Paige Mestan’s guitar tattoo lines up with the real instrument when she plays.

Paige Mestan’s guitar tattoo lines up with the real instrument when she plays.

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Floral, heart-shaped guitar tattoo’s the culmination of Paige Mestan’s experiences

About a year after the 29-year-old Homer Glen native, who’s trans, started her transition and 15 years after taking up guitar, she had these two key elements of her life combined into one permanent piece of body art.

When Paige Mestan picks up her guitar, the smaller, heart-shaped, blue-and-pink guitar that’s tattooed on her right forearm lines up perfectly with the instrument, bouncing up and down as she strums along.

About a year after Mestan, 29, who’s trans, started her transition and 15 years after she first picked up a guitar — inspired by the video game “Guitar Hero” — she had these two key elements of her life combined into one permanent piece of body art.

“I grew up on music,” Mestan says. “It was very much a way for me to escape from everything and just kind of be in my own world.”

Paige Mestan’s tattoo features the colors of the trans pride flag and a bouquet of flowers.

Paige Mestan’s tattoo features the colors of the trans pride flag and a bouquet of flowers.

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Within the heart-shaped body of the guitar are light blue and pink stripes to represent the trans pride flag.

“I got my tattoo in September of 2021,” says Mestan, who’s from Homer Glen. “In December of 2020 is when I started my transition. That was something that I had repressed for a really long time, and it was a part of who I was. And guitar and music is part of who I really am. So I wanted to combine the two.”

A bouquet of colorful flowers seem to sprout from the neck of the guitar, with a blue butterfly finding a home amidst them — which Mestan says makes the piece come together in “a very soft, bright, summery, feminine way.”

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Despite the soft nature of the tattoo, Mestan is a self-proclaimed metalhead: “I’ve always found metal to be a very intricate form of music. If you can get past the aggression that turns people away, there’s actually a lot of beauty in the heavier music and the musicianship that goes behind a lot of these songs.”

Mestan worked with Chicago tattoo artist Louis Barak to create the piece.

“I gave such a small idea, and he was able to really transform it,” Mestan says.

Barak, who’s also a muralist, says his tattoos tap into his “street-art edge,” pairing realism with abstraction.

Tattoo artist Louis Barak.

Tattoo artist Louis Barak.

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“With this, we homed in on something that was very representational or more realistic, which I love doing,” Barak says.

Having clients trust him with putting permanent art on their body — especially when it has meaning like Mestan’s — is always “really flattering,” Barak says. “I find myself at times thanking the client. Thank you for trusting me with this permanent fancy scar on your body. Like, it’s huge, it’s huge.”

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Mestan found working with an artist to make a tattoo come to life similar to the process of creating music — starting with an incomplete tune that’s developed into a full melody, using the craft “to actually bring that to life.”

Mestan, who recently moved to Las Vegas and works in eSports, says she’s waiting for the right idea before getting another tattoo.

“Until that time when I can really think of something that I know will really stand with me years later like this one has, until I can get to that point, it’s just this one for the time being.”

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