Saturday, February 28, 2009

Touch Up Times One

So what was supposed to be touching up of three pieces just turned into one. Mark had a rash of cancellations and appointment changes so he didn't want to spend too much time on unpaid work. Of course, he didn't know I had $40 to give him, which was its own amusing experience.

We opted to touch up Britney & Christina as they needed the most work. Lola really just needs her shoe recolored and a few lines. It definitely hurt more the second time around, but the funny thing was it made my nose itch. I kept wiggling my nose and Mark was like "You okay?". There actually wasn't much to be done, so it only took about half an hour. They also ooohed and aaahed over Lucius. I got to see Melanie's cupcake, which was just as cute in person.

When I tried to give Mark the tip we went through the usual "Take it" "No" "Yes" "No". He finally took it when I threatened to kick him. I also gave them pencils which I actually promised to do several months ago and always forgot about it. So now they have pencils from a defunct brokerage firm.

We didn't get to discuss my foot, though there was certainly time. I think when I go to show off the first part of my puppet, I'll bring in the pictures and we'll talk about it then. I have a pretty good idea of what I want and it'll cover it up really well. Of course, then I can't wear skirts without hose anymore because it is going to be big and bright. But that was going to happen eventually anyway.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Cover Up

So the more I'm looking at my foot piece, the more I'm thinking I want to cover it up. Melanie got a cupcake tattooed on her thumb and that reminded me of a really amazing sleeve that I saw. It was full of pastries and candy. Unfortunately I couldn't find it on Google. I did find a few that I really liked. Such as:




I like the "realism" of the first one. I like the colors in the third one, especially the pink. I like the variety of things in the third one like throwing in candy and such. I've always been intrigued by the concept of a candy or confection tattoo. It's something that makes me smile, it's whimsical, and it's okay if it doesn't look real.

When I see Mark tomorrow I'm probably going to see what he thinks. I may have to press him to get an opinion, but he was the one who originally suggested covering it up. At the time, it made sense to get it. Now I think I've moved beyond all that trauma and I want something happy and whimsical to make me smile. It's why I took my nipple piercings out. They were a rebellion and "sticking it" to Will (my ex for those who may not know) one last time. I eventually moved beyond it and just wanted to leave that part of my life behind. So, out came the piercings. I think it may be time to move beyond the time in my life when I got the foot piece. I don't need to remind myself that inner strength is needed daily. I know it is. I want something that will make me smile, remind me of the joy that is needed to get through the day, and possibly make me hungry.

Thoughts? Ideas? Further reading?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Touch Ups and Such Ups

I got my days off approved from the office so I don't have reschedule with Russ. That's a huge relief. Plus, I'm looking forward to playing hooky from work to get inked. Teehee.

Dustin had a very cryptic message posted on his MySpace. He's recovering from something, though his proxy refused to disclose what it was other than he wasn't in jail and he would honor all appointments at a later time. I'm sure I'll find out what's up eventually. It just concerns me when people post things like that and then details are scant. Makes me think of things that are worse than they actually are, usually.

Mark's touching up a bunch of my stuff on Saturday. Depending on how long that takes, I may stop by Memorial and talk to Phil about my new idea. Though knowing Mark, we won't get started until 3 and then it's gonna be a good 2-3 hours of touch up work. He didn't have any ambitious plans when we spoke last time, but when he gets into it, he comes up with all kinds of ideas. Outwardly, they don't need much work. Lola's shoe needs a bit more color and some lines need to be smoothed out. B & C need some filling in, but nothing major. The time consuming thing is going to be my foot. We don't really have a solid plan that would fall within the realm of "touch up". At minimum, he's going to make the linework look better. I think I want to add more than either of us is prepared to deal with, but we'll talk about that when I get there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I Am Not My Job

I know I dealt with this like three days ago, but it seriously bothers me. I'm so damned sick of stereotypes surrounding tattoos, especially tattooed women. We're not all sluts. We're not stupid or incapable. We don't all ride motorcycles. Most of all, we're not unemployable.

My job is not my life. It's simply a means to finance living. I'm not going to let a bunch of closed minded bankers dictate who I am. I'm not going to suppress my personality to make them happy. I cover them out of professional courtesy (and practicality. Even in July our office is an icebox). I fail to see how I should take something that's such an insignificant part of my life as an overarching guide. I'm not so stupid or flagrant to get my face tattooed. That's doing it for the sake of pissing someone off, which isn't my goal. I do forget to wear my class ring some days, but really, no one cares about the tattoo on my finger. In fact, most people think it's cute. I think it's a totally irrelevant argument against tattooing.

Maybe some people are their jobs. Maybe some people are fortunate enough to be able to be themselves at work. I'm not one of them. My tattoos make me smile. In an industry that discourages free thinking and creativity, I need all the smiles I can get. Part of me feels like a badass knowing that they have no idea what I really look like. Some have an inkling, but no one knows the full extent of my art. As Kurt said yesterday, there's no real point in hiding who you are to make other people happy. Though it was in the context of weddings, the point still holds true. When I'm on the clock, I'll play by the rules. When it's my time, all bets are off. I was talking to another woman in our office and she said something similar. When she's off the clock, she's a totally different person. At least there's a kindred spirit around.

