Silly people, naming the movie after a dragon tattoo….
You may recall that, back in September, I decided to get a tattoo to celebrate all the life changes over the last six years. It was going to be from a very talented South Korean artist, who would have been visiting the U.S. in November. I say “would have” because, alas, it didn’t pan out. He got stopped at the border and was abruptly deported back to South Korea (I don’t know why).
Cue panic for awhile, as I searched for an artist who could capture my idea. It really wasn’t easy. Tattoo art, like all art, comes in lots of different styles, but the only style I found that really captured the dynamic feel I wanted in my phoenix was Korean blackwork, which, not too surprisingly, is practiced primarily by tattoo artists in….Korea!
After briefly considering a trip to Korea (which shows you how obsessive and/or desperate I was), I stumbled upon an absolutely fantastic artist, Cache, who works at Black Serum Tattoo in San Francisco. Her work was exactly what I had been looking for – bold, clean, gorgeous, and with a sense of flowing movement that very few tattoo artists capture in her work.
Of course, great tattoo artists, like other great artists, book up fast. I wound up waiting almost three months for her to open up her appointment book for new tattoo bookings. When the booking form opened on her website, I leaped in instantly to put in my application – and it’s a good thing I’d written up my entire application in advance, because there were only 100 application slots available and they were gone in less than nine minutes. (She is good!)
I was delighted when she wrote me three days later to let me know that she’d accepted my tattoo application. I’d have to wait two more months, but I was going to get my tattoo!!
So I waited, patiently-impatiently, for May 31, which will henceforth be known as “Tattoo Day”.
Here’s how the process went.
First, she drew the design to custom-fit my arm, and sent the artwork to me the day before the appointment. I suggested some changes, and she did the edits.
On Tattoo Day, she printed out the design at various sizes, and taped the prints to my arm so I could decide what size I wanted her to make it:
The process could best be described as: “No, bigger.” “No, bigger.” “A bit bigger?” “No, even bigger than that.” “AHA! Yes, THAT BIG.”
Next step was to print it on paper in special purple stencil ink. It looked just like ink from purple ditto masters from grade school. Which I didn’t tell Cache about, because it would have dated me. (I’m pretty sure she was young enough that “ditto masters” would have earned a politely blank stare.)
A little transfer goo onto my arm, smooth the paper with the stencil ink onto my arm, wait a few seconds, and presto! Purple phoenix on my arm.
Last chance to change your mind!
No second thoughts?
Okay! Get in the tattoo chair, and let’s get this party going!!
Half an hour later:
Getting a tattoo on my outer arm, as it turned out, wasn’t terribly painful – about on par with having the dentist poking at your gums while cleaning your teeth – but it was still uncomfortable enough that I decided to take a break every half-hour or so. So here is the every half-hour “stop-motion video” of the tattoo being drawn.
After a bit over an hour of tattooing:
After almost two hours of tattoo time:
After two and a half hours of tattooing:
After three hours:
The artist at work:
And, after almost four hours of tattooing time (five and a half hours in the shop), the finished work:
And the fully healed tattoo, three and a half weeks later:
To say I couldn’t be happier would be a massive understatement. I LOVE this tattoo. It symbolizes and sums up so many of the changes in my life over the last decade. I’ll wear it proudly for the rest of my life.