Sometimes the ink lasts longer than the love

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Love is a strange thing. As a 25-year-old male, I admit that statement pretty much sums up my knowledge of it. With Valentine’s Day approaching, many are trying to figure out ways of expressing their love to their significant other. Each year, thousands come to tattoo artists with requests to immortalize their lover’s likeness or name on their bodies with matching tattoos.

For the lucky few, love lasts as long as the tattoo. For most, however, jilted former lovers are left with a permanent and bitter reminder of a relationship gone wrong. Many consider it a jinx to imprint their partner’s name; that it is tempting fate to see if the love will outlast the ink.

Quite a few celebrity relationships led to a subsequent tattoo cover-up. Singer Katy Perry and former husband comedian Russell Brand celebrated their 2010 engagement with matching inner arm tattoos. My personal favourite bad celebrity tattoo is Tom Arnold’s Valentine’s Day present to his then-wife Roseanne Barr by emblazoning her face right above his heart. Celebrity romance is notoriously brief but most of us have been guilty of naively believing that our passion will last forever.

Everyone has regrets but tattooing a symbol of intense passion on your body is quite another thing. There are few options for removing tattoos without the scars of laser removal or covering it up with another ink job. Both options can be painful.

Kate Middleton, owner of Tattoo Box Montreal

Kate Middleton, owner of Tattoo Box Montreal

The owner of Tattoo Box Montreal, retired tattoo artist Kate Middleton, has had her share of jilted lovers covering up or even adding to their collection. “The scariest one I have seen done was a man who had gotten his wife’s face tattooed onto his back,” Middleton said. “About three months ago the guy came in and he had her face turned into a zombie. We stitched up her eyes. Stitched up her mouth. To have that much work done it must have been bad break-up.”

Originally from California, love was what brought Middleton to move to Montreal in 2007 and open up the Tattoo Box. “I met her when I was 19 and moved here at 34 to be together with her,” Middleton said. “We are not together anymore but we are still friendly.”

However not all clients are as friendly with their ex. “A client came in recently and she had her boyfriend pay for a tattoo of a frog prince,” Middleton recounted. ”What he didn’t know was that the frog prince was her symbol for a former lover for whom she still had feelings.”

Compared with the countless names simply covered up by black squares or lines running through them, inserting a little creativity can help a person come to terms with the end of a relationship. It can even provide a little laugh. After a relationship with Winona Ryder in the 1990s ended, Johnny Depp had his “Winona Forever” tattoo altered to read, “Wino Forever”.

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