For my birthday many years ago, I got a tattoo. It was, as many first tattoos are, a "tramp stamp" on my lower back. This has never bothered me, because I still love the design, and plan on someday incorporating it into my other tattoo (Sorry, mom!). But it is the story of my second tattoo that I am going to tell today.
Back when I actually made money, I saved and scrimped for more ink, like you do, because once you've gone under the needle, whoa boy, do you jones for more tats. I had promised myself, as I did with my first tattoo, that I would hold onto the design for one year before deciding if I would get it tattooed or not.
Sidebar: For anyone thinking of getting a first tattoo, this is a very good plan to abide by. That way you'll never look back on something etched forever into your skin and say "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time." Sage advice. Am oracle. Listen to Banshee, she is good, she is wise.
Anyway, I was looking for a design, and woo boy, did it ever smack me right in the face. I've been a huge fan of Brian Froud's art for most of my life (he did the art direction for "Labyrinth" and "The Dark Crystal," which are two of my favorite movies) so it seemed only natural that I would get something of his as a permanent part of my body. Again, choices with no regrets. Put it on a Post-It.
But I didn't really think too much about it, until I bought Froud's new book and saw this:
"She throws her spell of introspective darkness, and you sink deeper into
the shadows of despondency. Her enchantment may last for just a few
hours…or for many years. Yet the hue of her wings reminds us that
there is always hope in the midst of hopelessness."
It was perfect. "The hue of her wings reminds us that there is always hope in the midst of hopelessness." That's damn right. The fact that it was incredibly beautiful didn't hurt either. Much like the painting, I had found MY tattoo.
I researched on the internet to find a tattoo artist that had Froud tats in his or her portfolio, and found someone in Pennsylvania who SPECIALIZED in Froud tattoos. I lived right by Pennsylvania! This was fate, friends. I visited the studio with the book, talked at length with the artist, and scheduled my first appointment.
Oh yes. FIRST appointment. The entire process took 13 hours over three appointments. It was also VERY expensive. BUT! I only had to pay for two sessions, because one of them was at a tattoo convention (very very cool) where I was the demonstration model for the studio's booth. Still, way expensive. I don't regret a penny of it.
Because that's the thing with tattoos, or should be. Pieces should MEAN something, should represent times in one's life that were incredibly powerful and meaningful. I was in the throes of a mental illness I didn't understand, I was drinking heavily, I DIDN'T see the hue of my wings. So I made them real.
My tattoo is part of me. I think it always has been.