hopping along the tattoo trail...
my experience is likely not much different from the run-of-the-mill...waited until i was 22 and fully financially independent to get it done, thought about getting a tattoo for several years, was pretty sure what i wanted, tho i did change my mind a few times. at 16, i thought about getting the cover of "the tao of pooh" tattooed on my leg, but i have since thought twice about getting anything even remotely resembling a cartoon character tattooed on me (a totally personal decision; if you want grape ape, grape ape you shall have.) so here we go: i always thought of tattoos as a living art reminder of the most important things in one's life. i wanted to be able to tell a story about why i had my tattoo, and what exactly it meant to me. i wanted to be able to look at my arm, or my leg, or my foot, and be reminded of something salient to my very existence. hell, why would i ever get ink drilled into my skin if it weren't for something damned important. i chose the salamander that currently crawls up my back toward the right side of my neck as my first tattoo. it is a representation of my most vivid childhood memory of sitting in the woods, staring at some of the most amazing beauty nature had to offer. there were all these groovy little salamanders running around that i was totally enchanted with. however, i didn't want exactly what was in my mind's eye to be what appeared on my flesh. i wanted something more stripped down, b+w. i wanted the imagination to be the color and line to the picture, not the ink. so i looked at some flash of salamanders and lizards, and worked with the artist (Scot) to come up with what i was looking for. scot was very cool, laid back, professional. he talked me through the whole thing. i get nervous, even though i have a damn high pain threshold. he put a "test line" down, figuring that if it was really too painful for me to handle, that at worst, i would have a small, light, black line on my back. no biggie. so he put the line down, and not surprisingly, my reaction was, "that's it??" i could have slept through it. the healing process took about a week, during which time i was in boulder, colorado, which compared to my native NY was the driest climate in the world. i applied ointment religiously, about five times a day, and it healed perfectly. i would recommend bacitracin ointment for the first week (a very thin coat, don't rub too hard), followed by a healthy coat of lubriderm for at least a few weeks after that. don't let shower water hit a new tattoo; it will intensify that post-tattoo sunburn feeling, and you'll lose ink. my second tattoo is of the chinese character for "laughter", something that drives my whole existence. this one was also done by scot, who i highly recommend as an artist if you're in the albany area. i got it done in mid-may of this year. it didn't heal as cleanly, as it was thick lines of solid black, and i had a shirt that caught on the scabs. thus, some faded patches appeared in the lines. after a while of procrastinating, i got it retouched a bit about two weeks ago, again by scot, for just the needle charge ($5), and it looks great now. about choosing artists: i found scot, and lark st. tattoo, kind of by chance. the parlor is down the street from where i work. i walked in, looked at some flash, and also at books of the artists' work. i made the appointment with the piercer, not scot himself, which i would not recommend for someone who cares about what artist they get (and you definitely should care, regardless of whether it's your first or last tattoo). thankfully, i completely lucked out; scot is a very talented, easygoing, helpful, and professional artist. i don't plan to go to any other artist as long as i live in this area. if you are looking for a regular artist, let your instincts drive you. you know what kind of person you would trust, and trust is what should govern a relationship between you and your artist. this is a person that is literally leaving lifelong marks on you; take them seriously. currently, i am working on a design for my third tattoo, which i hope to get before the new year. i am contemplating a celtic design with some knotwork, but unfortunately, my artistic talent will likely never catch up with my imagination. if you have any design ideas, i would appreciate them. i am doing some research on my irish heritage and family background to come up with this one.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 20 Oct. 1999