Brad Sayles’ “Love the mirror”

Brad Sayles’ “Love the mirror”

Brad Sayles’ “Love the mirror” (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova)

“I have so happily put Frank X walker’s words on my skin in permanent ink; however, the words carry meaning to me that is different from what the poet might have imagined.

2015 was a year on fire. I would like to kindly assist it in performing a ‘stop, drop & roll’ over a cliff and gleefully watch it shatter in flames on the rocks below. Without a doubt, it has been the most trying year of my life.

I am a Kentuckian, not by birth or choice. Like so many of the first Kentuckians, I came here by way of Virginia, but Kentucky is my home now. I remember seeing the first tattoo project and being envious of those who participated; it was such a true, permanent bond of people and place, which I loved. But when Love Letter To the World was announced, I was at a crossroads with my family, marriage, career, and the commonwealth I called home.

I am the father of two toddlers. A boy genetically predetermined to make my same mistakes. A girl so sweetly taking after my partner to remind me of why I eagerly entered this union. A union that nearly saw its end, and rightfully so, on more than one occasion in 2015.

I am the partner of the most amazing person. She is flawed, stubborn, and relentless. She is beautiful, passionate and driven.

I am one of the lucky few who do what they love. I consume my work and it consumes me equally. By the start of 2015, I was ready to move on and up, which meant leaving Kentucky, my home. While what I had poured into my career was full, I was also left staring into another pool that was dry and barely offered the kind reflection it once had. I had let my children go without me; on her own, my spouse went without me as well.

I began making the changes necessary to create balance and see the reflection in my family that I desired. My partner and I recommitted. We found our happiness again, in each other, right where we had left it.

When the tattoo designs were released, I was immediately drawn to ‘Love the mirror.’ My family is my mirror. I see only a reflection of what I put in front of it. Each star inside the postage circle of my tattoo is a color of a member of my family’s birth stone; the stars outside of it are mine. My tattoo serves to remind me that my family is my mirror. I have not had an easy 2015, but the tattoo I can only see in a mirror reminds me daily that my family is a reflection of me, and that I must love the mirror.”

detail of Brad Sayles’ “Love the mirror”

detail of Brad Sayles’ “Love the mirror”