Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tattoo artist responds to Lisa Khoury

Earlier today I posted an article a "Reporter" wrote about how meaningless and pointless tattoos are, I posted the article on "Thank A Soldier" and quickly people started posting their tribute tattoos on the page and something ugly turned in to something amazing.  A friend of mine Ivan Henderson who is a tattoo artist sent me the following response and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Ms. Lisa Khoury,

please allow me to introduce my self. My name is Ivan Henderson. I have been an owner operator of a tattoo shop for approximately 28 years.  My intent with this message is not to impress you nor to intrigue you into the world of tattoos. My intent is to inform you intelligently and without judgement.

I will admit I have not read the article that has raised concern to my friends, but enough information has crossed hands and a trust in my friends allows me to trust what they have come to me with.

My understanding is that you find tattoos to be “classless and worthless. How you have come to this conclusion I am unsure. Be it personal taste, how you were raised, religion or a bad man/woman with a tattoo frightened or hurt you. In any event I assure you tattoos can be classy and full of worth to its owner and often times to those who view it.

My throat has recently been tattooed with the image of a white poppy. Although white poppies have many meanings, I have chose the one that best suits what I wanted to represent. I tattoo outside of a Canadian military base and am very close to the community and the people that live within. Soldiers for many missions around the world are deployed from this base and some have not come home. I have personally known over 50 soldiers/friends who have died overseas, be it in an aid type of deployment or in a war type of deployment. 
The tattoo on my throat represents all soldiers who have ever died at war. Including other countries. I extend it to include those soldiers who died doing what ever they may be doing in the name of our country and military. Is this not a class selfless act in itself. Getting a tattoo to represent something so meaningful?

Have you ever heard a mother tell you how her husband has shaken their child to death and seen the pain in her eyes? I have, watching her pouring over a stack of images that cause this young childless mother to heave and cry as she chooses a design for a child that can never come back. Her decision made by using little Melissa,s birth flower to represent her death and that oh so blue that used to be the blue in her living eyes. Is this a classless or meaningless tattoo?

How about the guy who carried his friends face off of the battlefield in his own personal helmet, then rode beside his headless friend for two hours as they made there way back to the base camp. His tattoo would have class and meaning when it represents what he saw, felt and endured in those horrific days as well as what he will see, feel and endure the rest of his life. Does this not represent class and meaning?

These are but a few instances where I believe tattoos have class and meaning. I see selfless decisions made on an almost daily basis where people labor over which tattoo best represents their mom who just past away from cancer as well as many other heart wrenching situations. I have to admit. I have cried with some and laughed with others, as not all tattoos are about sad endings. Even the guy that had me repair is eyebrows because he had burned his face badly in a motorcycle crash. He never again wore painted eyebrows and low lying hats to hide his disfiguration.

From what I understand you wrote with passion on the topic. I now beseech you to have compassion and at the very least walk away knowing that for some if not most, their tattoos mean a lot and put them in a class of their own.

Ignorance is a bad thing if you do not learn from it. Tolerance is something we can all use just a bit more of. Tattoos are treated very much like the black who were enslaved by the whites. As time goes on and people learn, both situations are becoming better as is this world in so many ways. Be a part of the movement Ms., Khoury.

If this message causes you to want to reply, you may contact me at even if it is a negative reply or if you would like to debate the issue in an intelligent way.

Thank you for taking the time to read from a different point of view.
Ivan Henderson

This past Remembrance Day Ivan & the staff of his shop took part in "Poppy Day" where they did over 100 poppies tattoos in a day in honour of our fallen veterans.  I think this letter says everything I have been trying to gather together with my thoughts in the past eight hours, Thank You Ivan.


  1. Well said Ivan. I have been biting my tongue all day after reading the article. Again it is a reporter just showing HER point of view. In my opinion reporters should be reporting a non biased point of view as well as hard facts. I read neither of these in that article!

    Shame on you!!

    1. I attempted to reply to this a moment ago and I think the comment disappeared.
      In hopes I am not doubling up on my comment, I will rewrite a new reply.

      DwayneB, thank You for your kind words. I feel happy I had not gone the other direction with my comment. Knowing now that the original comment of Lisa's was accompanied with another message, it impresses upon me to think before I speak. I would one day like to write her personally to let her know what I said and to find out the other side of the story and to hear how she came up with her comments. I now understand this story had a reason for coming off as it did. It was a debate reply to a person speaking on the good side of tattoos. I now know Lisa did exactly what she intended to do. To generate comments and to further the debate. Kudos to her.

