Tattoos are a long term -- and sometimes pricey -- commitment. While an old-school heart with the word "mom" seems a sound choice for many of us when it comes to permanently honoring a beloved figure on our bodies, what about other bastions of inspiration or affection?
Take "Winona Forever," a sentiment that became less infinite when actor Johnny Deep famously reconfigured his inked tribute to former fiancee Winona Ryder to say "Wino Forever" after their split in the 1990s. (That tattoo snafu later inspired an indie band name, but it's reportedly not the last time Depp dissed an estranged paramour via ink and needles.)
Some familiar visages, however, say less about the object of affection than what lies beneath a tattooee's own skin. Native Texan Dan Trujillo told Dallas Morning News reporter Charles Scudder about his Big Tex tattoo in 2016.
People in Trujillo's current home city, Portland, Ore., ask about the curious cowboy, he says, and it can be a gateway to sharing something about himself and his history. His tattooed image of Big Tex aflame, a memorial to the figure's 2012 dramatic demise and rebirth, was designed by Denton-based artist Daniel Brockett.
"When I thought of Dallas, I thought of Big Tex," he told The News in 2016. "It's just such a landmark thing for Texas."
Other Texans have used the art of tattooing to declare regard for Fair Park's tall, talking pop culture icon. We asked why they made Big Tex a permanent part of their personal style.
"I grew up in the Dallas area, so the State Fair of Texas has been a part of my life as long as I can remember," Colin Curry says. "Besides being a symbol of my home state and city, the piece carries memories of my childhood and time with family."
He calls the animatronic cowboy "a staple ... on par with the likes of Fletcher's Corny Dogs."
Curry (also pictured at the top of this story) has had his Faceless Big Tex tattoo for about two and a half years. It's by artist Jay Joree at Third Eye Gallery, whose designs often incorporate humor and bold colors in their depictions of larger-than-life pop culture icons from Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson and TV painter Bob Ross. Not to mention other Big Tex designs.
Jay Joree, artist
Originally from Orange County, Calif., Joree has lived in D-FW for 11 years and says she often gets requests for Texas-themed tattoos. In fact, they have helped establish her career; she has won over 20 awards during her seven years of tattooing, many for pieces dressed up with yellow roses, rodeo imagery and other neo-traditional interpretations of Texan culture.
Here's another Big Tex she created for a client:
Amanda Chavez marked opening day of the 2017 State Fair by having Oak Cliff artist Enrique Bernal Ejay mark a tribute to Big Tex on her arm. Chavez says she has attended the State Fair every year since she was a child; growing up, her mother's job offered employees tickets and ride and food coupons.
"It was a time we could all be together and have fun without financial limitations," she says. "Without that opportunity and gift, the fair would have been a huge financial burden for a family of six."
Now that she is raising her own family, she has purchased season tickets every year and thinks of her Big Tex tattoo as a reminder of quality family time. This year, she looks forward to enjoying the pig races and kids' midway with her son and live bands and new foods with her husband.
You can even follow along via her Instagram account: @mandachvz.
"I was there watching it burn down with a tear running down my face and a Fletcher's corn dog in my hand," says Rolando Herrera, recalling the fateful fire in 2012.
"I honestly got the tattoo because of the love I have for the State Fair," he says. "It's a family tradition for my family and I to go every weekend while it's open."