It’s only taken about 20 years or so to get a tattoo …..

I may or may not have told this story before, if I have then forgive me, and just read along like you have never heard it before.

I have always been captivated by tattoos.

I am a visual person – I love art, I love logos, I practically mess in my pants (in a good way, not like the bad way in the previous post) when I deal with Pantone colours.

Tattoos are art.  One gets good art, bad art and everything in between.  Art is not always about the image before you, it is about how that image makes you feel when you look at it.  Art is something that connects with you, it could be that you are drawn to something, or you could be repulsed by something.  Art is when that feeling is created in us as humans.

I am often intrigued at the decision processes people make when deciding on an image that will be on their body for ever.

This is not something I would embark on lightly.

I recall when I was about 13, I saw this girl at the local public swimming pool, she was probably 16 years old.  She was decked out in blue shorts, a white shirt that had an off the shoulder thing going on, as well as a “captain’s hat on her head (I added the location, as sometimes people need clear instruction to have a visual).

To make her even cooler, and right there I would have contemplated sleeping with her, she had an anchor on her left arm/bicep.

She was the coolest girl I had ever seen, and keep in mind we are talking 1986, so tattoos were not common place.

I wanted to be her.  I wanted her tattoo.   I wanted the entire sailor outfit.  Unfortunately I was tall, skinny and gawky and the chances of me being able to pull that lot together would have been a “non starter” to say the least.

So my fascination with tattoos started and has remained.

Every few years I get this “okay, I am going to get a tattoo” bug and I find an image that I think is “the one.”  I am certain I want it on my body forever.  Then I put the image in my diary and commit to having it there for 6 months, if in 6 months the feeling is still the same, then righto, we are off for a tattoo.

And that would seem where the “rub” was.  I never liked an image 6 months later.

The initial feeling that it roused was no longer there.

I have avoided the “what’s popular” tattoos that have become er p0pular in the last few years.  Nearly everyone is tattood nowl.

It’s no longer considered this side line, alternate, only for bikers, chain gangs and people who need to be reminded what their chidlren’s names are.  It seems it is de rigueur for anyone and everyone to get one or two tattoos.

My journey has been a long one.

I have dragged around a lot of images over the years.  I have crumpled up many and thought and thought, and basically realised nothing resonated with me that long.

Until I found an image that did.

It started with a fox.  It was not tattoo related at the time.

I started looking at the fox and his qualities and why I found the fox such an alluring animal.  In stories he is always perceived as being cunning, but aloof.  When I started reading fox qualities, they often referred to the fact that the fox is quite a small hunter, he does not have the advantage of size, so he needs to be cunning and clever to catch his prey.

He is often considered aloof.  In fact he is a very social animal.  This is clear to see when there is a group of foxes that live together.  They are loving, playful and caring to one another.

I liked this concept.  And so it began.  The fox started to resonate with me, I looked at images and ideas I liked.  At this point, purely as an interest exercise.

I saw images that my brain converted to tattoos and I was hooked.

I built up various images and ideas, and finally after what feels like nearly all my life I decided to get a tattoo.

I chose to have it over my birthmark.

I have a dark birthmark just above my left hip.  Its about 110 mm (across) and 50mm high and in varying degrees of dark brown – the shape of a rugby ball.  When I was small it was a real issue for me, and I was embarrassed by it.

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Through my teens it was also something to be embarrassed about – its not an area of my body I have to show anyone, so if I can avoid it, I don’t.  I did not get ripped off about it, as most people did not see it, so there was no reason to mention it.  I always wore a full piece swimming costume to cover it up.

I eventually became immune to it in my late 20’s, and now it is just there.

I decided to look at a tattoo and have it done over the birthmark.  I started with Ant over at Metal Machine Tattoos nearly a year ago, discussing some ideas and we sort of kept it as a casual discussion.

I went to him with a real sit down idea, and book a consultation around May.

We looked at the image, he had it tweaked a bit and then the decision was made to get started.  This was the inspiration, but the final piece has the fox dreaming with only one circle moving around him, and colour is used.

1507_tattoo_circle

The first session was 4 1/2 hours (I fell asleep twice in two of the sessions).

The second session was about an hour and concentrated on the fine black details in the ‘dream circle’ images {This was up against my ribs, and felt like I was being cut with a scalpel, less than enjoyable – no sleep in that hour, some sobbing, but no sleep}.

There was some departure from the original image, in that the total size was going to be about the size of my hand.

When we started to position the fox so that it covered the birthmark, we needed to increase the size, and then it grew into a fair sized piece – actually far bigger than I had originally planned/imagined.

I have my third, and possibly last session this Friday.

There was one hare that Ant did not get to, the detail in this piece is incredible. I am going to ask him to make the colour of the hair the same as Parker – so he will have a spot over his one eye, and also a patch on his back.

