If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am no longer in the hospital. I was released on Memorial Day and spent the next ten days administering IV antibiotics through a PICC line at home. I’m still pretty tired, but not quite as narcoleptic as I have been. I was starting to get a rash on my arms and legs. It didn’t itch, so I don’t think that it I was developing a reaction to the medication, per se, but it may have been photo-sensitivity. I’m hoping that as my body recovers from all of this, the rash will clear up completely.
I haven’t written much of anything since I’ve been home. My time has been spent catching up on quality time with my family, sleeping, and a little bit of work. I have also been enjoying the company of one of my dearest friends, who drove in from Nashville to spend the week at our home. It’s kind of hard to concentrate on writing when you’re too busy gossiping and laughing. But what happened today deserves to be blogged.
Those who know me are aware of the fact that I have been under the tattoo needle 16 times. If you count my tattoos, however, you will only see 14, for I had two of them covered up last year by one larger piece. Each one of them has a personal meaning to me; some have more thought behind them than others. And each one is for my enjoyment, rather than what is pleasing to those who are viewing them. Here’s what I have:
- Inside of Left Ankle: a butterfly on a cross that bears my brother’s initials and his dates of birth/death
- Inside of Right Ankle: a heart with two small handprints inside, each with a tiny heart on the palm (inspired by lyrics from the song “For Good” from the Broadway musical Wicked)
- Bikini Line, Left Hip: Superman symbol
- Bikini Line, Right Hip: two hearts with flowers entwined around them
- Inside Left Wrist: the Seal of Rassilon (from Doctor Who) with the words “Don’t Dream It…Be It” written around the circle (from the Rocky Horror Picture Show)
- Inside Right Wrist: the letters YANA (the last words the Face of Boe spoke to Doctor Who “You Are Not Alone”)
- Left Outer Bicep: Weeping Angel (from Doctor Who) that covered two small Chinese Zodiac symbols for year of the ox and year of the tiger
- Left Bicep: Celtic armband and cross
- Right Outer Bicep: Small intertwined vines and leaves
- Right Bicep: Tribal armband with shamrock
- Top of Back Shoulder to Shoulder: the words “There is no fate but what we make” from the Terminator movies
- Right Shoulder Blade: Unicorn (my first ever tat)
- Small of Back: “Tramp Stamp” Tribal Pattern
- Top of Butt (below the small of the back): Symbol for the Rebel Alliance from Star Wars
Obviously, there is a lot of fangirl action going on with my body. Some of these things seem entirely juvenile or random or “stamped” on to the casual observer, but I assure you, I never do anything to my body (especially not that permanent) without careful consideration. These are things that mean something to me on a deeper level. What may seem superficial to you, may have a dual meaning for me, with each one representative of a time or place in my life and personal development. And ultimately, I’m the one who has to live with them. Which leads me to what happened today.
For about a year, I have had an idea of a tattoo in my mind. It is a compilation of three things that have had an effect on me: Supernatural, the Walking Dead, and Shaun of the Dead. What I want to have is a simple line drawing, sticking with the blacks and gray shading that I prefer, of a Cherokee Rose with an arrow behind it (TWD) and the center of the rose would be the anti-possession sigil to protect from evil (SPN) and at the tip of the arrow there would be a single drop of bright red blood (“you’ve got red on you” SOTD). I have put a lot of thought into it and have personal reasons that I do not need to justify for why I chose those components. After months of deliberation, I emailed a crappy Publisher rendering along with the component files to a friend (who drew up a version of my Weeping Angel piece) and asked him to come up with something. In less than an hour, he had done a free-hand drawing of the vision I had in my mind, as though he were psychic. Sure, there are some things that need improvement (details on the petals I’d like done differently, possibly changing the leaves, and the angle of the arrow) but overall, I love it and have my heart set on it.
I printed out a copy of the drawing and drove to Charlotte, NC to get a price quote at a studio we have used numerous times in the past. Four members of my family have had work done there, and that’s where I had my Weeping Angel done. In that particular situation, I had also brought along a sketch and some pictures on my phone, showed them to the artist, explained my vision, he made improvements and ultimately brought my concept to life. And he did it for a mere $100. Of course, that’s where I wanted to have this new ink done.
(Before and after shots–sorry, forgot to rotate them–You can see the old tattoos that were being covered, and check out the amount of detail on the finished product–with the shading and little freehand additions, it looks so different from the original stencil/sketch–so much black, and for only $100–amazing work and price for a cover-up…I LOVE IT)
When we arrived, we were met at the counter by a girl I had never seen before, and a younger artist who had been there past times, but whom I’d never spoken to. I told them that I needed a quote, showed him approximately what size I wanted and where on my body (below right collar bone, above the boob, extending up to the top of right shoulder). This is the drawing that I brought:
As I said, not perfect. It needs tweaking, but as for the overall concept? I love it. And since it’s going on my body, my opinion is the only one that matters. In the 2o minutes that I spent in the shop, I was told:
- It’s wrong to have the arrow point away from the heart
- Chest pieces are meant to draw the eyes inward, not up towards the shoulders
- The flower looks upside down
- There aren’t enough leaves
- There should be more flowers and at least one bud to represent the “life cycle”
- The arrow is placed wrong
- The center piece is a “Satanic Pentagram” and should be done as in independent piece
- The piece is bottom heavy
- From the girl: “It doesn’t look like a rose.” To which I apparently snapped at her, “There are over a thousand varieties of rose, this is one of them.”
- “I guess you like a lot of movies and TV, huh?” said the artist repeatedly. He tried to bring another artist into the conversation. “Look at this, it’s all TV stuff.” To which the other, more experienced artist replied, “That’s cool,” and later, “If it’s what she wants…”
- “Am I just confusing you?”
- “Some people need approval.”
I asked him, “I’m sorry, am I throwing off your feng shui?” and if I had a dime for every time I repeated the phrase, “Yeah, but it’s for me, it’s going on my body, I’m the one who has to live with it, it’s what I want….” I’d have a lot of dimes. No exaggeration. It was witnessed.
When I said that price was a factor, he said, “The price? It’s permanent.” Yes, genius, I am aware. So I said, “I know, but the price determines whether I’m getting a tattoo done today or six months from now.” He spoke to me like I was some little girl who walked in off the street, all giggles and ignorance, wanting a piece of flash. Sorry to disappoint you sir, but if your quote didn’t turn me off ($100 per hour, $250 minimum because he’d have to have a “few days to redraw this thing”), the way you chose to talk down to me cemented my decision to not use you as my artist. If he had spent half as much time trying to work with me on the concept that I wanted permanently branded on my body as he did trying to explain to me the myriad reasons he thinks it should be different, he might have made some money off of me.
I have decided to send an email to the shop owner and ask him for his opinion. I will, of course, remind him very complimentary of the work that he has already done on me (and my family) and what he charged. Then I will inform him that one of the artists that rents space from him cost a sale by the way he treated me. We clearly did not see eye to eye. And while I respect and understand that a tattoo artist wants to imprint their own flair to distinguish their designs, I do believe that ultimately, they should work with their clientele to create the ultimate image. Sometimes the customer isn’t always right, but neither is the hired help.
And so, I’ll continue to tweak the drawing at home, wait for a response from the shop owner and/or seek out a new artist. Which is unfortunate, because I really liked this shop.