So I'll keep wearing my suits and pumps, hoping that maybe someday I'll find a job where it doesn't matter or (God forbid) even encourages that sort of thing. Until then, I guess the "real me" will just smirk at those around me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Peacock Experience

Five. Hour. Sitting. Hear me roar!

So after some cold feet, I almost canceled my peacock appointment. Then I split the difference and decided to move it to my thigh. When I got there and saw the sketch, I knew he was meant for my arm. We tried both places and really, it just looked better on my arm. So Kurt went back to get everything ready. We didn't get started until almost 1 even though my appointment was for noon.

I got to meet Russ' younger son. He definitely takes after his daddy. He was fascinated by Kurt tattooing me. I'm not normally one who enjoys kids, but Cody was pretty cute. He was a happy baby. He said he's looking forward to tattooing me especially after seeing how well I sat.

Kurt has his girlfriend with him, so we talked some. Kurt wasn't much of a talker, but apparently he concentrates very deeply. I gave them some advice about places to eat and things to do in town since they're moving down here. Laura (the girlfriend) was looking through listings of rentals and I'd chime in with my opinion. They're looking to live somewhere close to the shop. I'm jealous. I miss living in Decatur.

We didn't finish all of him, but we got the bulk done. Kurt had someone coming in at 4, who he had to bump to 6, and obviously had to take him. He's got to finish filling in part of the tail feathers and wants to do more detail in the tail in general. He can also touch up anything that doesn't heal properly. Whenever they move down here is around the time we'll finish it. It's going to be at least a month though. I'm not too worried, he looks pretty good as he is now.

I'm really glad I went through with it. I'm incredibly happy with the result. He looks amazing. Now he just needs a name. Without further! Click on them to see the full view if they don't look right.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

Big Ideas

So after having a super stressful afternoon, I come to my favorite refuge of body mods. Ahhh, I feel more zen already. So to make myself feel even better, here are my big ideas (literally).

Half sleeve:
One of my favorite songs is "This Time" from August Rush. Lyrics can be found here:

My vision is to have an angel standing on a balcony (think Claire Danes from Romeo + Juliet) and a really nice classic car where the headlights are clearly visible. Those would be the main components of the piece, but I'm sure I'd incorporate more.

A few months ago, I saw a really awesome back piece in Prick. It was this girl who had angel wings tattooed on her back and they took up her whole back. They were in full color going from red to purple. I loved the piece and thought if I covered my back, it would be with something like that. No wussy baby angel wings for me.

Since I already have the French phrase on my back, I thought I'd add to it so that it reads (translated) "I dance with life and I fly with my dreams". I'm also not so crazy about the rainbow idea. Plus, I don't want to spend half my life explaining to people I'm not a lesbian. Since my favorite colors are reds and pinks, I thought it would be really pretty to make the wings in the colors of a sunset.

Since I came up with a better idea for my arm, I decided to move my peacock to my right thigh. Since I already wanted a pin up girl there, I thought I'd try to get them to work together. I'd change the colors of the dress to work with the peacock (probably green and purple) and maybe try to make it look like the girl is turning into the bird. Maybe have a few random peacock feathers floating between the two to signify change. It's something that I'll definitely need to discuss with Kurt because I need to make sure the proportions are right and the bird isn't huge while the girl is small.

This one I've brought up before. My Alice in Wonderland piece. The complete vision is the Cheshire Cat sitting in a tree and Alice is looking up at him. Underneath it has the iconic quote "We're all mad here". It would probably be the least amount of work of the ones I've listed here.

So those are my big ideas that will require more time and money than I have now. However, everyone has to dream, right?

Now time for a bubble bath and a glass of wine.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What Makes You Different Makes You Beautiful

I hope to inspire every girl with tattoos with this post. Whether you have 1 or 100, I hope this post will touch someone. I know I wish someone would say it to me.

My tattoos don't make me ugly. It's not some bizarre form of self mutilation. They don't make me undesirable. They don't make me *gasp* unmarriagable. I love my mother, but if I hear how no man is going to want me because of my tattoos one more time, I'm going to scream. Or some equally snide comment from my father that the only place I'll ever find a husband is a biker bar. She claims she doesn't want to marry me off, but I think some days she's convinced she's going to have two spinsters still in the house. Every time there's a new one, I have to hear about how it will show in a wedding dress, yet, no man wants me. So how is it that I'm going to shame my mother at my wedding, but I'll be damn lucky if I even find a guy dumb enough to marry me? Or will I end up with some guy their age and we'll run off and get married in Vegas?

