Keith Anderson”s right arm is covered in tattoos. That might not seem so strange, given the prevalence of tattoos today, but for some, it still might seem distasteful even though tattooing has been considered mainstream for a long time. Of course, Anderson”s tattoos are a little different.
Anderson”s sleeve is composed of drawings created by his son, Kai, dating all the way back to when Kai was four years old. Each year, Anderson chooses one of Kai”s drawings to get permanently marked on his skin. It”s a way, he says, to remember Kai”s childhood and celebrate his growth, one drawing at a time.
The practice started when Kai was in kindergarten with this flower. This is the first piece of Kai”s artwork that Anderson got tattooed. Later, he would go back and get a drawing from when Kai was four, for a more complete tattooed portfolio of Kai”s artwork.
This is the house Kai drew when he was four, and labeled with his name. The charm of these tattoos is the way the tattoo artist captured the feeling of the markers Kai used in the original drawing. The colors can”t be replicated exactly on skin, but the brightness still shows through.
Kai drew this seahorse when he was six…
…and showed some Canadian pride at seven. (The family lives in Ontario.)
This is Anderson”s favorite, an abstract piece done when Kai was eight.
Finally, this is the latest installment, a robot Kai drew at age 10.
Now 11, Kai comes with his dad when Anderson gets a new tattoo, and watches the process. Recently, he”s even got to try his hand at doing some of the tattoo work himself, so they”re extra-authentic. If the thought of a 10-year-old operating a tattoo machine alarms you, don”t worry. The process is actually quite safe.
Here”s Kai tattooing his dad, with some guidance from the tattoo artist.
Anderson plans to keep getting one of his son”s drawings tattooed on himself every year. What happens as the real estate on his arm gets used up, though? Anderson isn”t too worried. “I guess I”ll just get him to draw smaller pictures,” he says.
You can keep up with Anderson”s latest tattoos, as well as his day-to-day ruminations, on his Twitter.