Sunday 25 March 2012

My tattoo ain't no tatt!

So, back in my mis-spent youth I had a dream, a dream that one day a picture would be drawn on my person and would stay there forever. FOREVER! Back then there was an unending need to procure temporary tattoos, barbed wire around my upper arm, the oblivion logo on my lower back. Mercifully, the law in its infinite wisdom decided that 15 really IS too young to decide what you want permanantly inscribed on your skin, and so these transfers washed away along with my teenage delusions.

Then, at 17, I went to posh college. This meant NO TATTOOS, NO UNUSUAL PIERCINGS, NO FUN. Ok so I made that last one up. But body art really was restricted, they believed that it could mean you didn't get a job. I do see this. Cheap tattoos ain't good, and good tattoo's ain't cheap. But tattoos that mean something or have artistic merit? Sure some people HATE tattoos. But if it isn't there for public apraisal then how much can it matter?

I still desperately wanted a tattoo. I don't know why, it's just one of those things. So, at 25 (26 in two weeks) I finally went for it. And bloody hell was I nervous. I researched Tattooists and studios for weeks, up to 60 I think, and went to around 15 studios. Some studios looked great but the tattoos weren't all that and some tattoos looked amazing but the studio looked grubby. Also, the attitude of the artist was important, I could be sat with that person for a long time, I'm already going to be freaking out about the potential pain, I don't need some angry guy desperate to be somewhere else. I saw a great many standard tattoos and a great many custom ones, i spoke to clients both in person and on Facebook. In the end I went with Southmead Tattoo Studio in Bristol. Although it was in a house on a street of houses, when I went in I just knew it was the right place. Bryony behind the counter was open and helpful, she helped me to put a mood board of ideas together, looked at my design seriously, made suggestions without patronising or detracting from what I'd already said. There was no pressure. While this was going on, Bobby came and took a look and liked the idea, it was all very relaxed. I booked an appointment for a fortnights time, they couldn't do any earlier because they had too many bookings- how very reassuring!

The day before the big day I was nervous as a nervous thing in nervous land. I didn't drink any alcohol the night before (this can make you bleed excessively) and got everything ready to go for the morning.
My breakfast was a mighty feast, my excessive scouring of the internets had told me to eat lots so that I didn't pass out, and since my appointment was at 11am I thought I'd eat a little more to take me through til after lunch. 11am was fast approaching and I was freaking out, not about the design, but about the potential pain- was I going to run out of the studio screaming?

When I arrived I filled out a consent form and Bobby made me a coffee. He showed me two designs: One was very close to my original design but much simpler and the other was in Bobby's old school design. I could already see Bobby's would work better but wanted to change certain parts, I didn't like the clef on the beak or the shifty eyes and he reassured me that was OK and he happily edited to be exactly how I liked it. I wanted it in Black and Grey and Bobby took this and then went to set up the studio. I sat alone in the waiting room drinking coffee, terrified and texting Cloud because she is a veteran of four tattoos, and this was reassuring also.

The time of reckoning was upon me. Bobby came to get me and we went through to the studio. In the studio was Max, another tattooist and another client who both said 'Hello' as I came in. Max asked me if I was having colour and I said not. He told me that colour might be better for my tattoo, though at that point I was not especially receptive to information.

I lay on the massage bed with one end wrapped in clingfilm (surprisingly comfy) and Bobby explained it all to me. He asked me if I was nervous and then reassured me that while there could be some pain it was not unmanagable pain. He did the first line swiftly to check my pain reflex. I wasn't convinced he'd actually put the needle in and so we were both reassured I wasn't going to keep flinching and that it wasn't going to hurt. Bobby did the outline and then went for lunch with Max. I sat and read my book and then they both returned extremely quickly. I lay back down and the drawing continued. Bobby then popped out to do a piercing and to give my neck a rest, I took a look at my emerging owl in the mirror. Max said 'You should go for colour on that style of tattoo' I looked at it again and said 'I wouldn't know what colour to go for' and Max replied 'Let Bobby tell you'.

When Bobby returned I said 'Max told me I should ask you about colour' and Bobby told me what he would do. I went for it and trusted Bobby to do a good job- the best decision I made for sure! It is so awesome! Anyway, for the last bit I had to sit up, and by that point the feel of it was slightly painful as old lines were retraced but nothing unbearable. It was a little like pressing sunburn. When it was finished Max photographed it for Bobby and Bobby covered it in Bepanthen and cling film. He explained the care instructions and I listened attentively. I paid and left feeling as high as a kite, a brilliant experience all round!
Would I get another? Yes! In the same studio? Yes! With the same artist? Definately.