Sunday, November 30, 2008
The first tattoo that got insulted was the one on my ring finger. My goal was not to make it a perfect Hallmark heart. I wanted it to be a little off beat and different. Mark actually used Tim Burton as inspiration so it became my Tim Burton heart. I posted a picture in my personal blog and one girl replied with "Not to be rude or anything, but is it supposed to look like that?". Whenever someone starts a sentence with "Not to be rude" you know something offensive is going to pop out of their stupid little mouths (or fingers as the case may be). I chose not to respond and one of my friends jumped to my aid. She asked why she would say something so rude when I was obviously very proud of the work. The original insulter said "Oh well then I would've told you where to go to get it fixed". WTF? She has no tattoos. Zero. Nada. How would she know a reputable shop and a talented artist to "fix" my tattoo?
The second one was the rose on my left arm. We had a floorset at work, which meant we didn't have to come in uniform. I was wearing short sleeves, so rose was clearly visible. One of my co-workers sees it and goes through the usual ration of stupid questions ("Is that real?" "Why did you get it?") and then goes "Ugh, that's hideous!". I was rendered completely speechless. I'm never rendered completely speechless. Once I got over being stunned, I just walked away. This lady is seriously rude to begin with, so I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised. She has a really poorly done butterfly on one of her ankles, but hey, at least I didn't point out just how poorly done and ugly it was.
The third one was my beloved pin up girl Mae. I had posted a series of photos online. The general response was positive. Then a few people questioned the quality of Mark's work, which really hurt me. Again, someone else jumped to my defense (I have great friends!) and told them that he was an excellent artist and to stuff it. I told her that I was sorry she felt that way but I've never been dissatisfied with his work and would probably never change artists. The one time I did that, it wasn't really successful. I wouldn't say I'm not happy with those two tattoos, but I think they could've been a little more special than they turned out.
So that's the wall of shame for today. Remember kiddies, talking about people behind their backs isn't always a bad thing ;).
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I'd like to give him plenty of time to work on the sketch. She's going to be started on my birthday, which is 6 weeks from tomorrow. Before that, I'm getting the hummingbird on my right forearm right before Christmas. I gave Mark my whole list and he liked all of them. He was actually the one who suggested I get something "short" done when I came in to get Mae touched up. So we decided on the hummingbird. I think that one's going to be really pretty. Of course, my parents will probably flip out. Another highly visible tattoo that's going to ruin my reputation, chance of employment, and might also give me herpes. I have to wear long sleeves anyway because of rose, so I don't see why getting something higher up on my arm is a problem. However, they just don't get it half the time. But, what can I do? At least they won't see "tough bitch" and I'm not sure they know about pretty bird.
I'd blog more, but my computer is being stupid slow and I'm sick of waiting 10 seconds for my letters to come up.
Right nostril (repierce)
Left tragus (repierce)
Right and left conch
Bottom part of navel
Pin up girl on my right side
Two swallows on my collarbones
Flowers for the birth month of each of my family members on the inside of my left ankle
A hummingbird on my right forearm just under where my elbow bends
A pin up girl on my right thigh
"Tough bitch" on my lower back to the right side
The last tattoo is actually for when I reach my goal weight. I've been losing weight since August and I'm only 10 lbs away from my goal now. I'd like to have reached it by my birthday in 6 weeks. I guess we'll see.
Monday, November 24, 2008
It came to a head when my dad cornered me and questioned my decision making. Since I felt ambushed, I didn't really have a good response. Once I calmed down and could think rationally, I explained that I'm well aware of the consequences of my actions. I'm not trying to be a rebel. I'm not trying to make a statement. This is just me. Maybe they're confused how they managed to raise a child perfectly willing to stick needles into her skin, but I think they should be proud. They raised a kid who was confident enough in herself and her own judgment to make such choices in the first place. They're still not happy with it, though my mom has warmed up to them slightly. She actually said she thought rose was pretty. Dad's still holding out on me. Yesterday he said he's waiting for the day where I've "realized I have enough".
That mentality bugs me a lot, especially from people who don't have tattoos. They automatically assume that I want to cover every inch of skin I have. Umm...why? I certainly have no desire to tattoo certain areas. Not only that, because of our history of skin cancer, my dermatologist put her foot down and said no tattoos over moles. Some parts of me are very moley, so they're an automatic no. Some places, I just don't think they look good and they certainly wouldn't look good on me. Does anyone listen to me when I try to explain this? Of course not. They clearly know more about it than I do even though it's my body.
