Pugilist

Cool stuff you've learned/gotten into/etc. thanks to getting tattooed

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@SeeSea - we have not gotten involved in our centre at all, but they do "intro to meditation" courses once a month, and it's like 1.5 hours long, and very straightforward and helpful and seriously, no koolaid. It would be amazing to find a community like what @DJDeepFried is talking about, but if you just want to learn the basics to get started, I would not be afraid of Shambhala.

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@SeeSea - we have not gotten involved in our centre at all, but they do "intro to meditation" courses once a month, and it's like 1.5 hours long, and very straightforward and helpful and seriously, no koolaid. It would be amazing to find a community like what @DJDeepFried is talking about, but if you just want to learn the basics to get started, I would not be afraid of Shambhala.

I just started listening to the Intro that @DJDeepFried mentioned and it's pretty good. I have to come back to it later when I have the time to dedicate to it. The guy has a good voice and I'm looking forward to doing it.

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@SeeSea: There's a DharmaPunx in NYC & DC: Dharma Punx Nation - Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society

Otherwise this place in MD looks good Tibetan Meditation Center and of course there's a Shambala in Baltimore: Home - Baltimore Shambhala CentreBaltimore Shambhala Centre

In NJ these places look alright: BODHI MONASTERY | A Buddhist Temple from New Jersey in US Princeton Buddhist Meditation Group But hard to get a vibe just from a website.

Check it out! You'll be glad you did.

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I have learned that in spite of all of the work I had done on so many levels I was still carrying the subconscious imprint of social beauty ideals and enculturation. On some subtle levels, I was carrying the social responsibility of ensuring that the appearance of my skin was still palatable to the general populace...the belief that women are still meant to be a part of the scenery and therefore "be attractive" (in a social sense). I really had to confront this in order to continue getting tattooed. It's amazing to be free of this.

On another level, I saw that I lived in fear of being noticed or really "seen".

Also, I learned that I can do anything if I have good company...walk through fire (or at least get both of my feet tattooed in the same session ;) ).

And that snacks are never ever, in any situation or time ever, a bad idea.

I love this thread.

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What a great topic.

So what has tattooing taught me... Where do I start with that one. I have really gotten into tattooing over a period in my life where I have transitioned from education into the working world and both things have taught me a lot about myself and tattooing has definitely been a big part of what I have learned.

The first thing that I think it has taught me is a great appreciation for anything that is made with a bit of heart and soul to it. This for me has revolved around things that are hand made and require time and effort. So everything from a good books, decent music, art and any sort of traditional craft. Art particularly has been something that my parents are quite interested in and I have never found an aspect of it that I really connected with. Tattooing has however taught me a huge amount about different types of visual imagery and as a result I have learned to read the images I see a lot more. It's gone deeper than the simple aesthetic though as I now know a huge amount about the history of where certain images come from and the cultural history that they stem from. This has then been something that I have been able to give back to my friends and family even in a small way. I have also started collecting original paintings and prints myself which just brings me a lot of joy to see them every day.

Tattooing has also inspired me to start drawing and painting more myself. Now I would never claim that what I produce is great art, or even particularly worth spending a lot of time examining, however it gives me an opportunity to focus on something outside of myself and it inspires and frustrates me in equal measure. It has also given me the opportunity to give something back to my friends and family in a very honest and simple way. Especially over the last three years as I have steadily drawn more and more for other people.

As other people have mentioned it has also given me the opportunity to meet some very interesting people. I have had some great conversations with friends and strangers alike and learned a huge amount as a result. There was one tattoo artist particularly who introduced me to sacred geometry and the patterns of nature which is another form of visual imagery that I now see everywhere. The variety of music that tattoo artists particularly have introduced me to as well is great. For example who knew that the verses in Lateralus by Tool follow a Fibonacci sequence. Youtube it... I found it fascinating.

As a general statement to summarise tattooing has changed the way I live my life from the things that I am interested in, to the conversations I have with people and what I choose to do with my spare time. And I couldn't be happier about it. Here's to continued adventures within this world we call tattoo...

