Posts tagged with "tattoo"

29 7/12: The Taoist

I got these tattoos to remind myself to stay on the path. A reminder like this is something of a paradox; to be on the path is to be unaware of the path.

Even though I strongly believed in the tenets of Taoism, I still found myself off the path more often than on it. There was a point where I began to question whether I was truly a Taoist or just a Tao-enthusiast, because my understanding of the ideas didn’t necessarily mean an ability to apply them to my life.

Self portrait at 29 7/12


But over time, I forgot about my tattoos. Or, should I say, I stopped thinking about them, the way one may be so accustomed to the nose on one’s face as to never dwell on the idea of it’s existence.

In the same way, I’ve forgotten about the path too, even though I know I’m on it. I don’t seek council from the Tao Te Ching nowadays, because there’s nothing left that I don’t understand. I found the feeling of serenity I’d been seeking for so long.

I turn 30 in five months, and I finally believe I’m a Taoist.

The Turning 30 Series


Part of The Tao Tattoo Series

  1. The Meaning
  2. The Experience
  3. The Background
  4. Tattwo

The tao tattoo


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.

The Operation

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)


tao typography

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.

Continue reading “Tattwo”…

  1. Tool was a favourite until Lateralus came out, and I discovered Dream Theater. Ænima remains one of my top albums though. []

Background on the Tao Tattoo

Part of The Tao Tattoo Series

  1. The Meaning
  2. The Experience
  3. The Background
  4. Tattwo
Thumbnail: Various ways to write Tao
Thumbnail: Cover of Tao of Pooh

Asian character tattoos have become somewhat of a cliché, but not doing something because it’s trendy is as bad as doing it because it’s trendy. I chose to get a tattoo for myself, which is why I it’s on the inside of my wrist, facing me when I see it. Unfortunately, foreign language tattoos are often wrong and hilariously bad as well, as if a child had drawn them.

Thumbnail: Laozi getting off his ox
Thumbnail: A painting of the character Tao

So I did my research, and found as many drawings of the Tao character as possible. At one point I went as far as tracking down people who had purchased a certain painting with Tao in the title, and calling them to ask if they would take a picture and send it to me1. I’m a perfectionist in my everyday life, so I was going to be sure about something that would last for the rest of my life.

Continue reading “Background on the Tao Tattoo”…

  1. I felt terrible when one guy said that the painting was with his ex-girlfriend []

The Tao Tattoo Experience

Part of The Tao Tattoo Series

  1. The Meaning
  2. The Experience
  3. The Background
  4. Tattwo

I decided to get my Tao tattoo about a month before I actually had it done. Choosing an artist wasn’t hard. Tiana, who’s awesome broken argyle tattoo reminds me of insouciant kites against a sky, had hers done by Jay at New Moon. After seeing some more of his work, which features finely detailed lines similar to what I had in mind, I decided to go with him as well.

The appointment was short. A quick check to make sure the positioning close to the wrist joint was acceptable, and to leave a deposit.

The receptionist asked me, “What does the kanji mean?”.

“Kanji?”. I questioned her assumption, and she quickly corrected herself. “Sorry, is it Chinese or Japanese or Korean…?”. I explained the character, and how it’s written the same way in Chinese and Japanese, the calligraphy being in a Chinese style.

Continue reading “The Tao Tattoo Experience”…