll find it all here:
General vision/ thoughts about tattoos
To me personally, tattoos are something beautiful, I love tattoos and I love getting tattooed. There are a few tattoos that have special meaning to me but somehow most of my tattoos are basically ornaments because I just like them very much.
Celtic tattoo art
I have been interested in Celts like forever, it already started when I was in kindergarten. I grew up with it and it has always remained a part of my life. I got my first tattoo (a Celtic symbol on my leg) shortly after my 18th birthday, I was waiting until I was old enough to be allowed to get it. All of my inks are Celtic so they are something I identify with personally. I would not get tattoos that are not Celtic.
There is not much known about the tattoo culture of the Celts, mostly due to the fact that skin rots when you’re dead. Most of what we find are objects and bones so it’s pretty hard to find out. It is known that the Celts did tattoos, but what they tattooed and why, that’s something we don't know today.
The origin of my tattoo ideas
I have hundreds of images of celtic ornaments on my computer, so I have almost all of them that have ever been found. One of my tattoos is exactly like it was found on the rock. My left arm is a combination of different symbols, found on different objects. One element on my left arm was on a Helvetic Fibula (a brooch/pin), another one was an ornament that has been found in Austria. I also have one tattoo that was originally on a shield, and so on. I use the original images and draw them into a tattoo design, I would not use a design that someone else has drawn.
Drunken tattoo story
One time when we played an open air gig in Hungary, we arrived pretty late but we also played very late. We were the last band to play so we had hours to wait and drink. I was getting bored and they had this tattoo car, which was actually a very cool idea, it was a caravan and they made a tattoo studio in there. A friend (who is a singer in another band) and me got completely shitfaced during the day and we impulsively went into that bus like “let’s get a tattoo”. The thing is … The tattooer was also completely drunk! I just said “I want a triskele on my right middle finger”and he started. Actually the end result looks more like the logo of the band DRI, but it doesn’t really matter, I had fun. I don’t regret any tattoo because they’re all a part of my life.
Oath of the druids
The text on my right arm is welsh language. It’s a druidical saying and it means "truth against the world", because truth is the highest goal in life.
Tattoos on the handpalms
I have tattoos on my handpalms mostly because I just like it, it’s a nice spot for a tattoo. The one on my right hand is redone 5 times to have the result you can see now. There’s a different kind of skin on the handpalm. Usually when you get a tattoo, the healing proces takes one or two weeks and 10 % of the colour comes out again. On the handpalms, the healing proces takes about 2 months and 50-70 % of the colour comes out again. So you have to wait and after 3 months you can see what remains, then you have to go back to redo the ink again and again and again. After a couple of times, the ink stays. At some point it will fade out such as with every tattoo, only this process also goes much faster here. I kind of like this, because a tattoo shouldn’t look absolutely perfect. Most of my tattoos don’t look perfect and that’s how I want it because like this, it’s closer to how the symbol was used back then (for example on rocks) and it looks more natural. The one on my right hand for instance, is originally a sign in a huge rock. How the symbol looks right now on the rock is not how it looked originally. Just like a tattoo, it also fades.
The heart on my left arm is a very significant symbol in Celtic mythology. It’s actually a part of the album cover for Evocation II. It’s called “the lord of the animal” and that’s basically what it shows. You can see the animals that were important; a cow, a horse, a bore, a bear a wolf and ravens. In the center of it you see a man, it expresses the role of men among all creatures. It wasn’t regarded like we are the crown of creation, like unfortunately, we do live this way now. It actually shows that all creatures are connected and the human is just somewhere in the middle of them, connected to all of them but also depending on them. He’s also handing these animals with his hands which means he can lead them, it’s like a symbioses, every creature needs the other creature.
Almost every day we get comments or messages on Facebook from people that did some kind of Eluveitie tattoo; the band logo, some ornaments from our artworks, lyrics,… . Usually it’s something very nice and we feel really honoured. It’s something I would personally never do in my life though. There are also people who ask you to sign their arm and go to the tattoo artists with that, this is a bit crazy for me. One guy actually has my face on his body, I saw him and was like “dude, what the fuck are you doing, seriously", it’s a bit weird for me. What I have also seen twice is that people who got pictures of my arms, got the exact same tattoo as I have. It is something I have designed for myself and I would like it to remain something personal, that only I have.
Lots of thanks to Chrigel for making his time for this very interesting tattoo conversation!