Liza Corbett's Girl and Mirrors
When I first saw one of Liza Corbett's pieces, I was smitten. Almost instantaneously, I decided that I wanted her print of "Girl and Mirrors" to be a part of my body permanently. The illustration is so poignant and moving; to me, it is a visual representation of my struggle with body image and self acceptance. I love how the girl is being reflected in the hanging mirrors, but she gets to make the final decision of her own appearance by holding a small mirror behind her back.
It was very important to me that I did not plagiarize another artist's work outright, so I contacted Liza directly via the email address she provided on her etsy site. I told her about my wanting to have her work displayed on my upper arm. I also asked permission to modify the illustration as needed, also the hairstyle needed adjusting as well as some other minor scale issues. She responded promptly with excitement and asked only that I provide her with pictures. I played around with the image myself on photoshop to get a rough idea of what I wanted.
I was then ready to schedule my appointment. I went in before hand to drop off a copy of the print as well as the modifications I had made on photoshop. I informed my tattooist that I would need his help with some minor details like extending the legs and drawing on the shoes. I also let him know that it was important that the tattoo maintained a very "sketched" appearance, as if it had been hand drawn with cross hatching and grainy lines. He told me that it would be easy to maintain the integrity of the portrait and I was thrilled to hear it. I gave him a couple weeks prior to my appointment to make the needed adjustments so that I would not have to wait while he put everything on the transfer paper.
The day of my appointment, I arrived a little bit early (mostly because I was excited). I was delighted that he had already made all the needed adjustments, as well as had the sketch ready on transfer paper. He made me check everything, sign all the paperwork and provide my identification. It took a little while to get set up with sterilization, shaving the upper arm area and transferring the print onto my arm. The whole tattoo surprisingly took under three hours to complete; it was a little uncomfortable, some of the angles I had to keep my arm in, and at a couple points my arm sort of fell asleep and my poor circulation would cause my hand to become very cold and slightly purple. He had me take frequent breaks to shake my hand to get the blood flowing again. The worst part was the shading; it felt sort of like scraping, and at one point the tattooist used a single needle to do the fine detail work. I did not whimper at all until the very end when he used a moist paper
towel to remove the excess ink from the area: the cold on my exposed nerves was quite shocking and everyone in the studio laughed a little when I let out a cry. The swelling was not that bad, it did look very bold and vibrant, but it was not all splotchy and bruised.
As soon as I got home I had my boyfriend take pictures to send off to Liza. She responded the next day very delighted at the outcome--she complimented the detailed artistry and was surprised how true-to-life it came out.
I did have to return to the studio a couple weeks later because I noticed a small portion of one of the mirrors had been overlooked. It just needed to have some color added. I called my tattooist and scheduled to come in. He also told me at that time he would like to photograph the tattoo for his records. The second time I went in, it took less than five minutes to do the fix up and he did not charge me anything.
The entire healing process took about three weeks. The first two weeks were the worstthe itching and scabbing were pretty hellacious. The trick was to keep it moisturized! I used A and D ointment for the first week three to five times a day, and then Burt's Bee's natural scentless moisturizer for the final weeks. The most important thing was reminding myself not to scratch...this could cause the ink to come out, making the appearance less vibrant/detailed.
The most impressive part of the tattoo is the hairthe shading and line work is beyond my wildest expectations! The mirrors are also noteworthy, there was a ton of detail that went into each one and the tattoo artist was amazingly diligent and steady handed.
I get compliments constantly about the tattoo itself and many people are curious to know its meaning. I can't say enough about how positive the whole thing was.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 21 Oct. 2008