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Hello from the dry heat of Tucson, AZ


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After spending over a month since I registered as a lurker doing nothing more than reading and absorbing, I figured it was probably time to properly join by posting here. As I reviewed this before posting, It looks like I got a little wordy so you can jump to the bottom for the short version and a couple starter questions (I know I'll have more).

When I was in college (and even going back to high-school) I kept imagining ways to come up with the most outlandish tattoo idea just to make sure that it would never happen. I never saw myself having a tattoo mostly because I couldn't ever picture something I would want on and with me forever. My younger sister had two not too long after leaving high-school and I was just baffled at the concept.

In college I had (and still have) friends who got tattoos. I was at the shop when my absolute best friend (closer to a brother now more than 20 years into our friendship) got his first. I still couldn't quite 'get it'.

Things change, people change and I found my general feelings about tattoos changing. I was seeing more people my age with them and seeing a slightly different attitude towards people with tattoos (more accepting even if they weren't necessarily approving). As a result, I got my first, and so far only, tattoo six or seven years ago. I went shop-shopping and portfolio shopping and found an artist who had work of a similar style to what I was looking for. I made an appointment and a couple weeks later had the work done (bicep piece).

I was mostly happy with it but it wasn't quite what I was wanting. I figured once the healing was finished, I would go back and talk about adjustments, additions and other general finishing work. About two weeks after the appointment, while I was still healing, the artist called me and told me she had been released by the shop she had been working at but left me her number if I needed a touch up or anything else. I know I could have used at least a touch-up, but I wasn't about to take her up on the offer not knowing where at or what state of the equipment would be at that point.

I suspect the details of the whole incident re-turned me off to the concept of tattoos a bit.

Fast forward to two years ago when I was visiting the South by Southwest music festival in Austin. I was jammed into a bus (hey, Capital Metro, why don't you bring more buses out of the garage during SXSW) where the only the only things I had to look at for a few miles was the back of someone's head or a very close look at a tattooed forearm. I don't recall what was there but I was amazed at the very clean lines (unlike the somewhat uncertain lines I had). Granted, SXSW is effectively tattoo central for the week and then some of the festival, but I think this was the first time I truly realized what I had on my own arm was rather awful.

Upon returning home I went through the whole portfolio and shop search again trying to find someone who would be able to rework and generally clean up what I already had. It took three sessions (two planned and one touch-up) and it's considerably better than what I started with.

The problem I'm having now is I see all the great work posted here and feel like what I have is only OK (pictures to come at some point, I promise). I don't know what else could be done with it and frankly I think I'm ready to move on to other things.

The bigger problem that I am the youngest person where I work (by close to a decade) and have already received a little flack from one co-worker ("how drunk were you when you got that") despite it being covered by my t-shirt unless I am really reaching or gesturing wildly. I think most of my issue is not having the cajones to push the "I don't give a fuck what you think" button and just do whatever I want. I figure for meetings or family gatherings I can wear a long sleeve shirt and nobody would know. I'm not looking (yet???) at anything beyond a half sleeve but just need to get over that first step so I can go beyond the sleeve of a t-shirt.

I do have bigger picture plans (a big back piece) that I have been working on the reference material for quite some time but know there will be a bit of pre-commitment before I can even consider that (laser hair removal anyone??). The largest step will be finding a great black-and-gray artist with good fine-line skills and some portrait abilities as well (it would be re-creating figures from the first modern star-atlas seen here: Ioannis Bayeri Rhainani I.C. Uranometria. :: Astronomy ). I'm have a suspicion that I may have to make the drive to Phoenix for the artist I'm looking for but I'm willing to make that trip as needed.

Is it reasonable to "test-drive" an artist with a smaller piece in a similar or the same style before making a multi-visit commitment to a big piece? I have a couple smaller pieces in mind that are mostly referenced and ready to go that can be used for this purpose but need to find the right artist.

I realize I've become VERY long winded here with what should be a quick introduction. I'll leave it here (as all over the map my train of thought has been) and will pick it up with better formed questions as they come up.

The short version. I'm not much of a forum guy, even when I'm at my most active so don't expect a ton from me, but I hope to contribute what little I can. I see myself getting a lot out of the brain-trust here (I already have) and pointing me to better tattoos (as the advertising touts).

Thanks for being here and thanks for having me in the group!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Coming to this after a week up to my eyeballs in work and I realize that I was... how do I put this... long winded in my introduction. That seems to happen when I'm tired which I know I was when I made the first post. I'll just ask a couple questions this go around.

I see lots of love here for old-school color but I find I'm drawn to black-and gray as my favorite stuff. Reading the "what makes a great tattoo" thread, there are lots of comments on bold outlines and strong color but I don't recall much there on what makes great (or even good) black and gray. Could anyone provide comments on what makes really good B&G really good? I think I see what that is, but some words or examples would be useful to my neophyte eyes.

Any commentary from anyone on getting over the holdup of not wanting to have tattoos where they are seen would also help. There is a piece I want to get February of next year and am thinking on my right bicep but I know that it will fall below the sleeve of the shirts I usually wear, even to work. Is that something that takes time to get over or does one just jump in and stop caring? I'm really struggling with this and I think being the youngest (by far) of the people I work with is making this more difficult than it should be.

Stu, thanks for the welcome. Joe, thanks for the recommendation. The stuff I have been looking at around here pales in comparison (to my eyes) to what Matt is doing. He's definitely on the list now.

Thanks all. I really need to be more alert before posting!

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