My thoughts on tattoos have definitely shifted.

I do not show my tattoo to everyone who will look, it is still my private tattoo.

It is far more gorgeous than I thought was possible.

Ant did some wonderful work, and the sleeping fox looks like he is sleeping.  The detail he has included is mind blowing.  He added colour, and he pretty much worked off his own palette for that, I am so impressed.   I popped in at my dermatologist for something else, and he took a look at it — you can’t even see I have a birthmark, so that is incredible.

I found the tattoo process extraordinary, and do not think I can explain it.  It was not a case of lying in a chair and having someone tattoo you.  It’s not something someone does to you — it’s something you are experiencing.

Something in me shifted whilst the process was going on.   “Getting a tattoo” suddenly felt like “an experience” that I was having.  It felt different to all the other experiences I have had in my life.

I have no idea what happens when other people have a tattoo – but there is something almost “spiritual” that is occurring for me – I wish I could describe it.

I am very fond of my tattoo – I am really looking forward to Friday.

I will get to the point where I will show it around, but for now I prefer it to be “my little secret” that I get to look at.

I also understand how people get one, then immediately plan another and another.  I am already planning number two.

So that’s it then ……

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Tattoos and Goodwood Swimming Pool ….1983 flash back

I have been toying with getting a tattoo since I was about 10 or 11.

I saw a girl with an anchor tattoo on her arm at the Goodwood swimming pool.  True story.

She has denim shorts, a white t-shirt with rolled up sleeves (this was in the 80’s, so really try and think WHAM with a hangover) and she wore a blue “captain’s” hat at a rakish angle.

I was in love.

I wanted to be her.

I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.  I loved her tattoo —I wanted her tattoo.  I wanted her captain’s hat, and I  wanted the boys to also crowd around me in that lecherous sort of manner.

I don’t think I had ever seen a tattoo on a girl, barring those ball-point-ink-and-points-of-your-geometry-compass ones some of the girls at my school made on their inner arms.

I did not exactly go to the kind of school where parents were going to give you money for cool clothing or tattoos, you sort of had to use the ink at school and your imagination.

I have thought about girl-with-tattoo-from-goodwood-swimming-pool often.  I have thought about getting a tattoo for years.

Literally years, not the figurative ones that started last week Wednesday.  Actual years with months in them, and often a paper calendar where you forget to tear of the months, and find in September, that you are still staring at the PAPSMEAR date you circled on 15 March with Dr ColdHands.

Then I wonder, what if I had got an anchor on my arm at 16 or 18 because I thought it was cool.  How good would that look now?

When ever I think I like an image or an idea, I print the image out, and put it in my diary.  Loose leafed.  If in 6 months time I decide I still like it then I will look at getting it inked up.

The problem is I never like the same image in 6 months time.

The image always has some connection or emotional resonance with me.  So it is not a tribal arm band or a fairy on my arse (and yes, if you have a tramp stamp – god forbid a tribal tramp stamp then I am going to judge you), but true as nuts, I look back at the image and I think “Fark, I hate it…. what if it was a permanent fixture … yikes.”

And so the pattern repeats itself year in and year out.

I have always loved fonts and text — always.  Typography and collecting fonts is my little side hobby.

I often find a word or sentence or arbitrary thing that I think “is the one” – but time passes and I look at it, and I am again wondering how much I would then spend in laser treatment to have it removed.

I have been in lust about “white tattoos” for some time.

My brother in law is a very talented tattoo artist over at Metal Machine Tattoo and Body Piercing  – he d0es wonderful work, and his shading and detail work is {swoon} value.

I can’t count the times he has explained the tattoo process to me.  Given advise.  Given suggestions.  And I have thought about it, and have just not got to the point where I think I can commit to anything on me, done today,with today’s eyes that I would like to look at in 5 or 10 years time.

I saw this white ink tattoo recently, and it is so gorgeous — no the design has no meaning to me, and it is probably not right for me, but it is quite beautiful.

white_ink

I still do not quite understand (and this is not said in a negative or a judgmental tone, it is a real question) how someone makes a judgement and a decision on getting a tattoo and do they really still like it in 5 years.

Or do they just say they do, because they are sort of stuck with it.

I can’t think of wearing a t-shirt that I thought was cool 5 years ago now, because my definition and taste has changed so much.

How many people get tattoos, and regret having it done?

Tattoos – Love them or hate them?

I am a little on the fence about tattoos, only because I understand how our taste changes.

I used to like bubble skirts, jelly babies plastic shoes and wearing odd socks.  Back in 1985.  It was cool then (sad but cool) and I fitted in.  If I wore that same get up now, it just would look, well pretty shite and sad really.

