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I don't love it.

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sophistre

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I thought, when I got my first tattoo, that there would be an adjustment period afterward, like the one that happens after you change your hairstyle, start wearing a different color of nail polish, get a new pair of shoes. Self ideation is a thing. We form very strong mental images of ourselves, and things that alter or challenge that image in even a small or desirable way can be jarring. 'I love that new cut on you,' we can hear five hundred times in the week after going to the hair stylist, and even though they gave us exactly what we wanted, we smile and say thank-you and maybe secretly hate it for the three weeks that it takes us to get used to it, after which we can love it again ourselves, and anything different would seem strange.

But no: every tattoo I've had (and I don't have many, admittedly), I have loved. There have been times I've had to adjust to seeing them together, as a collection of images that are beginning to form a larger visual ambiance, some impression of togetherness greater than each individual image, but I've loved them all. I have been proud that they belong to me. They are impressive pieces of art.

And now I have one that I don't love, for the first time, and I don't know how to deal with that.

It isn't a bad tattoo. It's done well enough. It's a looser, simpler style than my regular guy's, but I can dig that. If I couldn't, I'd never have made the appointment.

I just feel like it wasn't the tattoo I thought I would be getting.

The guy's portfolio is full of charming pieces. Simple, like I said, but sometimes it seems as though the simplest pieces express the greatest amount of character -- that certain something I don't have a name for. You look at them and smile, because they've got personality. I don't feel that about this piece at all.

I have been asking myself why it is that I'm disappointed. Is it that it's wildly different from everything else that I have? Is it that it's alone on my other arm, its difference from my other tattoos underlined by how alone it is and all of the untattooed skin around it? Does it have the charm that compelled me to make the appointment, and I just can't see it through the weirdness of something so different from what I've gotten used to receiving? Was the portfolio misleading, or did he phone it in? Is it my fault? After all, I green-lit everything, every step of the way. But traditional concepts are so simple, the stencils so far removed from the final product, just a ghost of what the piece can become on the skin -- how can anyone ever look at one and predict how it'll turn out, aside from looking at a portfolio? Until it's colored, and too late, how can you know?

Is the problem the tattoo, or my perspective? Why can I not figure out the answer to this question? And even if I can't tell, does the answer matter when the consequence is the same -- that I look at it and experience weirdly mixed feelings, instead of the rapt affection I feel when I look at my other work?

Tattoos are not haircuts or nail polish. They aren't new shoes. You can't try them on and find they don't work for you, and shed them easily afterward.

Do I try to learn to love it, or do I make peace with not loving it, and surround it with things that I love? Covering it seems excessive to even think about. It's not at all badly executed. The guy who did it was nice, friendly. I enjoyed the evening. I like his other work.

Most of these questions are rhetorical, I suppose. When the dust settles, I'll figure out how I feel and do something about the tattoo, or I won't, and that'll be that. I pick away at my feelings about it because they're new and alien to me, and even -- in spite of the anxiety attendant to them -- interesting to experience in an objective way, not something I've ever felt about something I've done to my body.

It has been a strange two days.

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want to see this scorpion

i predict you'll learn to love it

it might not be what you expected

but it still represents something

even if its just a moment in time

a moment where you made that commitment to accept this art

this idea - as a part of you - your skin

but hey - if you still hate it

just get more awesome tatts and you'll soon forget about it :)

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want to see this scorpion

i predict you'll learn to love it

it might not be what you expected

but it still represents something

even if its just a moment in time

a moment where you made that commitment to accept this art

this idea - as a part of you - your skin

but hey - if you still hate it

just get more awesome tatts and you'll soon forget about it :)

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm trying to give myself time to reconcile it all -- not that I have a choice, since it has to heal anyway, but I'm trying not to let myself make up my mind about it quickly.

I've had some pretty good advice from some folks since expressing my unhappiness. I'm sure there are options for me. It certainly has been a new experience for me, if nothing else...something that I'm sure will inform all of my decisions in the future.

And I'm totally going to get another awesome tattoo on the 23rd, so there's something to take my mind off of it, as you say. :)

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Just wondering if your thoughts about this tattoo have changed since you posted this. Are you thinking of anything else for that arm?

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I'm where you were twelve months before writing this; untattooed and about to take my first baby steps into a new world. But that first step is a doozy. I'm not unblemished, I have my scars. My skin tells the story of my life but its development, for want of a better word, has been gradual and I'm comfortable in my skin, metaphorical warts and all.

