Well this post has been a while in the making, hasn’t it?
A lot of you recently discovered I got my first (and so far, plans for ONLY) tattoo a couple months ago. And since the rumor, er, announcement, the questions in and out of the studio have been coming fast and furious. Up until very recently I didn’t have any plans to blog or even photograph the tattoo for public viewing. But it’s amazing how those plans changed after about the 150th time I had to strip off the back of my shirt so curious folks to get a look at THE tattoo for themselves.
Now I can just refer everyone to this blog entry!
I think the best way to go about this blog post is to just go through the questions I’ve received over the weeks and publicly answer them here, in one spot, for everyone out there.
“What made you decide to do this?”
I’ve actually wanted to get a tattoo since I was 17 years old. One of my oldest and dearest friends and I made a pact; on our 18th birthdays (hers, not mine, since she turned 18 after I did), we would head down to a parlor and get a rose on our ankle.
Anyone remember that craze in the early 1990’s? Roses on ankles. Yeah. We were going for excellence in mediocrity! Running with the crowd. Do the rebel thing… JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE! Needless to say, we are both very grateful we chickened out of that decision at the last minute.
So the seed had been planted pretty nearly my entire adult life. About five years ago I began seriously contemplating a tattoo again, but I couldn’t decide WHAT to get on my body. I mean, I was 32 at the time and I knew that whatever I got, I wanted it to be meaningful and special to me. After all, as my mother likes to remind me (often); “you’re going to have that with you UNTIL YOU DIE. and possibly into eternity.”
“How did you settle on this design?”
Easy! About three years ago I found and fell in love with an artist named Tara McPherson (check out her work, it’s beautiful). She released a print called How They Fly Away So Easily and I was immediately drawn to the image. This print can mean all kinds of things to all kinds of people (the beauty of great art), but to me, I saw my children. And that began my journey in finding a tattoo artist who could take inspiration from this print and create something very special on my body.
(for those who are curious… it is not a violation of copyright to have a tattoo made of an art piece. and just to be sure, I checked to see what Tara McPherson’s feelings were on the subject, she LOVES seeing her images done as tattoos, so I was confident I wasn’t violating any sort of laws, ethically or legally)
“How long did it take. And did it hurt?”
I knew my tattoo wasn’t going to be a quick deal so I was prepared, mostly. I guessed about 8 hours total for the tattoo. I was off by a good bit. The total time on the table has been closer to 15 hours, with some detail and background work still left to be done. So far I’ve made three, 5 hour visits to the tattoo shop.
Did it hurt? Ah, how to answer that question. Pain is relative and it is different for each person. In my case… no, it didn’t really hurt. A friend of mine described the sensation of getting a tattoo more as an annoying pain than anything else, and I think that’s the best way to sum it up. My tattoo is rather large and the parts that made my toes curl were along my side (under my arm on the rib cage) and on the nape of my neck. Other than that, not too bad! I’d say the worst of it is when you’ve been laying in one position for 4 hours and you realize you still have an hour to go. That’s when the “annoying” in annoying pain is really pronounced.
like. really. not even kidding.
“Who did your tattoo?”
My favorite question!
His name is Chad Freer and I absolutely, positively, 100% cannot recommend this guy enough!
It was very important to me to find an artist that could do the work I wanted and who was excellent (not just “good enough”) with color work in tattoos. It took me TWO YEARS to find the right person for the job. I’d actually shot Chad’s high school senior pictures many years ago and recently did some more work for his family. It was around the time I was doing sessions for his mother that my studio manager mentioned how great Chad was with color work in tattoos. Now, keep in mind I’d been making an exhaustive search for a great artist in the area. I’d looked at a lot of portfolios, asked a ton of questions to folks with tattoos and had very nearly planned on going down to Seattle to have the work done over the course of a year or more. THAT’S how important it was to me that the job be done right.
*side note* This is how you should approach any artist, even your photographer. Don’t skimp on something that is important to you.
I consulted with Chad and knew he was the right guy. He has a great confidence about his work and he’s not afraid to offer his opinion on a piece. He can be trusted to take your thoughts and meld them with his vision to create a piece he’s proud to work on and you are proud to wear! (and by wear… I do mean UNTIL YOU DIE. And possibly into eternity)
If you want to see more of Chad’s work, check out his portfolio on Facebook, and feel free to give him a call. He’s the real deal!
“How was the healing process?”
This was actually the most annoying for me out of the entire experience. I’m not a patient person and the size and amount of detail and color going into this tattoo meant that I had to be extra cautious while it healed. Normal, every day activities were no problem. But I also keep a pretty hectic work out schedule and that schedule got abridged quite a bit through out the month it took to get inked. I was frustrated when I couldn’t do the things I was accustomed to in the gym, I didn’t like taking it easy, and I especially missed my swimming time (no swimming while a tattoo is healing). Just as my tattoo got to the point I could work out normally again, it was time to head back in to see Chad and have more work done. This meant more down time, AGAIN. So that part sorta bummed me out.
But, of course, it was absolutely worth it!
“How does your family feel about all this?”
I have a theory that this question only gets asked in conservative parts of the world.
My mother is beside herself. She respects my choice but is completely flabbergasted that I would do such a thing. Just goes to show you, even at 37 years old you can still shock your parents.
My father is keeping his opinion to himself.
My brother has an awesome tattoo himself, so he loves it. As does my sister-in-law!
My kids LOVE it. They love that the birds represent them and they especially like how Chad was able to make each bird a little different.
My husband helped me work the design and choose the placement on my back. He’s my number one fan and loves the tattoo ALMOST more than I do!
And now for the part you’ve all been waiting for… pictures!
These images are of the work in progress (you can see how red my back would get during each process!)