This was a long time in the making, but I finally bit the bullet and got my first tattoo. More accurately, I’m currently in the process of getting my first tattoo. This tattoo is a piece of artwork on my skin, but it represents so much more than that. It tells a story, but also will serve as a reminder of this period of my life.
The moment I first set foot in the Rising Dragon Tattoo shop and heard the buzz of the machines, was the first time I felt nervous about getting my tattoo. I have been interested in getting a tattoo for a few years, but now it was becoming a reality. At that time, I still didn’t have a very clear image of what I wanted beyond the idea of a Koi and a Dragon. I had envisioned the Koi stopping half way down my right biceps, where it could easily be covered by a short sleeved shirt. I wanted the dragon head to be on my chest and the body to flow onto my shoulder. Within minutes of speaking with Darren, he made it pretty clear that giving him more room for the Koi would allow for a much more detailed design. Suddenly the design had grown to my elbow. Next topic of discussion was the Dragon. “That isn’t very much room for a full Dragon, the best I would be able to do is a partial.” That idea sounded great to me. Let’s do it! Then, my girlfriend Heidi brought up the idea of going onto my back to give a little bit more room for the dragon. The thought of the design going onto my back had never even crossed my mind until right then and there, but somehow I immediately knew it was right. I left the shop that night with red and orange sharpie all over my body that I didn’t want to wash off. Now I am faced with an agonizing, month long wait for the real thing.
Fast forward a month and Heidi and I are back in the shop and I’m ready to go. We started with the dragon and Darren freehanded the outline onto my body, but something wasn’t quite right. The position, the angle of the face, it just didn’t fit. We all agreed and he wiped me clean of the ink and started over again. The next try was perfect and it was time to begin the tattoo.
The dragon head was first because he felt that the lower chest would be one of the more painful spots. The first lines hurt, but the pain was bearable. I have heard the pain of being tattooed described in so many different ways and now I finally understand why it’s so hard to describe. One second it’s a dull pain, and the next is what feels like searing heat. Moving just an inch can mean the difference between hardly feeling the needles to gritting your teeth and hoping for the artist to move on to the next line. It’s going to be a long day!
A little while later, my dragon was beginning to take shape.
After a short break, it was time to draw the Koi. He decided to draw it on paper first and create a stencil. After a few minor corrections on paper, he applied the stencil in one shot and the positioning was perfect. Here is the end result of 7 hours in the shop. Sorry for the crappy quality shots. They were taken in the mirror with my iPhone.
2 weeks later I was back in the shop for my first color session. Another 3 hours of work and this is the end result. I could not be happier! And in just 2 days from today I will be back to get the remaining color work done.