Finding Our Place in this World / by Justin Nordine


Finding our place in this world. What kind of statement is that?  In my opinion, maybe one of the hardest to figure out.  

I never thought I’d be a tattoo artist. It wasn’t something I had thought was for me or even really considered as a career. I planned to either work for Disney, live in New York in a loft, hang my work in a gallery and call it good.  

I didn’t go to CalArts to try and make it with Disney. To be honest, I was too nervous to leave that far. So I enrolled in a local college, worked on a fine arts degree. Realized once I was done, not a whole lot of money to make unless you make it big as a fine artist.  Fell in love and needed to start bringing in an income other then waiting tables! So I looked into teaching art. Worked on my masters in art education and only 5 years later to realize I didn’t want to that for the next 25 years. So what next?? 

Id been getting tattoo since I was 18, thought it was a pretty cool way to create. But back then, I didn’t see it as a career. Until I decided to teach a class on the culture and history of tattooing to my high school students. That’s when it hit me. This is what I wanted to do. So I left teaching, to everyone’s shock and surprise and got into the industry. 

So back to finding our place in this world. I guess that goes both ways. Who we are and what we do. But what we do should not define who were are as a human being. It’s just something we do to support ourselves. I feel blessed to do something I have so much love and respect for, because I know many others don’t necessarily feel that way. But being a tattoo artist doesn’t define me.  Others use it as a way to define who I am, which makes sense.   But I’ve struggled over the years to understand WHO I am and not by what I do. That’s a tough one. 

I think finding ourselves, who we are, where we belong, is an ever ending life battle. I am not the same person I was when I was in elementary school. I’m definitely not the preppy kid that was nominated as “best dressed” in high school.   I found myself a bit more in college. But up until recently, I had a hard time defining who Justin Nordine is beyond a tattoo artist, a father, a husband, a friend, an uncle, etc.  

So that takes me back to finding our place in this world. I think where it is, is where you truly know you are on the inside. That’s your place in this world.  And finding that, embracing it, and accepting it, can be terrifying, exhilarating but ultimately, glorifying.  Not what we do, or how we do things, we are who we are from the experience that life gives and listening to your inner self when it matters most. The exterior of the world will move on but you get to be you. And that is truly breathtaking. 


Much love