Today I’ve decided (with a thanks to Rachel for helping me do so) to talk about tattoos. In particular, my own tattoos, how I got into my love for them, and what my ink is all about. I figured it would kind of stop people asking me the same questions and from me having to repeat myself. Ok, so I’m not writing this as some form of hope that people are never ever again going to ask about them, but hey, it might just save a bit of time for me and those who are interested.
My tattoo affection started out when I was a kid. I remember being around the age of 10. My cousin was dating this girl at the time who had a little devil tattooed on her ankle (thinking back to it, it was a pretty awful looking piece of ink). This little devil however totally fascinated me. I was curious as to how an image could be so permanent on the skin. How it could stay there forever and never get washed off or just peeled away should the dislike of its residence occur.
From this moment, I became totally indulged in the idea that one day, I too could have some permanent inky scarring.
Neither of my parents where fans of tattoos. My mother thought (and to this day still does) that they looked cheap. Only criminals, drug addicts and chavs had tattoos. They weren’t classy. And there was a huge chance I’d regret it a few months after I got one. But I took the attitude of ‘what the hell do they know?’. And to this day I still maintain it was the right attitude to take.
When I reached the age of 15, I took my first steps into a tattoo shop. I lived in Chepstow, South Wales at the time. Me and my buddy’s would always hang around at the monument that stood directly outside Chepstow’s tiny tattoo studio. From what I remember, I first went in there with a friend who was enquiring about a piercing. I remember walking in, with a sense of both fear and excitement. There was a funny smell, like a concoction of disinfectant, sweat and cigarette smoke (yeah, this was in the days before the smoking ban). We were greeted by this man who was of a rather large build, and the bushiest beard I’d ever seen! (I’m proud to say I’ve seen bushier beards since!). He introduced himself as Shaun. Seemed like a polite guy, but I was still nervous (for what reasons I now don’t recall). I went back a few months later and ended up exiting the shop with a hole in the left side of my lower lip, and a bar running through it. From this moment on, I was hooked. Ok. So it was a piercing, but hey, it was my first ever piercing (yes, Vicki has never gotten around to getting her ears pierced. SHOCK HORROR!), and man I was stoked!
After this, I’d go into the shop on a regular basis, we were welcome to sit around every now and then and watch folks getting tattooed, as long as they didn’t mind, and as long as we didn’t talk. It wasn’t until I was 19 though that I got my first tattoo. By this time I had just left (possibly quit) university and moved back up to the North West. I was visiting my brother who lives in the Isle of Man. Both he and my dad decided to go into the motor bike shop… Both are bike fanatics, I personally can’t stand them. So I went off on my own. On my little exploration of the town, I stumbled across a little tattoo parlour hidden away on a side street. I’d heard about it before, my brother knew the guy who owned the place. Something just clicked inside me, I had the money in my pocket for a tattoo, there was no one to stop me getting one, and hey, if I had to put up with motorbike talk for the rest of the week, surely they could put up with a little mark upon my skin. I stepped in on the off-chance I might be able to get some ink. Once more I was greeted by a pretty heavy built guy, he had the thickest Irish accent known to man, and introduced himself to me as Frank. I couldn’t understand half of what he was saying, but we seemed to communicate well enough for me to get what I was after. Sort of. Ha. For my first tattoo, I wanted the letters ‘A7X’ on my wrist, with bats coming off the lettering and flying up my arm. They were the band I totally dug at the time (I still listen to them today, but hey, time changes I guess) He sadly wouldn’t do this idea, and I ended up with what you see under the paragraph below.
This is where I tell you more about my first ever tattoo experience. How did it go? Pretty shit in all honesty. I hadn’t eaten anything that day, I seemed to be running on excitement that I could get this damn tattoo. But, by not eating was most probably my biggest mistake. I ended up feeling queezy after the first twenty minutes. So much so I had to have a break… By this I mean half a can of cola and a cigarette. But, after 10 minutes, I was ready to rumble once more. A total of 45 minutes and a conversation about the artists life in the Navy, I left £60 poorer and feeling like I was walking on air. And both my brother and dads faces were priceless! But the image you see below is what I was left with.
