COLLABORATION WITH: Jess and Stephanie

Every once in a while a client will commission a tattoo of a word that I've never heard of. I'm embarrassed to say that such was the case with Jess and ubuntu. (Although once I was keyed into the word, it appeared everywhere). I enjoyed falling down the rabbit hole of exploring the word's infinite meanings and watching this TED talk by Chris Abani about the topic. Of the idea he says: "there is no way for us to be human without other people." Jess writes: 

Being in my last semester at university studying Peace and Development, friends and family often ask me how I think I will cope everyday facing the realities of poverty or living in a the middle of a civil war and WHY I want to do it? They are always questions that I don't really know how to express an answer for. So in a way, I guess ubuntu is my 'why'...

Ubuntu is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. You can't exist as a human being in isolation. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, about compassion. A person with ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are.
It is uplifting for me to think about all of the places Jess will go in her life-- places of unimaginable poverty, suffering, and hope -- and she will transport this idea of ubuntu, on her body, to the world that awaits her. It inspires me to do the same.
Many thanks to Jess and Stephanie at Victims of Ink in Port Melbourne. As a reminder, you can see a portfolio of tattoos over here
{Photos by Jess' friend Mitch}