The story below is an installment of our series, “Ink Stories,” where a Charlotte creative shares with us the meaning of their tattoos. We love the synthesis of personal story and incredible artistic talent that’s embodied in a tattoo, so we’re chronicling the Ink Stories popping up all over the Queen City.
This week, makeup artist, blogger, Instagrammer and Canadian turned Southerner, Sammie Kolk shares the stories behind her tattoos, which involve tributes to her mother, father and grandfather, her faith and love for her home country. And, then there’s the girl drinking poison …
Let’s hear from Sammie in her own words, now.
MY HOPE IS IN YOU — Espoir — Music Note
I have about 12 or so tattoos in total! I got my first tattoo, “my hope is in You,” on my left bicep, the first year I moved away from home at 21, to Nashville, TN. It was done by an awesome female tattoo artist who unfortunately moved away, but she also did my music note symbol behind my right ear AND my wrist “espoir” tattoo — I believe on the same day!
The first tattoo’s significance was my hope in something bigger than me, my faith, my Creator. To always cling to that hope I have.
The “espoir” tattoo means “hope” in French. I used to live in Montreal. (I am Canadian, originally from Toronto, Ontario). So, the French language holds a special place in my heart and life … and clearly I have a thing with hope. To never lose sight of it!
The music note symbol is because I was raised in a very musical family and sing/play the guitar myself, so it meant a great deal to me to have that forever on me, right by my ear. I’ve always been told I’ve had a natural ear for music. 🙂
People typically react by asking the meaning of them or what the French word “espoir” means. The music note usually gets a lot of “oh that’s cool!” remarks. Haha.
THE MAPLE LEAF
Later on in my Nashville years, (and yes, I did get all of my tattoos in Nashville during my 5 years of living there before I moved to Charlotte) I decided I wanted to get more. I guess could say the ink-bug bit me!
I had my good friend Tiffany who was learning to become a tattoo artist at the time, create what is probably my most asked about and loved tattoo: my red maple leaf on my right wrist.
It sort of wraps around and stands out since it’s red with a black border. I love this one immensely, because … well, I’m Canadian and the maple leaf is the symbol on our flag.
I’m very proud and love it when people ask its meaning or just figure out that I must be Canadian. Ha! Tiffany also tattooed my left rib to outline the province of Ontario, with a little heart right about where Toronto would be on the map. Also extremely important and significant to me!
The butterfly on the right side, under my collarbone was a sort of spur of the moment choice. My friend Gage (see the pattern here, lots of awesome tattoo artist friends – whom I did pay by the way!) did this one and it has a double meaning!
Firstly, I wanted to express the freedom I felt from a certain life experience and a butterfly expressed that accurately. Secondly, I dig butterflies. You know that feeling you get when you have butterflies in your stomach? Well, I used to say at times it felt like I had butterflies in my heart because I was so happy and in love with life! He did an amazing job. It’s one of my pieces that only gets noticed when I wear a tank top or lower cut shirt. It peeks out. I love that about it! Kind of hidden and special.
The anchor on my foot signifies grounding, becoming grounded — a sort of right of passage to adulthood in a sense. I cannot remember the name of the artist, but it was done at my apartment in Franklin, TN!
MY RIGHT BICEP
Last, but definitely not least, my favourite half-sleeve, right bicep! Lots going on there.
It started with “MOM ‘n DAD” in a heart – kind of Sailor Jerry tattoo vibes (which I really dug at the time and still love). I love my parents, so this was a no brainer. Gage, who did my butterfly tattoo did this tattoo, as well. They’ve been so great to me throughout my life, mistakes, failures and all. They’re just awesome!
Next came the girl in the teapot and girl drinking poison which I was inspired to get by a famous female tattoo artist. (I cannot remember her name, nor find her online. Aghhh!) She specialized in Sailor Jerry/retro tattoo designs. It was mostly due to my love for her tattoo designs that I got these and I wanted to start a sleeve so, there we have it.
I love tea, so that was an easy decision for me. The girl drinking poison’s significance to me was to not judge a book by its cover. She looks innocent and sweet, but if you look closely, she’s drinking poison.
The Nancy Drew tattoo is because ever since I was a little girl I read Nancy Drew books and watched the old shows. My mum grew up reading her books and I just adored mysteries. I still collect her books to this day!
Finally, the watercolour poppies scattered around my arm that fill in the half-sleeve probably have the deepest significance to me. I called my late grandpa “Poppy” and poppies are also the Canadian symbol/flower of remembrance — similar to what Veteran’s Day would be to Americans. They also happen to be some of my favourite flowers and their symbolic poppy red colour is also a fave!
WHAT’S MY NEXT TATTOO?
I think my next tattoo would be an outline of a heart my husband drew me on a love note awhile back. It’s so chubby and cute, I just adore it.
GET A CLOSER LOOK AT SAMMIE’S TATTOOS
Stuff About Sammie
To see Sammie in action, especially her make-up work (keep an eye out for our pal, Emily Sage), check out her Instagram feed.
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