The Ink Link blog series is an ongoing project at CN&CO that showcases the diversity of tattoos. When we started Ink Link, tattoos were way less mainstream – nowdays it seems that everone has one and few people disapprove of this art form. We like to think that CN&CO has helped influence that view change …

I love tattoos and the stories behind them, but it has been a while since I write about one of my friends and their tattoos. Seeing Anastasia Esterhuizen, the operations and logistics guru for Magnetic South, at the recent Otter Trail Run (where she is part of the amazing team for this phenomenal event) I was again struck by Ana’s brilliance at organising and her beauty (enhanced as she is radiantly pregnant). And part of her beauty is certainly her tattoos – most notably her wonderful sleave tattoo, proudly on display in her wedding photos to husband Brett Esterhuizen.

Brett and Ana on their wedding day

I asked Ana when she got her first tattoo and like many of my friends, it was in honour of a loved one who has died. Says Ana: “My eldest brother passed away in a bike accident when I was sixteen and I wanted a tattoo to remind me that I would always have three brothers.” And while Ana was not necessarily delighted with what she chose to have done, I love her philosophy: “You can’t regret a tattoo. You can maybe, at times, not like it, but you chose to have it for a reason and those reasons are a part of you.”

Working on yachts for many years saw Ana land up on the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia when she was 19. One of her colleagues told her about the amazing tattoos on the island and she ended up having her next one done on her back. Like me, Ana is very uncontrolling with the tattoo design process – leaving much of it up to the artist. Unlike me who wants to see their tattoos, Ana says that at the time she thought – if I don’t like it, it is on my back and I won’t see it! And until her mid twenties, Ana kept her tattoos on places which were largely unseen or discreet – that of course changed with her arm sleave whic is not yet done. And more recently Ana uses two artists in Knysna and Cape Town for her work and ongoing tattoo creativity.

I ask Ana if Brett has any tattoos and the answer is “not yet!” With their first born arriving in December, it seems Ana has a matching tattoo in mind to acknowledge the husband she is clearly smitten with and their expanding family. Based on where Ana says she has convinced Brett to have the tattoo, we may not be seeing them anytime soon 🙂

My 30 minute conversation with Ana inspired me to re-read many of the Ink Links – and, like Ana’s stories, I was moved and inspired by the creativity and unapologetic way so many people create art on their bodies. From reminding one of loved ones, of passions, of beauty and the power of art, tattoos have come a long way. If you are keen to share your Ink Link story, please be in touch!