My tattoos make me beautiful. They make me different. And they are part of who I am. I'm not "too pretty" for tattoos. I am one of "those people". There are plenty of men out there who find tattoos attractive. Most of them also have tattoos, but I'd bet there are some who don't. I don't want a guy who wants a cookie cutter bobblehead for a partner. I want a guy who isn't okay with just any girl. I don't know what my tattoos say to them, but I know what they say to me. I don't really care what people think and I'm not afraid to express myself. I happen to be proud of being a walking art gallery. I always have something to bring me joy even on the worst of days. I always have stories to tell. I have a genuine piece of art that was made for me.

Tattooed women of the world band together. Wear your ink with pride. Don't let the bastards get you down. Don't let people convince you that you're ugly or slutty or unworthy. If anything, you're better than all of them. You had the guts to take a chance. To do something permanent. Even if it didn't work out like you hoped (let's face it sometimes they don't), you stepped out on the limb. You pushed the envelope.

I have tattoos. And I am beautiful.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hanging With The Cool Kids

I called out from work yesterday (I know, shame on me). As a result, I could get to the shop earlier. I got there around 3:30 and it took Jason all of about 10 minutes to fix me up. My dermal wasn't actually loose. The anchor moves around a bit and that's what I was feeling. He humored me and tightened it anyway. Then he gave me a longer post for my nose, which instantly made it feel better. It had started to scar (eek!) and I need to start putting vitamin E oil on it to break down the scarring that has already formed. I haven't cleaned it yet today, but it feels better.

After that, I just decided to hang out. They were really slow. Mark was working with another woman who had apparently been there for a while already. She's had plenty of work done by him as well, so we joked about how a 2pm appointment with him is really more of a 3:30 appointment. I'm scheduled to touch up Lola, B&C, and my foot on the 28th. We decided to go ahead and just work on everything that needed it. Lola actually needs less than I thought. Some lines need to be smoothed out and her shoes needs to be recolored, but other than that, she healed really well. That was good to hear. I was concerned I'd done more damage.

Shane was in a good mood. He was like "Mark! I want to tattoo your leg! Let's do something!" and Mark was like "Eh, I don't really have much space left and what I do have is scarred". Shane was like "I can work with that". Mark just kind of smiled and nodded. Shane scampered off and started drawing something and let Mark get back to sketching for today's clients. A few minutes later Shane goes "Mark! I drew you an elbow piece, come see". It was a spider web type thing in the colors and layout of a Union Jack. I don't know if Mark actually let him do it, as I left around then.

Mark said again that if I get tattooed on one of his days off by Russ or Phil or whomever, he'd come for "moral support". Just what I need, another excuse to skip out on work. Teehee. Speaking of Phil, I need to go by the shop and tell him I've scrapped the the Mucha idea completely and pitch the Alice in Wonderland idea. I also will probably need to reschedule, but I won't know for sure until I've gotten more scheduled with Russ and/or Dustin. I'm just a busy little tattooing bee right now.

And now I'm sick of my laptop freezing so time to end this entry.*sigh*

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Aftercare reminders, tips, and tricks

I thought today's post should actually be informative rather than my usual rambling.

Aftercare is an important, if not the most important, part of modding. If you're a newbie, it can be a little intimidating to go through all the rituals of care. If you're an old pro, like me, it's always helpful to get a bit of a refresher course. Off we go then.


Soak, soak, soak!
Sea salt soaks are almost universally recommended for piercings. There are several ways to go about it. You can make your own salt soak with a 1/4 teaspoon (not tablespoon) of salt in 8 oz of warm, distilled water. Some piercers may also have H2Ocean, which is a premade salt soak in a spray form. I'm addicted to this stuff. I'm an inherently lazy person, so something that I don't have to make myself is amazing. If you can't get your hands on it, making it yourself is the next best thing.

As for the actual soaking process, shot glasses work well for navels and nipples. For ears, noses, and dermal anchors, you can dip a paper towel into the solution and simply let it rest on the piercing. For oral piercings, use the solution like a mouth wash for the first week or so. Oral piercings don't need quite as much help because the natural bacteria in your mouth will promote healing. Soak for 5-10 minutes at least twice a day. Some piercers will recommend up to 5 times a day for the first few weeks.

Ice, ice baby
Ice is also beneficial to a healing piercing. Your new piercing will probably swell and be sensitive for the first few days. Icing 2-3 times a day for no more than 10 minutes will reduce swelling and pain.

The heat is on
For areas that have low circulation, like cartilege piercings, a hot compress can help healing as well. It's also good for a piercing that might be acting up. The heat increases circulation and brings more antibodies to the area of the piercing. It's best to do this before bed and after you've passed the point where the piercing is painful to the touch.

Ow! That hurts!
Your piercing will be sore for the first few days. You just poked a hole in yourself. It's going to hurt. However, it shouldn't be in serious pain for more than about two days. If you find yourself in pain for more than 5 days, call your piercer. It could be a sign of something more serious.

