Gonzo tattoo with a difference.
I'd been wanting a new tattoo for ages- I have a list in my head of all the ones I potentially want, and when I get the urge to get a new one (and it corresponds with having time, motivation and cash), I scribble it down and take it to my local tattoo artist!
I think that the 'artist' part is what makes a tattooist good. They shouldn't just have the skill to wield the machine; they should have creativity & the ability to bring a bit of themselves to the finished thing. Good tip - check out their freehand stuff/art/whatever before you get a tattoo, because then you will be assured of a quality piece.
So... gonzo. I love gonzo, me. I love the style, the ideas behind it. For me, the main message is: Get caught up in it. Get so involved, nothing else matters. As a writer/journalist, I enjoy getting really into my interviews- not just cold questioning, I like to build up a temporary friendship, a discussion with the band, artist or whatever. It makes for more interesting reading & certainly I enjoy it more than if I was just asking yes/no questions.
I really hate off-the-wall tattoos- if you want something that's gonna be on your forever, for fkssake, be original! It's like- if you could only wear one tshirt forever, would you buy a mass-produced cheaply from a shop, or spend time & money designing a unique, one of a kind piece that you can be proud of. I'm still waiting for the day when I see two people with the same rubbish tribal design in the same place. I'm sure it will happen, especially if people get tattoos from the same studio, with never-changing designs on the walls.
My tattoo means more to me than just 'get involved'. It also features two lower Swallowtail (Papilio machaon - brittannicus) wings. This is because one of my favourite childhood memories, and just activities in general, was going on walks with my family, with one specific memory being me and my dad looking for Swallowtail butterflies in a bog & him jumping off the boardwalk into the water! It was so embarrassing, but really funny - we still laugh about it now sometimes as a family. So that part of my tattoo reminds me - stop and admire the beauty.
Essentially my tattoo says: 'Get really involved in life, but stop to admire it sometimes'. A good message to have permanently etched on my back, I think.
I went to Hype (my favourite place to get tattoos- friendly and top quality) with an idea of a design. As usual, I had incompetently sketched out moreorless what I wanted, and knew the google images I wished to reference. I spent ages at Hype (with the help of one of the guys) printing, cutting and sticking til I had exactly the right size and shape I wanted. A thin red outline of a gonzo fist with a blocky green flower in the middle. Two swallowtail lower wings poking out of the side of the wrist. It looked a bit silly on paper, but I knew it would look great as a tattoo! My friend and her girlfriend's sister walked in as I was working and both thought it looked pretty, too.
I put my £20 deposit down and left, very happy. Steve was going to sketch it out, ready to be tattooed.
But- me being me, I totally got the dates mixed up and missed my appointment. Lost my deposit, too. Gutted. Luckily there was a slot free the next day, so I bagged that and promised to be there that time!
Unfortunately, they had thrown away my design since I didn't turn up, so I spent half an hour the next day reassembling it. Luckily the shop's internet history still had my image websites on, so I was easily able to find it again. I decided to make it a little smaller this time - the whole thing a little larger than my palm (I have tiny hands, by the way!). I trotted downstairs and Steve got to work.
It took quite a long time (about an hour - it was all outlines and colours and patterns) and by the end I was basically stuck to the studio chair. Ick. The shop had run out of yellow, so it didn't take as long as it should have & I was free! Yay! Walked home, which wasn't the best idea, but it cleared my head a little bit. Steve gave me some Bepanthen (nappy cream), which I was told to put on 5 times a day.
I took a lot better care of this one than I did of my last, and I had minimal scabbing. It was still pretty itchy, and sometimes I would wake up with a red back after scratching in my sleep... oops... I put on the cream as much as possible, and wore baggy clothes. I found the the cream made my clothes greasy, so I wore old pajamas to bed... I still ended up with a grease patch on my bed where I normally lie!
3 days ago I went back to Hype to get my yellow done. It hurt quite a lot - we reckoned it was because the skin around it was already damaged, and obviously 2-3 weeks is not the total time it takes to heal a tattoo. Its a nice pastelly shade - nothing too bright or overwhelming. We figured that I could always go brighter later if I wanted to. While I was there, Steve touched up the purple on my stars to a darker shade & neatened the lines. I had them done when I was 18, and whilst I love them to bits, they look a little bit faded. All good now, though! All of this was included in the original price of the tattoo, which was really generous, I thought. The whole thing cost £70... £90 if you include my lost deposit!
I'm so bloody pleased with my tattoo! It's a new take on quite a common idea. I'm sure loads of people have gonzo fists & butterfly tattoos, but how many people have a fist with wings?
When I can't be bothered to explain what gonzo is, I just say its a hand holding a flower. But I've had a lot of compliments - the wings make it a little more feminine. And so far, only one 'fisting' comment.... come on, it was bound to happen sooner or later, and I was prepared for it!
I'm going to have the upper Swallowtail wings put on it, in a while. Probably early next year, as I would like what I have to heal properly, also I'm waiting for a bit more disposable income! I like it as it is, but I think it would look more balanced & complete. We'll see. I'm currently considering an extremely pale 1.5cm wing on my wrist; a take on Hermes' ankle wings (I write, and he's the Greek god of literature)... though I have just taken up a teaching job, and I am worried about visible tattoos!
Here is is pre-yellow, 3 days old. I haven't got round to taking a more recent photo, but I'll stick one up on my iam account as soon as it's healed a bit more. Because the yellow is so pale, it looks a bit bloody, and I don't really want that to be the first view of it.
Please bear in mind it looks darker than it's meant to. The flower is actually a medium green & the outline a bright red. The wings have blue in them, but it looks purpley in this picture. This is because the ink's still mixed with the blood (ick).
Thanks very much for reading my experience! I'm putting some links at the bottom of this, for 'further reading'! :D
More info on Gonzo journalism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzo_journalism More about Swallowtails: http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?vernacular_name=Swallowtail My other tattoo experience: http://www.bme.com/tattoo/A80313/tatmynew.html
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about tattoos, or the above links : )
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 02 Nov. 2009