About a year ago my wife and I decided we wanted to get our first tattoos.
Who knows why.
Probably something to do with being at a place in life where we’re getting back to our independence.
The kids are pretty much grown.
We often have weekends to ourselves.
Spending languid Saturdays with a heavy Aperol buzz, digging on some random band on the sidewalk next to a cafe.
Sometimes enjoying a band’s entire set before remembering to stalk our kids on Life360.
You know, WILD stuff 🙂
During one of those carefree weekends, we took a “staycation” here in St. Pete.
Booked two nights at a hotel downtown that we could practically walk to from our house.
In-town getaways are great.
Something about waking up in a hotel, even in the most familiar surroundings, stirs up a spirit of adventure.
As we strolled the city, sipping lattes and considering museums we’ve driven past a thousand times but never visited, we found ourselves standing in the window of a tattoo parlor.
“Hey, you should get your tat today,” I said to Michelle. “This place looks nice.”
Michelle knew exactly the piece she wanted, and where; the evil eye, inside left wrist.
“Oh yes, that’s perfect. I’m going to do it,” she said, a bit giddy.
“What about you? We said we’d do it together.”
“Oh, no!” I replied. “Mine will be a whole thing. I’ve got to come up with a concept, find the right artist, check with the doctor about bruising because of the blood thinners…”
She stared blankly.
I was Yacht Rocking the fuck out of our Rock ‘n’ Roll moment.
And I’ve been at it ever since.
We returned the sixteen blocks home that weekend… Michelle with a cool little tattoo that she loves… and me with a long list of things to consider, research, and seek consultation about before making the “spontaneous” decision to become a “tattoo guy.”
I’m fully aware that my process is taking all the cool out of what it means to get inked.
But I’ve seen a lot of damn tattoos in my life, and overall: not good.
Occasionally though, masterful.
I want masterful.
The way I see it, there are two ways you end up with tattoos: purposefully or haphazardly.
Sometimes, if the person is really committed, haphazard looks truly masterful.
A random collection of inspired designs that come together on this interesting human’s cutaneous canvas to form what looks, and feels, like a perfect gallery of art.
Because they OWN it.
More commonly, as in Michelle’s case, there’s one or two meaningful, well-placed, bits of art that add a little whip of pizazz to their thang.
Worst case scenario there’s a fading green blotch of “What the hell happened there?” that only serves to make you more recognizable to law enforcement.
So, I’m going into this thoughtfully, and allowing my high “Fact Finder” tendencies dictate the process.
I’ve been harassing friends and strangers with cool tattoos…
Texting friends (like Todd Brown) whom I’ve known since before they had any tats and now have full sleeves.
Going up to people at the gym and on the street and asking where they got theirs done.
What they like, anything they regret (no regerts!), or would advise if they were starting fresh.
Some things they’ve taught me…
- Consider three things; position, concept, and style.
- Assume you won’t stop at one and plan your concept accordingly.
- Find an artist who is good at the style you want, get on page about the concept, then TRUST the artist.
That last one is a big one.
I will trust the artist, but I want them to be inspired about it, too.
I get that this is their job, what they do all day…
But I don’t want to wear someone’s 4 o’clock appointment on my body for the rest of my life.
I want what we create to be on page one of their portfolio and pinned to their Instagram page.
I’m needy that way.
Looking through portfolios of local tattoo artists, it’s clear that if I was in the market for a dragon, a skull, a gladiator, or a geisha… I’d have my pick.
I’m looking to tell a story, with the ability to add new chapters as I go.
I have a concept.
I’m meeting with a respected artist tomorrow.
Wish me luck.
What about you?
Got any tattoos?