  2. I think I may have to take a ride out to Petawawa (Google FTW )for my next tattoo... I want someone who understands the gravity of a tattoo that represents the many childhood friends I have buried, most before we were 20. I LOVE this letter... it is FULL of class and meaning, I won't sully it by commenting on the Reporter in question. I think Ivan said it better than I ever could!

    I saw a quote once, have no idea where it came from it said:

    The difference between people with tattoos and people without tattoos is people with tattoos won't judge you for not having tattoos!

    1. Hey Twitch,
      sorry for not getting back to you sooner. My intent was to reply right away but I had become overwhelmed with all the comments and feelings at the time.
      I want to thank You for Your kind and generous words.
      Although this letter was not meant to generate clientele, I cannot over look the fact you may well be set on this idea of getting a tattoo from me. To prevent this from becoming a sales pitch, I ask that you contact me at to further this conversation.
      Once again, thank You very much.

  3. I am one of the many people who have had scars healed, memories made, and laughs had at Ivan's side. He has been a friend, an artist, and a guide for me along an arduous journey over the last couple of years - and I respect the hell out of him and what he does for our community.

    If any of those naysayers that say tattoos are "trashy" and "ugly" knew just how much our art can mean to us, they would never comment like that.

    Didn't your mother ever teach you, "to each their own", reporter?

    Thank you for sticking up for us, the tattooed, the admirers, and the ones who are paid tribute with ink on skin.

    1. Thanks Sweetheart, for your humbling words. You rock!!!!
      Look deeper into this story and you will find why this young lady said what she said. It was said in a debate format and the second part of the debate was not included. For all we know she debated as the "Devil's Advocate". Ya never know.

  4. I do not have any tattoos but my fiance has enough for the both of us! He is a soldier and I do not find any of his tattoos classless or tasteless. What people don't understand is that tattoos have so many purposes for so many people. If you asked him what every single tattoo represented, you'd be surprised by the answers that you got. Tattoos tells stories and I don't see how anyone has the right to judge those that have them.
    Even though I personally do not want tattoos, does not mean we can judge those that do. Tattoos have stories behind them and help people heal (just as Ivan said).
    You don't have to like their selection of tattoo but you have to respect it.
    Shame on your for judging others...
    Ivan, thank you for your letter... it was perfectly said...

    1. Hey Caroline,
      the thanks goes to your husband for doing what he does. So, Thank You Caroline's husband. Never in vain....
      See above where I state the real story about Lisa's comments.
      Your more than welcome. Fortunately I spoke with calm and not rage which very easily could have happened that day.

  5. While I completely disagree with Lisa's point-of-view, I would simply like to add one fact to put her article in context, because it is missing once the debate leaves the University at Buffalo campus. Lisa's article was an opinion piece, written as a counterpoint to another article, in favor of tattoos, which appeared along side Lisa's article. It was not Lisa's job in this article to take the "pro-tattoo" perspective. Unfortunately, once Lisa's article went viral, Becky's article disappeared from its side and the balance was lost. Counterpoint articles are meant to show both sides of an issue and generate discussion. While I don't agree with Lisa's perspective, I also don't agree with the hateful language that she has had to endure this week.

    1. Erin,
      thank you for bringing facts to light on this post. It is much appreciated. If you know the link to the original content, I would love to read it and maybe send a note to Lisa.
      I hope you did not find my comments inflammatory as the certainly were not meant to be. As you may have noted, I claimed ignorance of reading her post from the beginning. Although I went on the trust my friends would not steer me wrong (and they did not, considering the alteration of the article before it reached them), I chose to err on the side of caution.

      Thank You


  6. I agree with Erin. Granted Lisa's opinion may not be any of ours, but are we not just as bad for lambasting her because of it? No matter her opinion it is HERS, and we have no right to tell her it is wrong. Educate, as Ivan did. Give our own opinions, yes. But telling her she is wrong is not OUR right. Just as we don't want others telling us WE are wrong.

    My tattoo of my spirit animal holding the rose that is in remembrance of the daughter I never got to hold is very meaningful to me. I do not agree with Lisa's opinion, but I will not fault her for it.

    Besides, there are many people who get tattoo's just for the fun of it, or their momentary like of the subject. Not all tattoo's have meaning for the one being tattooed. Those are the people I believe she is cautioning. Those who get it just to get it, with no thought to the future and how they will feel later.

    1. Mishawolf.
      Thank You for giving me credit for what I said and also for your openminded ideas that back up your feelings.
      My condolences for your loss. May your tattoo continue to bring you healing as time passes. As your ink fades slightly, may your hurt too.

  7. My personal e-mail is prophecy@nrtco if any of you would like to contact me on my comments. Thanks all for the kind regards.