Inkspotting can be impulsive, but I also like to approach each volunteer after some consideration.
Rather than rush up on someone and barrage them with questions, I like to make sure the tattoo(s) in question are not only interesting to me, but will be interesting to others.
When I spotted Julie's back in Penn Station, for example, I hesitated:
It wasn't initially clear what her tattoo said and I was struck by its uniqueness. A huge fan of word and type tattoos, I couldn't recall ever seeing anything quite like it.
So my curiosity got the best of me and I introduced myself to Julie.
The tattoo "Loufoque," which is a slang term in butcher jargon for "crazy person". Julie explained that she apprenticed with a butcher shop for six months and it was a word she often heard tossed about by the staff, occasionally used when referring to a customer who might be difficult or, let's say, insane.
The term Loufuque derived from 19th Century butcher slang and it became part of the vernacular. Julie thought that this tattoo would be a great way to commemorate her experience.
The tattoo was done by Ryoko at Brooklyn Tattoo. I asked the artist where she came up with the letter design and she kindly gave me a little more perspective:
"I recall Julie requesting the letters themselves to express lunacy. The final design in the photo is my own interpretation of what she had asked for and I think my intention here was to make the phrase look chaotic and disorderly, yet somewhat maintaining it's legibility. It's what I was able to put together by trying to depict what she might have been imagining in her head at the time."So, this post was written and prepped and I was online doing some final research when I stumbled upon this tidbit of information from "Of Meat and Men" by Rachel Kramer Bussel over on The Daily Beast:
Her goodbye present from the Fleisher’s staff is a set of knives inscribed with her name and “Loufoque,” French-butcher Pig Latin for “Crazy Lady,” a term she now has permanently tattooed across her back. Yet Powell now sounds much surer of herself than the lost woman whom we find in the early pages of Cleaving. Next up is a stab at a novel: “I’ve written quite enough memoirs for a 36-year-old.”
Was this coincidence? Or were we talking about the same person?
Scrolling back in the article, I discovered that the Powell here and the Julie that I met in Penn Station were one and the same person.
The same person who crafted The Julie/Julia Project, in which the author blogged her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which became a book, which in turn became the film Julie and Julia. All of this Julie never once mentioned. Then again, I never asked. And it is all about the tattoo, after all.
That being said, thanks to Ryoko for sharing her thoughts about creating this tattoo, and a hearty thanks to Julie Powell for sharing this interesting tattoo. I'm glad my curiosity got the better of me!