Part of The Tao Tattoo Series
Some people ask me whether I feel more Chinese or Canadian. While some first-generation Canadians say that they’re neither, I feel like I’m both, because I appreciate and understand things from both cultures. I have the best of both worlds.
I already have a the hanzi character for “tao” on my right wrist, so I got the word “tao” on my left in English. This tattoo serves two purposes: as an expression of this dual heritage, and as another reminder for me to follow the tao.
I went back to Jay at New Moon, who did an awesome job on my first tattoo. When I walked in, he had the latest Mars Volta album on, which I didn’t even know was out until that day. Most of the time was passed comparing them to Tool, two of our favourite bands1.
Can you tell when he’s going over my artery? (Hint: I start to swear)
The three-letter word is written in Avenir. As the Humanist, sans-serif typeface designed by Adrian Fruitiger (also used for the title and menu of this site), it’s my favourite font. Clean, sharp, minimalist, and legible. The most distinguishing part, as with most good fonts, is the double-story “a”, which increases legibility.
I had over a dozen variations, at different point sizes, kerning values, and weights. I wanted the weight, size, and position to balance with the one on my right wrist. In the end, I went with one that was 63.78 points, and the 35 “light” weight.
I chose the Wade-Giles Romanization of “tao”. “dao” (the Pinyin Romanization), while commonly accepted nowadays, is too new for me to recognize it as the official spelling. “Dō”, the Cantonese/Japanese pronunciation, was also an idea, but it doesn’t carry the same connotation when relating it to “Taoism” because it’s not “Dōism” (in my mind, at least).
Another consideration was the capitalization. Most Taoist books capitalize tao as the “Great Way”, but I felt “tao” was less pretentious, especially since there’s no sense of capitalization in Chinese. It also balances the rest of the word out nicely, as the large “T” makes it look as if the word is about to topple over.
In the last few months, the most popular searches to this site by far are for terms such as “tao tattoo”, “taoism tattoo”, “chinese wrist tattoo”, so it looks like people are seeking similar ideas. The most popular Taoist tattoo is the yin-yang by far, but it’s overdone now, even on people who don’t understand the concept.
I’ll have to accept the fact that more and more people are getting tattoos, and that as people try to unique, someone out there will eventually have the same one as me.
- Tool was a favourite until Lateralus came out, and I discovered Dream Theater. Ænima remains one of my top albums though. [↩]