American Style: An Interview with Curator Ann Tartsinis

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During WWI, the USA found itself cut off from European art and design, a source they had depended on for centuries of aesthetic guidance. At the same time, Greenwich Village avant-garde designers, many of whom were women, were challenging the conventions of feminine fashion. They were drawing connections between a liberated, un-corsetted silhouette and the traditional dress of non-European cultures. These factors converged, briefly, in the unlikely setting of a natural history museum.

New York City’s Bard Graduate Center is currently showing a small focus gallery exhibition entitled “An American Style: Global Sources for New York Textile and Fashion Design, 1915 -1928.” Curated by Bard alum Ann Tartsinis, the show focuses on this unique moment in the early twentieth century when curators from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) were actively soliciting textile and fashion designers to work with objects and art in the museum’s collection. These artifacts, drawn from the museum’s Native American, Central American, and Southern American holdings had been acquired through early nineteenth century ethnographic studies that included some practices which by today’s standards are dubious at best and nothing less than theft at their worst. By encouraging designers to explore authentic artifacts, museum staff hoped the pairing would provide inspiration for inventing a true “American” style. What they produced continues to be a compelling body of work sparking questions about nationalism, appropriation, and inspiration.

WORN’s New York editor, Sonya Abrego speaks with Ann Tartsinis.

What drew you to the subject and how did you come across this material?
When I was doing my graduate studies I was in Professor Michele Majer’s modern textiles class and I found an illustration of Charles W. Mead’s Peruvian Art—help for students of design in a textile survey, and I was very curious as to what this was; who was Charles Mead? It isolated the Peruvian Bird motif and showed designers how to apply it to modern textiles, and he was the curator of Peruvian art at the AMNH and there’s this bigger story of the Anthropology department engaging with artists and designers at this time. I started to scratch at the surface and uncovered this really fascinating moment when four men who were later called “the fashion staff” actively pursued American designers in the hope of finding a new modern style.

Where do the objects in the exhibition come from? Are they still in AMNH?
All of the ethnographic objects are from AMNH. But the rest come from a variety of institutions in the region. There is a fantastic c.1920s batik style kaftan dress from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, well as numerous contemporaneous textiles that are from the museum at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), as well as the Smithsonian museum of American History and the Brooklyn Museum.

Do you have pieces you find particularly interesting?
The Siberian fur coat, which is probably from the Koriak culture, where Japan and Russia meet. It’s a reindeer hide coat with beaded tassels; it’s a dancing coat and it was extremely influential to quite a few designers. One is Jessie Franklin Turner (known for her sinuous 1930s tea gowns) who, in 1917, when she was the head of the custom department for Bonwitt Teller in New York, made a line of negligees and a tea gown based on the coat. We have a drawing of that, of one of the negligees, and a reproduction of the actual item that was produced in Vogue. We have the source object, the drawing that the designer was inspired by, and the image of the final piece. It’s rare, in this story, to have all those parts.

Also, there is a dress from the RISD museum that uses the H. R. Mallinson & Co. (a silk company) and one of their prints from the American Indian series. It is a Sioux war bonnet print which is created in a drop-waisted day dress, very 1920s silhouette, with lace ruffles… it’s a facinating collage of contemporary design using this pretty avant-garde print.

Was the 1919 Exhibition of Industrial Art and Textiles (an exhibition in the museum showing the designs alongside the pieces that inspired them) something that was well-received? Was it a popular show?
It was only up for two weeks. It was perceived to be popular. M.D.C. Crawford, who is one of these key four members of the fashion staff, was a journalist for Womens’ Wear (now WWD), and at that time he wrote that it was extremely popular and it was considered popular by the museum itself. The trustees were supportive of it and happy with the popular outreach that they gained.

One of the many intriguing things you touch upon is who these people were. They were into this Greenwich Village, bohemian culture that included a lot of designers and artists. Do you see the aesthetics expressed in these pieces as part of the Greenwich Village avant-garde or do you think it’s a separate thing?
It’s definitely part of the avant-garde. A lot of the designers who took advantage of the museum activities were from the Greenwich Village avant-garde and there was kind of this melting pot moment that happened in New York in reaction to the effects of WWI. These designers and artists—a lot of them women who were embracing this new woman ideal—are educated; they have careers and they are not really looking to marry. They are part of these circles that are pushing the boundaries in terms of fashion and embracing artistic dress.