I'm not holding my breath for them to change their minds, but it would certainly make my life easier if they'd just accept it and move on.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
1. "How much will it hurt?"
I don't know about you, but I'm not psychic. I don't know what kind of pain tolerance you might have. Neither will the artist. Yes, it will hurt. Needles are going into your skin. My favorite analogy is the actual process feels a lot like having hot sandpaper dragged over your skin. Generally speaking, fatty places (upper arm, hips, thighs, calves) will hurt less than bony places (ribs, lower back, wrists, and ankles). Also generally speaking, the outline will hurt more than the color. In my case, I think the color hurts twice as much as the outline. However, almost everyone I know says the outline hurt more.
2. "Is it really going to cost that much?"
Do you haggle at the grocery store over the price of cereal? No. Don't argue with a tattoo artist over the price. It's how they make their living. It's akin to saying "Your work isn't worth that much". Rude, no? If you can't pay for it, don't ask for it. Most artists will be perfectly happy to give you a consultation and a quote. I've never known one to go back on what s/he quoted me.
3. "Will you tattoo my face/hands/feet?"
This one needs a little more detail. Most artists I know (including mine) will tattoo the tops of the feet. However, it's with the caveat that it's more likely to fall out and touch ups aren't free. You do so at your own risk of having a not so great tattoo. I have one on my left foot that I took really good care of and it looks as good as the day it was done. As for the hands and face, those are a bit more hard and fast. Just because Rihanna got a tattoo on her finger doesn't mean every artist does it. Hands and fingers are constantly moving, being washed, and exposed to all kinds of irritants. Plus, it's a pretty darn painful place to get a tattoo, especially on the sides. If you can find an artist willing to do it, it will probably be with the caveat that it will more than likely fall out and if it doesn't, a touch up won't be free. The face should be pretty obvious. What employer is ever going to hire someone with a tattoo on their face? 'Nuff said.
It's a good idea to do a little research before you even walk in the door. The whole process will go a lot more smoothly if you know what you're talking about. You don't have to be an expert or even very knowledgeable, but a little bit of know how goes a long way. Even if you're still unsure, just be polite and listen to what they have to say. I always defer to their judgment because they do this all day, every day. I wouldn't presume to know more than a firefighter or a lawyer, so why assume the same with a tattooist?
I arrived a bit early and Christina was busy with another client. I chatted with Ben who was working the counter and decided on what jewelry I wanted. I decided I could go really crazy with the color since no one is ever going to see it. I decided on a really pretty teal. I was surprised to find that the barbell would be straight. Apparently curved barbells are suited for people with a different anatomy than mine. After I filled out paperwork, picked my color, and everything was sterilized, we went back to the piercing room.
I was really glad I wore a skirt so I could just hike it up and take my panties off rather than having to totally strip down. It was a bit awkward laying there spread eagle and having a fairly normal conversation. Somewhat like being at the gynecologist without the stirrups and paper gown. Part of what I love about Christina, and for that matter the rest of the staff at PE, is they have an excellent bedside manner. You feel totally at ease even when they're about to poke a needle in you. She had me laughing pretty much the whole time. I was having my right anti helix done at the same time, so she did that one first. Then it was time for the big one. She placed the jewelry under my hood and determined which spot hurt the least. I flinched the first time and the third time, but the second one didn't seem to bother me as much. So I decided on that one. She had me do the breathing exercises. I ended up taking more like 5 deep breaths before she tried to pierce me.
When the needle finally went through, I jumped about 3 inches back. I started profusely apologizing and she assured me she knew I was going to react like that. She actually just poked me enough to get the reaction and then actually fully pierced me. I was impressed and amused by the whole thing. I was convinced I'd screwed it up, but she's good at what she does. It was probably my second most painful piercing after my nipples. My hip actually cramped and I had to hobble and limp my way out. At least I didn't waddle, which is largely a psychological reaction to getting pierced in that area. Christina said I looked like a person who's hip cramped rather than someone with a new VCH. Since I've been pierced a total of 15 times with 11 to actually show for it, she just refreshed my memory on aftercare rather than going through the whole process.
The drive home was tough. It was almost impossible to find a comfortable position. I was seriously regretting going by myself and not getting someone to drive me. However, I made it and promptly laid spread eagle on the couch. It's been about 7 hours and I can't really feel it at all. I did bleed a good bit, but I think that's stopped as well. It was probably due in part to the fact I'd taken Tylenol earlier in the day and my blood might have been a bit thinner. There's a reason they recommend against taking any kind of pain medication before getting pierced. My anti helix is actually bothering me more than the VCH at this point.
