What Tats Do You Have for Your Grandma?
Photos by Mattie Stafford
In Ink Spot, we stop people in Dallas to shoot, and learn about, their body art. Know an interesting human canvas? Leave a tip in the comments.
Joshua Stephens is a self-proclaimed "corporate ladder climber by day and aspiring musician by night" whose full left sleeve makes up the bulk of his ink. With at least 20 hours spent on that arm alone, Stephens says it's been a pricey endeavor but worth the investment of both time and money.
Stephens was raised by his grandmother, who was "as southern as they come"; the full color sleeve is a tribute to her. What began as just "1934," the year his grandmother was born, is now a vibrant scene of fruits, flowers and even a banner declaring "Grandma's Boy."
In Mesquite, where Stephens grew up, his grandmother grew peaches, blackberries, raspberries and honeysuckle, which take up the majority of his forearm. Stephens jokes that his grandmother grew her own food way before it became "hip."
His sleeve was done by Josh Arseneau at Elm Street Tattoo, and when Stephens asked him to come up with a design to symbolize a phrase he always says to his grandmother, the result became Stephens' favorite of his tattoos. "I would always tell my grandma that she is the apple of my eye and the key to my heart," he says.
Just above his elbow is a ring of roses around his arm, one for each of Stephens' five sisters and two brothers. He "wanted something to represent life and death," and got an anatomical heart with a raven wing and cobwebs just above his elbow. To represent his religious beliefs, he chose the classic imagery of the praying hands for his upper arm.
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Stephens likes talking about his tattoo because it's so special to him, but doesn't enjoy the occasional stranger grabbing his arm for a better look. One woman stopped him at the grocery store, pulling his arm away from his cart to tell him that she thought his tattoo was amazing.
"People love to point out how bright the colors are," he says. "I always tell them it helps when you're pasty."
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