So this caftan silhouette, sandals and bobbed hair and, most importantly, the abandonment of the corset, this is connected to the story at the AMNH. A lot of the silhouettes that the curators are advocating based on ethnographic sources like Native American dress and the Koriak fur coat are fuller, looser silhouettes, so I think there is a melding between the two ideals that allow the new woman to function. The garments aren’t as restrictive and there is more mobility.

When I was looking at the show I felt my sentiments a little divided. I can appreciate the idea of stepping away from European influence in art and design, of looking to inspiration from this continent at a time when the nation was challenged with the war in Europe. I like that they were valuing original work and stylistic traditions from the Americas as compelling and inspirational. However, although these items existed in ethnographic collections here in New York, in terms of cultural property, they were not the curators’ property to give. Where do you situate this practice in terms of cultural imperialism?
You’re absolutely correct: they certainly were not the cultures that these curators could offer as freely as they did. Contextually, at this moment in the United States, their attitudes were part of broader theories of Central and South America as being the purview of the Unites States. So while these men, these curators, their activities certainly brought up questions of appropriation and cultural property they weren’t really acting out of the norm of the moment. However, looking back, I do think it’s a really sticky situation. I’m fascinated by their efforts to inspire American designers but the material that they were defining as American was not theirs to offer.

The project, even at the time, brought criticism from other curators at the AMNH; it drew criticism for appropriation, and these other curators thought it wasn’t appropriate for contemporary American designers to take the material, cite it, and use it as their own. The four fashion group curators did advocate inspiration over citation (i.e. copying) which gave them a little bit of room to get behind this movement, but with designers there were still some direct citations.

Today we get to hear from Native American scholars and activists speaking out against appropriation of Native American design traditions. I’m thinking of outlets like ‘Native Appropriations’ and ‘Beyond Buckskin’ calling out Urban Outfitters for their “Navajo” prints or Paul Smith for his “Electric PowWow.” Was this exhibition an antecedent to these practices? Is there any connection?
The connection is there but it’s tenuous. This project was an isolated moment in the AMNH’s history. Recent scholarship in the Anthropology departmebt does not talk about this at all, and it’s not really part of the museum’s mission even if it was part of their popular outreach at that time. I think modern designers will look to museum collections, and indigenous collections as well, for inspiration. And I think it is useful for designers to look to museums, but it’s the issue of citation. When you’re talking about meaningful, spiritual items being appropriated and placed on contemporary garments I would hope that companies and designers would at the very least acknowledge their sources or ask permission. The Urban Outfitters example is extremely troubling.

I think there is a considerate and appropriate way for designers to engage with museums. I don’t think the connection between cultural institutions and industry is a bad relationship. Museums hold a variety of inspirational material and industry can learn, either from what’s been successful in the past, or through techniques and methods that have been used by other cultures.

Artists and creative people are going to seek these out anyway. They might as well look at an original source with some history behind it instead of mixing and matching vague ideas.

I encourage everyone to visit the exhibition to see some amazing original material, think about how cultures have informed one another, how design circulates between cultures and how traditions of the past informed modernity. Cultural appropriation’s history is a tangled one. This show presents museum objects which embody multiple vexed relationships. It is also accompanied by a thorough image-rich catalogue, well worth seeing if you can’t make it to the show, that contextualizes all these issues in depth.

“An American Style: Global Sources for New York Textile and Fashion Design, 1915 -1928.” on view until February 2, 2014 at 18 West 86th street.

Robert Everett-Green Examines the Menswear of the JFK Assassination

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Everyone remembers Jackie Kennedy’s pink Chanel suit, that looked so chic and fresh when she arrived in Dallas, so gory and awful when she left three hours later. But who knows anything about the clothes worn by the two men shot that sunny day in November, 1963?

The two, of course, were Texas Governor John Connally, who survived, and President John F. Kennedy, who did not. Like most politicians, neither dressed to draw attention to their clothes, yet what they wore that day was intensely scrutinized later. What happened to the clothes during the shooting helped explain what happened to the men, and even exactly when it occurred. The garments were part of the crime scene, and part of the collateral damage, sustaining injuries that mirrored those of the victims.

