Tat-Tuesday: Student shares significance of film-inspired designs

Zoe Tzanis, Life & Arts Reporter

Overshadowed by a geometric 1950s jungle gym, the silhouette of a man on a chain swing set tilts backward on Roberto Almaraz’s forearm. 

A single black-and-white shot from his favorite film, “Ikiru,” a 1952 Japanese drama, Almaraz said the scene stands as a permanent reminder of life’s impermanence. 

“I always knew I wanted my favorite movie as a tattoo,” the radio-television-film junior said. “I got around to watching ‘Ikiru,’ loved it and was like, that’s the movie, that’s the frame I’m getting. It’s a good mantra for me to have. There’s a song in (the film) called ‘Gondola No Uta,’ which basically translates to life is brief. That’s what I think about whenever I look at it.”

Almaraz’s body art remains on theme, whether it’s the frame on his forearm, the fly — a symbol from David Cronenberg’s “The Fly”— on his shoulder or the whimsical Daniel Johnston-inspired figure on his chest. Inspired by his favorite artistic moments, mantras and messages, Almaraz said he hopes to fill out the rest of his body with scenes and symbols of sentimental value, one day becoming a walking gallery of his favorite cinematic and visual works. 

By showcasing icons on his skin, Almaraz said he hopes others will inquire and learn from them.

“I hope (people) ask why would you get your favorite movie on your wrist,” Almaraz said. “The obvious answer is because I’m an RTF major, but hopefully that goes on to the point of the movie, which is just to fucking live — that’s the moral.”

For Almaraz, the process of getting his favorite pieces transferred onto his body can feel both nerve-racking and gratifying. Though he prepared for weeks before getting the Ikiru-inspired tattoo, Almaraz said the days before still felt uncertain. 

“It was like back in high school when I had to take those organized exams,” Almaraz said. “You can’t sleep the night before.”

When he stepped into Austin’s Atomic Tattoo this past Thanksgiving, Almaraz said he felt apprehensive. However, after a four-hour session, his anxiety turned into satisfaction; his vision became a reality. 

“It seems cliché, but it feels like you’re whole,” Almaraz said. “It’s confusing, but you get used to it. It’s so weird, like a mole you just notice after a while. It’s a part of you.”

As an added bonus, Almaraz said having such sentimental yet often unidentifiable tattoos means he can share their meaning with others and engage in fun tattoo-filled conversations.

“I’m a big fan of iconography, but I like being able to talk to people about my tattoos and hear other people with tattoos give me their rundown,” Almaraz said.