My new tattoo!

After 8 months of planning and research, yesterday I finally got my dream tattoo! It took two hours, and hurt like heck, but all the waiting and pain were so worth it. I love it! Here’s the story behind it:

So, this past December (2011) my family had our annual Christmas brunch at my Dad’s parent’s house (I call my grandparents Nannie and Bubba). This year, Nannie served her traditional stollen (a delicious cinnamon-y danish) on a gorgeous china plate (it’s pictured above, the last picture) with a blue design. I don’t know why I was so attracted to it, but I thought the design on the plate was incredibly, breath-takingly beautiful. I thought then that it would look really good as a tattoo on my body. Because the design on the plate went around the rim of the plate, I thought it might look good as a ring around my arm.

For the next five months, I spent a lot of time researching what makes a tattoo a good tattoo, and which style was appropriate for the design that I wanted. I already have two tattoos that aren’t anything aesthetically special, and I wanted this one to be a piece of art. I follow a lot of tattoo blogs on Tumblr, and was really helpful in helping me judge different artists.

I also had been following for a long time. I was browsing Just Good Tats one day and realized that in addition to being a blog that profiles amazing artists, it’s the personal blog for an internationally ranked tattoo shop in San Diego called Full Circle Tattoo. I clicked the link to their website and was impressed by the work of all of their artists. It was so clean and bold. I was particularly drawn to the work of Gemma Pariente, a female tattoo artist from Spain who has an incredibly distinctive black-and-white style. She uses a technique called stippling in which a lot of the shading is done with dots. It creates a really cool effect.

I contacted Gemma as soon as I moved to San Diego, and met with her the following week. She told me that she really liked the concept, but that tattoos that are bands around limbs look bad over time because they don’t flow with the body, they chop the body into sections. She told me that she would try to design a shape that would flow with my body while maintaining the basic elements of the design from the plate. Because I had done my research, I trusted her and gave her some creative lisence in creating something that would work well.

I didn’t even see the design she had made for me until yesterday at 2:30 when I showed up at Full Circle Tattoo for my appointment. I was sooooo happy with the sketch! I gave her a big hug when she showed it to me and I was smiling for the entire first hour of tattooing even though it was a little painful.

She did the outlining and basic shapes first: the diamonds in the top and side, and the dots on the different flowers. For those, she used a very small needle that felt like a cat scratch at worst. We took a five minute break after an hour — which was much needed because I had to pee — and then began the second hour, which consisted of shading over what she had already created. This part hurt like hell. She used stippling, with a four-needle-wide needle, if that makes sense. I seriously was yelping and cringing.

When it was done, I was so so happy. The first time I saw it, I couldn’t stop looking at it. It was all that I imagined it would be. I’m stoked. I highly recommend Gemma Pariente and the Full Circle Tattoo shop for anyone who wants artful work done by people who consider themselves artists and truly work to capture your concept.

My name is Mo! I'm a student at Warren Wilson College. You can find me sweatin' it out at the gym, knitting compulsively, wandering, speaking spanish to myself, and having a good time. This is my travel blog, where I am stringing together people, places, and peculiarities :)