Phil Blades (23, UK), a second-year student of Arts and Culture, already has quite a collection of tattoos, even on his fingers. One of the most recent is on the inside of his upper arm: a jar of jam and the words ‘No more bad days’, a song by the American band This Wild Life.
“My family lives on a farm in the middle of Yorkshire; it’s an hour on the bus to the nearest city. We have a lot of land with all sorts of fruit trees, crops and animals. When I was little, my grandma babysat me and my little brother and sister two days a week. She taught us a lot about nature. We’d go walking in the meadows near our house and she’d show us how to herd the sheep. She taught us which mushrooms and berries you can pick in the woods, and how to plant crops in the garden and when to harvest them. We also kept cows, sheep and goats for the milk and meat. My grandma didn’t really get it when I turned vegetarian, but she never forced me to eat meat. She passed away in 2014. We had a close bond; it was my first experience with the death of a loved one.
The jam jar reminds me of her; making jam was one of the things we often did together. These days when I go home I do that with my dad. The words ‘No more bad days’ are the title of a song by This Wild Life, my favourite band. I met them in Liverpool after a performance in 2015. They wrote the song title on a piece of paper and I got the tattoo done in that exact handwriting. My grandma used to help me through the bad days: when I was little she’d pick me up when I fell over, and she was very supportive when I moved away to study. I still listen to that song often.
The tattoo took three hours to do. I’ve always wanted tattoos, but I didn’t dare until recently because I didn’t know what kind of work I wanted to do. Now I know that after university I want to go into the music industry, and there it’s no problem. Tattoos are becoming more common. All my friends have them, even those who used to say they didn’t want one.”