May 20, 2014

The One Where I Started My Sleeve

A new tattoo has been on my mind for years. Literally, years. My last one was the coverup done while visiting Mindy Lu and being a badass.

The timing began to feel right this spring. I was on the precipice of big change and I felt the urge to celebrate that by marking my body. It's a very personal and meaningful thing, so the timing had to be just right.

While dreaming of ink, I found myself Pinning the same types of images over and over and over again: fine line, black & gray, floral shoulder cap. Of the hundreds I pinned, 80% of them were the same type of thing. Eventually my piece materialized in my mind; I would get a shoulder cap sleeve of vintage peonies.

I know you will believe me when I tell you that I applied temporary tattoos to my left shoulder so that I could  visualize placement. Mabel took pictures of me making eggs that morning and I sent some nudies to my husband that afternoon. Everyone loved it (especially Bryon). I wanted to be really, really sure. It's forever, yo!

Finally, I was left with the very important matter of finding an artist. I knew I wanted a different artist than the guy who did my coverup (he moved away anyhow). I called multiple shops. I sent emails and made visits and studied the line work on portfolios. I printed out examples of what I liked and what I didn't like - and I prayed. Really, I did. A tattoo is not a haircut, wherein you merely hope your stylist gets the gist of what you're going for. You have to love it or... else. After one meeting, I left a shop disheartened because the artist did not listen to a word I'd said. Instead of finding a way to sketch my request he tried to persuade me into doing something closer to his comfort level. Sorry, Dude, that's a hard no for me.

I found Tyler by accident, actually. I stopped to discuss my tattoo at another shop in town, one that was inside an old, pink stone church. Tattoo shops can often seen unapproachable and intimidating and truthfully, this one was no different. However, once I began to talk to the proprietor I felt that warm, confident 'fuzzy' I was looking for. I met Tyler, who up until recently had been an apprentice. He was an artist who had trained with the best and based on both his portfolio and listening skills, I gave him the chance to draw me something.

He called the next day and Bryon and I went to see the drawing. We were both blown away. It was the perfect combination of all of the details I'd sent to him. He listened to everything I said, bless his 20-something little heart. Nevermind that I could possibly be his mother. Bryon was comfortable with Tyler in general and I felt very safe allowing him to change my body for evah.

Bryon was cleaning an oven on the day of my appointment, so I went alone. I found it remarkably relaxing to be left alone with my own thoughts for a while. No texting, no cell phones allowed (though I did tell him I snuck an image while he was drawing me up). I just sat there, quietly. It was a process I planned to experience in full. I loved every moment of it.

I know you won't believe me when I tell you that it wasn't painful, but it wasn't. I mean, it wasn't my favorite feeling, but it was very easily tolerated. It felt like an electric ballpoint pen rolling along my arm. While Tyler finished the line work, I thought about asking for a headrest. Because I was so relaxed I could have fallen asleep.

I mean, roll your eyes at me if you want to, but I also gave birth naturally on purpose. I'm a weirdo (and I like it that way). It was juuuuuuust irritating enough for me to feel like I was earning this badge on my arm. Exactly what I was going for.

Almost exactly one hour in, the line work was done. We took a short break so that I could relieve the 2 liters of water I drank that morning and Tyler could burn one out back. I snapped a photo of the line work and sent it to my two peeps. Both Mindy Lu and Bryon LOVED it.

So did I. I mean, I was verklempt at how much I loved it.

One of the details I'd requested was interior shading only. I wanted the vintage peonies to float on my shoulder. Tyler did exactly that, Another two hours passed while he finished the shading. 

Man. I am thrilled.

I love, love, love it.

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