"I’ve wanted tattoos since I was young. My family was very open about that sort of thing and my sister, who is five years older, sort of pioneered that for me. I look up to her, so her coming home with tattoos not only made it feel like it was okay, but also gave me inspiration to be like her.
My first tattoo was the infinity symbol on my left shoulder. The idea came about when I was a junior in high school sitting in the back of math class, not paying attention and talking philosophy. We had been learning about theoretical concepts like infinity, imaginary numbers, and the like. Infinity represents the unknown number, which can be a difficult concept to grasp, and for some hard to understand. People tend to fear what they don’t understand, so this was meant to be a reminder not to be afraid of the unknown, with the blue and black to represent positive and negative infinity.
Most of the influence for my tattoos has been an attempt to remind myself of something, whether that’s to be a better person or of happiness and beauty. The lion for courage, the scene on my right shoulder for home, the pacific northwest. The sleeve on my left arm is from my experience in college. I distinctly remember being a freshman in the dorms and looking out my window to the cold, damp, Seattle autumn night. The glow of the street lamps reflecting off the red and orange leaves stuck with me and I thought of this goth rock song by The 69 Eyes called “Dance D’Amour”, which inspired the couple dancing in the center. The image of dancing in the cold gloom seemed like a beautiful contrast between love and darkness that I wanted to remember.
It has felt like a battle of perception having tattoos in the military. People have told me that I can’t be an officer and also have visible tattoos because it’s “unprofessional”, and for the longest time it didn’t matter because the regulations prevented me from doing that anyway. Once the regulations changed, within months I went and got a full sleeve done. Fortunately that culture is changing, and I hope to be a part of that change; that you can still be good at what you do and enjoy art through tattoos." - Dan
Photos and stories created by Gray Warrior - Colorado Photographer. You can find more of his work on Instagram @Gray_Filter