September 27: Random Acts of Kindness

Well, I kind of disappeared for a bit while I tried to find some creative motivation. xD You know how it goes, especially if you work in a creative profession like I do…creating “brilliant works of art” on the fly, while simultaneously pretending to be a mindreader so you can get your finished product to be exactly what someone ELSE wants, can be very taxing on the creative juices.

Anywho, today I wanted to write about random acts of kindness. Two posts ago, I wrote about how I’ve lost a lot of faith in humanity…but every now and then, a few people restore my belief that people can in fact be kind, moral creatures. The phrase “random acts of kindness” is very significant for me, however, in more than just the simple way which I’ve just described.

Yesterday marks the seventh anniversary of the shooting at my high school, Platte Canyon High School, where seven girls were taken hostage in their English classroom by a random gunman, and one of those girls, Emily Keyes, was killed. Her parents, Ellen and John-Michael, are wonderfully strong and inspiring people: instead of allowing the horrible event surrounding the death of their child to cause them to live in fear or despair, they retaliated with kindness and love. Not long after, they created the “I Love U Guys Foundation”. The name was inspired by a text that they received from their daughter earlier that day, and was the last thing she had said to them. Their goal was to combat the random acts of violence that occur every single day by creating random acts of kindness.

The day and its subsequent message were very profound for me, in more ways than I will say here…but it changed my life. I had just turned 17 when it happened and was a senior in high school. I was like most teenagers: entitled, annoying, and whiny. My life had the WORST problems, and no one else understood. You know. September 27, 2006 was the first day since my grandpa had died when I was 11 that I saw my mom cry, and the first time EVER that I had seen my dad afraid. Ever. My boyfriend at the time was bawling with relief that I was okay, my friends were so thankful and supportive…and I realized that I had a lot of people who really cared about me. And I was thankful. I was guilty. I felt horrible that I had not shown these people in my life that I cared about them as well. I mean, it’s REALLY tough for me to say “I love you,” especially to my parents…I’m not sure why. I’ve just never been that kind of person. But what if it were me that day? I wanted to make sure that my support group knew I loved them too.

That day, my perspective changed from “Ugh, I hate my life” to “It could always be worse, and I should be happy that I have so much, a lot more than many other people have.” I wanted to commit random acts of kindness too, and even just thinking about it made me a better person!

The event was traumatizing, scary, sad, and never should have happened. But it did, and I was blessed to have people around me that could take this tragedy and turn it into something beautiful that united the entire community. I’m thankful that Emily’s spirit can live on through the strength of those that knew her, and in turn, through the rest of us as the strength and love spreads.

So next time you want to make a snide comment about someone’s weight, what they’re wearing, their attitude, or their lifestyle…remember instead to create kindness, not violence or isolation. Even if it’s just for one day, give it a try! You might make a person’s day, or save a life. Your words could be the thing to pull someone off the path to suicide, or you could inspire someone to take that leap in their life that they weren’t sure about. Bring back some of my faith in humanity!

I Love U Guys Foundation: www.iloveuguys.org

Topic: Tattoos!

Tattoos are age-old techniques of self expression that have been used in many cultures over the course of literally THOUSANDS of years! Here in the good ol’ US of A, tattoos were taboo just as early as a decade ago: if you had one, you were a ‘rebel’ or a ‘bad ass biker,’ or an old sailor. People who wore tattoos were treated differently by society because it was believed that only those with a lesser moral standing would get them.

Nowadays, it’s a completely different scene!

So all of my readers know, I am a professional tattoo artist! I’ve been tattooing for about three years, and I also did a two-year apprenticeship (the equivalent of an unpaid internship, for those not in a trade industry), and I work in Colorado. It’s an extremely fun job, and I’ve tattooed an enormous variety of clients, from 18-year old girls looking to get that first tattoo of a butterfly or flower on their ankle, to the stereotypical bad ass bikers with their skulls and flames, to even customers aged 60+ who are either adding to their collection or getting a tattoo for the first time! They are also a great way to remember a lost loved one, to show pride as a parent, or to pay homage to one’s favorite hobbies. I see more and more of them wherever I go! I went in to the gas station near my house the other day to buy a beverage, and to my surprise, the cashier didn’t only have tattoos on her forearms, she also had a butterfly on the side of her hand! Years ago, you would be extremely hard-pressed to find such an employee of any business that wasn’t a tattoo shop.

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Above is one of my recent tattoos! Surprisingly, this one was¬†done on a petite, adorable young lady in a flowing striped skirt, and she was 20 years old and only had one other tattoo. The flowers, pink shading, and lace butterfly and spider webs definitely add femininity to it, but you’d never guess by looking at her right away that she would wear such a bad ass design (not to toot my own horn, but I really enjoyed drawing this)!

As liberal as we’ve somewhat become over the past half a century or so with our social tendencies, not everyone is as fond of tattoos as I am, and the people who wear them still get a bad rep from time to time. Some have religious objections to them (i.e. your body is a temple, given to you by God the way that it is for a reason). Some people just believe that art belongs on walls, not on your body, and to those, even a tattoo that is a work of art, comparable and even better than some art hanging on canvasses, no tattoo is a ‘good tattoo’ and they aren’t recognized as a serious art form. Unfortunately, many are still discriminate, due to their perceived morality of those that get tattoos, believing that the wearer(s) are less intelligent, less likely to succeed, less kind, worse parents, etc. It’s very similar to discrimination against people who are gay, male or female, fat or skinny, with one major difference: the decision to get tattoos is a conscious decision.

Personally, I love to see the types of designs that people choose to get, how much they choose to spend on them, and whether or not they put care into the planning portion of getting a tattoo. It says a lot about an individual’s personality and their ability to freely express themselves without the fear of what society believes about them! And that my friends, is awesome. And yeah, I’m probably biased, but I believe that to judge a person for their choices is narrow-minded and conceited: what makes you so better than me that you can decide whether or not the way I live is right or wrong?

What do you think? If you have tattoos, do you believe that people treat you differently because of them? Do you regret them for this reason or for any other? If you don’t have tattoos, do you dislike them or people who choose to get them? Why or why not?

(P.S.: If you want to see more of my tattoos, feel free to visit my website! www.wix.com/atomikcupcake/Tattoos)

Illustrations by Sean Ellery- Inspiration!

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Wow. I was scrolling through some posts by InspireFirst.com on Twitter, and I clicked onto these AMAZING illustrations by Sean Ellery. I was absolutely blown away! Though my favorite ones are in the realistic style that’s depicted in the above image (which was my favorite…=D), he has a very versatile style. Some of the others are a bit more cartoony (like this one), and some of them are a bit more anime-style. However, they all have a very comic-inspired style (like this gorgeous Batwoman!), which I ADORE. I’ve always wanted to adapt my more anime-style cartoons to include a traditional American comic flare, so when I see it pulled off well, it just rocks my socks off and makes me want to draw. xD

Click Ellery’s picture up there to view the rest of the post where I found these gems!

What kind of art inspires you? Share in the comments!