The president disembarked from Air Force One in a grey two-button sack suit, pin-striped white shirt, blue and grey grid-patterned tie, dark socks and black oxfords. It was a typical outfit for Kennedy, who helped popularize a relaxed variation of the Ivy League look associated with the Eastern establishment. Veteran style writer G. Bruce Boyer describes Kennedy’s preferred style of coat as a single-breasted, unvented cut with “small, soft shoulders, shallow chest and little waist suppression.” Minimal waist contour went along with the sack or sacque coat, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a loose-fitting coat the back of which is not shaped to the figure, but hangs more or less straight from the shoulders.” Boyer says Kennedy liked “plain-fronted, slim-leg, cuffed trousers,” though the ones he wore in Dallas look full by current standards. The tailor was either Sam Harris, who dressed Kennedy until 1961, or Sidney Winston (“Chipp”), another New York tailor who took over after Harris, in a Life magazine interview, spoke about the presidential wardrobe too freely for Kennedy’s liking.

Connally met the president on the tarmac at Love Field in a more conservative black wool three-button suit, tailored by Oxford Clothes for the John L. Ashe clothing store in Forth Worth. He wore a plain white Arrow shirt with French cuffs, a black and gold striped tie, and an off-white western-style hat that he held in his lap during the motorcade, and kept holding even after a bullet had damaged nerves in his wrist.

The Warren Commission examined these clothes while trying to determine the path of the first bullet to strike Kennedy, which passed through his back and neck and then (according to the Commission) inflicted several wounds on Connally. In the process, it ripped through 19 layers of cloth, as the report details with tailorly precision. The bullet, it says, “entered the back of [Kennedy's] clothing in the vicinity of his lower neck and exited through the front of his shirt immediately behind his tie, nicking the knot of his tie in its forward flight.” The Commission found holes “on the rear of the coat, 5 3/8 inches below the top of the collar and 1 3/4 inches to the right of the centre back seam,” and in the shirt “5 3/4 inches below the top of the collar and 1 1/8 inches to the right of the middle of the back of the shirt,” with corresponding holes on the shirt front below the top collar button. The report also mentions that after the wounded president arrived at Parkland Hospital, “his tie was cut off by severing the loop immediately to the wearer’s left of the knot… The tie had a nick on the left side of the knot.” The obsessive concern with exactly what happened to shirt, jacket, and tie gives you the fleeting impression that part of the crime was the damage inflicted on the clothes.

The report offers the same level of detail about the bullet’s passage through Connally’s coat, shirt, sleeve, French cuff, and pant leg, though omits the data (supplied by Connally’s wife Nellie) that the slug also shattered one of his Mexican-peso cufflinks. The Commission’s examinations of the bullet holes—jagged tears, mostly—was hampered slightly by the fact that the blood-spattered shirt had been laundered before it was given to investigators. I like to think that this washing had less to do with evidence-tampering than with someone in the Connally household finding it unseemly to hand a bloody rag over to a panel of US government officials.

The holes in Kennedy’s clothes didn’t quite match up with each other, which seemed suspicious until photos were produced that showed the president rode with the back of his jacket slightly bunched up below the neck. A detail of Connally’s clothing actually helped pinpoint the exact moment at which he and Kennedy were hit. Close examination of the famous video made of the event by Abraham Zapruder—a Dallas womenswear maker—revealed that the right lapel of the governor’s jacket swells out slightly in the film’s 223rd frame. Computer animator Dale Myers, who spotted the lapel movement in 1993, concluded that it was caused by the bullet bursting through Connally’s chest.

Like Jackie’s pink suit, the clothes Kennedy wore in Dallas have never been shown in public. (By the way, Jackie’s suit was not actually made by Chanel; it was an authorized copy made by Chez Ninon of New York, commissioned to show that the First Lady supported American clothiers). Connally’s outfit, however, went on display recently at the Texas State Archive and Library in Austin. The black suit, as shown in this slideshow, looks suitably funereal. The white laundered shirt is still speckled with rust-coloured blood stains. These are the clothes not just of a man, but of a memory that still haunts the American people and their politics.

text // Robert Everett-Green

The Dress that Changed Nothing Whatsoever

Nicole Wornette was insecure at 12, for all the years that followed, and also bought a vintage dress

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There are some who believe formative self-loathing is instrumental to becoming a cool adult. This particular lemonade is made over and over again by those attempting to ascribe meaning to what they fear would otherwise be seen as self-indulgent ennui, and who are comforted by fellow-sufferers able to tell their lives like a self-worth rags-to-riches story. Happiness is without substance; misery makes art. I started from the bottom, now I’m here. But of course, here comes much later. First you have to dislike yourself.

