My birthday last year was abuzz with noise flowing out of a divorce attorney’s mouth (I still fantasize about putting my fist in it); this year’s was abuzz with a tattoo gun doing its thing on my arm.  I decided not to get the previous most recent idea, and also not (yet) to get the idea I’ve been carrying around on paper for years (which I may still get one day).

Here’s how it went:

Wire Sculpture of Owl, Stolen From Internet

First I settled on an idea, then I settled on Ian White @ Black 13 Tattoo Parlor to do the work.  Then I preliminarily emailed him about what I wanted to do, which was to have something very similar to this owl inked between the shoulder and elbow of my right arm.

Once I settled on Ian as the guy, I went to the shop to leave a deposit and schedule my session.  I chose Ian as the artist from looking at his work online and from asking around among the folks I have met here who have been inked, and I was glad to see there were not a lot of spooky dark symbols all over his workspace nor visible in the tattoos that are on his person.  There was a month-long waiting list to see him, so I established an appointment for my birthday and then I waited (im)patiently.

Black 13 is a very impressive tattoo shop; everything is clean, and it operates more like a doctor’s clinic than any tattoo shop I have been in previously.  (There were no wannabe-vampires hanging out in the lobby, and their flash is all in books rather than spread all over the walls.)  There is a receptionist guy up front who makes appointments and reviews after-care instructions for the recently tattooed, and the artists each have either an office or a half-walled cubicle to perform their work.  I expected a stereotypical blend of heavy heavy metal over the sound system, but was surprised to find myself signing along to The Shins for much of my appointment.


My Tattoo, In Draft

When my appointment came up, I reminded Ian of the design we’d shared via email, and clarified my ideas about the size and about the level of detail I did and didn’t want in the design.   Ian worked with me to determine what level of control I wanted to retain over the design vs the freedom I wanted to give him as an artist, and I decided I wanted his interpreted suggestion of the wire-sculpture owl shown herein rather than an exact copy of it on my arm.  I gave him enough leeway that we determined it would be okay to make the design directly on my skin rather than bother with a very detailed transfer for him to trace.

As I have been asked by almost everyone who has seen it so far, YES, IT HURT when it was being inked.  It healed extraordinarily quickly, though, compared to my previous tattoos.  I attribute this to the sparse line-work rather than solid color.


Tattoo Aftercare

The finished tattoo is below.  (Yes, it is finished.  Yes, the lines that don’t connect were done that way intentionally.  No, there will be no other colors.)

My Owl Tattoo

Now that it’s all healed up, I plan to go back to have Ian fill in a few of the lines with a little more definition, but I am really satisfied with his work, and I will definitely be getting any future tattoos from Ian, Fate willing.