Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Continue Shopping
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

State of the (body) art

Ryan Cleary


My first tattoo says: “The most difficult phase in life is not when no one understands you, it’s when you don’t understand yourself.” I had it done when I was about 20. It just resonated with where I was at in life at the time. I didn’t know a lot about where my sexuality was going, I wasn’t comfortable with certain things, I didn’t know where my career was heading — I was a little boy lost.

I had the one on my lower abs done on 125th Street in Harlem, New York. It was my first time in the city, it was my 21st birthday and I wanted to do something crazy, so it was spontaneous. I went into this tattoo parlour above the Apollo Theatre, looked at the design with the wings and I loved the fact it said “Creativity is King.” I felt really powerful because at 21, I felt a little more comfortable with my sexuality. I’m scared that when I get older it might slip from up there to lower [laughs], but I’m off the beers so I’m doing all right.

I’m Catholic and I was christened so the tattoo on my arms features prayer hands with rosary beads and there’s the little detail with the leaves going around the cross and the hands. It reflected my I belief in faith and hope.

The eye tattoo represents an eye on time, [reminding me] to be in the present moment, rather than concentrating on my past and too much on the future — just live for now and enjoy where I’m at in life.


Some people get tattoos to cover scars — both physical and metal — while others use them to tell their life stories or to remember a loved one (sometimes regretted at a later date). Other people get their first one in a drunken moment or as a dare. But all end up using their skin as a canvas. Attitude asks 13 people to explain the history behind their inkings.

For more, check out Instagram @attitudemag Photography Danny Baldwin

Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Attitude - April 2019
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - April 2019
Or 499 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 1.54 per issue
Or 1999 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $ 2.76 per issue
Or 299 points

View Issues

About Attitude

On the cover: The BODY issue starring NYC go-go turned Insta-star Matthew Camp Inside: Pose. Simon Amstell. Dr Ranj Singh. Plus: what it’s like to be a trans man in the gym.