I have a growing collection of tattoos; most visibly I have a rat skeleton on my forearm and a large octopus on my bicep and shoulder. I’m not alone here, lots of people who go to LARP also have tattoos. The vast majority of people’s tattoos are hidden under clothes most of the time, but there are enough of us with highly visible tattoos that I thought this was a subject worth contemplating.
Neither my Empire or my Curious Pastimes characters are the kind of individuals who would have tattoos. Well, they might have tattoos but neither of them would have the same tattoos as me. And of course tattoos are much more fitting to some settings than other – modern tattoos will generally be an awful lot less jarring in a sci-fi or post-apocalyptic setting than in a medieval fantasy setting (although of course – the art of tattooing is ancient, but if you’re got a gorgeous piece of New School tattoo art it’s never going to look quite ‘in character’ on a Viking).
So what to do about that? Most people would just say to ignore it – other people will largely ignore a real tattoo, only commenting on those that have obviously been applied temporarily for the event. LARPers are generally pretty good about blocking out and ignoring OC elements that aren’t supposed to be there.
However Wookie from Mandala Studios said something to me once that stuck with me. He told me that he only has a limited amount of imagination that he can conjure up at any one time, and he would rather spend it imagining the things that we can’t physrep rather than the things we can physrep.
And I agree with him. I like to think I’m a person with a half-decent imagination, but once I’ve imagined that the town is populated with buildings that aren’t just tents, that the magic you’re casting is real, and that your injury just healed in half an hour, I don’t have much left to spend on things like ‘that tattoo isn’t there’.
So what are the options if you have visible tattoos?
- Don’t do anything about them. Nobody is going to say anything at the vast majority of LARP games (and you’ll know if you’re going to one where someone will say something). Nobody will think any less of you if you don’t cover them up.
- Accessorise. The leather bracers I wear for my Curious Pastimes character perfectly cover my rat tattoo on my forearms. It’s not a coincidence.
- Wear garments that cover them. If you’re like me and have forearm tattoos, garments that reach the wrist are the easiest way to hide them. I’ve made sure over the winter that each one of my characters has a base layer option that reaches the wrist so that I can always hide my tattoos for an event. I do have a bad habit of pushing my sleeves up to my elbow but I’m just going to have to get over that.
- Use makeup. Initially when I was thinking about my tattoos I was like ‘fuck makeup in a field’. I’m not really a makeup kind of person (a friend had to help me buy my first LARP makeup) but over the past year I’ve started wearing it. Mostly for bruises and the like, but occasionally I put some ‘proper’ makeup on too. When I was younger I used to use Dermablend to hide some tattoos I have on my back occasionally and it worked really well. It doesn’t look like Dermablend are making the same product anymore so I can’t reccomend you that, but this kit by Mehron is pretty similar. I would also add that if you have pale skin like me, a white pot of makeup is really good for reducing the impact of black lines before you put the concealer on top. The great thing about Mehron makeup is that it’s really kind to the skin. I have terrible skin but this stuff doesn’t cause me to break out in spots afterwards – and it smells of coconut oil which is actually amazing.
So that’s it really. Cover your tattoos or don’t cover them. For the vast majority of games you shouldn’t feel pressured to do so. But if you think it’ll make you feel more like your character then hopefully there’s some suggestions above that might help you think about how to make them disappear!
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