Living Art

Years ago, before I moved to Chicago, my sister had gotten a tattoo. I told her of my desire to get one, and she said she’d go with me, so off we went. I had a star put on my upper shoulder. It’s not anything amazing or even very pretty, but it’s a symbol of the change in my life at the time, and a bonding experience with my sister. So, I love it.

For years now I’ve mulled over my next tattoo. When I was in Raleigh I actually went to a place to have the NC State strutting Wolf tattooed on my back. However, I showed up too late to be able to get it done in time. I guess things work out for a reason.

I’m still not sure why I delayed this idea as long as I have, but I finally got the motivation to research my next tattoo.  I had thought about something that represents my connection to the water, and my spirit, and I landed on a Sea Turtle. I took a nod from another tattoo I had seen and decided a tribal sea turtle would do the trick.

Once I had my idea and a few concept images from the web, I went to Inksomnia, a tattoo place located just outside of Johns Creek. I went in and was warmly welcomed. After looking through the portfolios of the artists, I decided to go with Dave Putnam, however, any of the artists there I would have used. Dave was in the shop and we met, and I showed him my concept drawings. He was very interested in not only the design, but why I was getting the tattoo, and my motivation. Then we got into the the art, and he came up with some great ideas about shading and colors. The more we talked the more he showed his excitement, and that in turn, spurred mine even more. I showed him that I also had an idea about working in Eli’s name into the design on the turtle’s shell. He was interested in this as well. So, Dave said he’d work up a drawing, and we could tweak it from there.

I returned a week later and Dave showed me his drawing. This is what he showed me:

I loved the drawing!!! I also love that if you rotate the image, you cannot at all see Eli’s name. So, we decided on a date, and went with it.

I showed up at about 4:30 on Friday afternoon, and it took Dave a few minutes to get everything ready in the room. While he did, I signed a release form and talked with some other folks about piercings. My gracious the things one can find to ram a piece of metal through. Now, that’s hard core… but I digress.

Before I knew it Dave had gotten the stencil and we put it on and discussed the location, the angle of the drawing and how it looked. He really was good in his approach and suggestions.

I got comfy on the chair and we got underway. Dave told me he’d start with some basic lines to work me in to the groove of getting a tattoo. I’m glad he did too. It’s easy to ease in to the pain than it is to just go full tilt. It also helps you set an expectation and how to handle it when it does get rough.

Believe me, it gets rough..

So, on we went. He had told me it would take about 1.5 hours to complete. So, I relaxed, and really got into the sound of the gun making it’s zipping noises and the feel of the pressure of having the tattoo. It could be odd to have a complete stranger touching  your body, but Dave and I seemed to find a rapport with the comfort. We did have times we chatted, and there were times I was quiet. You know, through the whole process I think he only asked me a few times how I was doing, if I was ok.

We took a break about an hour or so into the tattooing. It was a good thing too, as I felt the need to get up, get some water, and basically get my blood moving again.  It was also good for Dave for all of the same reasons. I snapped the pic above during our break.

So, after the small break, we got back down to business. We finished up at right about 2 hours and 20 minutes. The final product is below:

I LOVE this way it turned out. This pic was right after it was done, and still has the redness around the edges. When we got done, Dave went over with me how to take care of it, and how it’s going to heal. If you’ve never had a tattoo, you’ll learn that about 4-5 days after, it gets really crusty. So, you have to be vigilant about keeping lotion on it.  As we were getting done, I gave Dave a hug, and thanked him.

So, here’s the FAQ’s so far:

Did it hurt? Why yes, it does hurt, but it’s not anything that you can’t make it through. I think this has a lot to do with where the tattoo is going as well. Imagine a bad sun burn and someone dragging their finger nail through it repeatedly. I do know for sure that 2 hours of this is a plenty.

Will I do it again? Absolutely! In fact, I spoke to Dave about my next idea.

Why a sea turtle? It represents for me my nearness to the ocean and my spirit. Eli’s name… well, that’s sorta obvious.

What did Eli think? He saw it and said, “Can I watch another show on TV?” I think it was lost on him. That’s ok too. This wasn’t about him.

What did Jay think? He told me he likes it. I believe his exact words, “Damn baby!”

What have others said? I think my favorite comment so far has been, “That’s badass!”

Not so sure about how bad ass it is, but I have to admit that it’s empowering as hell to do something like this, survive and get a rush out of it.

I do not think I’ve done enough in applauding Dave. He was just fabulous. I cannot wait to use him again on my next tattoo.


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4 Responses to Living Art

  1. Kelley says:

    It’s incredibly powerful!

  2. Kim says:

    It’s beautiful, Kay! And it is very empowering, isn’t it?

    I have a small OM tattoo on the inside of my left wrist, and have considered getting a sea turtle as my second one. 🙂

  3. Emily says:

    I absolutely Love IT!!!

  4. AJ says:

    This is awesome, Dave has done all 3 of mine, and I couldn’t be happier with the way they turned out. I’d recommend him to anyone, 1st tattoo or 25th.

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