COLUMBUS, Ohio — Local college student Cam Emerson received a portrait tattoo of Tom Petty on his forearm last week, objectively standing as one of the ugliest tattoos among his friends, family, and the community at large.
“Tom Petty’s music saved my life,” Emerson said. “He was a musician with uncompromising vision, and he valued the importance of creative control — I just wish I’d looked more closely at pictures or videos of his face before going in. I was really looking forward to putting Tom on in my headphones while looking at my tattoo, almost as if he was singing to me right there from my arm… but now I can hardly look at him. These are some of the hottest days of the summer, and I have to wear long sleeves so I don’t scare people.”
Renowned tattoo artist Donny Eckbert, known for his expertise in the portrait style tattoo, gave Emerson the piece at his Columbus shop, Pinktures, where he admittedly struggled in making this particular figure good looking.
“I am an active student of artistic techniques, and I apply my studies directly to my work,” Eckbert stated. “For Cam’s piece, I tried playing with symmetrical balance, radial symmetry, and even asymmetrical balance, but nothing worked. I even tried shading it in a way where none of his features were clear, but it just ended up looking like a depressed broomstick. This tattoo is just plain ugly, and it will forever haunt me and my body of work.”
Emerson’s mother Winona Emerson, a fan of tattoos with many herself, expressed extreme disappointment in her son.
“I knew Cam would most likely follow in my footsteps and get tattoos once he was in college, but I didn’t think he would literally continue the tradition of adorning his body with objectively hideous-looking musicians, ” she said. “On the plus side, though, at least it kind of makes my makeup-less Gene Simmons tattoo look a little better by comparison.”
At press time, Emerson was comparing prices for elective limb removal surgery.