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Tattoo Stories: Valerie Schenkman

Meet Valerie and her tattoos: “your body is a canvas for their expression, as well as, yours, and it’s just a different experience.”

valerie tattoo
My name is Valerie.
While I was living in Chile, a fell into a group with a lot of really talented climbers. We would climb all day at the foot of the Andes or sneak onto a college campus to use their outdoor rock wall. Some of the best moments were when we only had a 45 degree wall, and everyone was inventing problems for everyone else.

 valerie schenkman
I think I’ve become a little less self conscious. I like to be behind a camera so it can be intimidating to get up on the wall in front of a group of people. But when you’re friends are egging you on to finish a problem, you gotta let go of that. Plus, you become really focus in this meditative way when you climb, which helps.
Now that school’s calming down, I’d like to start climbing outside more. I really enjoy bouldering but would like to get back into lead climbing. Off the wall, I have a few different projects going. I’m editing a short based on some dreams I’ve had. I’ve also started writing a script about a blind woman. Right now, it’s mostly research, but it’s leaning toward the experimental.
Most of my tattoos have loose meanings. It’s mostly a chance to riff off an idea with another artist, and make a mark representative of your internal journey: where you were at that time.
I spent a lot of time in my teens debating different images and thankfully didn’t have the money at the time to get them. Then, I found a line in a book by Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet, drew it up one night and got it tattooed the next morning. It was a permission of sorts to start another phase of my life.
The tattoo in the image deals with space, time and movement. I wanted to use symbols that only meant something to me and the tattoo artist, Talia Migliaccio. She came to the session with a few ideas, but we decided to start from scratch, talking and drawing. We did this one at Maha Rose, a healing center in Greenpoint.
valerie climbing
In the future, I want to work with more female artists since the majority of my tattoos were done by men. In some way, your body is a canvas for their expression, as well as, yours, and it’s just a different experience.

Tattoos are intimately personal, and stereotypical of Brooklynites. Walking through Brooklyn Boulders, it’s more often than not you’ll see some adorned bodies climbing our walls. Each inked piece tells a story, whether it’s silly, inspirational, nostalgic, funny or just a fond memory.

BKB Tattoo Stories showcase various tattoos around our space, and the stories behind them. Get to know your community of climbers a little more than skin-deep.

If you have a particular story you’d like to share – get in touch with us!