My first tattoo
I just got back from the shop, and I love my new tattoo. It turned out different than I had imagined, but that's why Paul is the artist, and I'm the bill paying guy. It turned out really crisp and clean, with nice bold lines. I'm happy.
When I first got there it took us a while to get on the same page about the design. I showed him a bunch of designs from the book I mentioned earlier (probably too many different designs), as well as the sketch I had made earlier from one of my favorite designs in the book. I also showed him the photos of negative tribal tattoos I had found on the web. He got started drawing the dragons based on my sketch. The first round was fairly western style tribal dragons, which wasn't really what I wanted. Then I showed him a few of the pages that I really liked, and he started drawing freehand based on those. That worked a lot better. After we were finally talking about the same thing, it still took a while until Paul could really flow with the kind of design I wanted.
Once he was done with that, we made a couple of minor changes in order to keep things fairly traditional with the book. I kind of felt like I was being super picky through this whole process and just being a pain in the ass, as I am wont to do. I thought he didn't like me and for a second I wondered if I should just forget about the deposit and try to find someone else. But then the design started to look like what I had in mind, so we were good again. I guess that's just part of the design process.
Then we photocopied the design to the right size and taped it up to my shoulder to see how it would look, figure out what angle it should be at, etc... I had wanted to do the tattoo in a negative style with shading on the outside of an empty design, but after seeing the design on my shoulder, it was pretty obvious that it should be a traditional piece of blackwork. Time to just go with the flow, I guess.
After a quick dinner break, he mimeographed the design and started to put it on my arm. It's amazing how much ink comes off the back of a mimeographed piece of paper. I wonder what all the old teachers would think if they knew how much a part of modern tattooing mimeographs have become. Once he started tattooing, I couldn't believe how much it hurt. At first it was just a really annoying pain, but then it turned into this scraping burning sensation that just sucked. I quickly realized I don't have that high of a tolerance for pain. I remember thinking it's going to be a long while before I get another tattoo. I'll definitely need some time to forget how painful tattooing is. Of course, as I sit here typing this, I can already barely remember how painful it was. I'll probably have forgotten completely by tomorrow. I'm definitely glad I got the tattoo, though. It's a gorgeous piece of art. Paul is really talented.
Since Paul broke his back skiing a year and a half ago, he could only sit for about 30 minutes before he had to take a break and do some PT exercises. I was glad for the break, since I'm a wuss. I've never had a problem with needles before. Getting a shot at the doctor's was a piece of cake, but this is more like getting a shot for a solid 2 hours. Not nearly as much fun.
After getting there at 5 pm, I was finally out the shop door at about 11 pm. 2 hours of sketching and design, and then 2 hours of tattooing plus about an hour of breaks. Not bad for a work of art. Would I do it again? We'll see. Am I happy I did it? Definitely. No regrets.