Tat Tuesday: Celebrating heritage, identity with tattoo

Mirya Dila, Life and Arts general reporter

With her right palm outstretched to the sky, Tasha Anslyn watches the sunlight dance against the etched image of a young Asian woman adorned with flowers on her wrist.

When Anslyn selected a predrawn flash tattoo at an Asian American Pacific Islander zine release party in New York last year, she said she felt immediately connected to the design.

“I love … seeing a design and creating an entire storyline,” said Anslyn, a neuroscience and speech, language and hearing sciences fifth-year. “For this little Asian woman that’s (now) on my arm, I just imagined her to be carefree, happy (and) very in touch with herself.”

Being adopted from China and growing up in the United States, Anslyn said she often felt disconnected from her heritage. She said she finds joy in her tattoo serving as an homage to her background.

“This (design) was the most impactful to me because of the expression on the woman’s face and the fact that she was clearly of Asian descent,” Anslyn said. “(This tattoo) was a little way to show that pride from my background without necessarily having the most familiarity with my culture.”

Prior to this tattoo, Anslyn said she got a spur-of-the-moment matching tattoo with her brother and another with her best friend, displaying younger versions of themselves together. Despite having several tattoos, Anslyn said she still gets a rush of excitement when the needle hits her skin and the art covers her body.

“(I’m) thinking about the idea and the meaning behind it and the experience itself,” Anslyn said. “I forget about how painful it can be after because I romanticize the entire story.”

While Anslyn enjoys getting both flash and custom tattoos, she said she especially admires how flash tattoos allow artists to express their personal style.

“If I admire a specific artist, I want to be able to use their inspiration and design when I get tattooed by them,” Anslyn said. “(Flash tattoos are) really special and the highest form of flattery.”

As a longtime fan and follower of Gentle Oriental’s work, she said she appreciates the artist’s distinct personal style.

“The detail that’s put into every single tattoo, stroke and design is really special (with) this specific tattoo artist,” Anslyn said. “I particularly like this artist because of how their background has influenced their designs and how they use it specifically for sharing more about their personal identity as an Asian American.”

Anslyn said that after getting tattoos in places that were difficult for her to see, she intentionally chose to place this design in a prominent spot where she could easily admire it for herself. 

“I used to be really cautious about how many tattoos I had and how visible they were,” Anslyn said. “Now, I just really love the idea of having art on my body as a tattoo and seeing it in others.”