Click photo to enlarge
Tattoo artist Adam Loomis has several tattoos dedicated to his wife, Stephanie, including an illustration of his wife as a samurai on the side of his body.

Professional body piercer Devin Van Noy cuts a striking figure, with light green eyes and porcelain smooth skin decorated with colorful tattoos from head to toe.

It's one tattoo in particular, though, dedicated to her late husband, Paul Van Noy, that catches people's attention.

Located above her right eye, starting from her temple and stretching to just below her hair line is the phrase "One Love" in plain black ink, book-ended by two tiny hearts.

"I'm used to it," said Van Noy, 30, referring to the stares she gets from strangers who first lay eyes on her love tattoo. "At first it was really hard. People were staring at me, asking why did I do that to my beautiful face. It was really uncomfortable for a while."

Van Noy works at Kenny Curtis Tattoos in Marina, the place where she first met her husband, where they exchanged wedding vows and, ultimately, where she received her permanent symbol to her fallen love.

Valentine's Day marks what would have been the couple's two-year anniversary of being together, she said.

Van Noy is one of several Monterey County residents who responded to The Herald for a story about love tattoos, permanent symbols dedicated to spouses, significant others, family and loved ones.

Their reasons for getting love tattoos varied.

Several were mothers who got tattoos in honor of their children.

Mothers such as Stacey Huntington of Pacific Grove, who had her children each write "I Love You" on a piece of paper.


Advertisement

Huntington, 34, was able to use the inscriptions as tattoo designs on each foot.

When her daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, Huntington added the blue circle that is the universal symbol for the disease, endorsed by the International Diabetes Federation.

Jaime Page, 35, of Seaside, had an infinity love symbol with four hearts etched inside it. Each heart represents one of her children, who range in age from 2 months to 9 years old.

Page said it is meant as "a small token of my commitment and love to them."

Kathy Cuen, 50, of Pacific Grove, had her son Marcus' name tattooed on her wrist three years ago. She got it in Yuma, Ariz., right before her son was sent to prison.

"It is not about romantic love," Cuen said. "However, it is definitely a tat of my beloved."

Then there is 60-year-old Fran Ainslie.

Seven years ago, she got her husband Michael's name tattooed on her ankle, as a surprise for him.

"I've been married for 23 years. .. . I was 53 at the time," said Ainslie, proving there is no age limit on getting your first love tattoo.

Van Noy acknowledged her love tattoo is "very controversial" because it is on her face.

The message is taken from the Bob Marley song of the same name. It was a phrase she and her husband often shared with one another.

Paul Van Noy died in January 2012, months after being diagnosed with lymphoma.

"I got it on my face so I could be reminded of our love every day that I look in the mirror," said Van Noy.

Pacific Grove resident Adam Loomis has a unique perspective on love tattoos. The 32-year-old is a tattoo artist with six tattoos dedicated to his wife, Stephanie.

Among the collection is the number 7 inked on his ring finger. It symbolizes the month of July, when the couple were married.

Loomis has his wife's nickname, Bunny, written in Russian on his left forearm.

Along the side of his body, reaching from his hip to his armpit, is the image of his wife depicted as a samurai warrior. Standing next to her is a tiger and a small rabbit.

"It symbolizes different parts of her personality," said Loomis.

He said on a pain scale of one to 10, the side piece registered about a five.

Loomis said Valentine's Day does not bring a spike in customers seeking love tattoos.

"Those are pretty perennial," Loomis said. "You see a lot of love tattoos year round."

Couples visiting Monterey will come into the shop to get matching tattoos, celebrating an anniversary or to signify their relationship.

The most interesting love tattoo Loomis gave was to his brother.

"I did a zombie version of my sister-in-law on my little brother's leg," said Loomis. "She thought it was cool. I don't necessarily think she understood his motivations, but she was supportive."

Loomis said he is a romantic, so he encourages people to get love tattoos.

"Sometimes symbolism is better than text. A picture really is worth a thousand words, if drawn appropriately," he said.

When considering getting a romantic partner's name, Loomis suggested a nickname instead of the birth name. He suggested getting it small "so it can be covered easily."

Loomis said there was no doubt in his mind that like his tattoos, his marriage and love for his wife is permanent.

"By the time I got her name (tattooed), we were together for seven years. I knew, at minimum, it would be a postcard, or a reminder of a time in my life," he said. "I'm very confident of the fact we will always be together."

Marcos Cabrera can be reached at 646-4345 or mcabrera@montereyherald.com. Twitter:

@MarcosACabrera


HERALD QUESTION

OF THE DAY

Would you get a tattoo as an expression of love for your partner?

o Yes o No

o I already have one

Go to: montereyherald.com

to place your vote

Herald surveys are unscientific