My first tattoo came to be in my early twenties… one of those things you do when you have more cash in hand than sense in your head. I don’t regret it, but I have often wished I had put a little more thought into the permanent image residing on my lower back.
That’s right, folks, I paid for a tramp stamp. Can you really blame me, though? I mean, it was paid for with money I won at a casino… you have to do something crazy with that kind of money, right?! And, that is another story for another time…
Back to this new tattoo… I had thought a lot about this one. Thought about it for several years only narrowing it down recently. First came the line work. The more I looked at it, the more I loved it. Placement was purposeful, the design means something specific to me.
My tattoo artist and friend had teased me for years about letting him work on me – I finally made it happen.
The first session was interesting. My friend and I have a lot of history together and I knew he was going to be pretty laid-back. I watched him working on adding color on someone else before he got to me – adding pink into a water lily design a man had on the top of his hand. Of course I had to ask the guy the same stupid question everyone does…. “Does it hurt?” But I was surprised at his answer. He gave a quick laugh and said, “Yeah, it hurts, it’s a damn needle. But you gotta think of it this way – it’s a hurt you deal with. Not really pain, just discomfort.” Then he adds that our mutual artist has a very light touch. Smiles all around.
Over my initial nerves, we get down to business. The artist works quickly, precisely. And the guy was right – I wouldn’t describe it as painful at all. I mean, I’ve had some pretty bad sunburns that seemed to hurt worse than this. Then, it happened….
That discomfort melted into something else. As he worked over the lines in the design I was no longer thinking about discomfort or pain but I was starting to feel something altogether different. It was a bit relaxing, like the rest of the world fell away. Therapeutic. And now I completely understand the expression “addicted to ink”.
I admired the line work for a few weeks, considering several ideas for the color. Changed my mind a couple times, but eventually I figured that I wanted all the colors in there – every color on the color wheel. After all, the symbols are create, express, and transform – all integral actions in art. Seemed perfectly fitting.
Our second session was a bit funnier. Instead of getting started right off, my artist friend and I headed out to grab some lunch. It’s Mardi Gras, so he insisted we grub from a local bar – crawfish and a poor boy for him, jambalaya for me. While we waited, I saw a few guys in skirts (okay, they were kilts), ran into a relative, and even got some beads (no boobies flashed, just my winning smile).
We head back with lunch and extras to share with the other guys at the tattoo studio. I feel a little special that they welcomed me into their “office” to share lunch, talk shop, and make crude jokes. The highlight for me was my phone ringing… the ringtone was Metallica’s Unforgiven. One of the artists snapped around and looked, gave me the “man nod” of approval. Yeah, I think that means I’m cool with the gang.
Well, color placement decided and eight colors of ink ready, we were set to go. I felt almost giddy. This session involved filling in the color and he was using a different tattoo needle – essentially several needles. Honestly, this little goodie looked like the tines of two forks on top of each other. Yep, a little nervous over that…
Then he began. Blue. Then purple. Again, light touch and only slightly uncomfortable. And then it happened again… everything just fell away. The background noise of the studio faded, I relaxed into an odd state of zen that I just can’t quite articulate. Before too long, he was finished. It seemed so quick, so fleeting.
Now, I’m not in any hurry to get a full sleeve or anything, but I am certainly surprised that the act of piercing my skin repeatedly to fill it with ink was so damn relaxing. My artist friend teases me a little… he thinks I may have masochistic leanings. I slug him in the arm, then give him a hug. I can think of worse things to be I guess…