Latest tattoo lowdown.....

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Finished my back on Friday night (well, Saturday at 5:30 am). It was a hell of a ride - it took almost exactly a year of sessions every 2-3 weeks. We'll do a final session after this heals to tie the bow on it.

This tattoo was made by Sean Zee out of Brick, NJ from pictures I've taken while scuba diving. I gave him 50-some pictures and a wish list, and he selected about 15 shots to create this scene. These pics were taken on 4 continents from 1998 through 2013 using (mostly) a Nikonos V underwater camera with an SB-105 strobe, UW Nikkor 35mm, 28mm, and 15mm f2.8 fisheye lenses, Sea & Sea (no relation) macro kit and Nikonos closeup kit.


Sean is a great guy, dedicated and amazingly creative. It boggles my mind how artists just "see" stuff like this and make it happen. He put up with a lot of questions and "what ifs" and "why nots" from this nearly virgin canvas (as he likes to say, "this woman only had lil kitty paw prints on her shoulder before this"), explaining to me all the ways this tattoo would NOT work, and ended up just putting it on the table that it really needed to be a full back if I wanted so many references. And to prove it, he designed the whole thing superimposed on a picture of my bare back and emailed it to me. I remember the moment I saw it for the first time and it shorted out my brain. I committed to the full back about 20 minutes after I got the email. (And I admit at the time I did not understand in the least what I was in for...)

Kinda funny, thinking back on it, how all the chatter and uncertainty and 14 years of wanting some sort of tattoo with my eagle rays were completely silenced and resolved in a heart beat. Anyway...

So, the critters making appearances, starting at the top right and going clockwise are: two moon jellyfish, two Moorish idols, two clownfish and anemone, a batwing coral crab and mustard tube sponges just behind him, a leopard moray eel, two squirrelfish hiding in red sea fans that cross my lower back, a sea snake in lettuce coral (very poisonous, which I didn't realize until after I'd crawled up in his face to take the picture and then been admonished by the divemaster after the picture was developed), a queen angelfish and a hammerhead shark. In the center are two spotted eagle rays and the broken mast of the Nippo Maru, a Japanese supply ship sunk during WWII by US forces in Truk Lagoon, Micronesia.

When I look at this, I don't just see a tattoo of fish. It's a diary of my favorite diving experiences. Each part has such different memories of the location, the people I was with, and the experience on that dive. (Yeah, poisonous sea snake. Whoopsie on that one. And the clownfish was actually guarding a little ring of day-old eggs. And trying to photograph moon jellies in a surge without being hit is like playing a 3D video game. And that I really really wanted my spotted moray eels but Sean said the pattern wouldn't age well, so with resigned sadness, my handsome spotted moray had to morph into a leopard moray. Sniff Sniff.) All of this flooding my brain at the same time.

And then I get this goofy grin on my face thinking about walking around with this huge awesome back piece that anyone I know would be shocked to learn I have.

He put up a little video where you can see the ribs, too: Video of SeeSea's Back. Healed pics coming to an LST contest near you. I want a T-shirt, dammit :D

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Here's a photo of my winged lion by Valerie Vargas, its quite big so a little distorted and wraps a lot, it's only a start but I love it was such a great experience and a lovely shop and atmosphere, plus it's like the first tattoo I've had in six years that's needed more than one sitting, looks like il be visiting home again sooner rather than later

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Wow SeeSea, that's awesome. Not sure which blows my mind more, the backpiece itself, or the fact that you were down there taking all these pictures. Hammerhead shark? Hell no!

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Well I was waiting to post a healed pic of my finished Seth Wood thigh, but since I can't seem to take a decent pic of my own leg, here's when it was half-fresh:


I started it at Temple in Oakland in June and finished at Saved in NYC in December. I live in North Carolina so both locations meant a trip for me. Really awesome experience getting to see two different shops and travel all across the country to get this done, made some awesome memories, hung out with friends new and old, and just overall had an adventure. Seth is an awesome dude as well and I hope I can get something else from him in the future.

(posted this in the contest thread too, hope it's okay to post it twice!)

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Secret bit of knowledge exclusively for LST (I know people love that exclusiveness, I sure do): that ain't a dark red, but actually a light gray wash looking bloodied and irritated. Haven't got a piece of color on me, except for a few patches of gray and white.

And here I thought you finally joined the colored group. That is some wicked irritation. It's really looking great. How much more is there to do, just a final touch up session?

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Thanks for all the likes, folks! I'm having trouble comprehending that it's over. I thought of it in the past tense yesterday and surprised myself.

@Bmore - yeah, sharks. Sharks are many times misunderstood creatures. Most we encounter either don't care for us and just leave (often because photographers and videographers are chasing them for the shot), and others either ignore us or check us out with a drive-by and wander off. I only had one near-wetsuit-soiling event but hey, we're in their ocean and not the other way around.

@Mush - thanks! Yeah, I'll take your vote going up against all those spectacular Japanese pieces! There are just soooo many awesome pieces around this place. If I had another back I'd love a Battle Royale, and if I had another back I'd love something with a lot of negative space that included my butt, and if I had another back ... I have learned so much here.

@KBeee - funny! It took me a couple tries to accurately list all the critters in my last post. I kept leaving things out so I had to stare at the tattoo to list everything! Thanks!

@pidjones - if I continued around and did a torso, that 3D app thing would be really cool. Thanks!

@OutOfIdeas - ::SMACK:: Smartass. :p

@Pugilist - yeah, holy hell is right. This finished in a thundering climax of 4 long sessions in 7 weeks. I'm not yet right in the head. Thanks!

@graybones - thank you!

@HettyKet - thanks! Actually, I didn't know Zee was Sea in Dutch. An online translator even says it means a large body of salt water. Wow - I had no idea, but the irony is wonderful! Thanks for sharing that.

@marley mission and @sophistre - yeah, I know? Is this the year of the back or something?

@scubaron - thanks! I didn't originally think about the stories, I just chose a bunch of pictures because I loved them. It was only after it was completed that the deeper meaning of the entire piece came through.

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Thanks for all the likes and comments, @marley mission, @Russ, @sophistre and everybody else!


Amazing to see this one finished, looks grea! I really loved reading your story behind it, very ambitious and fun project!


Haha no I'm sticking to the black and gray-theme, FOREVER! Last session is to put shading on the lower part, under the face, and then do some touch ups. And at last I'm done, can't believe it!


Wooow! Good choice!

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@mmikaoj, I know I've said this before but this really is one of my all time favourite tattoos. Looks even more stunning now it's finished, you must be absolutely over joyed with having that on your back!

I hope you don't mind but I've even saved the tattoo on my phone and intend to show it to people when they ask why I love tattooing so much. Also, just on a side note, it really goes to show the wisdom of trusting your artist(s). I can't believe you hadn't seen it before the day and they gave you this! Congratulations one final time!

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