Growing up, I attended Catholic school all the way up until high school. I was taught the ways of the Lord, learned about Jesus Christ, his mother Mary, and the host of angels and saints. If you went to religious schools, you were taught quickly to revere religious icons and images in high esteem.
This training is still present in my life, and whenever I see religious symbols it gives me a strange sense of comfort and calm. I grew up around these images and much of my formative years were spent studying them, their meaning, and the people behind them.
So when I see tattoo artists like Chuey Quintanar, and his beautiful homages to these religious figures, I can't help but get that calming sense once again.
Obviously, religion is a major institution in a person's life, and if you were surrounded by it in your formative years, it carries a heavy impact on your life. I still sometimes pray, even if my strict religious upbringing has somewhat faded away. It's just the only way I know how to relate my thoughts sometimes, and it can certainly help a guy from going crazy.
I know how ironic it sounds that I would talk to an invisible guy in the clouds to prevent craziness, but it helps. It's just the only way I was taught to show gratitude, gratefulness, and weakness when I was growing up, so it's familiar to me.
Seeing these tattoos strike a chord with me. Again, since they are familiar to me, when I see them, it brings me back to simpler times where God was looking out for me and had my interests in mind.
As an adult with little to no religious affiliation, it can get hectic and dark. I sometimes feel like I'm lost, wandering in a forest and I have no clue how to find my way home. It's a daunting task owning up to your responsibilities and going out on your own, and it's somewhat comforting to believe that there is someone with you, looking after you, who will always be there for you in your greatest triumphs, and lowest lows.
That's the significance of these religious imagery tattoos. These people can carry that inner strength with them wherever they go. They can look down at their arm, see their Lord and Savior, and realize that they are not alone. They have help in the form of their God. And that's truly powerful.