Oct 27, 2011
Wabi-sabi is one of those words that doesn’t have a direct english translation. It roughly represents an aesthetic of imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness. Even native Japanese speakers have a difficult time articulating its full meaning though, and in Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, Leonard Koren compares it to modernism, another slippery term. Where modernism is future-oriented, looks for universal solutions, and romanticizes technology, wabi-sabi is present-oriented, looks for personal, idiosyncratic solutions, and romanticizes nature.
My brother Charlie has this word tattooed on his arm, and I thought it’d make for a fun twist on a temporary tattoo—one that degrades gracefully, becoming imbued with meaning as it starts to crack and peel, until it finally vanishes for good.
For five bucks, can get a set of two wabi-sabi temporary tattoos, designed by yours truly, from my friend Tina’s site Tattly. If you wear it, be sure to send or tweet me a picture.