If you're thinking about this piercing, go for it. Never be afraid of the pain. Get it because you want it. Even though I said it was painful, don't let that stop you. It is a needle going through your skin. I can’t speak to its potential sexually as I’m currently single, but perhaps I’ll discover those alleged benefits sometime in the future. The upside is this is a very fast healing piercing in a self cleaning area, so aftercare is pretty much a non issue. Keep it clean, don't touch it, and your body will do the rest.
As another story of a cover up, I have to tell one story in order to tell the actual story. For my 22nd birthday, I got a shooting star in blue and yellow on my left side. Mark decided to get a little creative and didn’t outline it. It also healed very, very poorly. When all was said and done, there was almost no color in the star itself and the trails behind it were virtually invisible. I kept meaning to get it touched up and just never got around to it. Then I lost track of Mark and when I found him again, we decided it might be better just to cover it altogether. I wasn’t that wedded to it and he felt bad that it turned out so poorly. We decided that a pin up girl would be something really nice to cover it with. It was something that got us both excited, so it had to be the right choice. Fortunately, he had a book full of pin up girls that I could go through and pick from. I decided on one of a girl sitting in a chair in a pink nightgown. The nightgown would be changed to blue to cover up the star underneath along with a few minor changes to make her more personal. It would also have to be done in two sittings. This would be the first time in ten times of sitting for tattoos that it would take two sessions.
The first session was the first Sunday in November. I was the first appointment of the day and got there right when they opened. It took a few tries to place the stencil because it had to be aligned just right with the star to cover it. As a result, her head was almost in my arm pit and the whole thing extended the entirety of my left side. I was momentarily intimidated by the size, but I knew it was the right choice. Finally, it was time to put needle to skin. Mark gave me the usual “stop me anytime” speech, which I never listen to. I’m extremely stubborn when it comes to sitting. I want to get as much of it done as possible and take as few breaks as possible. Of course, with something this size, breaks are necessary. The line work wasn’t so bad, though it did hurt a good bit near my waist. I was surprised that it hurt more there than on thinner skin over my ribs. We took one break after the line work and then it was time for her hair and face. Her face would probably take the same amount of time as the whole rest of her body or so I was warned. Mark explained to their apprentice, he liked to work the skin lightly for the face to which I replied “Couldn’t tell it by me!”. In actuality, the face was probably the least painful part of the process because he was working the skin so lightly. Her hair was the toughest part. By this point we were going on three hours and I was starting to hit the wall. Did I listen to my body? Of course not. I toughed it out for another twenty or thirty minutes. By the time Mark called it quits, the line work, her face, hair, arm, neck, and shoulders were completely colored. It was more than originally planned, but I’m grateful for that. It meant less would have to be done in the second session.
The second session was two weeks later. I actually had to change the appointment to work around covering for a co-worker. He had someone coming in at 8, so I booked the slot before at 5. He seemed skeptical that it could be done in three hours. I was undeterred. On the day of the appointment, I arrived right at 5. We didn’t get started until almost 6 for various reasons, but by that point I was more than ready to get going. The first hour wasn’t so bad. The second hour started to get to me. I was starting to feel dizzy, having trouble focusing on a fixed point, and just generally hurting really badly. I fought against it for about half an hour. Bucking my own stubbornness, I finally asked for a break. Of course, he was almost done with what he was going to do. I was annoyed with myself for needing a break with so little left. I took a breather and he finished off the color in one of her shoes. After we called it quits for the day, it wasn’t complete. Her body was done, but the chair she was sitting in still needed to be done. That meant another session to drag out the whole experience. I also started to get a migraine. Fortunately, they had some ibuprofen and I’d brought a Coke Zero with me. I took the pills, sipped my soda, and started to feel better after about half an hour. Because I’m extremely impatient, I opted to come in after a week rather than waiting two weeks for her to heal. The bulk of the healing would be done after a week, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
The third session, as promised, was a week after the second. I still had some scabbing, but Mark was just going to work around it. I doubt I’d even notice if he accidentally knocked one off. I’d decided gold would be a good choice for the chair and it harkened back to the colors of the original tattoo. In the source material, the chair was gold and black, but I thought that might end up being too dark. Once that was all said and done, it was time to finally start. I didn’t get the usual speech this time about asking for breaks. It hurt, but not as bad as the last one. It hurt the most near my waist and where there was still a little bit of scabbing. I made a few faces, but generally took it pretty well. Before I knew it, he said we were done. I couldn’t believe it. It had taken less than an hour. I hopped up and took a look. Everyone else who was around also oohed and ahhed over her. She will need some touching up, which is scheduled to happen in 4 weeks. That shouldn’t be nearly as traumatic.
