On tattoos.

Christina here.

I have tattoos. I enjoy them – to me, my skin is a canvas.

Sure, I have to live my skin my entire life – but that does not prevent me from scarring it accidentally, and does not prevent the changes to it that come with age. To that end, I may as well mark it as I see fit.

Some of my tats have meaning, and some were just designs I liked, not put on my body for any particular purpose other than that I liked the artwork. this does not mean my “meaningless” tattoos lack meaning – they develop meaning on their own over time. They are tickmarks on the timeline of my life.

A lot of my tattoos are science, atheist, or skepticism related. Here, you’ll see.

p.s. Some pics below the fold may not quite be safe for work.

On my back, are three panthers.

Photo of christina and Christopher, with panther tattoos

Clicky to embiggen

The one on the right I got when I was 21. I chose it from some artwork on the wall of the tattoo parlor, then made my appointment for a month and a half into the future, reasoning that if I still wanted it after a month and a half, I’d go get it. I did.

The one in the middle I got when I was 24. I had an artist draw it for me. Looking at it now, it is the one tattoo I don’t like – one day, I plan to get it removed and put something else there. What exactly I’ll put there, I’m not sure. Any ideas?

The one on the left I got when I was 26. One of these days, I am going to get the lines thickened to match the one on the right. Last year, my husband got the same tattoo on his chest.

This phoenix/Trans Am firebird is on my left lower quadrant.

Photo of pheonix tattoo

Clicky to embiggen


Normally, I am not the type of person to get a pink tattoo. However, my sister and I decided we were going to get tattoos together. She has this pheonix (much larger) on her back, and she has my left panther on her left lower quadrant. I got that one about two years ago. My brother and I also plan on “trading” tattoos with each other, and my brother is going to “trade” tattoos with my sister. Disguising, I know.

Here’s “One Life” on my thigh.


One Life tattoo

click to embiggefy

I got it about a year ago. You can guess what this means. The black mark below it is a gnarly bruise from accidentally slamming my leg into my stairs.

Here’s one you’re sure to love:

Photo of flower and blood

CLick to make go big

It is an artistic rendering of  “Shadows”, a magic trick Teller, of Penn & Teller, performs. To me it represents atheism and skepticism.  Here’s a clearer pic, taken about an hour after completion, so in this pic it looks a little red and angry:

click to.. you know.

This is a fractal tattoo that took several sessions to complete, and represents science and math. Here it is partially complete (it took three sessions)

fractal tattoo, partially complete


Here it is, all done!

Definitely want to embiggen this one.


Lastly! I have the American Atheist logo tattoo on my wrist, done in white and pink ink – no black. It’s quite subtle – then again, no one can tell you’re an atheist just by looking at you, either.


After! How cool is this, Dave Silverman?

Since I am a professional, I suppose I can’t go overboard with visible tattoos. This is the only “visible” one. It looks more like a scar than a tattoo, and when I point it out to people, they always want to feel it. It feels like regular skin.



My friend Sarah decided to get this same tattoo on her wrist after I got mine, though I can’t find a pic at the moment!

Yes, I’m going to get more. I’d like to get something that represents meaning – like something “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” – ish.

Tattoos are kind of addictive. I won’t fault people for not liking them, or not liking them for themselves, but I’m obviously a fan. We don’t pick our bodies, but once we have them, they are ours, and we can do what we want with them.

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

You guys are wonderful.
PERSONAL: Sorry to disappoint you, Julian.
PERSONAL: Happy birthday, Hitch.
PERSONAL: Mid day lab pics from the wife.
About christinastephens
  • TV200

    There is an old joke. What is the difference between tattooed people and people without tattoos? Tattooed people don’t care if you don’t have tattoos.

    I have a number of tattoos myself. Most are visible in short sleeves, although, most are of vintage scooters, Vespas and Lambrettas. Although, I do have a particular fondness for my Douglas Adams tattoo, which I got in 1992.

  • sisu

    I also have an atheism tattoo on my left wrist! It’s the number “30,000″ in a typewritery-looking font. It was inspired by Hank Fox’s excellent blog post of the same title.

  • Quinapalus

    I love that you found a way to work “Shadows” into a single image. Also: I am wearing that same T-shirt right now O_O

  • Crimbly

    Lovely tattoos! An loving the “shadows” one.

    Although I’m a bit confused here, I’m relatively new to the blog and haven’t had a change to plough through it – if you have a husband, what’s your relationship to JT? Who is Michaelyn? I’m confused. Sad pandas! :(

  • chriskg

    I’ve always wanted to get one that simply says, “LEV 19:28″. Believers will have to look it up (especially those with tattoos). ;-)

  • Tommy R.

    Very nice :)

  • Robert L. Rader

    I have Archaeopteryx on my back!

  • James

    I’ve never come close to wanting a tattoo before – nothing against those who have them, I just never thought I’d be able to carry it off. But all of a sudden I’ve changed my mind and it’s all down to Christina’s American Atheist tattoo.

    This might sound stupid (or just unimaginative) of me, but although I’ve seen tattoos in all kinds of colours I’d never seen or thought about one being quite so subtle and unassuming.

  • doctorburger

    I find your lack of pirate body art disturbing.

  • carpenterman

    Christian theology holds that on Judgement Day, or the Resurrection, or whatever they call it, the dead will rise up bodily to face God’s judgement. So if any religious people object to your tattoos as “defacing” your body, just remind them that, at the End of Days, it’s going to rise up from the grave with all the other dead bodies… and you want to be able to recognize yours.

  • carpenterman

    Oh… and the fractal one is *fucking awesome*!

  • geocatherder

    The notion of getting my own tatoos nauseates me — but then I’m one of those people who has to look away when getting allergy shots. Don’t poke at me. But other people’s tatoos fascinate me. Vive la differance!

  • Michael

    That American Atheist tattoo is SICK. I have freethinker written in norse runes on my forearm. Not very subtle at all unless you count the fact that it’s in a different alphabet.

    Also this


  • sisu

    Michael – that is AWESOME! +1 for you.

  • http://jbzero.blogspot.com J.B.

    That is some very beautiful work. Especially the fractal and the rose trick.
    Do you mind telling who the artist was that did them?

  • https://twitter.com/#!/frankie_felony Frankie F

    You’ve got some beautiful artwork!

    I only have 8 tattoos, and while none of them are science-related (yet), they are all nerdy. I have a couple on my chest that I want to get covered, they’ve lost their meaning to me since I’ve become an atheist, but I can’t figure out what to put there.

    I need to find a new artist.

    • Hbart

      You may find this site useful to see what kinds of tattooists are in your area; or to figure out if there is a tattooist that you would like to travel to get to. You can search by country/city, and as far as I know it spans every country that has tattooing and the internet.


  • http://kashaar.tumblr.com Kashaar

    Very nice tats, thanks for sharing! I’ve been looking for a motif for a while now, and can’t seem to find one that I really, really like… I also somehow feel like I need to get my body in better shape first, because I want the canvas to be worthy of the art. I may be overthinking this.

  • Hbart

    I especially like the Fractal and “Shadows” tattoos of yours. Who was/were your artist/s?