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My first brush with tattooing

So, time to write the story of my first tattoo. I have wanted a tattoo for many years, but have never really had a ‘set’ picture of what I want, all I have known is that I have wanted an oriental dragon. Then, out of the blue I received a message in my inbox from Brendan, a brilliant tattooist from Brisbane who was coming down to Sydney for the Tattoo and Body Art Expo, seeing if anyone was interested in getting tattooed by him while he was down. I have been a huge fan of his style for ages (he does incredible oriental style work), so I message him back saying that I was interested and gave him a rough outline of what I was after. He sent a rough sketch back, and after a few tweaks here and there my design was drawn up, a large oriental dragon to go on my lower back. I was in love with the design as soon as I saw it. We organised a time for him to tattoo me at the expo, settled on a quote, and then it was just waiting. Skip forward now to the day at the expo...

So, the day of the expo came (I was feeling rather hungover, NOT the best idea before getting tattooed for the first time!) and my hubby and I made our way out to the expo at Olympic Park. We went in, found where Brendan was working and said hello and introduced ourselves, then wandered round for a few hours looking at different people getting tattooed, a few people being scarified and various burlesque performances. Then our turn came and we made our way back to the stand he was working in and waited until my hubby got his tattoo done first (an ink print of our daughters hand on his chest), then it was my turn. He sets out brand new sterile equipment, covers the gun with a new plastic sleeve, sets out small pots of ink and explains what will be happening as he is tattooing. We go over the final design once more, he goes off to the stencil machine and comes back with the stencil, cleans his hands, cleans my back and then puts the stencil on my back. He finds that the stencil didn’t come out well as it was a poor stencil machine so he hand draws the missing sections on my back, we then check placement and we are ready to go. He then washes his hands again, put on gloves and asks me if I am ready to go. I position myself as comfortably as I can while leaning over the back of a chair and he explains where he will be starting the tattoo and gently touches me where he will be starting so I know where to expect the first sensation. He checks if I am good to go, and then we begin...

BZZTTTT.... wow, that is a strange feeling I think to myself, a bizarre mix of pain, tickling and scratching all at once. He asks if I am okay and am coping with it and I reply I feel fine. I found the pain worse than when I got my scarification, as I used EMLA cream for that. I guess I wasn’t completely ready for the actual level of pain, so I start snacking on jelly beans and drinking lemonade and talking about random topics with my husband and various passersby to keep myself as distracted as one possibly can when someone is tattooing your lower back. After a while the majority of the outline was completed, so I have a stretch and 2 minute break to regroup and rest for a bit before we get to work on the scales of the dragon. I very quickly decided I hated having the scales tattooed and quite vocally told Brendan what I thought of them, but loved how they looked so I grit my teeth and bear it, even though I wanted to swear my head off as they hurt, quite a bit, and seeing as though there was over 2000 of them, by the time we finished them I was MORE than ready to never have another scale tattooed on me ever again! Brendan was great giving me updates on how many more to go. After the scales were completed there was just the small bird above the dragon to go, so he quickly outlines that and then he asks me if I am feeling up to some shading, but I decline as after 2 solid hours of being tattooed for the first time I have reached my limit, so we call it quits for the day, we take a few photos and he cleans and wraps me up, explaining aftercare at the same time. I pay and tip him, quickly run through the aftercare again to make sure I have it right and say goodbye. We make our way out to the car feeling sore and emotionally and physically drained. We get home, have a shower, clean up and apply bepanthen as instructed, put on an old t-shirt to protect the sheets and climb into bed. I fall asleep quite quickly despite feeling buzzed from all the endorphins running around in my system. I must say, I am glad I am primarily a tummy-sleeper! I get up this morning and feel even sorer and physically drained, as well as emotionally flat, but I was expecting that so it didn’t come as a surprise. My shower in the morning was fine, it just felt ‘hot’ when the water went over my back , like the water was too hot (even though it was fine for the rest of my body!), I then dry off gently and apply more bepanthen (which I shall do daily). I can’t help repeatedly looking at it in the mirror, and if it wasn’t for the ache in my lower back I don’t think I would believe it was there! I can’t wait for the next session so we can get some shading into it, I think it is going to look fantastic, and I am so glad I made the decision to go large scale for my first piece and can’t wait til I get tattooed again.


submitted by: Castor
on: 05 April 2010
in Asian Style Tattoos

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Artist: Brendan O'Connor
Studio: Sacred Skin
Location: Sydney Tattoo and Body Art Expo

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