Inked and Loving it: Memoirs of a (no longer) Tattoo Virgin
My desire to get a tattoo arose about 3 years ago, when I was sixteen. I don't know where I got the urge to get inked, none of my friends had ink, in fact, no one I knew did. Not being a hasty person, I decided that I should just forget about it, that it was prolly some passing rebellious phase in which I just wanted to scare the shite out of my parents. The urge did not pass, nor did it fade with time. So I now find myself three years older, with a four hour old tattoo.
The design is simple, the Japanese kanji "ai," meaning "love" in brilliant blue and white, my favorite colors. I've pretty much always wanted a kanji tat, I've had a love of the culture forever, am very much an otaku (anime fan), and am now an East Asian Studies major preparing to head off to the Land of The Rising Sun.
The Preparation: Before making my decision to get a tat permanent, I took a few weeks to study up on the process and the local studios. I read up on other people's experiences to soothe my nerves over getting it done. I made sure I asked the right safety questions at the studios: Do you have autoclave sterilization? You use one time needles, right? How long have your artists been working here? etc. I chose Danny's Ancient Art Tattoo Studios because they had a long history in Virginia, were very clean, and their artists had great personalities. The Details: I then made sure what I wanted was really what I wanted. I went to Japanese dictionaries looking up words that I thought described my personality, and then chose the kanji I liked the best from a list I made. I thought about where I wanted the tat, and decided I wanted it on the back of the base of my neck. Why? Because I love being kissed on the back of my neck. Because I wanted it somewhere I didn't have to look at every day to keep me from obsessing over it. Because I wanted to be able to hide it with clothing if I needed to. The Experience: I signed up to get my tat done, and then waited in the studio for an hour or so. That gave me enough time to see if I had the nerve to get it done. Apparently, I did, so when Aaron (the artist) came out to get me, I showed him what I wanted, told him what colors and pattern I wanted, and told him to do it. He assembled the machine in front of me (something you should insist on), put the pattern on my neck, and went to work outlining it. At first, it wasn't so bad, but then It Hurt. It hurt like a bitch actually. Maybe I have a low threshold of pain, maybe it was because he was inking on my spinal cord. Whatever. I think I almost passed out. The Conclusion: Even though it hurt like hell, as soon as he was done inking, I was ecstatic. It was beautiful, it was the best, it was ME. I would recommend it to anyone, with the stipulation that they do it for themselves and not for the trendiness. Now I'm planning my next tat, and I think I'll even do my own artwork this time! Final Recommendation for Tattoo Newbs: Be absolutely sure you want to get it done. Don't do it because you think it's cool or because your friend has this great tattoo and you want to be just like him or her. Make sure of what you want. Don't walk into a studio, look at the flash art, and say, "That looks cool, I want that!" Your tattoo should be something that identifies who you are. Meditate on it before visiting a studio, so when you go in, you can say exactly what you want. Ask your friends, your boyfriend, your mom, your dad, whoever about where they think a good place will be for your tat, but the final decision lies with you. You should be comfortable with the place you decide to get it. Knowing what I wanted and where I wanted it ahead of time made it a lot easier for me to get it done. Know that you can get your artist to do just about whatever you want, if they are a good artist. If you see a flash you like, but it's facing the wrong way, or is the wrong color, or wrong size, you can get your artist to customize your design however you want. It might cost a little more for the custom work, it might not, depending on what you want. Hell, you can draw whatever you want and give it to your artist and they should be able to do it. If your artist refuses to change it, ask them why. When I asked if I could get my kanji a little smaller, he said it wouldn't be a good idea and SHOWED me why. Sometimes fine, close together lines have a tendency to "blob." It just doesn't look as good. If your artist can't give you a good reason for not modifying your design in some way, take it to another studio and see what they say. Your artist might just be lazy. Tattoo art technology is so good that there's not really much you can't do. Make sure you know what you're doing. Read a lot* of other people's experiences. Take them with a grain of salt, I'm sure that more than a few people who post their experiences add or subtract a little to make themselves sound good, and more than a few are completely accurate. Find out how to tell a good studio from a bad one. Read about sterilization and safety techniques. Follow Up: I'll be posting again with notes about the healing process once I get through it. I'll probably also send a pic of my tat. Although it is not the most beautiful or detailed tattoo out there, it is all me, and I'm very proud of it. -Tai'kara
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 28 Nov. 1999