Here’s BKB member Aiyana Knauer’s tattoo story.
What do tattoos mean to you?
Tattoos don’t mean a whole lot to me. I’m covered in them, but the more I end up with, the less they matter. My first tattoo was a very serious one when I was seventeen and it’s by far my least favorite. The twenty-odd tattoos I’ve gotten since then have carried far less weight, if any. You get to a point where you realize it doesn’t make sense to take yourself that seriously. For every expensive, large tattoo I have, I also have a small goofy one that I gave myself or that one of my friends gave me – a piece of cheese, a Bruce Springsteen song title, etc. All of my stick and pokes that friends have given me are maybe the most meaningful in the traditional sense, at least in that the context was memorable, and it has generally been an exchange – I give you a tattoo, you give me a tattoo, we get drunk together and everyone has a good time. It ends up being much more about the event that surrounded it than whatever you ended up with on your body.
As opposed to tattoos with machines, stick and pokes are done by hand. Before I figured out that I could give really good stick and pokes with actual tattooing needles, which I now do for small sums of money for friends and strangers, the tool of choice was always a sewing needle wrapped in a specific manner with thread, which is how I got this one. In my junior year of college, my best friend who had graduated a year or two prior had just gone through a rough breakup, as had I, so we split a bottle of Jack Daniels and gave each other stick and pokes and cried a lot.
Tattoos are intimately personal, and stereotypical of Brooklynites. Walking through Brooklyn Boulders, it’s more often than not you’ll see some adorned bodies climbing our walls. Each inked piece tells a story, whether it’s silly, inspirational, nostalgic, funny or just a fond memory.
BKB Tattoo Stories showcase various tattoos around our space, and the stories behind them. Get to know your community of climbers a little more than skin-deep. All photos by
If you have a particular story you’d like to share – get in touch with us: [email protected]