Sunday, August 7, 2011

Getting Inked, Part 1

I used to hate tattoos in my youth, but as I've grown older, I've begun to appreciate the art and expression in tattoos. I even attempted to get one in my late twenties, but after doing research to find a good artist that had won national awards, I arrived there to find the shop had moved to an unknown location (unknown to me). So I figured at the time that it "wasn't meant to be".

Lately I've been feeling the desire once again, and then recently I finally realized what I wanted inked on me: an Ouroboros...

So I did some research to find the best tattoo artist in this area, and turned up Howl Gallery/Tattoo. Great tattoo art and an art gallery! That's exactly what I needed. After looking over the artwork and reading reviews regarding his professionalism, I decided to go with Steve "Bananas" Greenwood.

I setup a consultation to show Steve what I had in mind, and found we were instantly on the same page. I brought about a dozen examples of Ouroboros with me, and found that he loved the one above, which was the same one that I preferred. The one drawback was, as I had feared, that the tat would have to be bigger than I had hoped for-- quite a bit bigger. I had been hoping for a little larger than the one above-- perhaps two inches in length. In reality I wound up having to get one probably about 4 1/2 - 5 inches in length! (And if I'm slouching, it stretches out to more like 6 inches!)

So I arrived last Sunday for my tattoo, which was expected to take about two hours, feeling a little apprehensive. I mean, we've all heard about the pain, and to top it off I have a needle phobia. Just getting my blood drawn is enough to make me almost pass out!

My appointment was at 7:00 PM, but we arrived to find Stevie wasn't quite ready. He wanted to finish up the sketch, and once that was done he wanted to re-sketch it again. So I think it was about 7:45-8:00 PM before we made it into the tattoo room and got the stencil in place, and after getting the inks ready and everything else we finally began the tattoo probably about 8:00-8:15 PM.

Stevie coached me on what to expect, and how to try to relax. I laid on a table on my side, my knees drawn up to round out my back a little. Woodrow (and our friend Allen) came with me to hold my hand, but Stevie advised us not to do that, as he said that people tend to "clench" hands, causing all of the muscles in their bodies to tense.

Of course, Steve waited until after he had already started the tattoo to let me know that I had chosen one of the most painful spots on the human body to do my first tattoo! When I griped about him not having told me that sooner, he told me if he told everyone that, he'd never get to tattoo! I knew that the ribs were one of the worst areas to tattoo, but I had intended for the tattoo to be a small two inch tat on my meaty back hip (above the butt, on my right side). However since we decided to enlarge the tat to 2-3 times that size, it was now up near my ribs and near my spine. Needlesstosay... it hurt! It felt like someone was slicing me with a razor blade!

Now Stevie wanted it to be made clear that I wiggled around a lot. He was concerned with the "wiggliness" of some of the lines in my tattoo, and since it reflects on him and speaks to the quality of his work, he wanted me to be sure to let everyone know that I wiggled around a lot! I got better, but the first 15-30 minutes of the tat was the worst! After that, I got better at holding still. However I also got a bit vocal!

This was a shot taken during, after the top had been done.

This is a video taken of the tattooing being done...

We decided to split the tattoo into two shifts, and only do the outlining during the first session. We will do the shading in about a month, after I heal. So far, so good!

I'm hoping the shading goes better, since most people say that the outlining is the worst. I figure it should be better, if only for the reason that I would expect the shading to be done in short bursts. Shade, wipe, shade, wipe, shade, wipe. Whereas with the outlining, there were times when there were long lines, and then we'd go right into another, and I would have a hard time even catching my breath in between (before I started really concentrating on my breathing).

So once again, I want to stress that I wiggled around a bit (Steve said I was the "wiggliest" person he'd tattooed in awhile). Of course, he also said that he's had people pass out on him and puke on his shoes, and I didn't do any of that! So I guess I'm not tooooo bad!

So any "wiggliness" in the lines is my fault, and does not reflect on the artistic talents of Steve! Plus my wiggling made the tat take longer, so instead of doing the entire tattoo in 2 hours, it took about 1 1/2 hours to do the outlining only. Hence my need for a second visit to complete the tat.

I'll be back to post about the tat again after I get it completed in September. Wish me luck!