Saturday, 14 July 2012

Got a new tattoo

So the tattoo shop celebrated its 13th anniversary yesterday. 

In honour of the occasion, all the tattoo artists (and me) contributed designs of the number 13. 
The idea was that on Friday the 13th, for $13 you could pick a 13 design and have it tattooed on you, to mark the 13th anniversary of Cottage 13. When I got up this morning I had the notion that I would get Bryce, the very talented apprentice, to do one of Andrew’s designs on my right ankle. 

I had a bunch of running around to do, and showed up at the shop around 17:00. Had a beer, ate some food. Sat around and chatted with everyone, laughed, ate some more, had another beer. Was delighted to learn that two of my contributions had been chosen and permanently marked on customers. Somehow or other during all this the subject of letting the son of the owners have a go injecting some ink into my skin was broached. Either he suggested it, I suggested it, I don’t recall. “When Bryce is tattooing me, I’ll let you take the machine and give it a try.” I believe another beer or three was consumed. He took one of the designs that Bryce had done and with some tracing paper went over it. The idea of him having a go wielding a tattoo machine kept being discussed. His dad took the design that he had traced, showed him how to make a stencil, which he then placed on my left ankle. 
With a liner (a thin marker) and a shader (a thick marker) he went over the design. He confessed that it made him a little nervous and that it made his hands a little shaky. 
But he did okay.

An idea that may have been said slightly in jest originally, became just perfect. It wasn’t the design I had originally contemplated, it certainly wasn’t the artist I had originally contemplated, it wasn’t even on the side I had originally contemplated, was magically right.

I have known him since he was born. I love him more than anything in the world. I have known his parents for a long time. They mean the world to me. I have been affiliated in some small way with the shop since day 1. The place means a great deal to me.

This was not a design that necessarily fits into the grand scheme of designs I have plotted out for my body. It’s a fun souvenir piece, something to mark a place that means something to us on a significant milestone. 

Getting him to do it was... really perfect. There were six supremely talented artists there who could have done it. I chose my 9 year old pal to do it. I asked his parents and everyone else if they were okay with him doing it. No one raised any objections. The stencil was prepared and put on, and Andrew showed him how a machine was set up.
I really wasn’t in the least bit worried about any of it. I wasn’t expecting perfection, to be honest, some errors would add to the charm of the piece. And his dad was right there to take over if he wasn’t up to the task, but we were all quite willing to give him a shot. Let him gain an understanding of what it is the tattooing process is all about. He dipped the tip of the machine in the cap of ink, pressed the pedal, and....started tattooing me. 
He was a bit hesitant at first....
...there were times when he didn’t even get the needles in all the way.
But he got the hang of it.
Because of the spot it’s in, I couldn’t help but have an involuntary twitch a few times. I was admonished to hold my foot still. Wait’ll you get a tattoo there, little buddy.
Dad showing him some techniques (and doing the outlining on some of the trickier serifs.)
Give it a wipe.
Dad supervising.
Bryce the apprentice looking on to see how it’s done. I don’t recall who but one wag got a good laugh out of everyone when he cracked “Lookit! Those lines are almost as good as what Bryce is doing.” I think a good portion of an apprenticeship consists of being ribbed as often as possible.
Put on some Vaseline.
 The artist himself.

I gave him the $13 plus a $7 tip and a big hug.
And the finished results the next morning. He went beyond the line in a few places, he missed a few spots, but I don’t care in the least. Its “imperfection” makes it perfect to me. It’s a fun souvenir, and has more to do with a time and place and the person who did it than anything else. I figure it’s good to give him an opportunity, and hope it gives him an appreciation and understanding of what his dad and other artists do. I suppose there aren’t many 9 year olds who can claim to have done a tattoo.


  1. Very cool indeed. Which designs did you submit?

    1. The ones that weren't drawn on tracing paper. In other words, the one printed from a computer.