Skin in the Game

There’s an anecdote that often makes its way into business/marketing presentations, about the difference between “interest” and “commitment.” The example given pertains to a bacon-and-eggs breakfast. The chicken had an interest; the pig was committed.

This sort of differentiation doesn’t come up in the origami world very often. Most origami aficionados pursue the art as a hobby. It may be fun—it may even be a passion—but it still takes second place to eating, sleeping, taking care of the family, and so forth. (At least some of the time.)

Even for the small number of my compatriots for whom origami is our actual job, while there was a quasi-commitment at some point—the moment where we quit our day job, or decided to pursue this job rather than that one—there’s always a fallback option. We could go back to whatever we were doing before (lasers, in my case), or what our parents were trying to convince us to do, if this crazy origami thing doesn’t work out.

So I have a soft spot in my heart for true commitment when I see it (with the usual qualifications: as long as that true commitment doesn’t hurt anyone else). I’d always considered that I’m pretty committed to origami crease patterns. But now, I can say that my most ardent devotion is nothing compared to this fellow:

That’s an appendage of Sean Grimes, who liked my Origamido Koi so much that he had its crease pattern tattooed on his arm (by tattoo artist Italo Ganni). (it’s a fresh picture. He tells me the pinkness, which is referred to as “agitation” in ink-lingo, will subside soon.)

He asked first, of course. But how could I say no? While I have certainly committed violence to my own body in the name of my art, it’s pretty much always been unintentional (hot-melt-gluing storage boxes together is a particular hazard). This is the first example I can think of where the bodily alteration was intentional.

So Sean, I take my hat off to you. I would take my sleeve off to you if I could.

And someday, many decades hence, at the end of a long and happy life, when you’re wondering what to do with your earthly remains…I suspect there’s one or two origami artists who might have some interesting ideas.