And this was, for a long time, my personal gospel.

In my story, I made all the right moves. I hated myself. I was skilled in the art of turning absolutely anything into evidence of my failings. At 12 especially, I was deeply invested in changing the person that I was to be a different, better person. At this age, a girl is still new to self-loathing, so of course, she makes mistakes. I fell prey to the idea something like a haircut, a pair of shoes, or a new school year would alter my situation so dramatically I would find myself cured. So it was when the time came for my oldest cousin to get married. That was when my mother took me shopping for my first vintage dress.

Despite my initial objections to wearing used clothes, once in the shop, I was instantly able to appreciate how much more cinematic these dresses were than any I had seen at the mall. I have always had a soft spot for dresses that reach the floor and never apologize for how they get there. A tangle of chiffon, silk, and sequins, these were the garments of which stories were made.

Though I had resolved not to leave this shop with an old dress, I was delighted to be in that room. While my mother went over the preliminaries with the shopkeeper, I traced my hand along the racks, remembering something half-lost about what I’d wanted before all I wanted was to be somebody better than myself. Just as I was getting close to some fuzzy truth, my mother came up from behind me.

“Okay,” she sighed. “Let’s go to the mall.”

Um, what?

Despite my mother’s whimsical intentions, I was still a child and these dresses were all woman-sized. Stunned, we moved towards the shop door, until the shopkeeper’s memory jogged. “Well, it’s hardly appropriate for a wedding, being cream and all, but that one will fit her,” she said, pointing to a short dress hanging from a hook high up on the wall.

The dress wasn’t something you gasp at—it was just exactly right. Like it was already yours and you recognized it out in a crowd and thought, “What are you doing here? Let’s go home, you silly goose!” I’ve experienced this comfortable confirmation many times since: on finding the right apartment, the right university, jobs, friends, men, and of course, clothes. We never discussed the fact it was cream, since a gawky twelve year old is at virtually no risk of outshining a bride. Obviously, we bought the dress.

This was, indeed, the first time I’d been vintage shopping, the first time I’d recognized myself in a dress, and the first time I remember expecting something I bought to change me in some dramatic way. In the lead up to the wedding, I would take the dress out of my closet and stare at it thinking, “Now that I have this, the hard part’s over.”

When the day of the wedding arrived, I dressed simply. And while I wasn’t certain I enjoyed a day-long event where adults I had never met made inscrutable jokes into a microphone, my girl cousins slow-danced with each other to be all like, “We don’t need no men!” and I got far less attention than I was accustomed to, I was sure of the dress. In it, I was a changed woman.

I was sure of this right up until my mother got her film developed at the local one-hour photo and I saw the picture.

No person was ever more ungracefully 12 as I found myself in that picture. It was the most jarring thing, having my worst suspicions about myself confirmed. The girl in the photo wasn’t changed for the better. She was a ragamuffin with thick eyebrows and a body that seemed to be introducing itself to her at every moment. And god, that girl was so serious. Her self-doubt and torturous sensitivity registered plainly on her face. I was repulsed.

My only recourse was to bury the dress in the back of my closet, forget it ever happened and try harder. During the years that followed, I employed all manner of tactics to solve the problem of me once and for all. I really believed I could will myself into flawlessness. After that, I imagined life would be just a lot of eating in hip family-style restaurants and people photographing you mid-laugh but it’s, like, always really beautiful.

Instead of achieving this clumsy approximation of perfection, I got something else entirely when, at 24, my mother and I were unpacking boxes and arranging my possessions in a west-end basement studio, the first place I’d ever live alone. Buried in one of the many boxes was a packet of photos. Among them, of course, was the photo, which I have no memory of ever taking from my mother’s albums. And with so many years separating the girl in the photo from the girl holding it, perspective was easier to find.

Before, whenever I discussed who I had been, it was always with a tone of mild alienation. Not only was the present day version of myself the best one but, rather, the only one. Who I had been was inconsequential, irrelevant, and lampooned in my most defensive jokes. As a militant self-improver, it is difficult to resist this temptation.

But there was something exquisite in the deflating realization that despite all the effort and dramatic change, so much stayed exactly the same. I am still a self-conscious, serious girl. My eyebrows still feature prominently on my face. And goddammit, will I ever feel graceful in this body?