She’s totally gorgeous I’m glad I decided to take a risk and go big. It did take a while and it was a lot of pain, but I’ll be so proud to show her off for as long as it’s appropriate for me to lift my shirt up for people.
After reading several very depressing articles on BMEzine (www.bmezine.com) regarding body mods and the need to “grow up”, I felt I needed to say something. Both articles had the common thread of heavily modded people needing to retire piercings and/or have tattoos removed to survive in the workplace. These were obviously people who did not give a lot of thought to how their choices would affect their futures. Just like impulse buying, impulse modding is not a good idea.
I’m 23 years old, just starting out in my career, and I’m modded. I have 8 holes in my ears and no one even bats an eye. In fact, I often have to point out my piercings for people to even notice them. I have two lobes, a rook, and a tragus done on each ear. So how, you ask, can people not notice? First of all, most of my jewelry is pink. It blends almost seamlessly with the color of my ears. Even with my hair pulled back, people don’t even take a second look. That was the first smart choice. Not all piercing studios will have pink or light colored jewelry on hand, but it can often be ordered online and autoclaved when you arrive. Just be sure you have the proper gauge and the jewelry is up to ASTM standards. Secondly, my holes are the same size they were when I got them pierced. Stretching a piercing is asking for trouble from a hiring standpoint. Big, gaping holes just aren’t attractive and extremely distracting. A little bit of stretching can work, if you do it right. If you can fit a pencil through the hole, it’s probably too big. In the two articles I read, having abnormally large holes were problematic for both people. While a lot of people like the non permanent aspect of piercings, once you stretch them, your committing yourself to that size. Most stretching can’t be reversed without surgery. Moral of the story, think before you stretch.
As for nose piercings, which are wildly popular among the 18-22 female set, there are ways to be smart about those as well. I have fair skin and freckles, so it was no big deal to find a stud that mimicked a freckle. If you’re not so fortunate as to have freckles, there are two other options. You can try to match your skin tone, which may or may not be successful. A better option would be to get the piercing with enough time to heal it fully and invest in some high quality retainers. This would mean getting the piercing 3-5 months before you would be seriously seeking employment to ensure proper healing. Then you can switch it out with something more showy as necessary.
That’s pretty much where “acceptable” piercings end. Other facial piercings like lips and eyebrows will probably cause problems. If you’re facing the prospect of working in an office, you’ll probably have to retire it or find a retainer. It’s a sad commentary, but the world hasn’t evolved far enough to look beyond a piece of jewelry in someone’s face. However, there’s still plenty of piercings that you can have and not have to worry about in the office.
Tattoos, on the other hand, can be a bit more problematic. I have 8 tattoos, one of which is a large piece on my left forearm. The easiest solution is to wear long sleeves. Since my office, and most offices for that matter, are cold no matter what time of year, it’s not hard for most people to wear long sleeves every day. Make up is an option for smaller pieces, but you run the risk of it rubbing off on your clothes and being difficult to get out. When you’re picking out placement for a tattoo, think about how easily it can be covered. Be flexible on the placement because it will make your life easier in the long run.
The best piece of advice I ever heard regarding tattoos was bring a work shirt with you. For most of us, it’s a long sleeved button down shirt. The shirt can act as a guide for where to place your tattoo. I’m planning on getting two sparrows on my chest / collarbone area and I’ll be bringing a button down shirt with me as a guide for placement. Then you can set your mind at ease that your art won’t be peeking out at the wrong moment. There are also plenty of places that can be covered with no effort like thighs, sides, and the back.
Feet and ankles can be a little tricky if you’re not sure where to start. The easiest solution I’ve found is simply wearing pants. If the pants fit properly, they cover my feet up to the tops of my shoes. Most womens’ dress pants are already tailored to be longer to accommodate wearing high heels. If you aren’t a pants person or just looking for a little more variety, tights are another option. I love wearing tights in the winter. I can still wear skirts and not worry about my kneecaps freezing off. A black or brown pair of tights will camouflage pretty much anything. I have a text tattoo on the top of my left foot and a small one on the inside of my right ankle. Both are rendered invisible by the tights. A third option, but mostly for fall and winter, are tall boots. Either flat or with a heel, they’re a great stylish option that also covers anything on your feet and calves. I love my tall boots and they make it absolutely no effort to conceal my ink.
