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Tracey Allyn Greene

Madison, AL USA

Self Portrait with Tattoo Sleeves

Art: Self Portrait with Tattoo Sleeves by Artist Tracey Allyn Greene
As someone who is now heavily tattooed, I can no longer walk around anonymously. Most people on my daily travels in town now know me as "the woman with the tattoo sleeves". I am recognized not by my face but by my tattoos. Funny, though, when most people ask what I do for a living, when I say I'm an artist, then somehow the stigma of having tattoos is lifted, for artists are seen as eccentric folk anyway. I don't really care so much what people may think, good or bad, for I got these tattoos for my own reasons and love of the art and symbolism which I will share here. They are a part of me now.

My right arm is dedicated to my muse, cats. I love traditional asian tattoos and that is the style of both of my sleeves. On my shoulder is the kanji that means "love of god/spirit", and that is the meaning of the name Theo. Theo was a little kitten that was my payment for my first commissioned cat painting. Unfortunately, I lost him as a kitten, but I always feel that his gentle spirit is with me in my studio. That kanji is surrounded by an open lotus flower, blue, which means wisdom. Below that is the Buddhist mantra "om mani padme hum", meaning compassion. The tiger, symbol of courage and my love of all cats, is surrounded by chrysanthemums, also symbolizing courage and strength. Cherry blossoms represent the beauty and frailty of life. Water and waves surround the tiger and flowers. At my inner wrist is a celtic design of a yin yang symbol.

My left arm is in memory of my mother. I have a hummingbird on my shoulder, for hummingbirds were a favorite of hers. They also are representative of a warrior spirit. Below is a foo dog, a protector. This foo dog has a closed mouth representing the feminine. The red tag next to it contains the kanji for "mother". Foo dogs are often paired with peony flowers in traditional japanese tattoos and I have two blue ones, one under my arm the other at my wrist. Cherry blossoms also float about amidst the wind bars and smoke. At my inner wrist is a tibetan love knot in red symbolizing eternal love. I am forever grateful for the talented tattoo artist, Shayna, who did the majority of the work on these sleeves. We collaborated for two years on this artwork and formed a deep friendship as well.

Detail Images

Detail Image for art Self Portrait with Tattoo Sleeves

detail of foo dog face

Detail Image for art Self Portrait with Tattoo Sleeves

detail of foo dog inner arm

Detail Image for art Self Portrait with Tattoo Sleeves

detail of tiger inner arm


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