Does this look infected?
Sometimes piercings get infected. It happens to the best of us. I've had two get infected. Signs of infection include swelling, redness, pain, yellow or green pus, heat, and an unusual smell. White or light yellow discharge is normal. That's lymph and it's there to help healing. However, if it's highlighter yellow or has a bit of a green tinge, that's a red flag. It usually also has a strong smell. If you suspect infection, go to a doctor to confirm. You'll probably get a lecture (I did), but it's better than it spreading.

Hands off
The top cause of infection in piercings is touching it with dirty hands. If you have to touch your new piercing for any reason, make sure your hands are clean or wear gloves. Wash them thoroughly before you touch it or, at minimum, use hand sanitizer. Make sure to get under your fingernails. That's where germs love to hide.

Any questions?
If you have any questions or concerns, call your piercer. It's not just their job to pierce you. It's their job to help you along healing as well. Don't be afraid of sounding stupid or naive, they've probably heard the same question 100 times before. They're not going to make fun of you for asking. Most piercers I know would much rather have you ask than try to figure it out yourself and end up with an infection, rejection, or migration.


Wanna see my new tattoo?
After your tattoo is complete, you'll be bandaged up in some form. Mark prefers paper towels and masking tape. Dustin used saran wrap and medical tape. Leave the bandage on for as long as they tell you, usually anywhere from 2-4 hours, though I find two is more common. It may be uncomfortable, but don't take it off until you're supposed to. It's protecting your fresh ink from the elements and allowing it to finish oozing on its own time.

Rub a dub dub
After you take the bandage off, it's time to wash your new tattoo. I prefer lukewarm water and a face wash designed for sensitive skin. I just use my hand to wash off any excess A&D, blood, or other fluids that may be on there. DO NOT use anything with an exfoliant in it. Any type of mild, unscented soap is fine. It can be antibacterial, but it's not a necessity. I avoid any kind of scrubbing as well, just gentle circles with my hand. Then rinse and gently pat (not rub) it dry. Don't panic if some ink comes off. That's completely normal and part of the process. It may feel a bit sticky and that's also normal.

Smooth like a baby's butt
Make sure your tattoo is completely dry before applying lotion. If it's not and you apply lotion, that can cause thick, scaly scabbing which is not pleasant at all. The best way to make sure it's dry is allow it to air dry for 15-20 minutes. If you don't have time for that, simply take your lotion with you and apply when you get the chance. For the first few days, it's best to use Aquaphor. It's actually not a lotion per se, but a skin protectant. After your tattoo has begun the healing process, switch to an unscented lotion like cocoa butter.

But now it looks like a lizard
Your tattoo will scab to some degree. Ideally, it will just be light scabbing that feels rough to the touch. Some areas may scab worse than others. Areas of the body that bend like wrists, elbows, ankles, and near the balls of the feet tend to scab worse than other areas. If your clothing rubs on the tattoo, that can also cause more scabbing. Try to make sure that you're wearing loose fitting clothing (or none at all ;) ) during the healing process. If you've accidentally sealed moisture in, it may end up thicker and more scaly. I had this happen to my swallows on my collarbones. It's no big deal, just keep applying lotion and let the scabs fall off on their own. Don't pick! That can cause parts to fall out and require touching up.

No soak for you
Unlike piercings, tattoos should not be soaked. They need to be washed, but no soaking. That means no pools, hot tubs, bubble baths, lakes, oceans, streams, ponds, or any body of water you may be tempted to sit in. Most tattoos are healed over in 10-14 days and then it's safe to soak for a short amount of time. It's best to avoid soaking it for more than that for about a month or so.

Any questions?
As with piercings, don't be afraid to call your tattooist if you have a question.

As you become more experienced, you'll learn what works well for you. Some people need to baby their mods to heal them, others can get away with ignoring them. It's best to follow the rules the first few times and then put together your own routine. Everyone's body is different and everyone's body responds differently to healing. If you listen to your body, and your piercer and/or tattooist, you should be fine.

Happy modding!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hot Messes

My nose and my chest dermal are a pair of hot messes right now. I just got off the phone with Jason (the other piercer at Overlord soon to be something else) and he gave me some advice. Hopefully it'll stave off anything until I can get there Friday evening. My nose is going to need hot compresses and I'm going to have to try to tighten the gem on my chest dermal manually. Apparently Jason has a fancy tool that will appropriately tighten the gem, but I can at least keep it in place for the next 48 hours or so. I think I may just stick a bandaid over it and pray. I've tried it once and it doesn't feel like it's doing anything. If nothing else, the bandaid will keep it on there until I can get over there. My skin probably won't appreciate it, but at least I won't lose the gem. Besides, it's not like it's inhibiting healing. The sucker is mostly, if not totally, healed.

As for my nose, it's going to suck. Apparently hot compresses will help a lot at making whatever it is (I'm 99% sure it's a granuloma) go away. Right now I'm cleaning it with the H2Ocean and trying to keep the stud as clean as possible. He also recommended vitamin E oil, but I won't have time to get that until at least tomorrow night. By that point, I'm not sure it's worth the effort. If he says I need it when he sees me, then I'll pick some up.

