This weekend was probably 15 years in the making...or maybe 20.
Ive wanted a tattoo forever, just had commitment issues on themes is all. And was a bit of a chicken. Over the last few years our eagerness to adorn ourselves with ink has grown stronger, and i finally found a few local artists that i started talking to about the work.
For me, the tattoo has always been less about just the subject and more about the artist. Obviously i would love a combination, but i really want the piece to be a work of art. Over the last few weeks I've been working in collaboration with an artist in Gastown, and he was excited enough about the tattoo that he wanted to do it at the West Coast Tattoo and Culture Show this weekend with a bit of an audience and the potential of some exposure and new clients. We went back and forth on design and finally had something to proceed with. It was a given that it would be aquatic in nature, but the final result was a bunch of tentacles and a woman/mermaid figure with hair that turns into waves. Its actually been a really fun design process and i wish i could do the tattoo myself (or maybe that's just another subliminal stall tactic, wait until I'm licensed and do it myself). not this time, but i may still learn eventually...
Been kind of a big week (and general time in our lives), so it's interesting that the show would be this weekend, but maybe that's provided the extra little push needed for me to finally take the leap. Fairly symbolic, and maybe it will serve as a reminder of these times for us.
To date each of us only have one small tattoo, for me a kanji i got a few years back on my foot that was mostly just to prove to myself i wasn't going to wimp out when the time came for the real thing. This tattoo will be a full sleeve. Probably not the normal going in point, but i guess we don't do most things "normal".
Saturday morning we got up and drove out to the show. Grabbed a bite to eat and got straight to work. The design is fairly intricate and trying to transfer the pattern onto the arm was no easy feat. A few hours of transfer, remove and repeat and we had design signoff from both me and Arlo. Another half an hour to shave all the hair off my arm (what Arlo likes to refer to as the "free tattoo and really expensive shave") and we are ready to go. No backing out now. Not that i wanted to. It's funny, after years of searching, fretting and stalling about design, position, artist and permanence... it all seems very calm. Same as when we jumped out of a plane; I should have been crazy nervous but instead everything the day of was calm and smooth.
Next door to the Gastown Tattoo Booth was another new Studio with a couple cool chicks giving tattoos. I spent the first few hours on the table watching an Elvis tattoo develop and later in the day Jen got one of the girls to ink her as well. A wicked "make waves" piece on her forearm. She was sweet enough to wait around on me all day, so it was nice that she was able to her work done, and even better that i got to watch and snap a few photos. Not a single tear...at least not that could be seen with the toque pulled down. Now jens ready to make a few waves of her own, and feels like shes ready to be a true surfer.
It ended up being a long day. A very, very long day on the table.
All in all we were at the show for about 11 hours and about 7.5 of actual needle time. Completely wasted by the end, and i certainly won't commit to going any longer than 5-6 hours on another piece. Arlin was great, and we were both exhausted by days end. Jen and i stuck around long enough to enter the tattoo in the day's competition in hopes of a little publicity for Arlin, but the votes went elsewhere. We headed back home to allow the healing to begin, and maybe start thinking about the next piece.