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Others have mentioned this here but it's true for me as well, tattoos are tied in a weird way to my feeling better about the way I look. Confident or whatever. I am also aware that in the city I'm just another d-bag with tattoos. Like a said, whatever. Still, I got my first tattoo at age 38 and since then have gotten into the best shape of my life. I feel great! Coincidence? Maybe.

I have also learned to appreciate tattooing as a unique art form in ways I had never thought of in the past. I'm not being creepy as I leer at you at the gym, really, I'm happily married. I'm just checking to see if your tattoo is any good.

Hitting up tattoo shops traveling has also brought me to neighborhoods I might not have otherwise made it too and in every case, except maybe that time in Vegas, the neighborhood itself has been worth the side trip.

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New music is always a win for me! Every session I'm coming out with new bands to check out. I've been binging on Serpent Throne lately. It's like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath had a love child.

Also when a girl looks at me and says "That's beatiful" in reference to my ass. Yep definitely never would have happened without tattooing.

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I only started getting tattooed five and a half years ago. These years has been very turbulent and challenging and, in the later years, also filled with positive learning experience on so many levels. I feel better than ever about myself and I now live a life where I am happy in the moment and also with where I am heading. The experience of getting tattooed more and more and learning about the art and culture has been like a companion through the struggles and personal development. Tattoos has often been a big part of my life so it's hard to separate what comes from what.

One way for me to handle rough emotions has been to keep busy all the time, working for money. This money in turn needed to be channeled somewhere and I turned a lot of it into tattoos and travelling. So that was a delayed very positive side effect of negative emotions, new positive experiences.

Tattoos have absolutely taught me to appriciate art more, different kinds of art. This has also been inspirational when it comes to drawing and painting my own stuff. Art of course ties into history, structures of society, religion, symbolism and culture: all things I that interest me now more then ever. The more I learn in these subjects, the more I get associations when looking at tattoos, which is also interesting.

Tattoos and travelling to get tattoos has given me some very interesting meetings with people, and sent me to places I might not have visited otherwise. I've had many good conversations in tattoo shops and also made a few friends. Most of my friends that I met in other circumstances are not into tattoos, so I tend to not talk so much about tattoos with them. But to know some people that are as neerdy as me is a great joy. Some of these people have told me things that spiralled into new interestest and knowledge that I want to pursue.

The experience of getting tattooed also gave some valuable lessons about pain and the body. I am more interested in sensations now than before, I used to be really inside my head and logical in my thinking. This was sometimes acting as a wall when it came to having good experiences so it was something I wanted to change. It's hard to say what's the egg and whats the chicken in this struggle but tattooing has been part of solving this problem and being more mindful and physical in many aspects. I am now more aware of my bodily sensations and I tend to enjoy them more. The tattoo process and the people I've met has also tied well into my interest in health care and nutrition. I also took a course in yoga recently, after friends and tattooers told me about the benefits.

Getting tattooed quite heavily also did something to my body image. I am still not happy with the shape of some parts of my body but now at least they have very pretty wrappings. Also in relation to other people, who may view you differently when they see your tattoos, being a tattooed person has made me think new thoughts in social situations. Sometimes in makes me uncomfortable but not as much anymore, despite more and more coverage.

It's funny because in many ways tattoos are more then something that I care deeply about and want to imerse myself in. At the same time it is "just tattoos". I think sometimes that other people, without tattoos, make it a bigger deal than it actually is. Like it's being fetishized and or stigmatized in many contexts. Some years ago I would still feel a bit uneasy when someone would ask me "what if you'll regret all this later on?". But now it is "just tattoos", there is so much more to me as a person than what I choose to make my skin look like. On the other hand I feel that I would take quicker showers if I wasn't admiring how damn cool/tough/pretty and sexy I look now.

I could probably go on for a bit but I'll stop now. Tattoos has enriched my life a lot and I love it.

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This is a really cool thread and I've really enjoyed reading people's responses.

