If you've been following my blog for the last couple of years, then you know that I started getting really into tattoos a few years ago when I got my first one. I blogged about that first experience and the one that followed. So yesterday was my birthday so I got another one as a present to myself. This entry is going to be about my third tattoo experience and also some advice and how-tos based on my own experiences. I'm in no way an expert. There are large numbers of people who are vastly more experienced than I am when it comes to ink. But I've been inked a number of times now and each was done by a different artist so I think I have enough experience under my belt (literally lol) to give a bit of guidance to someone who might be reading this and who is on the fence about getting some ink.
First off, almost as soon as I got my second tattoo in October (the dragonfly on my left butt cheek) my third one was already being planned. I don't want to look like Lydia the Tattooed Lady here, but I think more than one is a very good look, especially if the tattoos are pretty, well done and have nice colors. The design I walked in with was quickly shot down by the artist who was going to be doing it. I don't know if he didn't want to do something that involved because he didn't want to spend a lot of time on a complicated tattoo if he had another appointment coming in or he just thought it wouldn't work with what I already had. But he understood that there were two elements to the tattoo that I wanted no matter what design he came up with: a clef note and cherry blossoms. I already have musical notes on my right butt cheek so I thought this would look nice with the new one. The lady who brought me was annoyed because Zach (the guy who was going to be doing my tattoo) wasn't there yet. He was there, I assured her. He was outside having a cigarette. Believe me, as a former smoker, I know the importance of getting a smoke in before work. I didn't want to have his hands shaking while he was doing my tattoo because he was having a "nic fit". I don't think she fully understands the tattoo business or tattoo artists in general. My appointment was for 11 o'clock, but that didn't mean I was going to be in the chair at 11 o'clock. It took awhile for Zach to come up with a design. Then the helper had to set his station up. He had to decide what kind of needles to use, what colors we were going to go for and also make sure that everything he was going to need was at hand. I didn't mind the wait, as it helped me get into the zone. I don't know how a vanilla person prepares for the pain of a tattoo, but someone like me, who's a spanko and who enjoys pain, will go about it a bit differently. I kind of treat it like playing with someone I haven't played with before. Once he did the stencil he had me stand up straight in front of him and he put it on me. He had tucked the hem of my shirt into my bra to keep it out of the way. Then he had me look in the mirror to see if the placement was where I wanted it. It was and so then there was nothing left to do but get to it. But first, he wanted to go outside and have another cigarette while the stencil dried, which I didn't mind. He adjusted the chair for my height (Zach is a pretty small guy) and had me sit facing the back of the chair. Then he folded the waistband of my jeans down to keep that out of the way, too. "Remember to breathe" he instructed as I heard the machine hum into action. Nothing had prepared me for the pain I would experience. It felt like someone had lit a match and was dragging it across my skin. It was more pain than I had ever experienced before getting inked. He knew I had other ink. He had asked to see my other pieces and in fact, had recognized the dragonfly tattoo as Jeremy's work. When Jeremy had come in, he had remembered me as well. I guess when you put a tattoo on a woman's ass you don't forget that. So he knew I wasn't a newbie when it came to tattoos. Kathy couldn't understand why she couldn't have her cellphone on while she was in the building (in fact, she made a phone call and the helper guy told her to go outside) and other rules that were in place. Phones and cameras are distractions and these guys don't need to be distracted while they're putting something permanent on someone.
Zach is just a tad heavy handed, but I did manage to get through the line work. He relayed a story about seeing a woman thrown down in a snowbank by her boyfriend while he was out on his deck the previous night. He told about how he had warned the guy that he was going to call the police (which he actually did do). All told, it took about two hours to do my tattoo.
The entire time, my feet are dangling and eventually, the right one did go to sleep. But I know that tattoo artists don't like interruptions, which is why someone else answers the phone and greets customers. So I didn't ask for a break. I did kick my shoe off and try to wiggle my foot back and forth without making any sudden moves that might make Zach mess up my tattoo. He assured me we were "pretty close" to being done. So I was encouraged to hang in there. Tattoos really aren't for people with low pain tolerances or who can't sit or lie in one position for an extended period of time. I'm always a bit disappointed when a tattoo is finished. It means I now have to wait for the next one to get those awesome sensations again. He had me stand up and then sent me to the mirror to see the finished product. Kathy snapped a couple of pictures before he covered it with Saran Wrap.
I had bled quite a bit during this tattoo, probably because of the placement. But I was breathlessly happy with my tattoo and was kind of glad we hadn't gone with the original design.
Now, a bit of unsolicited advice about tattoos:
There are plenty of good reasons to get tattoos (self expression, relaying a sentiment, covering a scar, etc.) but there are probably even more bad reasons (and some really bad ones) for getting one.
Never get a tattoo because your girlfriend/boyfriend/homey wants you to. Tattoos made with ink are permanent and will outlast any relationship you're in. If you just have to have that special someone's name tattooed on your hand, go to the mall and get a temporary one and then take some pictures to commemorate the occasion.
Never get a tattoo because your mom/dad/boss doesn't want you to get one. That middle finger you got tattooed on your forearm may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but unless you get it removed, it will be a permanent reminder of your teenage act of rebellion and will probably impact your life negatively.
Never get a tattoo because you think it