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”…