But getting a tattoo is a very different kettle of fish. It will be a sudden and significant change and if I have any regrets, I will have no one to blame but myself.

I'm confident that my time spent here has been time well spent and my first tattoo will be a far more positive experience than it would have been had I never registered. But, despite countless hours of research, I've only found two artists, one half way around the world (Greg Whitehead) and the other all the way around it (James McKenna), that I would feel 100% confident in handing my skin over to.

Your Greg Whitehead tattoos are special, both individually and together. Few people would ever have the opportunity to build such an impressive collection. You set your other artist a very high bar and unless he were very talented indeed, it was unlikely that his work would create in you the same euphoria you felt each time Greg put down his machines.

You don't give the impression that your new tattoo is anything other than solid work. I think that as your arm fills out, it will take on an aesthetic of its own and your scorpion will play its part in that. As the first step on a new adventure, I suspect you'll look back on the experience with fondness and learn to love your scorpion.

Please let us know if you're feelings towards it have changed. And post a picture :)

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Hope you are getting an awesome piece today! (Hope I do too!) It has been three weeks since I had the tattoo that was originally done on December 27th re-worked to correct what I saw as major flaws. It has taken me those whole three weeks to accept and begin to like it. I don't love it yet, and don't know if I ever will, but at least I like it now and can wear short sleeves and expose it. Sure hope you can go through similar changes.

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Whoa...either I missed the notification that people were posting here, or I didn't get one until today, which is weird. Sorry, [MENTION=19422]polliwog[/MENTION]! I had no idea.

Mmmmm...I don't know that I can say the tattoo has grown on me, but it doesn't make me actively unhappy anymore. I try to take the Buddhist approach to this kind of thing, you know? It happened, and it isn't going anywhere. I can either hold on to my wish that things had turned out differently, and continue to dwell on my previous expectations, or I can let go of those and carry on.

It's funny...I know when I post my arm in early May after Gilsdorf adds to that side, the prevailing opinion will be that it's not a bad tattoo, and it really isn't! The placement still bothers me and the colors don't thrill me, but it is what it is. The answer (as I was told by several different wise people) is to get more tattoos. Once it's part of something bigger, I think I'll forget to frown at it completely.

[MENTION=53282]DavidR[/MENTION]: Finding this place was huge for me. I would've been tattooed either way, but it helped me understand many things on a level that I didn't before. Just hanging out here and soaking up what experienced people have to say puts us ahead of the game, I think!

I wasn't nervous before my first one, except in the sense that I was afraid I might not sit well. I didn't want to be that client. I was just very, very ready after having to wait for so many years -- and as people have said in countless threads, if you pick an artist whose entire portfolio you love, you almost can't go wrong, no matter what they put on you.

Maybe that's what tripped me up here. I liked it, but it didn't make my jaw hit the floor. There's probably a balance somewhere in there. I learn something every time I get tattooed, and my tastes have changed, too, even across just a handful of tattoos. I'm grateful to have had this happen in such an insignificant way, though, rather than with some gigantic tattoo disaster -- I know myself better, now. I have a better understanding of my own expectations.

I can't wait for my appointment with Dan Gilsdorf. Talk about a tattooer's portfolio making my jaw hit the floor. I didn't even give him guidelines. I can feel confident that anything he does will be fantastic.

[MENTION=50665]pidjones[/MENTION]: Sadly, not getting tattooed today! That was back in December. I can't remember if I got tattooed or not. I think I actually got sick around that time.

I am wearing short sleeves again, yes. :) I'm in the gym too much right now training for something to be in long sleeves all the time, especially with the weather changing. Two people I've met have told me that the scorpion tattoo is their favorite, of all of the tattoos I have, even. They like the heavy simplicity of it. Go figure! Just goes to show you -- my quibbles are totally personal and subjective. I'm glad that you're adjusting, too. I got a private message from someone recently who said they're in the same boat. It's always reassuring to know you're not alone in feeling these things.

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One year on, how is it going for you now? I'm sorry to say that I don't like mine any more than before, but I'm just too darn old to think of laser blasting it and having it redone, and it's too dark to just ink blast over. Still working on liking it, but it is so hard when I feel it is so not what I wanted. Not cartoonish, just really poorly executed.

I really hope that yours is growing on you and becoming something you cherish. Being on the forearm really reminds one of it constantly.

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