I got my first tattoo at SilverLine Tattoo in Ottawa on the 12th of November, 2008. It was the day after the Nine Inch Nails concert, which was an event I am lucky to have seen considering how long I’ve been into them (only a short year, but that story is for another time). Fortunately, I’d received a training opportunity from work which allowed me to move closer to my ultimate goal, to involve more creativity and art with my work. The way I currently picture that happening is through learning some web programming languages, in particular PHP. Lots of things came together during the few days that I was there; not only did I get to see a band (person in this case) I am completely over-the-moon for, I finally got express myself in a way I’ve been wanting to for years now.
I’d been tossing around various ideas for tattoos without coming up with something really concrete. When I was still in high school I wanted to design something around the heart with barbed-wire and flames symbol. Another one of my favorite bands, Dream Theater, used the design on many of their album covers and I liked what it represents; passion, love, and the hardships to get to it. However, upon further research into the design I discovered it was deeply steeped in religious meanings (specifically catholic) and decided against it in the end. Religion is not something I am comfortable with, at least not comfortable enough to go with a permanent display of it. So, it was back to the drawing board. I really like japanese tattoos, so I looked into getting some Kanji. Again, it’s not something that I was really sure about and I was worried about translation issues, so I looked for ideas elsewhere. The thing I like most about japanese art (manga and anime included) is the amount of detail that goes into it. With this in mind, I came across various cherry blossom designs and did some research; I liked what I found, so I started sketching out ideas.
Looking into places around here for tattooing, I was a little disappointed. My choices are slim and the good parlours are booked ages in advance. Autumn progressed and I found out about the opportunity I had at work to fly out to Ottawa for training. Just out of sheer curiosity I looked at NIN’s tour dates and sure enough, they were playing the city I was going to in the short window of time I would be there. I couldn’t believe my luck! I hadn’t really planned on getting my tattoo yet since I hadn’t been able to settle on a design I liked. However, the week before I left I started getting a clearer image in my head of what I wanted. One night during the week I drew the concrete design, I knew it was the one. I attempted to replicate it and failed (I actually ended up scanning it and copying it to do a color version because I was afraid of ruining the original). I tried to draw other versions and try other options but nothing struck my like the original design did. My decision was solid. I flew to Ottawa at the end of the week excited and anxious.
My original plan fell through; I had called to several parlors in the Ottawa area and was planning to stop by one of them upon my arrival. I didn’t end up getting there in time and was very tired from my flight (only my second flight ever, my first by myself) so I decided against going. I thought that would be the end of it. Flash forward to my last day there. I woke up late because I had forgotten to set the alarm (and didn’t go to bed until later that morning because of the show). Frantically I tried to get my act together to get where I needed to be, and somehow, I ended up with a few hours to kill before my flight left. I was all packed and ready to go, so I was just twiddling my thumbs at the hotel. That was when the idea struck me; I quickly looked up where the tattoo parlour was and ventured out into the city. The parlour I had originally planned on going to was too booked to take me, but miraculously there were 3 or 4 other parlors right beside them! I went into my second choice (I am all about researching and planning things beforehand) and was greeting by a very friendly girl who talked me through the process; she helped me choose an artist who could do my design and he got to work preparing equipment while I dashed across the street to an ATM for cash and to the corner store for gatorade (at their suggestion). Originally I had decided on getting the design on my lower back, off to the side, but apparently it is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo and since I was in for my first one and didn’t know what to expect… I ended up getting it on my right shoulder blade which suits me just fine.
After finally getting doing a “blueprint” of the design on my shoulder (they did it upside down at first, then too low) he got to work on the outline and coloring. I’ve heard people say one or the other was worse, but they were both about the same for me. I was surprised, I thought it would start out a lot more painful than it did. I would compare it to having a cat scratch you repeatedly, in the same place over and over. It gradually got worse and worse, but nothing I couldn’t handle. (I’ve long since forgotten the pain and already plan more tattoos…) After 2 1/2 – 3 hours of gritting my teeth, whining, being told to relax (relaxing really helps) I was left with my very first and beautiful tattoo, an ultimate expression and dedication to art. My tattooist liked my design and did an excellent job on the work. All through the nagging pain I kept thinking how I was earning something, turning that negative energy into something positive that I would have forever.
Beauty comes from hardship, no matter how ugly and dark; strength and light comes from within, no matter how black it may seem. From the darkness, from the turmoil blooms a more beautiful and vivid blossom. This tattoo will serve as a constant reminder.