Tattoo me Pink
I waited until I was thirty to get my first tattoo. I had wanted one for many years but was not entirely sure what I wanted. I knew I didn’t want to end up covered in ink, no slight to those who do, it was just not what I wanted. I thought I might want a bumble bee or some sort of fish. Thankfully I moved on from the bumblebee idea, again no slight to anyone with bumblebee tattoos, just not what I wanted and chose a fish. Fish have always symbolised freedom to me.
So not long after my 30th birthday, while on holiday on Kos, Greece I made an appointment to get a koi with the word Inocencia underneath it. My biological father was Mexican and after a long journey of self help and discovery I had reclaimed my innocence. So this little tattoo would be a touchstone for me. Of my freedom and innocence. The first tattooist I booked with turned out to be a complete perv, so happy to lose my deposit I found another, much nicer man. He impressed upon me that were I so much as to wiggle, squirm or squeal he would stop. Terrified I asked him to do one small dot and if it hurt too much we would go no further. Dot completed, and not wanting to be crass but the time of the month might just hurt more, we continued. It was September 11th 2001 and shortly afterwards we heard about the atrocities in America and watched as the tragic events unfolded. My tattoo has always brought me back to that day and my heart still goes out to all those whose lives were destroyed. The choice of Inocencia gained more poignancy because of it. A reminder to me that there will always be good in the world, inspite, despite of evil.
I waited over ten years to get my next tattoo. I had long wanted a wrist tattoo and knew I wanted another koi. On the way back from our honeymoon as we passed though Singapore staying with friends, JHubz had researched and found a guy to do a forearm memorial tattoo for his grandmother and me being a bit of a dork tagged along to see if they had someone who could tattoo me. Not an advisable approach to getting a tattoo FYI.
I ended up with an apprentice doing a very cartoony not quite what I was looking for, not quite where I wanted it tattoo. Not ideal. It wasn’t horrific but neither was it what I wanted. A year later we searched London for someone who would be willing to retouch and build upon it. Most tattoo artists in London were not remotely interested insisting I needed a cover up, which I did not want. Then we found Zeph Green who was happy to do it and a great all round tattooist. He has the most fantastic watercolour puffa fish on his arm. Anyway Zeph transformed my little koi from a cartoon into a little joy. But I wasn’t quite done yet.
The idea of an inner arm sleeve kept coming into my head, watercolour, something viney, feminine, flowers, butterflies, a few words. Something that with my arm down would remain unseen to be revealed when I raised my arm. I know that many people have a negative perception of tattoos and those who have them. I know that future employers may look negatively upon it. But I also know to trust myself. To do what is best and right for me. And this lovely tattoo now gracing my arm is already part of me. But I’m jumping ahead.
I googled and searched Instagram for watercolour tattoo artists in Asia, none in Thailand it seems, so then I moved on to searching in our next stop in Kuala Lumpur. Pretty quickly I came across Fin T of Pink Tattoos and fell in love with her work. A bit of stalking her photos and I was emailing her to see if she had availability while we were there, about a month ahead. Appointment booked we started toing and froing as to the design. I sent over countless images so Fin could get an idea but I wanted her take on it. I don’t know about other tattooists but Fin is a bit of a workaholic and we weren’t able to get a sketch until a few days before. I had a bit of an eek sinking feeling as although beautiful it was not the vibrant windy thing I was looking for. We agreed I’d go on the day and we’d work it out and if not reschedule for when we are back in September. I didn’t really sleep the night before as I was so nervous, it is for ever you know!
The next day we arrived early and found a delicious breakfast at Malaysian Delights in Jalan Telawi, a lovely area of little streets and shops and restaurants. French toast and peanut butter, OMG amazing, and Kaya and toast later we were ready to meet Fin. She was a teeny bit reserved at first, we later learnt that a lot of tourists book appointments then cancel wasting entire days of her time, but we quickly agreed on a drawing and off she was. Free handing straight onto my arm with felt pens. I really wanted my koi to have rested on my thumb pad but the tattooist talked me out of it, something I have always regretted. So this time I was adamant I wanted a vine on my thumb pad. Hands are tricky lil things and tattoos don’t stay well on them so Fin tried her best to dissuade me but I stuck to my guns. Not again was I going to walk away slightly dissatisfied. Small changes of position later and Fin was ready to start the outline.
The thumb pad might just be one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. Ahahaha that will teach me. Would not recommend it to anyone, OUCH! Anyway the rest of it was more or less fine, the elbow is a little stingy but nothing too painful. I think I even fell asleep once. Well until the time for shading some three hours later. I did ok, didn’t flinch at all, had a few super ouchy moments towards the end, through which I winced and laughed and pleaded for it to be over soon. The last half hour was actually fine, it was the half hour before it that almost had me tapping out.
When we finished Fin said it was the longest sit she had done in one day *cue hysterical laughter* you mean we could have done it in two? Now she tells me! Nah actually it was all fine, and I was glad it was done in one go. I feel every so slightly hardcore because of it, dork. So some seven hours after we started I have the beautiful tattoo you can see above. I will be back to see Fin in September so she can give it the once over and add the words Be Gentle, Be brave amongst the foliage. I had wanted them all along but, well, seven hours is long enough quite frankly.
Pink Tattoos was one of the nicest studios JHubz or I have ever seen, filled with interesting knickknacks, wonderfully clean, warm and welcoming with a stable of extremely talented artists, we would recommend them wholeheartedly.
And for me, after September I think I am done, although never say never Xx