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Tattoo Stories: Alyssa Collins

alyssa collins tattoo

This week on Tattoo Stories, we feature BKB member Alyssa Collins – New Jersey native and recent Columbia graduate in psychology and religion. We talk to her about her massive back tattoo that symbolizes a major life transformation and covers up scars. Get to know your BKB community a little more than skin deep.

I wasn’t active in my teens. In 2010 of August, I had a bad car accident which left me in bed for weeks, a completely shattered back and retrograde amnesia. I had to learn how to walk again.

tree face tattoo

I wanted to do tattoos on my back since it was a site of major transformation for me – the two sphinxes are on my scars from surgery as protection. The mermaid is a reference to temptation; a woman in a champagne glass on fire. Life before the accident. The Mandalas represent spirituality, that the universe gives us what we need. The trees on the bottom and hidden faces represent the illusion of society: when you’re looking for something, you’ll see it.

Nine months after I did a holistic program in Las Vegas that entailed yoga, acupuncture, Reiki, and I started walking again. My brother asked me to go climbing, and I did against doctors orders. I loved it so much and haven’t stopped since.

back tattoo piece tree

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. All photos by Koji Ishibashi. 

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


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