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Today’s session is about creating a memorial for your pet that has passed.
Today Dale Wescott of Zone 13 Tattoo and Piercing Studio, is our guest writer today talking a bout “how one can properly memorialize their pet with a tattoo”.
One of the most difficult questions an artist is confronted with…how to memorialize the loss of a pet. The difficultly often begins with most artists reflecting upon the relationships with their own pets. Despite popular stigmas, many of us in the tattoo industry are animal lovers, and have forged a deep love of our four-legged friends. They are not pets; they are family. There is nothing more rewarding, or satisfying then our companions greeting us after a long-day at work.
The next step is often the most crucial; ensuring the client has processed their grief completely, and is not acting in the “heat of the moment.” We as artists must to choose our words carefully, while offering the best suggestions. As an artist, we have an obligation to render the best possible creation for our clients. We want to explore all options to ensure the individual’s vision is mastered. I like to sit-down and get to know the person and the relationship they shared with their pet. Although this often evokes emotion, it is the best possible way to develop a concept for a tattoo. We explain to the potential client, that the process of tattooing is permanent and that our wish is to make this a celebration of life instead of a spur of the moment mistake that will last a life time. I feel it better to offer many a suggestion while allowing the client to ponder concepts, rather than live in the “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.”
As for ideas, we are often asked, what is the best way to memorialize the loss of a pet? This is specific to the individual. We offer suggestions and work off of your ideas. That said, I feel it best that the client has thought the decision to get a tattoo through and has a “rough” idea of the final rendition. Here are some ideas I feel pay our departed friends homage:
Portraits: This is a fantastic tribute, and completely embodies the memory of their friend. A portrait can be either done realistic or of the animated version, and captures a moment in time. The only limitations in realistic portraits are, body placement, and direction of the pose. A portrait needs to be placed on a flat surface as not to distort the picture, and needs to face in the proper direction to flow with the body’s anatomy. When selecting an artist for a portrait, demand to view their work, and ask if they are comfortable working within this medium. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing a portrait that is anything less than perfection. Far too often, many an inexperienced artist will enter into this realm without the ability to “nail it.”
A favorite toy: The relationship between our friend and their buddy is nothing less than amazing. Through their life, we experience joy and laughter as they share their daily adventures with that special toy.
Flowers that represent their name: I included this because it’s an option that allows the wearer to know what the meaning is, without requiring an explanation to others.
Script: I included this last for personal reasons. It is my opinion this does not completely embody the essence of a pet. Opinions aside, this is another option available to the client.
Bottom line, we are entrusted with an opportunity to share in the grief-process, assist in the healing process and hopefully deliver some degree of closure. Long after a client has left the studio, we remember their story and hope we have assisted in capturing the client’s vision while bringing them peace.
As for the selection of an artist, don’t be fearful to ask questions. In addition, view their portfolio and ask to preview the work prior to receiving the tattoo. If you wish changes to the drawing, discuss these with the artist in advance of your appointment. Finally, never let cost be a consideration in the selection of an artist. As I’ve stated before, the art of tattooing is permanent. Despite what reality television has promoted, the removal process is painful, expensive and often leaves scaring. Also noteworthy, be hesitant of an artist that offers to do the tattoo on the spot; there is good reason an accomplished artist requires an appointment.
I hope this advice was helpful. We at ZONE 13 Tattoo wish you well and offer our sincere condolences for your loss. As always, we are here to assist you in your time of loss, and to celebrate in your pet’s life.
Thank you Dale for a great article and one that is near & dear to our own hearts. We are currently considering a memorial tattoo to one of our own departed pack members. It’s over a year since our Duchess passed and we are still contemplating our memorial.
For more information on Zone 13 Tattoo and Piercing please visit them at
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