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Shaman's Infinity Broken Tattoo

I grew up in a law enforcement family. Among the deputies and officers that my family worked with, most had tattoos. The Departments had strict rules on visible piercings, but had no policy on unseen tattoos. Despite logic, this early exposure to tattoos is not what made me want one. In fact, all of the people I spoke to about tattoos said something similar. "Don't get a tattoo just because you want one, wait until you are certain that you need one."

This was an interesting concept. I found a few designs that I really wanted – meaningful designs that would have meant the world to me. But when I started drawing, what I have come to call "Infinity Broken," I knew it symbolized a lot of transformations that were going on inside me. Better than that, it was something that I designed myself.

The symbol for infinity is rather common, functionally the number "8" on its side. I added in two lines, breaking the infinitely winding path. This tattoo would signify a personal commitment to breaking from the constraints of my acceptable life and, instead, pursuing my dreams.

I called Ben at Action Tattoo to make an appointment. Sky, my piercer, answered the phone. She was able to confirm that Ben would be in the whole weekend, and to come in as early as I could.

I had a surveillance that I had to work on, far away from home. Fortunately, Action Tattoo was not far from where I intended on being. Action Tattoo is 100+ miles away from my house. I got to the shop about 20 minutes before they opened. Shortly thereafter, Ben arrived with his girlfriend and they opened the shop.

"What can I do for you?" Ben asked. I showed him a copy of the symbol I had drawn. It was bigger than I intended, drawn that way so he could see the shapes and curves. Ben put the drawing on the photocopy machine and made several different sized reductions. I chose the one I thought would look best on the back of my neck. Ben asked, "I can make these edges smooth, or we can leave them rough like you drew them...I think the rough looks cool." He pointed at my drawing. I had drawn the symbol several times with a black pen. In an effort to shade it in, I had scribbled outside of my intended boundaries. But Ben was right, the rough nature of it really enhanced my intended "look" for the tattoo. "Leave it rough," I decided. Ben ran the drawing through some sort of device near the copy machine, and made the transfer that was to become his guide for the tattoo.

I sat down on a chair just outside Ben's workstation. He started opening autoclave bags, and bringing out all-new, clean equipment. As I was standing there, two guys pulled up on beautiful black motorcycles. They walked in, walked right past the counter, and right up to Ben. One started rambling on about the tattoo Ben was designing for him. Ben told them they would have to come back later, as he had a client waiting (me). The two guys agreed to come back later.

Ben called me over to his workstation. He asked me, "what other tattoos do you have?" I replied, "none." He was shocked that this was my first tattoo, since he had seen me in the shop at least a half a dozen previous times getting piercings. He offered me a stuffed purple bunny to make me feel better. "Or maybe Sky can come hold your hand!" All the levity really made me feel all the better.

Initially, I sat down in the chair. Then Ben told me to stand up so he could align the blue transfer perfectly. He wasn't satisfied with the first two tries. He wiped it off. On his third try, he was pleased with the placement, and so was everyone else in the shop. We got several opinions to make sure it was perfect. I got a hand mirror and tried to look at it in a larger mirror hanging on the wall, but it is difficult to see the back of your own neck! I told him that it looked good to me, but that they were better judges because they could see it better. Sky told me it looked perfect, and I trusted her judgement.

I sat down in the chair and Ben began explaining what was going to happen. He said that, compared to many of the piercings I had, this probably wasn't going to hurt too badly.

The moment the needle touched my skin for the first time, I jumped slightly. It wasn't like anything I had ever experienced before. Since the tattoo was on the back of my neck, I could feel the vibration down my spine, up my head, and around my collarbone. It felt great. I had expected pain, somewhere between a cat scratch or a sun burn to that infamous when-is-this-going-to-stop pain. But feel good? That was unexpected.

After what felt like a few minutes, Ben said, "I'm almost done with the outline." That was amazing. It didn't seem like he had been doing it for long. Then he stopped, and switched needles to do the shading. This new set of needles sounded louder and deeper than what he used to do the outline. The shading didn't hurt any more than the outline. It was, again, very soothing.

After what felt like 10 minutes or so, Ben said he was done. I lifted my head and looked at the clock. It had been more than 45 minutes. I went over to the mirror and again attempted to look at the back of my neck. I could see it, and it was exactly what I wanted. Ben handed me an aftercare sheet, and discussed how the healing would progress. He put bandages over the tattoo, and taped them into place while he was talking to me.

I felt wonderful about the whole process. The symbol is very meaningful to me, and having it tattooed on my body was very pleasant and very memorable.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 28 March 2003
in Tattoos

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Artist: Ben
Studio: Action+Tattoo
Location: Yorba+Linda%2C+California

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