Naturally, I had grown into myself. A decade plus of time, experience, and extensive introspection will do that. But more significant was that, standing in my new apartment, holding the once-repulsive photo, not only was I able to recognize myself in it but also to appreciate its beauty. It was a lovely, vulnerable moment captured on film. Just a very young girl in a very special dress.

“Mom, whatever happened to that dress?” I asked, my eyes still fixed on the photo.

She thought for a moment and said, “I have no idea, Nic. Honestly, it probably got thrown out.”

It was a shame. That dress had been coded with so much adolescent disappointment, and now, with a little clarity, it would have been nice to wear it like a nice dress deserves to be worn.

That night I got an email from my dear sweet mother with the subject line, “LOOK WHAT I FOUND!!!!” The email body contained only an attached photo of the dress, a little rumpled and desperately in need of a dry cleaner’s love, but unmistakably my special cream dress.

I was in her house for perhaps only five minutes before excusing myself and slipping down the hall to what used to be my bedroom and now is the extended territory of an ageing cocker spaniel. Quickly I stripped down and pulled on the dress. It fit. The dress and I had been given our second act by whoever it was that decided that I should never develop breasts.

I no longer allow myself the delusion of a self-worth promised land. The top is a lie, though, so too is the bottom. My new thing, these days, is conscious continuity. With this, it is important to acknowledge the small victories, and doing right by my first vintage dress is certainly one.

What are you doing here? Let’s go home, you silly goose.

Ink Tales

Five Wornettes share stories about their tattoos

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Kat Wornette’s forearm
One of the most memorable events of my late teenage years wasn’t graduating high school (I left early), prom (see previous), or anything of that nature—it was the demolition of a favourite building.
Standing six-stories proud at the corner of 13th & Pacific since 1891, the Luzon Building was one of Tacoma, Washington’s first “skyscrapers,” and one of my first architectural infatuations. Abandoned since the ’80s and the last building on an otherwise vacant block, its spectral presence was a historic treasure or an eyesore, depending on who you asked. I was firmly of the former opinion along with many others, and we were all saddened when it was demolished in 2009, despite efforts to save it. Still angry over the demolition, I turned my attention to reading as much as possible about the building’s history, and I discovered that it was designed by one of the most prominent architectural firms of the late 19th century—Burnham & Root of Chicago. The story of these architects is fascinating; they helped to pioneer the design of North America’s earliest high-rise buildings.

I knew I wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate both the Luzon and Burnham & Root. I decided on a quote widely attributed to Daniel Burnham himself that begins “Make no little plans”—a fitting tribute as well as a good reminder to myself. So last May, while on vacation in Chicago, I got the phrase inked up the inside of my arm in spidery Victorian lettering taken directly from one of Burnham & Root’s architectural drawings. I’m delighted with how the design turned out, and its advice is hard to ignore when I have to look at it all the time!

(The extended version of this story involves nearly getting arrested, but you’ll have to ask me about that in person.)

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Nicole Wornette’s ribs
I have an obligatory lunch once a season. For the last three years of university, our bedroom doors opened onto the same living room, and the overheard noises we made during sex were just another way to know each other; tantamount to any other house sound. Though we were categorically similar, we had little in common where it counted. Simply choosing a movie to watch together was always a long, dull heartbreak, for example.

It has been my experience that having friends you feel lonely beside serves a crucial function: sharpening your ability to recognize your true tribe.

What this amounts to is that, with graduation now years at our backs, my old university roommates live together one 30-minute streetcar ride away from me and I feel tremendous guilt for how little I see them. So every few months I let it happen but always get wickedly intoxicated to temper things. A girl can only hear, “Okay…what else is new?” so many times before the shadows close in.

On one of these lunches, the topic of tattoos came up. This struck me as a pretty neutral topic until:

“Oh my god, Nicole! Remember when you wanted to get that 30 Rock quote tattooed on your ribs?!”

And:

“I bet you’re so happy you didn’t, right?”

And also:

“I know you really liked that show but that’s totally a thing you would have regretted.”

And finally:

“I’m so glad we talked you out of that one.”

Now I had a decision to make. Because at that very moment, emblazoned across my ribs in black inked Courier New was “I want to go to there”, my favourite of Liz Lemon’s catchphrases on NBC’s 30 Rock. This is a tattoo I’ve now had and loved for years. I have never regretted it for so much as a moment; even weathering the requisite later-season deterioration of my beloved 30 Rock without questioning my decision to commemorate it on my flesh. It is by far the least meaningful of my tattoos but is also my favourite.

