Childhood memories inspire student’s tattoos

Mimi Calzada, Senior Life & Arts Reporter

Katie Nalle said they draw most of their inspiration from childhood memories and nostalgia when planning their tattoos. One of their largest pieces, a depiction of the dragon Haku from “Spirited Away,” holds special importance to them, Nalle said, as do many other Studio Ghibli movies. 

“I watched a lot of (Studio Ghibli) movies when I was a kid, more so than Disney,” the psychology junior said. “I really loved the fantastical elements of (those) movies.”

Nalle said they found the perfect shop for their idea on TikTok: Moon Tattoo on Anderson Lane. Through that video, Nalle said they discovered Jason Thomas, an artist specializing in anime tattoos. They received the tattoo in January 2021, with the piece taking 2 1/2 hours to complete — an honorable feat for their second tattoo, Nalle said. 

From the very beginning of their tattoo journey, Nalle said they drew inspiration from their early childhood memories — including a forget-me-not flower inspired by the floral landscape of their family’s vacation home in Maine. Nalle said their Haku tattoo served as a continuation of their desire to reflect their family and upbringing in their tattoo designs.  

“I was like, ‘What was something that really had an impact on me as a kid?’” Nalle said. “It was the media I consumed that really affected (me). I feel like ‘Spirited Away’ is a movie that teaches you to appreciate your family, and that’s how (the tattoos are) connected.”

Nalle said the process of getting their Haku tattoo lasted about six months, from the inception of the idea to the actual finished product. They said they scrolled endlessly on Pinterest and Google, searching for inspiration in similar tattoos.

“You never want to get the same (tattoo) someone else has, so I sent (my artist) all my reference photos, and (he) made it into his own design,” Nalle said. “(Haku’s pose is) from the movie, but (my artist) added in the clouds and the little sprites (also from) the movie.”

While Nalle amassed 12 tattoos within two years, they said they plan to collect even more pieces in the future. 

“I definitely want more (tattoos), I’m just super cautious about filling up too much space because I already have a lot,” Nalle said. “I’m hoping to do more patchwork style, so they’re not touching but pretty close together.”

Overall, Nalle said the biggest piece of advice they can give to anyone planning on getting tattoos is to have fun with the process. 

“Don’t think too hard about the future of the tattoo,” Nalle said. “At the end of the day, all tattoos are gonna look kind of bad when you’re 80, so enjoy it now and just get what you want.”