Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Laura Jane, 25

I met Laura Jane a few years ago on Facebook. I had started a group dedicated to my love for a comic book character, Maggie, from Love and Rockets, and Laura Jane became one of the first members. We started to form a friendship via Facebook initially through our interest in the comic, but eventually through other mutual interests too. She came across to me immediately as a free spirit, who had an open mind and would inevitably be a fun person to hang out with, and fortunately for me, that opportunity came this past summer.

Laura Jane came over to England with her roommate, Colleen, to visit her sister, who lives over here. During the time she was in England she stayed with her Australian friend Jim in London, and we managed to find a free day when I could go up and visit her. We immediately hit it off and I finally got to see the Love and Rockets tattoo of hers I’d only ever seen in photos. Suffice to say, we had an awesome day.

Firstly she gave me a couple of gifts. One being quite possibly the best mix-cd I’ve ever received, and the other being a first edition of one of the early Love and Rockets collections, House of Raging Women. We then wandered along the South Bank aimlessly, we drank wine and chatted for hours on end at Gordon’s Wine Bar, continued our conversations at Jim’s house, then finished our evening at the Wahaca restaurant in Covent Garden, and finally we scaled the infamous staircase at Covent Garden tube station which led to some thoroughly destroyed calf muscles, and then sadly had to bid our farewells. I have no doubt I’ll see her again.

Laura Jane is 25 and is from Perth, Australia. She lives in an area called Mount Lawley, which is almost like the Brick Lane of London but not quite as “wanky”. However, if you didn’t know anyone in Perth, it would come across as being the kind of place you might not enjoy or appreciate. Places like Mount Lawley are slightly off the tourist track. Apparently, and much to the dismay of many residents of Perth, Lonely Planet portrayed the city in a harsh light and failed to properly do Perth justice. But Mount Lawley is the place to be, and LJ knows just about everyone in this bohemian part of the city.

Laura Jane has been working as a hairdresser for six years and currently works at Chilli Couture. She is also a maitre’d at Devilles Pad. After finishing school, LJ decided to not go onto University - however, she did spend time doing vocational courses at TAFE (Training and Further Education) in graphic design, and also at the time thought she wanted to go into interior design but that has since changed. LJ wants to always be doing ‘hands-on’ work but despite her artistic sensibilities she doesn’t feel like she is good enough at drawing to become a tattoo artist.

The first tattoo Laura Jane ever got was of Alice in Wonderland, and it was on her 21st birthday. It is taken from the first ever edition of the book, which was illustrated beautifully by Sir John Tenniel. It shows Alice holding a flamingo. LJ has always had the drawing up in her room ever since she was a child and was always taken with it, particularly the way the flamingo is looking at Alice. Getting tattooed was never a problem in terms of what her family would think. Her Dad has a few tattoos, and she recalls that he always found women that looked different to be the most interesting, so LJ felt very confident about getting her first inking. The tattoo is on her leg and is in black and grey. Alice’s feet rest on LJ’s ankle.

The tattoo which led to mine and Laura Jane’s friendship is also her largest, and is still incomplete. She was introduced to Love and Rockets - a comic written and drawn by the Hernandez Brothers, Jaime and Gilbert - when she was fourteen, and immediately fell in love with it. To this day she continually returns to the comics, particularly the work of Jaime. He has a beautiful and simple outlook on life, and his work with only black ink portrays this perfectly. LJ wanted to immortalise her feelings for Love and Rockets by having a half-sleeve tattooed on her forearm. She and her tattoo artist chose various images, particularly from the early ‘Mechanics’ comics, and arranged them into a stunning mural.

On the inside of each of her calves, she has two praying children. They were inspired by a book of nursery rhymes, illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame-Johnstone, that her very close friend Colleen found in a charity shop. The book was also particularly biblical and reminded LJ of her father, who is a Christian. Beneath the praying children, and in order to not give the impression of them ‘hovering‘ on her legs, LJ has had further tattoos done just beneath them. These designs are also taken from the same picture of the children, but come from the border around them.

On Laura Jane’s hand is a bee. It was the third tattoo she ever got. This tattoo represents where LJ is from. There was a “paste-up” on a wall that showed a swarm of bees that LJ had been seeing for years on her walks around Mount Lawley. The ever-decreasing population of bees in the world has also saddened her and so she decided to get one tattooed on her hand. When she first met her present partner, she was delighted to discover that he had a cicada tattooed on the inside of his arm.

One of Laura Jane’s favourite tattoo artists is a guy called Thomas Hooper. He does a lot of tribal-style tattooing, particularly point work. She’s always been a big fan of his, and when she heard that her own tattooist was looking to tattoo someone on their knee-pit, LJ was instantly like, “Damn, I want a Thomas Hooper tattoo on my knee-pit!” and so she had one done.

It was getting late in Australia and Laura Jane had to be up early for work the next morning, but before we both signed off from Skype she left me with this really thoughtful and revealing quote about tattooing and what tattooing means to her:

“Tattoos are becoming more socially acceptable and the stigmas attached to them are starting to lose credibility. It’s a very bold statement because if you’re going to be heavily tattooed, people are going to see them. But you don’t get them for other people, you get them for yourself.”

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