It's time for Lola's check up this weekend anyway, so I can do that as well. Hopefully Mark won't be busy. Friday nights can be a little hit or miss. They're either slammed or totally dead. I'll be going right after work, so ideally it'll be the latter. I want to bounce some ideas off him and I can't do that if he's dealing with clients. I also need to schedule Lola's touch up. Lord only knows when I'll have time for that. I'm leaning toward either President's Day (as I'm off from the office) or March 1. Of course, if I do President's Day, then I'll only have 4 full days before I get my peacock done. Decisions, decisions. If I go March 1, then the peacock will be over a week old and I'll still be almost 2 weeks away from starting Em Jr. I don't want to wait on the touch up because the longer I wait, the more I lose the motivation to do it. Though, if I go President's Day, then I don't have to ask off from BBW. I'm scheduled to close that night. If I go March 1, I'll have to request off. Double blah.

At least I know I'll be out there on Friday evening and everything else will just fall into place.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Of Conventions and Cheshire Cats

I emailed the manager of Memorial asking her if Phil would be attending the convention here. When I checked their website, it said he, Dave, and one other guy would be going to Salt Lake for that convention, so I figured I'd ask about the one here. I also told her I've scrapped the original idea I pitched to him and I wanted to see if he could work on my convention piece. So now I'm waiting to hear back from her. I definitely still want to work with him and I think by mid-June, Russ and Dustin will have finished my arm.

I'm still vacillating on placement. I kinda still want to save my right thigh for my third pin up. A calf piece would be much easier to pull off at a convention and probably just in general. I also have nothing on that foot, so I don't think the leg would feel too "crowded" or I'd have cohesion issues. If I did eventually decide to put something on that foot, then I could work with what was already on that leg.

I can't find a picture of the pin up I want because I'm at work (stupid filters), but she's an Elvgren. To give you an idea, Mae was inspired by an Elvgren. Her dress is fairly neutral colors, white with red accents and she's holding an orange umbrella. So I don't think that would clash with the colors in the Alice piece.

Ultimately, I'd like to have the Cheshire Cat in a tree with Alice looking up at him. Under it I'd want the iconic line "We're all mad here". I think that might simply be too much work for a convention, but the bulk of it could possibly get done. If Russ thought that a Mucha couldn't be successfully pulled off, then I don't think something that detailed could happen either. Who knows? I may totally scrap the whole idea and come up with something completely different. I have a bad habit of doing that.

Edit: No dice on the convention, but I'm free to come by any time and discuss my idea. Perhaps it's just not meant to be?

Edit #2: Now that I'm home, here's the link to the girl I'm thinking of for my right thigh.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kat Von D & The Trouble With Being a Grown Up

So after much lamenting that Kat Von D would not be coming to town for a book signing, I find out last night that she'll be here two weeks from today. However, there are several catches. One, it's a Monday at 12:30 in the afternoon. Two, a friend who went to her book signing in Houston said she waited a total of 4 hours to get her book signed. Three, I'd actually have to buy the book. Ideally, I'd love to go. However, I think the irritations of life as an adult are going to prevent me from doing so.

If I decided to go, I'd probably end up shelling out $25-$30 for the book. Then I'd have to take pretty much the whole day off work. I'd want to get there somewhat early, then have to wait for the signing to start, then wait in line until it's my turn. Since it's a work day, I doubt I could get anyone to tag along. So that's several hours of waiting in line by myself. It also doesn't help that I've asked for a day and a half off shortly thereafter. They tend to get a little cranky if you ask for "too much" time off. *sigh*

So I guess it just isn't meant to be. Who knows? Maybe she'll come back and I'll actually get to meet her. It's not like I don't have my share of famous (or infamous) artists that I can see on a regular basis.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Ideas

So the idea that I had when my brain was scrambled still makes sense. It also makes sense to other people. I was thinking that the roses may have to be extended further down my arm to look right. Since the puppet (currently Em Jr as both of my inspiration pieces happened to be named Emily) is going to take up more space than I originally anticipated, I think it makes sense to extend the roses in both directions. I feel like it wouldn't look right if the roses only extended up my arm and left the bottom part blank. It's definitely something that needs to be discussed in our group pow wow, whenever that happens. Probably shortly before we get started on Em Jr.

My other idea was for a convention piece. As I've mentioned, I love the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I though that maybe Russ (or someone else) could do that for me during the convention. I could also place it such that it leaves room to eventually add to it. Alice in Wonderland tattoos are fairly common, but I didn't really see many that focused on the Cheshire Cat. Most of them were larger scenes. Again, something to discuss with Russ (or someone). It'd be cool if Mark and Shane went but I don't think they're going to. I know Shane helped organize it a few years ago, so who knows? I'm just going to keep my eyes peeled.