Plus having a notoriously painful rib tattoo is the only thing about me that is hard, tough, or street.

Sitting across from them, I could predict the exquisite fallout of me saying, “Actually, I did get that tattoo. Wanna see?” and lifting my shirt up in the bar. Their supreme awkwardness, mental notes to discuss my foolishness once I was gone, the unacknowledged gorge separating us widening further still. I saw it all and was hungry for it but instead I said:

“Haha, yeah. That sure would have been stupid of me. Thank for stopping me and stuff, you two.”

Honestly, it just didn’t feel worth it. All it would have meant was one more uncomfortable conversation, one more round of pitying glances, one more pregnant silence in a lunch that felt like it would never end.

No. It wasn’t worth the trouble. I shut my mouth and thanked the air for the people I now have who understand why the stuff that appeals to me appeals to me.

That’s right, Elsasser, save the story for the tribe.

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Ishita Wornette’s nowhere
I never wanted a tattoo until my parents told me I couldn’t have one. As a kid in an Indian family, I heard constantly that drugs, motorcycles, piercings, and tattoos were all in the same category—dangerous and forbidden. But now at 19, I’ve come to the realization that despite my parents’ greatest and most communicated fears, I’ve been a goodie-two-shoes my whole life. Always afraid of breaking the rules, I’ve never dyed my hair, smoked a cigarette, or gotten more than my ears pierced. And I definitely have no tattoos.

Lately, I’ve started to embrace my inner rebel in my own small way. I’m not afraid anymore to lob all my hair off, make strange fashion choices, or wear wacky jewelry. And I’m slowly beginning to accept that I am, quite frankly, in love with tattoos. While my browsing history and bookmarks are full of tattoo designs, I know it will take a great deal of courage to break my inherent reluctance to displease. But progress has been made—all this dallying around, needing to figure out a meaningful design, has stopped. I know that when I make the commitment to get my tattoo, I’ll figure out exactly what I want my special swirl of ink to be. And that time is coming soon.

20th birthday present, anyone?

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Angela Wornette’s lower back
After years of contemplating a number of designs (that I am now really glad I didn’t settle on), I finally went to get my first tattoo in 2003. I found Ryan at a Queen West Parlour to help me draw a unique “fancy bar with all the curls that divides up sections in old books” with which to permanently decorate my lower back. In my mind, this was the perfect symbol to simultaneously allude to my bookworm tendencies and penchant for frivolous decor and I couldn’t have been more ready.

As much as I had mentally prepared for the big inking day though, no amount of pain in my young adult life could have prepared me for what felt like miniature cars equipped with scalpel-sharp wheels racing on the track of my spine. Despite the original estimate of the process to take up to four hours, an hour is all I could actually endure. At the first mention of a break, I deemed the pain too great (and my dedication to my vision too weak) to continue. I sprung off of the seat and declared the session over. I remember nodding dizzily at Ryan as he heartily suggested that I come back at a future date for another sitting.

Many years later, with the experiences of a surface piercing and another tattoo under my belt, I have mixed feelings about returning to have my first tattoo finished. The hard, clean lines void of any shading or details reminds me pleasantly of the simple outlines in colouring books. Through the years, I have come across countless ornamental section breaks (as I finally found out they are commonly referred to, seeing as that they still lack a proper name), and I’ve come to the fortunate realization that their being frivolously ornate is not a must.

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Sofie Wornette’s collarbone
I was always told to be good. My parents, my friends, and now my lover: it’s all she says to me before I leave for a night out, before I go out for drinks.

I am not good. I was an angry, spontaneous, generally troublesome kid. Sometimes I still get angry and I often do spontaneous things.

I was not good before, and I’m not good now.

In contemplating my fourth spur-of-the-moment walk-in tattoo before I went into New Tribe, my go-to inkers, I thought about what I’d get and where I’d get it. I was hand in hand with my girlfriend and I realized what words I’d need to get on me to remember them forever.

It hurt a little to get tattooed right on my collarbone—it’s the first of my simple tattoos to actually bleed. But it’s my favourite. I tattooed ‘be good’ on myself so that every t-shirt I wear can show off the reminder to myself; so that everyone who curiously reads it aloud will be reminding me of the same—to be good. Be good. Don’t fight. Stay strong. Be good.

photography // Claire Ward-Beveridge