I started “thinking”about having a tattoo when I saw a girl at Goodwood Swimming Pool (that should have been hint enough, but I was young and much more stupid than I am now) with an “anchor/sailor” tattoo on her right arm.  No seriously, I shit you not.

She was super slim, tanned, confident and all the boys swarmed around her.  She had a white pair of shorts, a striped white and blue shirt and the anchor tattoo just made her look godlike, worldly and experienced –  I wanted to be her, and I wanted her tattoo.  Because I figured that tattoo would make me godlike and popular!

Every year or two I start running the idea in my head that I want a tattoo.  Then I remember how fickle I am about loving what I loved two years ago.  If I think I may have found something I like that I like/love enough to tatoo on my body forever, I stick it in the front of my diary and look at it each day.

My internal agreement is if I still like “that image” one year later I will get it done.

Problem is that by month 4 or 6 I start thinking it looks a bit naff.  By month 8, I think it is super crap.  By month 10 I have crumbled it into a ball and tossed it.

Remember when the rage was “tribal tattoos” which I like to call “draw an outline and colour in.”   There was not a toned biceps that did not sport one.  Mike Tyson got one on his face, but you know, he is such an upstanding citizen, so that makes sense.

I thought that tribal tattoos were pretty cool 5 years ago. But now they just look so “five years ago.”  My brother-in-law is a tattoo artist (not a colour by numbers tattoo operator, but an artist) and he says he dies a death every time someone picks a tribal tattoo out of the plastic flip file they have.

When someone reveals a tribal tattoo, I must confess that I minus 20 – 30 IQ points off what I anticipated was their original IQ was.

Then there was the fad of fairies/butterflies/maybe some more tribal and putting it just above your butt crack.  I guess so that it could sneak a peek as your jean pant waist band went down and your g-string sneaked out.  Yes in the beginning it looked sexy, but now I am afraid it just looks Parow from Arrow.  We had a “Kommin Xmas” party recently and the common thread was all the girls had a  fake”tattoo” on their g-string line … skanky much?

So the new “fad” is to tattoo your child’s name on your arm/neck/stomach or what ever.  Tricky if you have more than two, as then it starts looking like a cross word puzzle gone befok!

Again, love the idea. I love script – and I do love beautiful typography more than most other things.  But, and here is the but, is it not just a fad?  Sure you cannot hate a tattoo if it is in tribute to your child, so you must love it —- but why get it?

The fact that you have your child – and I perceive you have them with you every day, then why get their names on you?  Do you forget their names – or birth dates – there is medication for that, or at the very least memory-enhancement exercises.

Your kids are with you ALL THE FREAKING time. I look for times to hide from them, why would I want their names on my arm …. unless I have final stage dementia and need the memory push.  Yes, I agree I think it looks really nice.  Now.  But let me remind you that not too long ago you thought green loose-fitting pants whose crutch hung at your knees ala Hammer Time, was pretty doggone cool.

Now?  Not so much.

I have decided to staple post-it notes to each child’s forehead with their names printed on it, because when I am yelling, I often forget their name and have to work through all the names to get to the correct ones.  Sometimes I go through the dog and cat’s names so that does not really help the situation either.

Is the idea of your child’s name tattoo’d to commemorate a relationship?  The fact that you have that child is a permanent relationship – and is something you will think about every day, they will always be with you.  But why the tattoo?

In my opinion I do think it is a fad thing, I think there is a sense of peer pressure to get some ink, a name of your child, some stars on your wrist, maybe a chinese symbol on the back of your neck.

Is the idea to “prove to the world” that you really dig your child?  Like, she who loves them most gets ink?  Or is it just the latest in fads …. which are going to look a bit naff in about 5 – 10 years?  I have no qualm at the discomfort a tattoo will involve, I have no issue that a beautiful tattoo, is beautiful if done correctly and by a talented artist.

The qualm I have is that I won’t wear a shirt I wore 2 years ago, as it has dated.

I do not use fonts I used 5 years ago, because they have dated and no longer look appealing in my mind’s eye.

I have revamped this blog at least 5 times and it is only 2 1/2 years old – for me the option to change my mind, or change how something looks is a basic requirement.  If you took that away from me I would be deeply unhappy.  A tattoo is a bit static, and other than fading or bleeding ink on the edges, is going to be with you forever.

Listen if you have a tattoo, kudos to you, I am not suggesting anything above is fact, I am indicating my opinion on the issue.

Example of an awful tattoo on so many many levels …..

Like the idea, but this is just way way too big.  Again always looks great on nice clean young plump skin, my guess is not going to look so good peaking out underneath your polyester shirt at the old age home when you are 70!

Pretty tattoo … but is it timeless?

Also like this one ….

Do I like any of them enough to have it the rest of my life?  Not so much.  Well, not now at any rate.