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The job I started in early 2014 is in Kemptown where I used to live. It is also two minutes away from Gilded Cage Tattoo Studio where I got my owl chestpiece last year. For months I'd been considering going back for a second tattoo but I was saving up to start my university degree. Three weeks before I was due to start university my course was cancelled. I went on holiday for a couple of weeks to figure out what to do next. I really couldn't decide so I returned to work. Things are going pretty well considering.

By mid-Autumn I felt a bit restless. I had noticed the amazing window display in Gilded Cage as I had been on my lunch break one day but I couldn't think of a reason to go in. Later that afternoon back in the office I was talking about illustration with my colleague and I suddenly remembered Marembert. I became excited and returned the next day to book a consultation with James. When I was talking to the gentleman at reception he asked if I'd be interested in getting tattooed by someone else as James was booked up until summer. I said I'd email some reference material to the studio and if another artist wanted to do it I'd be happy to have them tattoo me. I went ahead and booked the consultation with James.

A week later I received an email saying Pozan would be happy to tattoo me. I was pretty excited. I had seen his work before and wanted to get tattooed by him when he first guested in Gilded Cage. I even entered a competition to win a tattoo by him last year (or maybe it was earlier this year - I forget).

When the consultation came around I was so nervous. I didn't check my mobile phone - if I had I would've realised Pozan had cancelled due to illness. I turned up and James kindly saw me. We talked through the design and I said I was happy with most changes but I wanted to keep a dark center.

Over the next month I became more anxious. I was actually worried because I have a skin condition on my limbs - I used to know the medical term but I've forgotten it now because it's harmless and incurable. I worried that the ink wouldn't take well on my dry skin. I was worried the black would look grey and flake forever. But I just wanted to get tattooed again and I knew my skin condition would always be visible.

In November I had my first session booked. The day before my tattoo I became even more nervous but people told me it wouldn't be as painful as my previous tattoos as my thigh is a more fleshy area. I couldn't sleep and the next morning I couldn't eat. I know I need to eat to keep my strength up but my mouth was too dry. I was scared that whatever I ate I was going to vomit.

I put on two pairs of pants because I was afraid of accidentally revealing myself. The biggest pants I could find were gold hotpants, And I wore them with knee-high socks under a mid-length jersey dress. I met Pozan and he told me he may be able to get the tattoo finished in one session rather than the planned two. As much as I liked the sound of finishing the piece early I was worried that outlining and colouring in one session would be too much pain for me.

Then I saw the design and it was very different from what I had described. But I was blown away. It totally reminded me of my favourite video game the Path. This was incredibly impressive from someone who had never met me. My nervousness tends to make me incoherent. I gobbled out lots of Wow and I love it. The only thing I wanted to add was some red colour (I've historically had skin reaction issues with red ink, of course I had forgot this on the day).

The time came to lift my dress and I became even more uncomfortable and awkward. I stumbled onto the tattoo table/bed. I was clumsy and took three attempts to lay comfortably. The placement of the transfer was right first time. I liked it but I became unresponsive because I just wanted the tattoo over and done with already.

The needle hit my skin and it was very uncomfortable. I told myself that I should get bear with it for twenty minutes then it'll get better like it normally does. Twenty minutes later and my whole body was clenched. All I could remember thinking was Never Again. I made a mental note to tell all my friends that if I want another tattoo in the future that they have to mind me how much I hate this. As the hour progressed I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I was not coping with the pain. I was fidgeting and making Pozan's job even more difficult. He was very kind to me despite my being an awful sitter.

I started hearing a high pitch whistle which is normally a sign I am going to faint. I asked for a break and Pozan said that he just needed to do a few more lines first. The lines happened to be near my knee. Waiting for the break felt awful. My thigh was so tense and sore. I wanted to run into the bathroom because I felt like I was going to faint and I was worried I might vomit over someone.

I got up and wandered off before Pozan had a chance to tape up the cling film. I became really self-conscious that I was behaving badly although I knew it was just my anxiety and pain making me want to leave. Pozan wanted to get me some food but I felt even less like eating than I did before. We went upstairs into the shop for fresh air. I brought some soya milk cartons with me in case I needed some sugar. They had been crushed in my bag so the straws had split. I was there for a minutes trying to drink but no liquid came into my mouth. The shop became a blur but I could hear Pozan humming Danza delle ore so we started talking about the dancing hippo in a tutu from Fantasia (fun fact: she's called Hyacinth).

We went back down into the studio and I wanted to finish for the day. Pozan was about to start tattooing me again and I remember a sudden burst of fear. James was tattooing someone else nearby. He suggested that Pozan put some pain relief spray on me. Pozan wasn't sure if it would benefit me but James thought it would help me cope when Pozan filled in areas. Pozan sprayed me and after five minutes I felt no pain at all. It was a heavenly experience and if I could've had a bubblebath full of that pain relief spray I would. I turned to James and said Thank You. I am so grateful James was nearby that day - I don't think I could've coped without him.

The next hour of so was great. I stared at the ceiling lights with a completely empty mind. Occasionally I felt a jolt of pain but remembering how much better I felt than before I let it slide. I felt my whole body relax. It was brilliant!

We had another break and then Pozan added some colour. I was surprised when he said we were finished. He works really fast - I'm amazed he covered my thigh in a few hours.

I went home reasonably happy. I washed my tattoo after a few hours and the pain it stung. I wrapped my thigh in cling film after my shower and went to bed. I did not sleep. I felt so ill. I ended up phoning my office and saying I couldn't come in. Walking was difficult too. I spent that day on the sofa. I managed to get some sleep the night after along the heat from my thigh kept waking me up (I had to open the window and rest my leg on the windowsill). I do remember looking at my healing tattoo and thinking I really liked it but it was going to be my last.

The next morning I was back at work. My thigh was still swollen and I moved slowly. But I sent an email to Pozan asking him to tattoo me in January. The pain was worth it. And I'm definitely going back for more.


submitted by: ninamarie
on: 31 Dec. 2014
in Skull and Skeleton Tattoos

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Artist: Pozan
Studio: Gilded Cage
Location: Brighton

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