And that's all for now as I'm falling asleep sitting up and it's back to the grindstone tomorrow. *sigh*

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tattoo Survival Guide

I often get asked about how to "survive" a tattooing session. I've been tattooed upwards of 20 times with 13 tattoos to actually show for it. There's the obvious that you find on the internet. Make sure you're well fed and hydrated. Make sure you're well rested. But do those basics prepare you for anything beyond simply not passing out? Methinks not.

I've created my own little ritual that I stick to pretty much every time I get inked. You're of course free to alter to it to suit your needs, but this is what I've found works for me.

1. Wear comfortable clothes
I'm usually sitting or laying for several hours and I don't want to be constantly fidgiting because my clothes are bothering me. I wear pretty much the same thing every time I go for a session, sweatpants and a tee. If I'm getting work done on my shoulder or back, then it's a tank top. If you find jeans comfortable to sit in, that's fine. Wear something you know won't start to bother you during the course of the tattoo.

2. Bring something to boost your blood sugar after the tattoo
Sure, they told you to eat a full meal and be well hydrated BEFORE, but what about after? If you're a first timer, even a small tattoo can take a lot out of you. If you're more experienced, but sitting for a long time, you'll still need a boost when you're done. I like to bring Cherry Coke Zero. Again, it's whatever suits your taste be it a vitamin water, plain water, soda, or juice. Anything that will give your blood sugar a little punch is fine.

3. Bring something non-human to squeeze
I've heard many stories from human "stable ponies" about holding their friends' hands during a tattoo. It most often ends with the stable pony have to nurse a sore hand. That doesn't seem too fair to them. As such, I bring a stuffed animal (my trusty basset hound Woof). It cracks up the guys in the shop, but it's something that infinitely helps me. If you're too shy to bring a stuffed animal into a tattoo shop, bring something comforting. Heck, even a stress ball would do the trick for some.

4. For any work that requires laying down, bring your own pillow
I take this one step further and also bring my own sheet. You don't have to go that extreme, but having your own pillow really turns into a life saver. Most tattoo shops have pillows, but because of sanitation, have to cover them with something akin to sandpaper. After one session of having to rest my head on something like that for 3 hours, I always brought my own pillow. It's also nice to have something that's yours, which goes a long way to relaxing and making the process easier on everyone.

5. Bring a camera
This one should be pretty obvious. Right after it's done is often the best time to get a picture because someone else is around and can actually take it for you. Or maybe that's just an issue I have. :P

6. Breathe!
The temptation may be there to hold your breath. Don't do it. Keep your breathing even and normal as possible. In the case of side pieces, take advantage of wiping or refilling the needle to take deeper breaths.

7. Speak up!
This is definitely the most important thing. If you need a break, speak up. Don't try to be tough. It doesn't matter if you feel like you're going to pass out or you just need to stretch your legs. Tattooists aren't psychic and even if they know you really well (ie Mark and myself), they can't know if you need a break.

8. If you're already in pain, fix that first
My hardest tattoo session was easily Lola's second session. I walked in with a headache, but refused to do anything about it because I didn't want to bleed more. That was the worst thing I could've done. It made the pain of tattooing about 5 times worse than what it had to be. I finally broke down and took some Advil, but it didn't really take the edge off until we were almost done. Now I know to take care of any other pain I may be experiencing before I get tattooed.

What will help you the most is being comfortable and as relaxed as possible. Whether you're a tattoo virgin or you've got your fair share of ink, it'll help. The more you tense up and stress, the more likely you are to feel dizzy, nauseous, or every tattooist's dread, pass out. Yes, you will be in pain, but if you stay relaxed and calm, it'll go by much faster.

These aren't hard and fast rules, just a few tips and tricks to help you have a successful and low stress tattoo experience.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dustin, Me, and Russ Makes Three

I emailed Dustin last night letting him know that I was interested in having more work done by him. I explained my idea a bit and told him that I wanted it to be cohesive with the puppet. My vision is still a bit fuzzy and unrefined (probably thanks in no small part to the fact I've taken two pretty strong knocks to the head in as many days), but the general idea is more roses up the back and side of my arm that will frame the top of the puppet. He was definitely up for doing more work on me and he wanted to make sure that Russ was okay with a "semi-collaboration". I told him I'd explained the basic idea to Russ and he was receptive. I'll probably go into more detail once he starts the puppet. Dustin will be back in town in late February or early March, so I guess we'd work on the roses sometime after at least some of the puppet is done. I'll probably end up alternating who I work with just to give the various steps time to heal. The puppet (she really needs a name) is probably easily 6-7 hours of work and the roses, and anything else I decide to add in there, are probably 4-6. At least Dustin is a little cheaper than Russ. ;)

A true collaboration piece requires both artists to work on the same piece. These are two different pieces done by two different artists, but the end result will be something that looks like one piece, thus making this a "semi-collaboration". Collaborations can be tricky because it requires getting two artists who are willing to work together, have a similar style, and both personalities the client can get along with. Russ and Dustin have distinctive styles, but there's a lot of technical similarity. Russ has a lot more experience than Dustin, but what Dustin may lack in years, he makes up for with enthusiasm and commitment to the client's happiness. From a philosophical standpoint, I think they're a perfect pair to work on me. When my left arm is done, it's gonna be epic.

