My Back-piece. A tattoo that really means something to me.
There was a time when I weighed 305 pounds. This really wasn't, when put into perspective of how many years I have lived, that long ago.... Just 2 and a half years. I now weigh 160 pounds. Anybody, looking at me now, would never suspect it unless they knew me before. I was miserable at that weight, and terribly unhealthy. I had to do something. So, after a great deal of thought, I decided to go under the knife. I had a Gastric Bypass procedure. This is really not the place to debate the Pros and Cons of this controversial procedure. Suffice it to say, it worked for me. It saved my life. I mention it only to broach the real subject of this experience: My back-piece.
After loosing a great deal of weight, I began craving a new tattoo. Yes, craving! Those of you reading this, who have been inked, will understand perfectly what I mean. This particular work could not be just anything, nor could it be by just any artist. I wanted a piece that would somehow commemorate not just the changes that had occurred in my body, but rather would encompass all the changes that had occurred in my life. The changes in my outlook on life, the changes in my diet, my habits AND my body. I thought long and hard for a word that might sum this up. None came to me.
One day, while looking at various Celtic tattoos on the internet, I noticed that I was drawn to pieces that featured Celtic hounds. I had read, somewhere, that the ancient Celts had often used the image of the hound as a symbol of loyalty, among other things. I thought a lot about what loyalty really means. And then, it clicked with me. Many of the changes I have made, since my surgery, can be summed up as loyalty to the procedure. In other words, I wanted a piece that represented my desire to stay true to the new me.
Figuring this out, was only the beginning. I was certain that I wanted a Celtic design, and I knew I wanted to use the image of hounds, but... How? How to tie this all together?
I have a wonderful IAM friend, Darcy, who always is chock full of amazing ideas! So, I queried her on this, and she instantly rose to the occasion. "Mikey, why not make it a sword?" she asked. A sword.... Hmm.... Why a sword? She explained that, to her, it could be seen to represent the fact that in order for me to make the commitment to change, I had to be cut. Also, the sword can be seen as a symbol of strength. This added to the loyalty part of it all really completed the package for me. I became very excited about it, and began to visualize what the completed piece might look like.
There was still one major aspect of this project that had not fallen into place: Who should I get to do this for me? I have used several artists over the years. One, in particular, has proven to do very good work. But, to be completely honest, I wanted somebody with even more skill and artistry for this important piece. It is hard to explain what I mean, but I wanted someone with heart. Someone whose work speaks to me, and lets me know that they have put themselves into it. I, personally, had never met anybody like this.
Again, Darcy for the save. She messaged me that she had heard that IAM: The Milkmaid (Joy Rumore) was traveling to my part of the world, for tattooing gigs. Darcy had seen her work, and strongly felt that this might be the one I had been looking for. I went to her IAM page, and found that, indeed, I was very impressed. Her work was vibrant, detailed, sometimes whimsical, but most of all: Her work was full of heart! I instantly knew, positively KNEW, that she was the right artist for this piece. I took a look at her schedule, and found she was coming to Cincinnati, Ohio. At the time, I lived in northeastern Kentucky, only about a 3 hour drive from Cincinnati! Encouraged, I messaged her about my proposed project. A few messages later, we had the project nearly hammered out, and an appointment had been set.
I could barely contain my excitement, as the day of the appointment drew near. Joy emailed some drawings to me, and they were perfect. When an artist really listens to a client, it is evident. In this case, it was almost as if she were reading my mind. She asked about options, and details, and made suggestions. In just a few days, she had the design ready.
When I arrived in Cincinnati, I found Beelistic Tattoo to be a wonderful shop! Joy could not have found a better place to host her! The decor was funky, almost Warholian, with leopard print carpets, brightly upholstered furnishings, and, of course, art work and flash all over the walls. The staff that I met were a wonderful, eclectic mix of personalities! All seemed to have so much to offer, and all were very friendly. I also should point out how sparkling clean the entire shop was. One could eat off the floors!
I immediately found Joy to be likable. She, for one thing, is totally hot! (Not that that matters. It is just an observation.) More importantly, she is friendly, intelligent, talkative, professional and very easy to get along with. I knew I had made the right choice. She showed me the drawings, and we made a few slight changes. I walked down the street to get some cigarettes, while she made the changes to the drawings, and when I returned she was ready.
The work took quite a long time, and is still not complete. Basically, we were able to get the hilt of the sword done. This is the part with the hounds, however, so I was very happy. There were parts of it that were quite painful, specifically the parts over the spine, and over my scapulae. Joy was very good about offering frequent breaks, and was very in tune with my reactions. She made it a very positive experience.
When the work, at least the amount we had time for that day, was complete, I was floored by the results. The shading was perfect. The work was so detailed, it looked as if one could reach out and pluck it from my back. I could not have been happier!
Life circumstances (a new job, and a change of locale) have prevented me from getting this piece completed. I do, however, intend to have Joy finish this piece for me, hopefully sooner rather than later. I would recommend Joy to anybody who wants a tattoo. She is a true artist, and a great person.
This tattoo, though it is still not complete, ended up being a wonderful experience for me. It transformed the skin on my upper back into a piece that speaks to me, and means a great deal to me. I would not trade it for anything in the world.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 13 Aug. 2008