I remembered when I was 17-18 years old and for the first time had taken the decision to get a tattoo. My whole life had been turned upside down, all because of a neck injury I sustained myself on a party with my former soccer club. I can say that at the time, so I pretty much lived to play soccer, and I didn’t actually have that many other real interests. This took a sudden turn that day when the doctor told me bluntly that I had a pretty serious spine injury that threatened to cause total paralysis if I was tackled or pushed badly against my back. The end of my career was a fact! This meant I had to stop playing soccer and I was also forced to stop my education as a carpenter, because the doctors said that it was too physically demanding job and that my neck would not last more than maybe five years. When I got these diagnoses, I felt I had to make a sharp turn in my life. At that moment the future was pretty much as black as night.
I have always had a need to channel my inner feelings of all the problems in a creative and aesthetic way. In many ways it is an alternative form of self therapy. This time I had decided to draw a scene that I felt represented and symbolized the event and the significance for the rest of my life. I am not exaggerating if I say that I sat and sketched this design continuously for a week for it to be perfect. And now I am no super artist and I focused very much on the meaning, more than I focused on the quality of the artwork. How it was, I was very happy with my design and I then contacted a tattoo artist that I’ve had heard was really good. Now this was back in 1991 and I had no idea what it meant to make a “good” tattoo. I had no frame of reference at all, and all I saw were tribals, old school and a few native American portraits. Otherwise I was very much a novice. How it was, I visited his tattoo studio in his basement where he was about to start up his “new” studio. At that time, he was probably considered to be a serious tattoo artist, and a I must say I learn quite a much from him He told me a lot about the process of creating a tattoo, how he burned their needles in a special oven and how he had been training his technique on excised pieces of pig skin. I know that I left his small basement studio with a huge smile and a memory for life punched into my body.
I can still feel that the inner meaning of my tattoo is absolutely perfect and I’m glad I spent a full week of uninterrupted drawing to find the perfect tattoo. What I’m not so satisfied about, is simply the quality of the tattoo. Of course, the sun-bleached, the contours have smeared and the fine details are long gone. If I knew THEN, what I know TODAY in terms of quality at realistic tattoos, how to take good care of a tattoo, avoid direct sunlight, etc. .. well then, I had waited to do the tattoo! On the other hand it was quite right to do that tattoo, at that time in my life! And because I know that the meaning of the motive will hold forever … it’s ok that the tattoo today is pale and ugly. For I would choose to do a cover up one day, then I want to preserve the meaning of the scene, but cover over the existing tattoo with something much nicer!
Now when I have sat and vented my memories and thoughts about my first tattoo, I’ve come to realized that I want to pair it with other important aspects of what I as a customer would like to experience when I visit a tattoo artist, and perhaps what a tattoo artists should consider when they receive their clients in his or her studio, and what impression the artist give.
But that topic belong in the next article!