More thoughts bubbling to the surface, but I want to give them more time before I post them. So much for not getting sleeved out. :P Plus, I want to give my head time to unscramble, just in case.

Edit: I gave Russ a quick call and ran the idea by him. He's totally cool with a collaboration and when Dustin gets in town, we'll try to schedule something. He sounded busy and rushed, so I tried to not ramble. Things will be more clear once Dustin's in town and knows what his schedule is. Russ said "Let's consider it a rough plan". So...yeah...we have a rough plan.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Overall Visions

I've been mentally chewing on a lot the last few days. Russ definitely gave me plenty of food for thought in our consultation. What is my ultimate vision for my body art? Will I end up totally covered and like one of "those people"? Honestly, I don't know. I do think it's something I need to sit down and think about. I know how I want my left arm to look when all is said and done. For the time being, I think I may leave my back alone. I learned with my left wrist that getting a tattoo for the sake of filling the space is just dumb. It's not that I don't love rose, but I think I may have been better off if I'd never had to have it covered up in the first place. So for now the back is going to stay empty, much to the relief of the anti-ink members of my family (ie all of them).

I'd like to come up with a convention piece, but at the same time, I don't want to force something. Maybe that's something I can talk to Russ about while he's working on my puppet. He said the ideal convention piece is something that can be done in a few hours and doesn't leave you sitting overly exposed for said period of time. So that leaves out thighs and back. Feet, calves, and arms are ideal places because you can stay fully clothed. Since the convention is in June, I'd be wearing shorts and flats or flip flops anyway. I have a few months to think about it. I'll see if Russ wants to set something up for either that Friday or Sunday as I'm going to a wedding that Saturday.

In other news, I got around to emailing Kurt pictures of my arm so he could start sketching. He said I have "perfect skin" and there isn't much to work around. I thanked him for the compliment. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are more mole-y than I am, but it's better safe than sorry. If I'm not sure, I assume it's a mole.

Now...back to work. *sigh*

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Let's Try This Again...

Okay, let's try a slightly more coherent entry, shall we?

Between my POS laptop freezing every few minutes and the fact I was watching TV while trying to blog last night, I feel like I made about as much sense as a hummingbird on cocaine. So let's rewind and try the whole thing again. *hits rewind button*

I had my consult with Russ last night, which turned into a totally different experience than I'd anticipated. As expected, he's a super nice guy. He was talking to someone when I arrived, but he didn't make me wait long. I began to explain my idea and he didn't seem that into it. He explained that if I ever decide to get my whole back tattooed, it might be better if it was something more cohesive as opposed to a mish mash of images. He showed me a picture in Prick (our local tattoo and piercing "lifestyle" rag) of a girl's back. Honestly, I wasn't sure what I was looking at. It was way too busy and just didn't make any sense. He said if I really wanted it, he could do it, but it was his professional opinion that I should either leave my back alone or save it for something much bigger and epic. So that led me to talk about my other ideas and through my babbling, I came to the puppet idea. I told him I'd contacted Malia about it, but hadn't heard back. He asked why I hadn't asked him. I told him if he thought he could get into it, as the idea of the Mucha was pretty much trashed, I was open to it as well. At that point, he told me to grab my stuff and "come on back".

I explained my vision as best I could and he helped me refine it a bit. First of all, he suggested she be larger than my original vision and take advantage of the natural articulation of my elbow. I could actually make her move when I moved my arm. I was intrigued and he began to sketch on my arm in Sharpie. It took a few rounds, but he finally found a basic outline that he was happy with. He also had me pose in a very awkward 4th position to see how it looked in 3D. He said he'd never done a puppet tattoo and that overall, they're pretty uncommon. I've been trying to search for puppet tattoos and haven't really found much. So apparently I've finally come up with an original tattoo idea. Go me!

From there, he transferred the sketch off my arm using his super secret technique, and made a few notes on it. We set up time for March 13 (a Friday...spooky) and I put down my deposit. I am concerned about his hourly rate, as I mentioned. I probably looked like a deer in headlights when he told me how much he charges. It's totally reasonable for the work you're getting and talent like his doesn't just grow on trees. However, I may have to call him closer to time and say "look, I can only pay you for about 2-2.5 hours". I don't think that's being rude or disrespectful of his pricing. If anything, I think it's being mature and up front with him. I really want to do this, but I don't want to be like "Oh by the way, I can't pay you for a 4 hour sitting". As I also mentioned previously, he said he only charges for actual tattooing time. If he's just sketching or we're taking a break or doing dance of the 7 veils or something that doesn't involve a needle in my skin, he doesn't charge. He also said he works pretty fast. So we could probably get a good bit done in 2-2.5 hours. Also, he wouldn't schedule any further sessions until a month or so later. By then, I'll probably have my tax return check in, so that will finance the rest of it with minimal stress on me. He actually wanted to start earlier, but I told him I wanted to get my peacock healed before I started another epic piece. Unfortunately Mark won't get to watch this session because it's on a Friday, but Russ said I should swing by and show him when we finish whatever we finish. Though after a quick number crunch, I think I might be able to afford 3 hours if I stick to my budget (which I haven't been doing, though some of it was beyond my control).

