I knew I couldn't wash it off, but I didn't know I'd want to.
I turned 18 in July last year and waited a while before I got my first tattoo, to give me a chance to find a decent artist, to choose the best place for my first tattoo, to be 100% about my decision.
A lot of people I know turned 18 and dashed into getting a lot of tattoos, something I thought was a little stupid. Fair enough you have the money; but how could you be 100% about everything you have when you haven't put in the time to be sure, but they seem happy.
I heard a good review from a friend of mine about an artist in Springwood (where I live), which worked for me because it was close enough that I could check it out on the way home from work. So one afternoon I went into the Old Skool Tattoo parlor. I'd been in there once before with a friend but only for a second to look in their folios and then we were off. This time I spoke to the artist Sandy and his apprentice about getting my Fifth Element tattoo on my right wrist. If you haven't seen the movie then you won't understand the tattoo, but do keep reading, if you have, then the tattoo I wanted was the very same one Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) has on her wrist consisting of the symbols of the four life elements; fire, water, earth and air. Such a simple tattoo. The symbols are just waved and straight lines made up of small dots.
I found a screen-shot of the tattoo in the movie on the internet and he printed it out.
"Should be easy, won't take long, etc, etc." All in all I was pretty confident. So I rung up later that week and booked it in for the coming Sunday. He was gonna have it drawn up for me and we'd ease me into getting the ink. I was psyched.
So Sunday the 16th of February I walk into the shop. Sandy was finishing up a tattoo on another girl who can't have been much older than me, so his wife sat me down to wait. I had a friend coming in for support and she hadn't arrived yet so I had a smoke with Sandy and his wife and we discussed the procedure. I was still confident. Then he showed me the stencil.
He'd dotted out the pattern sure, but only used the screen-shot (on an angle) as a base.. rather than starting from scratch and mapping out a flat stencil so it looked right on my wrist. I asked him about the angle. He assured me that the angle wasn't enough to make a difference in the tattoo, it was almost flat anyway. I was nervous, but, "he knows what he's doing".
He put the stencil down on my wrist... hell no. One side was much thinner than the other and was sloping down too.. the angle was affecting the image on my flat wrist. I asked him to make one side wider, and at the very least, leave off a line of dots to make the overall tattoo fit in a square. Begrudgingly he went off and made the stencil up again.. photocopied the screen-shot, made one side wider. It took less than 2 minutes. I was starting to worry.. my friend didn't see anything wrong so I thought I must have been being paranoid. I remembered "he knows what he's doing".
So he placed the stencil down again and started to tattoo it on; it hurt, so he told me to talk to my friend to take my mind off it. Didn't help much considering the process of tattooing the dots made the pain go ON, OFF, ON, OFF, ON, OFF... I couldn't get used to the feeling. I looked down, and Sandy had forgotten to leave off the last line of dots for me. How do you forget?!
I tell him. "Oh sorry mate, I'll bring it all back in line for you".
'Okay, fair enough, just finish it up because this kinda hurts...' I said to myself.
He finished. I wanted to rip my forearm off and throw it in a bin. I'll let you see why.
So I paid and left. I don't like conflict, I just wanted to get out of there... I knew as soon as I saw it that I'd never go back there. Something so simple and he royally screwed it up. Now that I look back at the whole experience he totally tried to talk me out of having him make it better! Did he think I was stupid? Did he just assume that the tattoo was too simple a design to put any effort into it?
I've seen small children do better jobs than this with crayons. But crayon isn't permanent. I'm embarrassed to have this!
It looks slightly better in person because I can maneuver the skin to change the shape, but this tattoo is abysmal. It's been 2 weeks today since I got it done and I can't wait to get rid of it. I talked to another artist in the city about fixing it - but it can't be fixed. So as soon as I can afford it, I'm getting it covered. I wish it wasn't so bad that I wanted to cover it up ASAP, but anything would be better than this honestly, and this time, I'm not gonna be swept up by a casual shop and a nice artist... those are good traits, but the art is what matters.
All I can say from this experience is that when you are getting your first tattoo make sure it's the person you want, they're capable of doing a great job and they don't underestimate the difficulty of the design. This was something really important to me and now I can't bare to look at it.
If you live in South East Queensland, don't go to Old Skool Tattoo in Springwood. Your money and time could be put to a much better cause.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 07 April 2008