Behind the Ink: Getting Some Perspective


Slate met up with Priya to talk about her experience getting a tattoo with Slate and some new perspective on life.

When Priya went to get her first tattoo, it was a special moment that she shared with her mother and sisters. Still, she wasn't going to take any risks. "We all got the same unity-of-three symbol, but my mom went first because she's a badass. I waited to go last to make sure there wouldn't be any mistakes."

Following that experience, Priya knew that she wanted another tattoo but was willing to wait for a design that felt truly meaningful. Her inspiration came when she moved to the Bay Area, where she encountered a sense of energy and peace that she hadn't previously experienced.

Priya fell in love with the topography, with the snow-peaked mountains and rolling hills and cresting waves that offered a deep sense of perspective. "The mountains are timeless, the water is infinite. Life is much larger than what happens day to day."

Around this time, Priya's sister shared a fine line design of a mountain range blending into a set of waves. The tattoo immediately spoke to her. After leaving San Francisco to get her masters in Chicago, Priya knew she was ready to get her mountain-to-waves tattoo and had an idea in mind for the aesthetics of the design. She looked around for artists in Chicago, but wasn't sure where to go. How could she articulate what she was looking for? Would a real tattoo artist be interested in doing a delicate minimalist tattoo? Should she just go to a walk-in shop and see what the artists there came up with? That's when she enlisted Slate's help.

Alex, Slate's co-founder and CEO, sat down with Priya to discuss what she was looking for and help her articulate her vision. Slate armed Priya with the vocabulary to describe her tattoo design and connected her with Bryan Ortega, a tattoo artist with the expertise to bring Priya's vision to life. Bryan sketched out Priya's design in advance of her appointment, and when Priya arrived at the Code of Conduct tattoo shop she instantly felt at ease in Bryan's presence.


Bryan started by discussing the design further and talking about Priya's preferences. She wanted to keep the tattoo light and clean, but was looking for some definition beyond pure minimalist lines. Bryan inked the contours of the mountains and waves that he'd previously shared in his sketch. He then used a pen to show Priya how he was planning to do some light shading .

"I loved this part the most because I was really nervous about ruining the simplicity of the design," Priya told Slate. "Bryan showed me how it would look and this gave me a lot of confidence in his direction."

From there, Bryan inked in the shading and made some finishing touches.

"I loved the tattoo the second it was finished," Priya told Slate. "Aesthetically, it's perfect. It gives me strength and a sense of self-empowerment. It's a part of me now, and I enjoy when people ask about it."

When Slate asked Priya about how she commits to a tattoo design, she told us that her views have evolved. "At first I thought I'd want something that stands the test of time and that I'd love forever. But now, I understand that it doesn't need to be something that always defines or explains you. People evolve, and a tattoo can remind you of a time in your life that brings you joy while also reminding you of how you've changed."

What's next for Priya? Besides graduating this spring, she's already got her eye on another tattoo design. "I’m obsessed with tigers, but am thinking about how to infuse other design elements that resonate." Slate can't wait to work with Priya on this next tattoo.

Jack Bugas