There are no two tattoo stories that are alike and for 26-year-old Donnie Snider of Scarborough, Ontario, we've certainly never seen a tattoo like his. Now, we're very familiar with full body tattooing and have seen plenty of people black out their bodies for the uniformed aesthetic. However, for the most part, these people have spent decades committed to the body modification lifestyle and were already heavily tattooed. Not, Donnie. Donnie didn't have a single tattoo before he went about tattooing his entire body blue and he's gone about the journey alone. For the past several years, Donnie has slowly but surely been tattooing his skin turquoise and with the exception of his right forearm, he's done all the work himself.
In the past month, Donnie has gained a great deal of attention for his tattoos and his photos have been shared throughout social media. I'll admit that a few months back I saw his photo on Snake Pit and wrote him off as someone who'd use Sharpie or paint to impersonate a tattoo. But, Donnie's tattoos are in fact very real and the story behind them is unlike anything we've ever reported on.
We sat down with Donnie to learn about who he was before this tattoo journey began, why he settled on the vibrant cyan hue and how he's planning to support himself now that he's almost 100% blue.
What inspired you to begin tattooing your body and why’d you choose this color?
I just like the look of it and I thought it would be neat. It’s definitely striking and I think it’s a beautiful color. Funny enough, for most of my life, I'd taken for granted that I would likely never get any tattoos. Though I’ve certainly come to have a much broader appreciation for them as I’ve stepped into the tattoo world, previously, I’d honestly had very little interest in them. Clearly, I also had no regard for any “rules” of tattooing or more conventional ideas of what a tattoo should be—to the annoyance of some.
The thought of a solid blue tattoo had been in my mind for several years, but I only really started taking it seriously a couple years before I got started on it. I was drawn to a solid color for the starkness and simplicity, which I think helps lend it a bit of a surreal look, that I love. It's like something out of a fantasy movie come to life. I think it looks almost like a glitch in reality, as if you’re playing a video game and a texture on a character model just didn’t render properly. I like that it’s a clean look, unladen by symbols and the form of the body undisturbed by patterning or designs. I did want it to look almost as if blue was a naturally occurring variation in human skin color.
As for the color, I thought the turquoise was a nice calm, natural color—vibrant but not too jarring. I figured it was the one I’d be least likely to tire of. There’s a bit of a whimsical element to it too, I thought I’d do my part to keep things interesting, maybe make someone smile. You’ve only got one life, might as well have some fun, eh? Over the past several years, I had been isolating myself and making efforts to tone down my less-than-pragmatic impulses, out of fear and lack of confidence. And I was extremely miserable. After going in circles for too long, I decided to quit hiding, break myself out of stagnation and remake my life as I’d like it to be. Take the energy I’d been expending in a fruitless campaign to normalize myself and redirect it to the pursuit of a life I’d be happy to live. Being able to take the vision I had for the tattoo and make it happen has made me more confident that I can reshape my life and I don’t have any regrets about it.
How does it feel to look in the mirror and see your tattoo?
I’m always excited when I’ve made new progress and proud to be doing my own thing.
How do people online and in person respond to your tattoos?
I get all kinds of comments when I’m out. Some people love the tattoo, others are clearly not thrilled about it. Occasionally it can be overwhelming. Sometimes the negative ones do get to me, but I’m getting better at brushing them off.
I’ve had many bizarre interactions, as you can probably imagine. I get surprised looks, unblinking stares, snarky comments, interesting comments, compliments, light-hearted jokes, mean-spirited joke.
I get stupid questions, odd questions, invasive questions (questions from strangers about my genitals have increased by at least 10,000%), whispers, smiles, double-takes, outright laughing, eye rolls, thumbs up.
I get free beers, looks of disgust, strange propositions, chuckling, hand shakes, people pulling at my clothes to peek underneath, high fives, looks of horror, honking, hugs, shouting from cars, people asking to take pictures with me, people taking pictures/videos without asking, fist bumps and even a couple people licking their thumbs trying to rub the tattoo off. It definitely keeps things interesting, sometimes maybe a little too interesting.
In addition to the visual appeal, the tattoo definitely serves the secondary function of forcing me out of my comfort zone. I used to isolate myself from other people to an unhealthy degree. I would rarely go out more than was necessary, only to go to work, the grocery store, etc. When I was out, I’d generally interact with people as little as I could get away with. Now I have to talk with people and it’s like exposure therapy. Even though not every interaction is positive and I can still be quite awkward, I think I can stand to benefit from engaging with people more and I often enjoy it.
Online reactions certainly tend to be more negative than in person reactions, of course - although the comments I get on my page are generally positive.
Did you have any tattoos before this piece?
When I was in high school, my friend tried to give me a hand poked tattoo on my ankle that said “The B-52’s." Had it worked out, that would have been my first tattoo, but none of the ink stayed in the skin. That failed attempt aside, I didn’t have any tattoos prior to deciding to go ahead with the full-body tattoo. After I had made up my mind, I let my sister give me two small tattoos, one on my leg and one on my foot; both in blue ink so they could eventually be integrated seamlessly into the full body tattoo. The tattoo on my foot says “53 Miles West of Venus,” which is another B-52’s reference.
How did you find an artist to fulfill this vision?
I’ve done almost all of it myself! The only area I had done by a tattoo artist was my right forearm. I’ve only ever been in tattoo shops for piercings or to accompany a friend. I will be needing help with my back though.
Do you have any other tattoo experience?
No, I've just been learning as I go.
Will you continue tattooing your body?
I’ll continue until I’ve finished the blue, but I have no plans to do any more tattoos after that.
How do you think this tattoo will age over time?
Better than many tattoos, probably. I don’t have to worry about script becoming illegible, or line work blurring into a distorted mess. It may fade in areas over time, but touch-ups will be more straightforward than with most tattoos. I’m not a fan of laying out on the beach baking in the sun anyway, so I’m pretty optimistic.
What career do you think is appropriate with your tattoos?
Working for myself, of course! I’ve recently started selling earrings that I make, after making them as a hobby over the last 10 years. It's a welcome change of pace from the jobs I’ve worked in the past, forklift operator, night shift warehouse worker, delivery driver, landscaper, etc. I’ll probably be exploring other online opportunities as well.
What do your friends and family think of this tattoo?
We don’t talk about it very much. Those who know about it are pretty well unfazed. In fact, some have even mentioned to me that they don’t notice it until we’re out in public together. My mum was a little bit annoyed at first, but quickly accepted it as the new normal. They just expect odd things from me, people have been telling me I’m strange for as long as I can remember.
What do you think of Donnie's story? Can you believe he did this all by himself? Let us know your thoughts on this story on social media.