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"Is that Beethoven?"

If someone would have told me even just two or three years ago, "By the time you're twenty, you'll have three tattoos and be contemplating on getting things pierced other than your lobes," I'd have thought he was off his rocker. I'd never given a lot of thought to body modification before - the pain is what put me off, for the most part, seeing as how I'm a very big wuss. I never even ventured to get my lobes done until a couple of weeks before I turned nineteen. I only had one friend in school with any sort of extensive modifications, and she always told me, "You should give it a go, just get one, it isn't that painful - and then you'll want more!" I just laughed, and told her she was nuts - could she really picture me getting a tattoo?

I did, though, much to my own surprise and to the surprise of my family. My first two tattoos weren't very big or detailed at all. The first, which I got in August 2008 was a small symbol on my neck, representing a band that I've been in love with for the past five years; the second was a plain outline of a heart on my wrist, done just four months after that.

Fast forward to just last week, the day before Thanksgiving. It had been almost a year since my last tattoo, and I was ready for something new - something, quite literally, bigger. I'd gotten my lobes re-done the month before - the proper way - while visiting a friend in Florida, but that just wasn't cutting it. There were a few ideas that I'd been mulling over, a couple of them being portraits. I knew I was getting one of those, but which one?

Literature has always been one of my favorite subjects in school, and reading is a big pastime of mine - a rare thing to find in people my age, sadly. One of my favorite authors, a favorite since I was in middle school, is Edgar Allan Poe. His stories and characters are peculiar, but then, he was a peculiar character in his own right, as well. I never tire of his work, and admire him as a writer.

So, it was decided: Poe was the first portrait I was getting. (A raven? Too overdone and expected.) I ended up enlisting an old friend of mine to take me to the shop that day, after I called to make sure they would be open. I'd been to Totally Naked for my other two tattoos, and felt comfortable with the place; I knew it was sterile, and the staff are friendly, even if boisterous, folks. My guy friend accompanying me gave me a hard time about my choice all the way there, but I paid him no mind. We stopped at a gas station where I picked up a snack and a soda, since I hadn't eaten anything yet, and before I knew it, we were at the shop.

There was only one guy working when I went in, and I didn't recognize him from my last few visits, so I was a bit nervous; originally, I had planned on Rik doing this piece. The guy asked what I wanted done, and I told him what, and where - "On my forearm, but I'm not sure what side." He immediately pointed to the inner part, the area above where my wrist tattoo was, and said that area would be best. I had figured as much and was fine with that, so I went with the professional. He copied my ID, had me fill out the usual paperwork, and I took that opportunity to ask him what his name was - Ryan, as it turned out. That put me at ease. While I hadn't seen him in the shop before, I had seen his work online, and remembered being very impressed with it - including the portraits. (I was very nervous about getting the right artist for this; I've seen several examples of "bad" portrait tattoos, and didn't want to be another example of "what to avoid getting stuck on your body f or life.") He drew up the stencil while my friend and I sat in the waiting area, listening to Ryan and Rik (the shop owner, who came in as Ryan began on the stencil) banter with one another, with my friend joining in the conversation now and then. Finally, after doing the stencil and then getting his area set up, he called me over. Thankfully, he got the stencil in just the right spot on the first try and didn't have to redo it. After letting it dry, we were ready to go!

He asked how many other tattoos I had ("two") and if I'd gotten them all here ("yep"), but I told him this was my largest one yet, so I was a bit nervous, even though I generally knew how the procedure went. I was expecting to be sitting there in agony for two hours, but it wasn't all that bad, really. The most painful areas were near the bottom, close to my wrist, and at the very top, which was right under the bend of my elbow, but even those spots weren't unbearable; at worst, I made a couple of funny faces. And, for the first time, I discovered that after a while, I actually sort of liked the constant-scratching feeling. It definitely didn't feel like two hours to me, and it was fascinating to watch the tattoo develop. Before I knew it, we were finished, and I had a wonderful piece of artwork on my arm - one of my literary inspirations, immortalized on me for life. I was ecstatic!

Ryan put a layer of bacitracin on the tattoo and went over the aftercare with me, although I remembered it well enough from my other tattoos. I stuck around for a few more minutes so that he could get a few pictures, thanked him again before leaving, and assured him I would be back.

It's been a week, and it seems to be healing nicely. I applied the bacitracin to it twice a day for the first couple of days, until it began to flake, and then switched to regular old Lubriderm after that, and have just been making sure it doesn't get too dry. (Well, specifically I was told to use cocoa butter, but for my first couple, Rik said Lubriderm worked, so I went with that since I already had some.) It's good to know that even if my body seems to not like my putting new holes in it very much, it at least doesn't give me a problem with ink. The only "problem" I've had - and my friend called this one, I will admit - is that hardly anyone knows just who it is on my arm. I even had one gentleman ask me at work, "Who is that, Beethoven?" Oh, how I love my home town.

Ryan had said that he was leaving the area around and behind the tattoo blank, because he'd like to fill it in at some point with some background imagery. I'm not sure yet what I think about that, but I'll at least think about it; when I check back in with him in a month to make sure it's healed alright, I may ask him what he had in mind, just to get a better idea. But as for now, I think I like my tattoo just as it is - which, for now, is perfect. Ryan did a fantastic job, and I'll certainly be seeing him again for my future work.

Details

submitted by: Anonymous
on: 14 Dec. 2009
in Tattoos

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Artist: Ryan
Studio: Totally+Naked+Tattoos
Location: Rocky+Mount%2C+VA

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