You don’t have to give up piercings and laser off tattoos to make it in the workplace. You just have to be smart about it. These two original authors obviously gave no thought to how their decisions would affect them. If you give it some thought and come up with a plan to keep everybody happy, there’s no need to worry that you’ll have to sacrifice something in order to move ahead. Ideally, attitudes will begin to change and modded people won’t be seen as “alternative”, “immature” or just plain “weird”. Though, there are worse things out there than being “weird”.
As always, this is just general advice that I've found works really well in practice. As always, it's up to you to find out what works best for your situation.
This is actually the story of a cover up, so to fully understand the experience, a little history is needed.
Back in December of '07, I got a black and gray fleur de lis tattooed on my left wrist. There were a myriad of bad decisions associated with this tattoo. I was trying really hard to win back my ex-boyfriend, I was drunk, and I didn't really think through the design. I wanted a wrist tattoo, so I just picked the first kitschy piece of flash off the wall. I was in
After I finally cut off all contact with said ex long about September of '08, the tattoo was nothing but a reminder of all the bad choices I'd made. It made me nauseous every time I had to look at it. I decided it was time to cover it up. I went to see Mark and get his opinion on it. It was going to be a tough one because it was black and gray, but he was confident he could make something work. We decided on an antique style rose. I scheduled the appointment for the following Saturday.
That Saturday rolled around and I was so nervous. This was going to be a big tattoo (about halfway up my forearm) and impossible to hide from my extremely judgmental parents. However, it was either this or live with a tattoo I hated. After a few deep breaths, I was ready to go for it. Once the design was ready, it was time for the process. I was prepared for the pain. I didn't remember what happened the last time because I'd been drunk. We ultimately decided on a pink rose for several reasons. Firstly, a red rose is a symbol of love and passion and I just didn't feel that was the right message to go with this tattoo. Also, I didn't want to go super cliche like I'd done with the one being covered up. Even though my skin takes red beautifully, it just wasn't right this time.
We began with the tattooing and, true to expectations, it hurt. It hurt more closer to my hand than farther up on my arm. It makes sense as I have very tiny wrists and pretty much nothing to cushion the needle. Two other girls in the shop were amazed at how well I was taking it. I guess I'm just good at grinning and bearing it. I was highly amused when they acted like someone was sawing their arms off during their 10 minute tats. I guess I'm just tough.
This time, I think the shading at the base of the fleur hurt the worst. Normally, I don't deal with color well, but it probably had something to do with the thin skin. I ended up taking two breaks, just for us to get up and move around. I'd like to think I didn't really need them and could've just powered through it. Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of breaks because I have to get used to the pain again. I wouldn't say it's endorphins, but just the simple fact that I'm used to the constant pain I'm feeling in whatever part of my body is being worked on.
After about 2.5 hours and 90 minutes of actual tattooing time, we were done. I was amazed with the end result. The underlying fleur de lis was completely invisible. The rose itself was gorgeous. Yet again, Mark proved himself the genius I know him to be. We photographed it and he wrapped it up for me. I couldn't wait to show it off.
It's been about a month since I had it done and it's healed beautifully. I haven't had any problems with color loss or blurring. I think there are a few patches of mild scabbing left, but nothing too serious. It looks just as good as it did right after it was finished. While I'm extremely happy with the results, I wish I'd never had to have anything covered in the first place.
Take home lessons from my mistakes are:
1. Never get tattooed drunk. Aside from being illegal in most, if not all, states, it's just a bad idea.
2. Don't get a tattoo because you want something there. You'll end up paying twice as much to get it covered up. I literally paid twice what I paid for the original and that's with what I like to call the "addict discount".
3. Never shy away from the pain. Get a tattoo where you want it. Pain is only temporary.
A quick overview of the cast of characters that will pop up regularly in here.
Mark-My tattoo artist. He's done both my cover ups and 4 of my other pieces.
Shane-The owner of the shop. He's never done any work on me, but he's almost always around.
Christina-My piercer. I go to a different place to get pierced than tattooed for those who care.
Now on the real stuff...