Sunday, June 27, 2010

My First Tattoo

Finally, I put my money where my mouth is and got my first tattoo! Prepare for a mammoth post, mostly for my future reference!

Getting one is something I have talked about since my mid teens, and I have a long list of images and text that I eventually want. Two of my best friends got me a voucher for my birthday last month, which paid for half of it. Aside from being blown away by the money they spent on me, it is one of the most amazing gifts I've ever received.

Here's the only online image of it at the moment. That was taken about an hour after I got it done. I think it looks even better in person, my camera settings are all messed up at the moment, and it doesn't look as dark in that photo as it actually is.

The Day

I was absolutely terrified, all last week. Unbelievably excited, but scared out of my mind. I went out for dinner with friends the night before, and barely participated in conversation due to constantly thinking about it!

On Friday morning Charlie and I went to the studio, Tattoo City on Cuba Street in Wellington. I'd contacted Kev via his website, after being impressed by his work and discovering it was him who did my boss' tattoo last year which is amazing. He showed me the final plan he had for it; the solid outlines on tracing paper, with lots of other lines to indicate to him where to shade. It was pretty brave of me to go ahead and let him freestyle a bit, but at that point the pain was the biggest issue in my mind and I was just ready to go! After seeing his work though, I trusted him, and knew I'd clearly outlined to him at our two consults what I wanted.

I'd been reading a lot about tattooing online, and asking Charlie constant questions (he has two). I knew what to expect with regard to the process of tattooing, but as everyone had described the pain differently I was so nervous. I just had this fear that it'd be a different pain to anything I'd ever felt and that I'd end up with a little line on me, screaming to stop!

I realise my thigh is a fleshy part of my body, so I'm sure as people say, tattoos on bones must hurt considerably more. But wow I was scared over nothing! The best way I can describe the feeling is like a compass or pin dragging along your skin heavily, but not penetrating it, which is strange. Then there's like a sharper pain, which almost feels separate to the dragging, but more inside your skin. This maybe sounds obvious, but it definitely didn't feel to me like the cutting or scratching that people had described.

I lay down for the first hour, unable to see what he was doing, just listening to my iPod. A lot of the time it was quite easy to zone out to the music and not be aware of much pain. The fact that each time he moves the gun or starts a new line or area, you feel a vibration on your skin before the needles stick in. Having warning like that, and the fact that there's constantly breaks to get more ink and move around the image means I kept pretty relaxed and breathing deeply.

After an hour or so it was my arms that hurt the most! They felt so restless and achy, and I kept trying to stretch them without moving my leg. Eventually I sat up on the bed, which was so much better as I could watch the tattoo progress. When I first sat up and saw it I probably freaked him out as I didn't say anything for ages, just staring. It was about halfway done and I was just so ecstatic with how it looked, I didn't know what to say!

Contrary to my original thought, I didn't end up getting colour done in the frame. I decided I like the way it looks at present, and while I do think I'll eventually get it coloured, I want to have some time to think about the colours and the look of it.

I saw my parents about an hour or two after I got it done. I walked around freezing Wellington in shorts for the afternoon, which may not have been the best idea but it still felt a bit too tender to cover with pants and definitely not tights!

The look on my mother's face when Charlie and I walked across the road to meet them was priceless! Obviously I'd told them what I was getting, but I guess actually seeing it on me was scary!

It made me so so happy when we sat down in the cafe and my parents had a close look at it. My Mum said it was beautiful, and amazingly well done. I know they would absolutely prefer I hadn't taken step one towards tattoo addiction, but it made me happy they accepted it and even admired it.

The Now

So far I haven't had any negative comments about it, though through the grapevine, two members of my family definitely don't approve/like it.

I think the hardest thing is that people expect you to justify your decision. I'm going to write it here, for myself and anyone who's interested, but I don't plan to explain it to people I vaguely know when they see it. It's a cat. End of story. If you like it, you like it, and if you don't then me explaining it's significance is not going to make you like it any more, is it?

I know I can be a bitch online about tattoos I come across that I dislike. If any of this makes me a hypocrite, I'm not bothered. As I said above, if people don't like it based on how it looks then that's fine. I don't care to talk them around to liking it.

The Significance

Considering I don't think anyone reads this blog anyway, I'm just going to attempt to write why I got it.

Obviously it's a portrait of my cat, Vodie. I got him in March 2009 with my ex when we lived in Lower Hutt. Getting him really marks the end of our relationship, which had been an absolute mess. We were broken up within two months, and after a lot of bullshit I eventually managed to move with Vodie to the private downstairs floor of a house in Mount Victoria.

I was living alone for the first time in my life, had just started the job I am currently in, which has been my biggest step up in life since I left high school.

Vodie was my companion in this transition from the trashy, depressed, embarrassing person I'd been to the motivated and happy person I believe I have become.

The day he was run over and killed in November 2009 was one of the worst days of my life. I've been fortunate enough not to have suffered much loss up to this point in my life; grandparents and distant relatives during my childhood has been the extent of it. In my early teens my cat at my parents house was run over and killed as well, which was difficult, but he was my family's pet as opposed to Vodie who was all mine.

I was at work when my landlord called to tell me. I left work and my Mum drove down from Masterton, and my friend Dylan came to my house to keep me company. Vodie was taken by Mum back to her house in Masterton and he's buried in their backyard.

This was one of those 'events' (which I am experiencing more and more of lately) where you really find out who knows you and cares about you.

It's hard to think about how, when I had Vodie, I'd think about how I'd likely still have him in my early thirties, and how much I would have changed by then. It was the first period in my life where I'd been excited about my future, and seriously thought about long-term goals; thinking about always having to find places to live that allowed cats doesn't sound very significant, but it was the first time I'd really made any kind of longterm commitment to anything, and having that taken away was completely devastating.

I am so so happy with how my tattoo's turned out. I wanted it to be a bit stylised, with no names or dates or anything. It's an amazing likeness to him, but it's also "just a cat" and not too obviously a memorial piece. I absolutely love it.


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I think its gorgeous and different!

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