A7X Bat - Healed
Yes, I’m fully aware it’s pretty damn poor and patchy. Do I regret it? Hell no! It was my first tattoo. It’s part of my story. I can tell you every detail of what happened that day. All thanks to the little mark upon my skin. And not to mention the addiction I now had to get more!
It was a number of months later (about 8 or 9 I think?) when I had saved enough for my next tattoo. After my first tattoo experience, I decided to put in more research into who I wanted to tattoo it. And by doing so, found an awesome artist right on my doorstep. Mr Karl Fletcher (or Flecky) done my second piece.
I decided on a zombie chick, I’d been messing around with the idea for a while, drawing up ideas and making changes throughout the months I was saving. It made perfect sense. I have a deep adoration for the living dead. I feel people judge others far too quickly these days (perhaps see the note near the beginning about my mothers opinion on tattooed people). The zombie tattoo represented far more than a love of the freaky creatures. It represented the beauty of something, whether dead or alive. Looks aren’t everything, and a person should never be judged solely on their appearance.
Sorry I don't have a better photo, this was taken a day after I got her.
The outcome of my zombie tattoo was something epic. She (who I’ve named Suzie) has still yet to be completed. As you may notice, she lacks a background and has a tonne of space around her. But fret not, Vicki has another sitting booked in with Flecky for September to get an additional zombie gent (dare I say Elvis?) to keep her company. Awesomes!
My third tattoo came about due to a number of reasons. Since I was in school I’d been reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe (like many others, I’m sure) and the piece of his work that always stuck to mind was The Raven. I find the poem beautiful. Perhaps not his best work, but by far means more to me than most. Apart from the Poe reference, it also symbolises my lack of faith in religion, as you may notice, the raven is perched upon a gravestone in the shape of a cross. With my Atheist beliefs, I believe religion is dead, or at least should be. But hey, that’s a different story all together. And to top it off, the raven is also renown as Deaths Messenger, perfectly apt don’t you think?
Nevermore Raven - Fresh
This beautiful work of art (as with the next two pieces) where done by Dan Morris (aka: Mozza) in Manchester.
After the raven, I wanted to try and fill the rest of my forearm. So a gramophone followed. As a fan of a lot of 40s/50s/60s music, it was perfectly suitable. Who needs iPods and mp3 players when you can have a bad-ass gramophone? Ok, so I don’t actually own a bad-ass gramophone, I wish I did, sadly my money doesn’t stretch far enough, so instead of the real thing, the tattoo does me just fine. And to explain the blue lightning and purple clouds? Well, I just have a thing about blue lightning and purple clouds. Hey, it’s rock n roll!
Gramophone - Fresh
This leads me on to my final piece of work. Placed upon my upper left arm/shoulder sits my beautiful Gill Girl. As a fan of the classic monster movies, and as well as the beauty scenario explained previously, I wanted to make a start on my left arm… Properly. The idea came about over a number of months, I had a sketch I’d drawn some time ago of this female based on the Creature From The Black Lagoon. After some re-working and major tweaks, I was finally completely happy with the idea I’d both drawn and set in my head. I’ve always thought it was a shame a female Creature never occurred. After all, the Monster has his Bride, Drac has had more woman than he cares to keep count of (no pun intended)… You get the idea.
Gill Girl - Half heeled
I made my idea happen, and can now say I’m a proud owner of a female Creature.
Ain’t she a doll?
Now you all know the stories behind my tattoos. Some might be disappointed, others possibly surprised. I don’t know, I can’t say. There are plenty more ideas I have waiting to be inked. And when I get the money to do so, they shall! What’s my aim when it comes to coverage? At present It’s on the ‘heavy’ scale. I have people continuously asking me questions along the lines of ‘what are you going to do when you’re like 80?’… May I note these people tend to be those who have never met me before, never had a tattoo themselves, and haven’t a clue how much my tattoos mean to me. To those people who ask me the above question, I tend to just say ‘the same as you, I’ll just look a hell of a lot cooler!’.
I’m not a criminal, drug addict, or chav. I try my best not to judge people the second I see them. There are people out there who love tattoos and others who hate them. I guess, at the end of the day, tattoos are like a pot of Marmite.
Karl Fletcher: http://www.fleckystattoos.co.uk/
Dan Morris: http://www.myspace.com/mozza_super_numpty