Tattooing Texas Strong

October 12, 2017 GMT

While some of us would rather forget Hurricane Harvey, a few Houstonians have opted for a more permanent reminder of the storm and our perseverance through it, one that can’t be washed away.

The rallying cries “Houston Strong” and “Texas Strong” became common on social media, shirts and other merchandise soon after Harvey hit the metro area. It didn’t take long for the sentiment to move to tattoos, Texans being the brave breed that we are.

In the days after the storm, tattoo shops in Houston and around the state began offering special tattoos, with portions of the proceeds, if not all, going to Harvey relief. The designs are simple, mainly the outline of the state and some script meant to be done quickly.

Soon, tattoo artists and tattoo shops were cranking out sheets of “Houston Strong” designs for customers to choose from, using nautical imagery, yellow roses and other traditional Texas motifs.

One Houstonian, Candace Kizer, took the plunge and got a tattoo to commemorate one of the most trying times in Houston history. Kizer’s own property wasn’t impacted but she had plenty of people close to her that weren’t so lucky.

“My house is fine, but I have family, friends and co-workers who lost everything,” Kizer said. “Damage for some was expected because this is Houston and we know it floods, but the total loss for others is shocking.”

Kizer opted for Awesome Tattoos and Body Piercing in Montrose, which advertised on social media that proceeds from Harvey tattoos would go to the charity of the customer’s choice. The shop’s tattoo series benefited the Houston SPCA and the Houston Food Bank.

“I actually had it in my head that I wanted Texas with a heart on Houston and the word “strong” somewhere,” Kizer said. “It serves as a reminder of the struggle and the strength that Harvey brought to Texas.”

Kizer, whose design went onto her upper right arm, wasn’t alone.

“We raised enough money to give a good donation to Houston Food Bank and then purchased a massive amount of items off Amazon wish lists to donate to Houston Pets Alive and some other smaller rescues,” Awesome Tattoos co-owner Lauren Friedman said. Her shop is relatively new on the scene, opening in July.

In all, the shops’ artists came up with 15 designs for clients to choose from, ranging from the Texas outline, Allen Parkway bats and traditional Texas bluebonnets. A few even chose to get the Rothko Chapel’s “Broken Obelisk” inked into their skin.

“Part of the fun was seeing what designs and ideas people felt represented Houston and Texas,” Friedman said.