A few funny moments...
He called me "Em" at some point and he was like "I'm sorry, I'm nicknaming you and we just met half an hour ago". I told him it was fine and that people rarely call me by my given name and I've trained myself to respond to any variant of my full name. I think only Mark, Shane, and people at work call me Emily on a regular basis. Heck, even my manager calls me Em or M&M half the time.

He also couldn't get the Sharpie off my arm. He used a flesh color and brown and the brown absolutely refused to come off, even when he poured alcohol the paper towel and scrubbed my arm. He apologized profusely and it told him it was no big deal. When I got home I took some oil based make up remover to it and that got the worst of it off. Of course, my arm was sore from all the contorting it took to get it all off. I find myself regularly manhandled by tattooists. :)

So I think that made more sense and I hope gave a better overview of my latest adventure to becoming a true "collector". My parents are going to flip their shit, but at this point, there isn't much I can do about that.

Edit: I just checked Russ' site and he said he's willing to work with "limited budgets", just let him know in advance. So I guess I'll call a few days before and let him know the exact amount of time I can afford. That's certainly a relief. :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

To Do List

On today's agenda:

1. Call Memorial and reschedule my time with Phil. I also need to let him (or someone) know I'm downgrading to just one Mucha. Ideally, I'll keep my April 19 appointment and add May 16(ish). Six hours should be more than enough time for one of those.

2. Still no word from Malia. I may also bring this up in the phone call to Memorial. Not sure though.

3. Prepare for my consulation with Russ. I need to print out my source material and come armed with a calendar. I really need a hard copy day planner. My Blackberry isn't cutting it for things this far in advance. A week or so, sure. Not a month or so.

Lola is doing okay. She's still super tender. I woke up this morning and she was stuck to my shirt. I think I may have taken off some of her hair when I came across a stubborn spot. Lame. She's going to need a touch up anyway, so I'm not super concerned. That will most likely be dealt with when I go for my check up around Valentine's Day. I need to see if their open on President's Day. That would be an ideal time for me to get checked up on and schedule any necessary touch ups.

Now off to make phone calls while it's still fresh in my mind.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lola Part 2


Picture posted with all the usual disclaimers. She's fresh, bloody, and no comments about my poodge. Anyway...on to the experience.

This was a tough sitting. It may actually have been my toughest sitting to date. I had a tension headache going in and I made the mistake of not doing anything to remedy it prior to getting inked. I figured I didn't want to make myself bleed more, so I'd just tough it out. Worst idea ever, kids. If you're already in pain prior to the tattooing process, do something about it. It will just make the whole process 3 times worse. The pain was easily at an 8-9 for the first hour. Then I gave up and took some Advil. Just knowing I'd taken it automatically dropped it to a 6-7. Then the actual effects kicked in and I could handle the rest of it. The end is always the worst part because my skin gets super sensitive. I was jumping even when he would just touch me to wipe me off or something. The last 10 minutes was rough. I think there was more he wanted to do, but he knew I couldn't take it. I'm a great sitter but I have my limits.

I confessed to him about going to Dustin. He was very supportive and complimentary of the work. I told him about Kurt, Russ, and Phil. He said he worked with Phil years ago and got into their fair share of trouble. He also knew of Kurt. Depending on when I get Russ to actually tattoo me, Mark might tag along. Apparently he lives very close to there and his days off are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I think that would be pretty cool, so I may try to schedule it that way and warn him about a week in advance.

As for the job situation, he has to "get rid" of his current girl first. Allegedly, she's moving soon and this is just a temp thing. I mean, he hasn't had one for months, so it stands to reason she won't be around long. He asked if it was something I really wanted to do and I said "Let me put it to you this way. It's like my dad telling me he's going to buy me the pony I always wanted". So I think that got the point across in an amusing and not too "OMG hire me now!" sort of way. He wants me back in in 2 weeks to check on her, so maybe I'll ask when Carly will be leaving then. I also haven't heard from Shane if he wants any help when Mark isn't there, so who knows? I figure he'll get around to it when he gets around to it. Mark also confirmed payment is in the form of the "family discount" on any work you get done and volunteers is about the only way you get anyone to work the counter. I told him that was totally fine with me and any excuse to hang around and call it a job was enough of one for me. So it wasn't a yes, but it wasn't a no. At least the possibility is still out there and something to keep me going over the next few weeks.