Tattoo Interview // Flynn Coleman

calligraphy, illustration, interviewVirginia HartComment

Flynn Coleman, the founder of SAMYA Practice and SAMYA Foundation, is a social innovator and entrepreneur, an international lawyer, an author, a mindfulness and creativity consultant, the founding mindfulness teacher at King’s College London Dickson Poon School of Law, a faculty member at The School of Life, a Huffington Post writer, an advisory board member, and an accomplished athlete. She's also my very dear friend! We met last summer right before she moved from NYC to London after she got my "love" tattoo on her wrist. It's honestly hard to believe we've only met once since now we talk every week, often daily. She is insanely talented, has the biggest heart, and is one inspirational gem. I feel so fortunate to know her! Today, I want to show you our latest collaboration - Flynn's new tattoo! Seeing the final product of her visions and my artwork was honestly unreal. I'm not gonna lie, it's an enormous compliment when someone loves your calligraphy and drawings so much they want it permanently inked on their body. I take my work very seriously and knowing its permanence, I really wanted her to be 150% satisfied.  I am tickled to death with how it came out, and am very excited to share an interview with Flynn about its background and process!

Tattoo Interview with Flynn Coleman
Tattoo Interview with Flynn Coleman

Why did you decide to get this tattoo?

I knew I wanted to get a tattoo in London to celebrate adventure, wanderlust, healing, following my bliss (Joseph Campbell-style), magic, friendship and family, love, and all that has happened in my life this year. It has many meanings to me, some of which I'll keep private and some of which I'll share.

What does the tattoo image mean to you?

The feather has numerous vibrant meanings in many cultures, from the Egyptian Goddess Ma'at symbolizing justice, truth, morality, and law (she was symbolized with large feathered wings!) to Native American feather symbols of connection, freedom, and courage. The Celtic (badass) goddess The Morrigan is also depicted as wearing feathers like a bird, and she is all about power and the cycle of death/rebirth.

Joie (French for "joy") symbolizes things I love: writing, storytelling, art, your calligraphy, my love of languages (i.e. French!), light, love, and living with passion and grace. Joy happens to be my mother's middle name as well as the name of a friend I lost in high school.

It's really a combined symbol that represents what I am passionate about, from human rights and empowerment to creativity and transformation.

It's about choosing joy, taking risks, and staying open and vulnerable even when that is painful. It's about being our authentic selves, in all of our imperfect beauty and all of our light and darkness. It's about writing our own stories, and being connected with yourself as well as others. It's about being receptive to change and uncertainty, going where the wind takes us and also...just being bold. As you once described it, it's beautiful and edgy! Lastly, it's about keeping who and what you love close to your heart, knowing we are never-ever alone.

Can you tell me a little about the vision / design process?

I loved brainstorming and going through the design process with my mom and you! We weaved together our notes and ideas all into this beautiful design. We started with the "joie" to get the perfect spacing, weight, and feel. Ginny wrote it all different ways, with slight variations, and I was able to select the one I loved best. Then she added it to various feather drawings, tweaking to get every wispy featherette just right! 

I knew I wanted it to flow. I wanted something that felt like it was moving...something ethereal and delicate, yet bold. We incorporated the "joie" on the end of the feather to make it like a writing plume. To me, that represents the idea of writing your own story. It also adds an element of magic. :) 

We also kept in mind the anatomy of the ribs when imagining the shape of the feather, and we wanted the calligraphy to match my "love" tattoo on my wrist (another Ginny design!) but also with the added twist of it being in French, a nod to my beloved Paris and a language I love. It's incredible to see the final product, knowing it was a collaborative mix of our styles, friendship, and imaginations.

Where did you get it done?

Someone recommended an awesome spot in London called 

The Family Business Tattoo Shop

 (they even use vegan inks, hooray!) and a tattoo artist from Brazil named Francisco who does delicate feather work. Francisco added his own edgy twist when it went from paper to skin, rendering Ginny's gorgeous design into the final tat!

Flynn getting tattoo
Flynn getting tattoo

Did it hurt?

Uh, yeah. My rib cage was vibrating

a little

a lot (hellooo, shading needle), but to be completely honest? was therapeutic after an intense week.

What happened that week?

A lot. One thing I'll mention is that someone who has a very special place in my heart passed away, way too soon. He was a charismatic soul with a beautiful heart. He happened to love tattoos so a few days after his death, and right after my birthday, I went for it in his honor. It was all part of a ritual to choose love and find joy to celebrate even during pain and darkness.

Where did you debut the tattoo?

In Iceland! In the Blue Lagoon! I have always wanted to visit and finally did in April 2014. It's a magical place of heartbreakingly mystical, natural beauty and that I will forever cherish. What a perfect place to debut this beautiful art!



Read one of my favorite articles written by Flynn called,"You Get to Choose"