I haven't been getting tattooed that long, but it's been long enough and heavily enough that I find it difficult to make a clear distinction between myself and my tattoos anymore because they're such a huge part of my life and my experience. With that said, here's some cool stuff:

Travel. I think one of the greatest things about getting tattooed, and especially by getting tattooed by a lot of people who don't work in my city, is how much traveling I've done to get tattooed, and how it's made travel to seem like a much easier and much more doable thing than it did prior to traveling to get tattooed. Going to New York City seemed like a somewhat daunting trip before; now I realize that it's an easy 7-8 hour drive down a pleasant stretch of the I-87 and can be a weekend trip. While I was working on my sleeve and @Pugilist was working on her back, I think we made five or six trips between Montreal and NYC in a year, and that was unthinkable before tattoos became a priority. If it wasn't for Electric Tattoo in Bradley Beach (now Asbury Park) I never would have considered visiting that part of the Jersey Shore, or probably the Jersey Shore at all, but it was great and I'd love to go back. Barcelona is a great place no matter what, but getting a little tattoo from El Monga when I was there this summer made that wonderful city that little bit better. One of my first thoughts when hearing about a place I haven't been before is figuring out who tattoos there, because tattoos make the best souvenirs.

Art. I've always been interested in art, always drawn to some extent or another, always made a point of visiting museums to look at art, I read about it, and so on, but tattooing has really helped me to broaden my perspectives on art. I would guess that I'm not that different than many of you in that it was really punk rock and skateboarding that exposed me to the first art that really blew my mind. That Corey O'Brien reaper deck Jim Phillips drew is my favorite thing ever and has been since I saw it in ads in Thrasher magazine in I guess the late 80s and early 90s. Those Pushead graphics on those Zorlac decks in that same era; the cover art for the Noise Forest skate rock tape, that stuff all still rules. I'm probably not the only person here who was first exposed to Scott Sylvia not through anything tattoo related, but through the H2O album cover he did. My first encounter with Dan Higgs had nothing to do with tattoos, but was through Lungfish. And somehow despite all that, I guess I still thought that art was something that hung in galleries and museums and spaces like that, and that the illustrations on record covers, skateboards, t-shirts, comics, and so on, were something different entirely. It sounds really lame typing this out, but tattooing has really helped me to see all of this stuff as legitimate forms of artistic expression, and that it's totally as acceptable to be in awe of a Greg Irons illustration as it is to be in awe of a Rembrandt painting. I have plenty of time for both of those. I really love that interview Ed Hardy did of Mike Malone in Bulls Eyes and Black Eyes where Rollo talks about coming from the New York art scene, doing projections and shit like that, and then eventually coming around to imagery that really blew his mind from his childhood, like biker patches and stuff like that. I get where he's coming from there.

Tattoos have also made me really appreciate technique and craft. Lately, and this is in a roundabout way coming from seeing Shawn Barber's paintings, I've come to really like realism in art, especially as it contrasts with super conceptual stuff that isn't about skill or technique at all. I have absolutely zero interest in realistic tattoos though.

Body image. Now the thing that I like least about my body is the amount of open skin I have left. Not that I'm in a rush to cover it all right away, because I want to get tattooed for a long time to come.

Spirituality. We've talked a lot about meditation on here, but I think beyond that there's something spiritual (maybe you'd choose a different word, but I'm using spiritual) about tattoos. I don't mean in a direct way, like tattoos of crosses and Jesus heads or Buddhist iconography or whatever, but more about the way that tattooing seems to be a fundamental human drive. When I was getting my arm worked on there was a moment in a lengthy and brutal session where I was laying on the table, I could smell my own blood from the work that had been done on my shoulder, and there was this sudden understanding of how weird the whole thing was: I was there bleeding and in pain, totally voluntarily, and paying somebody a lot of money that I had worked hard for to do this to me. It isn't behavior that is entirely rational; that's part of the appeal of it. Before having experiences like this I was a lot more of a rational and logical person and getting tattooed has opened me up to the possibility that we don't always do things for easily explainable and comprehensible reasons. I think that's a positive thing, personally.

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When I was getting my arm worked on there was a moment in a lengthy and brutal session where I was laying on the table, I could smell my own blood from the work that had been done on my shoulder, and there was this sudden understanding of how weird the whole thing was: I was there bleeding and in pain, totally voluntarily, and paying somebody a lot of money that I had worked hard for to do this to me. It isn't behavior that is entirely rational; that's part of the appeal of it..

