TURNING SATIRE INTO BEAUTY
How one tattooer has taken a commonly-used client phrase and turned it into a line of beautiful, meaningful accessories.
Originally, Virginia Elwood could not help but laugh when clients would come into the studio and ask for an upside down tattoo. “It’s for me” became the go-to reasoning as to why some clients preferred inverted designs. That exact saying eventually became a running joke at the tattoo studio, so much so that Elwood turned the satire into her trademark.
In an artistic fashion, of course.
“I started noticing, maybe about five years ago, that people were starting to come in and want these tattoos that were facing them, and at the shop we all thought that was very funny. It seemed very redundant. Of course this tattoo is for you, you are getting it on your body! It started out sort of as a satire, you know, a teasing way for my coworkers and I to blow off steam and connect with one another, so I started making artwork and tote bags with the ‘it’s for me’ upside down on them,” Elwood discussed.
As with many longstanding jokes, however, the satire behind “it’s for me” began to fade somewhat. Working out of the famed Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn, New York, Elwood began to consider the beauty behind “it’s for me.” Her epiphany regarding the phrase’s meaningfulness spurred an entirely new company: ITS FOR ME NYC.
“It’s been five or six years that I’ve been using that as my signature for a lot of my artwork. During that time I started to reinterpret the ‘its for me.’ As opposed to thinking of it as a funny thing that was redundant and silly, I think I started taking it on as people’s need to customize their work even further. Our lives and our tattoos are so public now and so accepted socially, but I think people still crave something to be special, just for them. I think the orientation of the tattoo is a way to do that,” Elwood professed.
Soon, Elwood began putting her signature upside down ITS FOR ME design on more than just tote bags. She now subtly includes the ITS FOR ME on hand-designed patches and silk scarves as well.
While Elwood continues this venture out of pure artistic passion, ITS FOR ME NYC is certainly poised for success. Elwood originally began selling her patches, tote bags, and silk scarves out of Saved Tattoo and her recently-opened online store, but now the business has expanded, and an Urban Outfitters location (Space Ninety 8 in Williamsburg Brooklyn) is even carrying the brand.
So just as the world quickly took notice of Elwood’s tattoo work, she is getting the same positive response for her ITS FOR ME accessories… no surprise considering the similarities between the two. Her ITS FOR ME pieces mix bold folksy patterns with subtle humor, an artistic direction that mimics both her typical tattooing style as well as her interest in linocuts.
“I guess I would say that my [tattoo] style is still rooted in traditional Americana tattooing, in that I do like a bolder look and a more simplified look, but I’m influenced a lot by folk art. I’m really influenced by textile design,” Elwood explained her tattooing style. “It’s funny, all my hobbies really feed back into being an artist I suppose.”
IF ITS FOR ME NYC (OR AN ELWOOD TATTOO) IS FOR YOU, GO SUPPORT OUR FRIEND VIRGINIA ELWOOD AND CHECK OUT HER WORK: