Self Tattoing Experience
I DID IT!
I'm now the proud owner of a small Ank on my thigh. What's the big deal you ask? Well simply put it's mine--- ALL MINE-----from tracing to taping, with my hands and my foot. My self- infliction is a complete success! I am so happy! WHOOOOHOOOO!
I have my artist to thank for it all. He allowed me to use his shop, supplies and equipment. More importantly he was there with his soothing assurance, his expertise but most importantly his confidence that I could do it AND I DID!!!!!! As imperfect as it may be, it is the most meaningful enhancement I have simpley because it was done with my very own hand. My artist is responsible for the ink I have had done and I am so VERY proud to be his canvas. I want to make it clear that he was under strict instructions by me that if I was going to damage to myself he would end it right then and there without question. Thank you for such a majestic experience!
I arrived at his shop at about 9:15am, early as usual and he wasn't there yet, so waited with calming music in my car. I needed that since it's about an 1 1/2 drive to his shop. To say the least, over the last 48 hrs I was gettin' SCARED SHITLESS! When he arrived and as we entered his shop, we joked alittle about an incident that happened on my last trip up there. I believe this was to calm me down. I was really tense and full of stress. Who wouldn't be if you were about to put ink into yourself for the first time. When I was inside I began smoking up a tree and pacing everywhere, couldn't stand still. I couldn't sit, couldn't do anything but pace. My artist asked if I wanted coffee. COFFEE! That's ALL I needed, I had quite enough on the trip up---didn't need any more. I was already shaking as it was---why add more. I did ask for some OJ as I thought that was better for me. He brought some back and then retrieved the Ank design out of his PC. He then told me to trace it so that I would get used to the lines. Little did I realize he also wanted me to experience the entire process. During that time he was prepping the workstation, checking the tattoo machine and so on. It was time to start. I shaved the area that was going to get the tattoo and then he asked me to put on the gloves---------GLOVES?! I completely forgot about that part and I HATE GLOVES! NEVER WEAR GLOVES! Even during the coldest of winters! Well, I put'um on---another little phoebia gone! He then placed the stencil on my leg that was made from my tracing. It's the only part of the process he did. The moment of truth had arrived-----could I actually do the first strike? Could I go though with it and ink myself?
There I was, machine inked, leaning over my thigh ready strike and......I pulled back. Tried again and again. Nothing. My artist then said not to worry, there wasn't anything he couldn't fix no matter how bad it was. That was it---NOW OR NEVER! I put my foot on the pedal---bzzzzzzzz---took a deep breath with my heart pounding and with my hand trembling, I STRUCK! AHHHH! IT WAS IN!!! I pushed the machine across the line---hands shaking, with thoughts of "what if I slip and draw one big line accross my leg?". I didn't and when the first line was done, it came out light. My artist said that the needles were set to go to the proper depth and to press alittle harder, so I went over it again. Then came the next line and the next and the next. I was off and running! With each strike I gained in confidence. Yeah, my hand still trembled but that got less and less as my confidence grew. I don't remember what expression I had during all this, but inside, pure joy! Pure elation! Pure pride! I didn't feel any pain really, just some stinging sensations, maybe because of the adrenaline that was rushing through me or deep concentration. Probably both. The sensations felt really different from the other tattooing experiences I've had. Before I knew it the outline was done! Break time! Whew! I had a cigarette and went to the head and sat in his waiting area for alittle while as my artist changed the needle for the filling in process. All this time my artist was giving me such encouregments and telling me how well I was doing. If I had stopped then it would have been quite an accomplshment just to do the outline, but I wanted to finish it! I WANTED TO FINISH IT! But I didn't have to tell him, he already knew.
By this time, my artist's piercer and tattoo apprentice arrived---he's really great as well. Now my artist was ready and so was I! My artist then got a phone call and had to leave the area but his piercer was with me. I didn't want to wait till he came back so I dove right in! His piercer was great with encouregments and when my artist returned he was alittle suprised that I had already started. INK WIPE INK WIPE INK WIPE! The process went on and my confidence continued to grow. I was really having fun! Just what I wanted! More than I expected! The only trouble I was having was determining where the lines were because of the extra ink that comes out as you move the machine. Judgement of line location only comes with experience. Then, after 2 hrs, it was done! The Ank is complete. What a time! What an experience! Whata RUSH! WOW! I put A&D on it and it was picture time! My artist took a couple of close ups and me with a dumbfounded look on my face. I then bandaged and taped it up and went and sat down. Needed to take in what I had done. I was on such a high!
I think a little reality check here. This was done under hightest standard of sanitation. I've seen his autoclave and the reports he gets from testing. I was never alone during the entire process. Either my artist or his piercer was will me the entire time. The risk to was minimal. As I stated earlier, I set the ground rules as to termination of the process. If there was the slightest chance of my injuring myself he was to terminate it. As the novice here, I totally trusted his judgement. Of course I could term at anytime. When I first asked him if he would allow me to do this, my artist was very reluctant and stated only because he understood the reasoning behind why I wanted to do it that he would allow me to tattoo myself. Even then it was not immediate. We spent several weeks much time conversing about it during other inking sessions and he gave "homework". He gave me a book on general principles and technique and a machine to excersise with. He explained to me that because I am a "civilian" with no asperations of becoming a tattoo artist, allowing me to tattoo myself was generally frowned upon within the artist community. Yes it is done, rarely. Yes people do by themselves in very unsanitary conditions and with improper equipment. Yes, I could of done that, but I may be crazy but not stupid. Tattooing yourself is not for everyone. You must have a better reason than "It's cool" or "I wanna save money" or "It's easy" or any other superficial reason you can come up with. You must have a great trusting and working relationship with your artist. If he won't do it, don't just go out find one that will. If my artist didn't want to do it I wouldn't have. It's that simple. Sorry for the seriousness. I think it need to be stated.
I stayed there for another 1hr/1 1/2hrs. We talked of what just transpired and how well he thought I did for my first. We also talked of new projects ahead, shoulders and back as well as the rest of the leg. The Ank will be the center piece of an Ancient Egyptian motif. That's well down the road and I need to do alot research. Now that my short lived "career" as a "tattoo artist" is over, my artist will do the rest. I now have some understanding as to what is happening to me when I sit in that chair. I also have some idea of the pleasure an artist gets when he changes a person forever.
I know I've taken up alot of space here, but I just want to close with this. This has been one of the most profound experience I've ever had. I have gained much---knowledge and confidence but even more important barriers torn down and fears conquered. I'm ecstatic that I went through it. An experience of a lifetime.
There is a person I forgot to mention that my artist has another apprentice. He was doing other duties but also gave me great encougement. Guys, your the best!
Oh, almost forgot, to take a line from the movie 'Titanic' "I'M THE KING OF THE WORLD!" I know, very corney----but what the Hell!
Paul Looking towards an ever expanding horizon
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 July 1998