Great true Graeme, many times I was thinking about that during tattoo session, it's a sort of surreal moment, but I love it.

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1. Painting. I really damn enjoy it!

2. People and their motivations for doing things.

3. How to spin plates. Not in a literal sense, but to focus on ten different things, and draw on people, and babble like I do... its a good skill to have.

4. Discression. Oh yeah, things the clients tell me stay with. DO THEY! And its the better part of valor.

5. Food. I can go for 18 hours without eating. Should I? Noooooooooo.

and last...

Stop and smell the roses. Or at least draw them.

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Tattooing got me back into drawing all the time like I used to in High School.

It's also got me into more types of history and styles of art, history and symbols and the strength and meaning in images mean REALLY peaked my interest.

Basically tattooing made me fall back in love with art and creating. I have a real deep appreciation for that good shit now...well I always did but it's deeper now

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Thought it was time to bump a positive thread back to the top.

I'm reluctant to say that I've learned anything from tattoos yet, but one thing I did notice is that old Asian art is suddenly a lot more interesting. Previously I would've found something like Chinese silk paintings beautiful but not viscerally exciting - which I think also has something to do with the way it's often presented in museums. I've hardly been to a large number of art museums worldwide, but in the US it seems like the Asian art wing's often hushed, dimly lit and under-trafficked - like, the part of the museum you walk through or past in order to get to the Picassos. But the link to tattooing has suddenly made me really excited to look at things like cast-bronze deities, or Japanese board game designs (there's a whole room of them at the MFA that's fantastic). That's due to looking at the Perseverance catalog and the tattoos that posters on here are making or getting. I hope this doesn't come across as patronizing!

- - - Updated - - -

Rereading this thread, I just realized that Pugilist said virtually the same thing in her first post - durr! So I guess this is a longwinded way of saying, me too.

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On 3/2/2015 at 1:29 PM, polliwog said:

Thought it was time to bump a positive thread back to the top.

I'm reluctant to say that I've learned anything from tattoos yet, but one thing I did notice is that old Asian art is suddenly a lot more interesting. Previously I would've found something like Chinese silk paintings beautiful but not viscerally exciting - which I think also has something to do with the way it's often presented in museums. I've hardly been to a large number of art museums worldwide, but in the US it seems like the Asian art wing's often hushed, dimly lit and under-trafficked - like, the part of the museum you walk through or past in order to get to the Picassos. But the link to tattooing has suddenly made me really excited to look at things like cast-bronze deities, or Japanese board game designs (there's a whole room of them at the MFA that's fantastic).

Hey, another bump!  Can't believe I hadn't seen this thread earlier, but it made for a great read on a winter evening.

I actually had the same experience as @polliwog while visiting the Portland Art Museum last month.  I went for the Warhol exhibit (which was phenomenal, btw), but while everyone else was waiting in line for the restroom I headed to the ancient Chinese sculpture exhibit.  It was right by the main entrance, but in a way that made it incredibly easy to walk past.  Ancient artifacts and images I only recognize from following tattoo history!  What a cool experience.

I'm still not sure how best to answer the OP, but I'm glad that tattoos have shown me more than just pictures on skin.

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I had wanted chest tattoos for a long time, which got me into the gym again. Can't slap a tattoo on a weak chest can we? I had to wait a while but it was worth it. My chest tattoos were done in 2010.

In 2004 I was at the point where I had 5 tattoos that were old and I would hide them from others. Then I learned that old work could be freshened up and new work could be added around it... or covered up! So I'm sort of reborn in a colorful way. 

I'm also reconnected to the art itself. I have a new appreciation for oriental art as well as other styles of tattooing. And I've met some great artists along the way.

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Bumping this topic - interesting reading!

I’ve only got one small tattoo from 40-odd years ago, but I’m planning a back piece. Even though I haven’t started the actual tattoo yet, I have already learned things as I’ve made my decision and started planning. 

I’m learning that tattooing is a process and that for me most important part of the process is not in the studio, it is in the brain. 

