Monday, December 20, 2010

You Asked, I Tell....

"The Tattoo is the Mark of the Soul. 
It can act as a window 
Through which we can see inside, 
Or it can be a shield to protect us from those 
Who cannot see past the surface..."  ~Anonymous

With a pen name of Tatted Mom, I get asked about my tattoos a lot. How many do I have, which mean the most to me, what was my first, what is my next, why did I decide to start getting tattoos? So I figured, you all ask, I'll tell.

I was 18 when I got my first tattoo, and wanted one because, well, I was 18 and could get one, and I loved art. I told my mom and dad I was going shopping and drove 45 minutes to a trusted tattoo shop, and got a very small (I only had $50 on me) moon on my lower back. I can remember taking my future brother in law with me (soon to be hubby was in basic training at the time), and I sat there, nervous as hell, squeezing my brother in law's hands, waiting for the first touch of the needle. As soon as the tattoo artist started, I looked behind me, said, 'Is that it?' loosened up my grip, and relaxed.

An addiction was born.

My next one was about a year later, a sunrise with colored tribal on my ankle~ again, flash off the wall (for those that don't speak tattoo, 'flash' are the pictures you see adorning the walls of most tattoo shops- easy pick, easy to do, money-making tattoos). I remember that one hurting a little more than my back, but nothing I couldn't handle.

Over the next few years I added a zodiac sign to my upper back (done in Spain, on a whim, with some friends of mine), a fairy to my left shoulder blade, a family tattoo to the middle of my back, a celtic knot to my wrist, and a key over my heart. Then I got asked (for about the third time in my life) the question that changed my life: 'Have you ever thought about being a tattoo artist?'

Yep, that's me in action. Love the red
hair, huh?? And, that's my Blade
vampire clan symbol you see on the back
of my neck. Seriously. Had to have it.
When I started working at a tattoo shop, I think I had 7 tattoos, maybe 8, that I had acquired over the span of 8 years. When I left the tattoo shop 3 years later, I had somewhere around 27 or 28 tattoos (even sitting here now, trying to count them all, I'm getting confused, and finally decided to give up on that), and have been in the tattoo chair probably close to 40 times.

Yeah, what can I say? We got really bored during the slow seasons....

Unfortunately, I don't have a full area of my body covered, or any huge pieces to speak of. My art consists of an ass load of mismatched single pieces, sporadically placed all over my body. One day I'll tie them all together, maybe, but for now, while it does aggravate me seeing how random everything is, I figure it suits me and my personality perfectly. Like my heading says, I've decide to label my body art as 'Chaos' and move on.

When you work at a tattoo shop, and have the (free) means of feeding your addiction, you tend to get carried away with it. I was being tattooed about every 2-3 months or so, more when I was at a low point in my life. The pain of the tattoo helped get me through, as weird as that sounds.  I chose to mark my body with milestones; things to help remind me of what I went through, what I made it through, and what I could be proud to have made it through. As a result, I have a few slightly morbid tattoos... well, that's what people tell me at least. Hell, I don't think a girl peeling off a happy mask to reveal a bloody-blindfolded, lips sewn shut, face cut all to shreds underneath is morbid- it's how I felt at that time in my life; that I was wearing a mask. (Okay, so maybe that one is a little morbid.) But, I marked the good along with the bad, the things I wanted to remember.

Have you ever seen the episode of The Family Guy where they briefly show a tattoo guy who, no matter what you ask for, all he says is, 'I can do a real good Kermit the Frog'? I was once the (willing) victim of such a situation, which is one of the good stories behind a tattoo of mine. We had a customer that hung out at the shop a lot, and hoped one day he could be a tattoo artist. The guy had never even held a tattoo machine, and one night looked at me and said, 'Morgan, I'll pay you $75 if you let me tattoo you.' At the time I was broke, and, thinking that this kid had watched us do hundreds of tattoos, I agreed. He was shocked, excited, everything all at once, and when I asked him what he would tattoo, he jokingly said, 'I can do a real good Kermit the Frog.' So, adorning the inside of my right ankle is a Kermit the Frog, done by a person who had never held a tattoo machine in his life before that night. It was one of the most painful tattoos I've ever had done, is probably tattooed to my bone, but carries one of the best stories ever with it (and I got paid $75 for it- bonus!).

Of my 20-something tattoos, I have one unfinished one, (maybe two- I haven't decided yet if I'm ever going to have a small cat on my arm colored in or if it will forever be known as 'Ghost Kitty'), two that majorly need to be reworked, and several that could use brightening up. I will probably never have any of my tattoos covered up with other tattoos, because each tattoo tells a story, no matter how good or bad. If you can't remove sections of your life you made it through, why remove a tattoo that reminds you that you made it through? I have an entire folder full of drawings of tattoo ideas I want, including the Alice in Wonderland backpiece I hope to one day be able to afford (now that I'm not able to feed my addiction for free). The next piece on my agenda is a snake with an apple to finish out my right 1/2 sleeve (upper arm), which I have already drawn up and priced by a shop in town. Paying for tattoos sucks, let me tell you.

My last tattoo was done about a week before I left my shop and that town forever, which was over 3 months ago ~ 'Decorus Calamitas' right below my collar bones. It means 'Beautiful Disaster' in Latin. Sums me up pretty well, I believe. And yes, with over 3 months having gone by since my last fix, I'm fiending like hell. I'm even starting to wonder if I can stand the pain of tattooing myself. It's bad...

And, for those that have never gotten a tattoo, yes, it effing hurts. (Wait, didn't she start off the post by telling us that her first tattoo didn't hurt? Yep, I did. That was to draw you in. Now it's truth time.) The worst area ever is the ribcage, followed by the top of the foot and the wrists. The finger stings a lot, too, but honestly, pretty much every other part of the body isn't that bad. I do have a secret to tell, though. I'm a HUGE pussy when it comes to getting tattooed. Yep, a tattoo artist that hates getting tattooed ~ that's me. I finally learned that a valium, a muscle relaxer, and an ipod were saviours in the tattooing process for me (yes, I had prescriptions for them). I used to get the whole, 'But, you shouldn't be on pain pills when you get tattooed, it takes away from the experience of it,' from people about my method of getting a tattoo. Please. I have nearly 30 tattoos. I know all about the experience of being tattooed. I'd prefer to nearly pass out, and when I awaken, I have pretty art on me, thank you.

Is it worth it in the end? Most definitely. Just like the pain of childbirth being completely worth it when you are holding your beautiful baby in your arms, the pain of a tattoo is worth the artwork you are left with forever. I do recommend having pieces custom drawn, though (instead of picking stuff off of the wall), as they usually mean more to you, and the tattoo artist usually becomes more interested in the piece if they help create it, researching your tattoo facility and artist thoroughly before embarking on your tattoo journey (look at artist portfolios, please), and make sure it's something you want to live with for the rest of your life.

Like Happy Bunny on your ass. Everyone needs a Happy Bunny on their ass. Seriously. Especially, when it's the Happy Bunny that's bent over with a kiss mark on its ass. That way, when someone pisses you off, you can just moon them, and they get double insulted by the mooning, and the Happy Bunny motioning for them to kiss it's ass, too. Renders them speechless, I tell ya, speechless.

1 comment:

  1. Heeheee! I love your posts!
    I love my first tattoo, my second was a flash and I was bascially getting it to support my sister in law as she got her first one, and that's never a good idea seeing as how they are permanent and all. But I don't hate it, I just don't love it like my first one.

    And I must say, after having to have stitches in my upper lip a couple years ago, my hat is off to anyone who can tattoo their face. OUCH!