Monday, October 30, 2006


Saw a man in the Bank last week, who made me smile. He was in his 70's, wearing the obligatory OAP-issue beige slacks and matching anorak! He carried a rather nicely carved walking stick in hand, tweed flat-cap and... most surprisingly, peeping out from under his anorak was a bright blue Superman tee-shirt! Stylish! I was impressed!

il a fini

The tattoo is finished! Ok, so still no pictures... [coming soon I promise!] cos it's still a bit angry & scabby-looking, but it is finished and it IS most, most awesome!

Ibuprofen is a truly wonderful thing [grin] and with it's assistance the final 4 [FOUR! Crikey!] hours actually went quite smoothly. It was quieter in the shop too, which meant I got to be nosey and listen-in to all the work going on around me!

T was in his 40's - he had three 'delightful' tattoos on his arm [smile]: a stunning football emblem [grin] which I suspect may have been a prison tattoo; a very smudgy bulldog ["I was 17 and drunk" he told me, with a wry smile] and the tour de force - an Olde English stylee 'Mum' on the shoulder. He was in for a full cover-up sleeve from Miss N, the Japanese expert! She spent about 3 hours drawing on him in felt pen, before she started [only the outlines this session]. T looked very tense when we first arrived and it was wonderful to watch him visibly relax as lithe carp, delicate water-lilies and smokey bubbles slowly appeared from the jumble of pen strokes.

M had come over from Holland specifically to be tattooed by Mr Z. His design was an intriguingly sci-fi style pattern of interlocking cubes and lightening - sort of M.C. Escher meets Captain Marvel.

Mr Z is an art gallery all of his own - two densely inked black sleeves that met across his chest, facial tattoos across both cheekbones, up the bridge of his nose and onto his forehead and [the one that really made me wince] a curved shape around the back of his ear which spiked down his neck.

It's quite a statement to have such extensive ink work. I was impressed by his commitment: when you decide on facial tattoos you are quite clearly saying you will never be 'mainstream': never work in an office; never do any kind of public or customer service... it's a lifestyle choice that most would not be brave enough to make.

I spent some time trying to imagine what it would feel like to be 'the tattooed bloke' - because that's all that most people will see. I don't mean that in a bad way - but it's true! Even as a tattoo-fan my first impression of Mr Z was a little bit scary, a tough guy, maybe aggressive... those impressions were quickly shattered when he started talking of course! But it must be hard to meet those kind of preconceptions everywhere you go.

Then it occurred to me that [when I show it] I will be definitely be 'the tattooed girl'. I have mixed feelings about this. Obviously I was aware from the start that this is something people are going to look at - and, in all honesty, wanting to be looked-at must be a part of why anyone has a tattoo. But still - even though I co-designed it and knew exactly how big it would be - now it's finished even I am quite shocked by just how big and how bright it is! It's pretty damn hard to miss. I am going to have to find my way of dealing with comments & stares [that's one good thing about having it on my back - I will be unaware of most of the pointing!] and I am not yet sure of how that will be. Also, since the design features some Chinese calligraphy I am going to have to decide what to say when I'm asked what it means. It won't be the truth! I think that will remain my pleasure! But my fave potential answers so far are:

"Chicken in Yellow Bean sauce" - cos it saves time on the way home from the pub!
"I'm with stupid" - Te-he!
"Nothing is permanent" - oooooh! Verging on smart-arse but that appeals to me!
"Made in Sussex" - obvious, but strangely classy!
and the best one [courtesy of Mathew] simply "Rudegirl"!

Further witty suggestions on a postcard please!

So now I have the itching to look forward to [nooOOOooo!] and then lots of showing off to do! Hurrah!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Shiney New Tattoo, Part I

It has started! I went in yesterday and spent a joyful 3 hours having a needle repeatedly punched into my back... not for vanity you understand! Oh no, I did it for Art [ha!]

It hurt! I had forgotten how much it hurt! Boo! My last [proper] tattoo was 12 years ago! And since then I have been oh-so-blasé about it: "oh no," I say glibly "it doesn't really hurt, it's just uncomfortable!"

I take it all back: uncomfortable my arse, it hurts!

As I lay there, hurting [did I mention it hurt?] I can't help but wonder what on earth I am doing! The truth is, I'm not sure. Is it a need to be scarred? Is it individualism in extremis? In the 21st Century uniforms are still prevalent - but I don't think many take pride in them anymore. These days real kudos is granted only to those who look 'different'. But there's only so far most of us can go - I don't design my own clothes - so even if I visit lesser known shops there will always be someone wearing the same t-shirt. There will always be someone with my haircut or my trainers... but now perhaps I can be certain there will be absolutely no-one with my tattoo! Is that why I spent 3 hours gritting my teeth?! If so, I feel slightly ashamed at my own vanity!

Although, I wasn't completely jesting earlier when I said it is also about Art. What better canvas than the human form? What more can you do to demonstrate your loyalty to the Aesthetic than to have something beautiful etched into your body? [smile]

Or perhaps it is nothing more than glorified make-up. Just decoration - a grown-up version of face painting!

Either way, I have three weeks to think about it, before I return for my next bout of Kafkaesque redemption!