It took me over 30 years to decide to get my second tattoo. Even though I wanted one, I didn’t think it fit my professional image, and I was afraid of being judged negatively by friends and colleagues. I waffled between “should I or shouldn’t I?” for decades. Over time my desire to get a tattoo grew stronger and stronger. And to complicate matters, my interest evolved from “getting a tattoo” into “getting a very large tattoo.” 

I couldn’t understand why I was unable to make a decision. I spent a lot of time analyzing it and ended up writing down the whole history of my interest in tattooing, as far back as far as I could remember — every incident, what I saw, what my thoughts were along the way, and what was going on in my life, my feelings of conflict— everything I could think of (condensed, but still fairly long version here). Ultimately that led me to the realization that my indecision was not really about whether or not to get a tattoo, but was really an expression of my inability to be the person that I wanted to be in life. 

I came to the realization that I had lived my whole life trying to fit into an image of what I perceived that others and my profession wanted me should be, while completely burying what I wanted to be. I realized that I had unwittingly gradually reprogrammed myself to believe that by “fitting in” I would become the “right kind of person.” 

That may have been one of the most important things I learned about myself in my 60-odd years on the planet. Once I acepted that, it was easy to decide to go ahead with my tattoo project, but more importantly It helped me start to live my life more as I wanted, and move toward a better balance between the professional me and the private me. 

It was only through trying to decide to get a large tattoo that I was able to find that out about myself. I’m not sure if I could have gotten to that realization any other way. I think that for me it took a confrontation with a desire to do something that in my world was really radical, extreme, and beyond the norm (getting a huge tattoo) to jolt me into exploring and learning something deep in me.

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On October 26, 2014 at 3:48 AM, KBeee said:

...was still carrying the subconscious imprint of social beauty ideals and enculturation. On some subtle levels, I was carrying the social responsibility of ensuring that the appearance of my skin was still palatable to the general populace...the belief that women are still meant to be a part of the scenery and therefore "be attractive" (in a social sense). I really had to confront this in order to continue getting tattooed. It's amazing to be free of this...

Interesting comment, @KBeee

As a male, it is impossible for me to fully understand what it is like to to be a woman and live with society’s expectations of beauty for women. Society and media have certainly browbeaten women about conforming to an ideal of appearance. Women getting tattooed visibly challenges that, which is good. Kudos for you! But I suspect that it is tough sometimes.

It is not quite the same for me as a man because we aren't held to the same "beauty" expectations. I have been fascinated by tattoos since the 1970s (I’m in my sixties, got a tattoo at twenty, waited until now to get something large). I liked them, wanted them, thought they look great on everyone, male and female, and have viewed them positively myself, for decades before the tattooing reached today's popularity. But I, too, realize I am carrying subconscious imprints. In my case, they are the messages that I grew up with about how tattoos are not for “good people” like me. I don’t believe that myself, but I must admit that it is in the back of my mind, and somewhere inside my brain I think other people believe that and I will be judged by them.

I think that has been part of why I have struggled to decide to go ahead with my large project (see my other post in this thread)

Edited by Intomyskin

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5 hours ago, Intomyskin said:

Bumping this topic - interesting reading!

I’ve only got one small tattoo from 40-odd years ago, but I’m planning a back piece. Even though I haven’t started the actual tattoo yet, I have already learned things as I’ve made my decision and started planning. 

I’m learning that tattooing is a process and that for me most important part of the process is not in the studio, it is in the brain. 

It took me over 30 years to decide to get my second tattoo. Even though I wanted one, I didn’t think it fit my professional image, and I was afraid of being judged negatively by friends and colleagues. I waffled between “should I or shouldn’t I?” for decades. Over time my desire to get a tattoo grew stronger and stronger. And to complicate matters, my interest evolved from “getting a tattoo” into “getting a very large tattoo.” 

I couldn’t understand why I was unable to make a decision. I spent a lot of time analyzing it and ended up writing down the whole history of my interest in tattooing, as far back as far as I could remember — every incident, what I saw, what my thoughts were along the way, and what was going on in my life, my feelings of conflict— everything I could think of (condensed, but still fairly long version here). Ultimately that led me to the realization that my indecision was not really about whether or not to get a tattoo, but was really an expression of my inability to be the person that I wanted to be in life. 

I came to the realization that I had lived my whole life trying to fit into an image of what I perceived that others and my profession wanted me should be, while completely burying what I wanted to be. I realized that I had unwittingly gradually reprogrammed myself to believe that by “fitting in” I would become the “right kind of person.” 

That may have been one of the most important things I learned about myself in my 60-odd years on the planet. Once I acepted that, it was easy to decide to go ahead with my tattoo project, but more importantly It helped me start to live my life more as I wanted, and move toward a better balance between the professional me and the private me. 

It was only through trying to decide to get a large tattoo that I was able to find that out about myself. I’m not sure if I could have gotten to that realization any other way. I think that for me it took a confrontation with a desire to do something that in my world was really radical, extreme, and beyond the norm (getting a huge tattoo) to jolt me into exploring and learning something deep in me.

Nice post and read! One question, what's your profession? Really curious to know the answer, seems that it played a big role in your tattoo-less self :)

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@viezure: I'm an architect. We have corporate and institutional clients who are often quite traditional on such things, especially for someone my age, who should "know better"   ;-)   I value my job, am committed to it, and enjoy it too, and my personal point of view is that I don't want to do anything to make clients uncomfortable. That may sound a little like "sucking up," but business is business. Because of those clients I can  feed my family and pay the mortgage...and get tattooed!

On the other hand we have some clients who I know would not care, and we currently have one tattooed client. But I prefer to to keep business and personal stuff separate but in the proper balance, which had been my big hang up for years. 

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I've got to say I agree with the posts about tattoos making you feel better about yourself. I've been interested in tattoos ever since I knew what they were, and always saw myself as a tattooed person. When I finally got my first one, I had a moment of "this is what I'm supposed to be doing," if that makes any sense. There's also been an attitude of "women should be pretty, this skull isn't feminine enough for me to get it" I had to get over. And man is it liberating. I feel like I can do anything with my body now and no one has any say over it.

Tattoos have also renewed my interest in art and given me the confidence to proceed in some sort of art related field. Right now I work in a copy center, basically the manual labor side of graphic design. Someday I'd like to be a graphic designer, or a tattooer, or hell, just about anything related to art. I was really into it as a kid and lost my interest some time around middle/high school because I was worried I wasn't good enough. Now I just have fun doodling stuff that looks like tattoos or whatever and it's made me realize how fun art is...even if I'm not the greatest.

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I didn't really expect to learn anything from getting tattooed, or for tattoos to change me in any way.  I got my first one due to an interest in the art form and out of curiosity/a desire to take a risk and experience something new.  The whole process of getting tattooed (everything from planning the design to scheduling the appointment to waiting for the appointment to trusting the artist to not F*** up your skin to living with the work after it's done) has been so much more fascinating and fulfilling than I could have ever imagined.
 
I think getting tattooed is a pretty intense trust exercise.  You approach an artist - who's probably a stranger, describe what you have in mind, and trust that they'll be able to execute your vision and put it in the right spot and apply it with proper technique.  Even after you approve the sketch, you have to trust that it will transfer well to skin, and that the color palette will match (or be better than) what you imagined.  All that can be nerve-wracking, but as someone who loves to control everything she can and worries incessantly about plenty of things she can't, there's something incredibly therapeutic about relinquishing control and putting trust in a stranger to put something beautiful and permanent on your body.
 
My tattoos have also been a great exercise in acceptance.  My control-freak nature also comes with a healthy dose of perfectionism (and a propensity for not taking risks), but with my tattoos I've had to let that go.  I think I have great tattoos, but of course they have their flaws, and learning to live with and accept them has been healthy for me, I think.  I made a choice to get tattooed, trusted my artists, and have to accept the work as it is because it's there forever whether it turned out like I planned it or not.
 
Lastly, I never expected getting tattooed to be so FUN.  Not that I explicitly enjoy the needles-boring-into-my-skin part, but the excitement and ritual leading up to tattoo day, hanging out in shops, seeing the huge lovely flash collections on the walls, and meeting interesting people has been so delightful. 

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