I just shed a tear. I’m so unprepared.

Gettin' stabbed

This past Saturday I spent oh just so many hours getting stabbed. I had mentally prepared for three hours work but by the time all was said and done, I’d been under the needles for close to four and a half hours.
You mentally prepare for the pain of getting tattooed. That hour and a half for which I’d not prepared was some of the worst tattoo-pain I’ve ever experienced.

As always, though, it was completely and utterly worth it.

New peacock by @brooketattooer! (plz get all your cock jokes out now)
(tattoo by Brooke Newnham of Tattoo Machine)

He doesn’t have a name, my wee peacock friend, but I would like to point out a few things:
1. I only just found out there’s a Katy Perry song called Peacock
2. Yes I’ve heard the “but I thought you gave up the cock” joke already.
3. No, it wasn’t even funny the first time.
4. Okay maybe a TINY bit funny but ONLY the first time.
5. I really hate that song.

He’s important to me, and you know what? I’m not sure that this time I feel like sharing it. Isn’t it enough he’s so damn pretty?

NZ Tattoo and Art Convention, New Plymouth

On a sunny Friday afternoon, four friends and I headed four and a half hours up the North Island to New Plymouth for the annual Tattoo and Art convention.

Friday: on the road to New Plymouth

We ate at a cute wee cafe, the Federal Store, it was perfect until I realised that each word ending in S on the sign also had a possessive apostrophe. Then it was almost better.

Cutest wee cafe - the Federal Store

I adore the diversity of the crowd at the convention; there were young people with tattoos, old people with tattoos, people without tattoos, families with young children, families with old children, rockabilly, punk, goth, bogan, middle class, gay, straight. We were all there.

Overlooking the festival

Saturday: Nicole Draeger hard at work

Dude getting stabbed

Prints for sale

Sunday: purchasing a print by Amanda Cain

Booths at the festival

After 9 hours over two days at the festival the five of us came home with five tattoos amongst us. Of course three of those tattoos were on me.

And a big fuck off dagger. By Dan Smith!

Dan Smith stabbed this dagger into my arm.

Getting the stencil on - Dan Smith tattooing me (Photo by Mark Harris)
photo by Mark Harris

Yes, he is the kiwi guy from LA Ink. Yes, I did book in early – I emailed in April for an appointment in November. Yes, it was worth it. Yes, that’s my forearm.

"A ship is safe in harbour, but ships were not meant for that" tattoo by William P Brown

A ship is safe in harbour, but ships are not made for that. Last minute flash tattoo by William P Brown from Shanghai Charlie’s in Sydney.

Wearing my heart on my sleeve. By Tilly Dee

Wearing my heart on my sleeve. Smitten by Tilly Dee from Mimsy’s Trailer Trash Tattoo in Brisbane.

Au Revoir Mt Taranaki

Poppies in October

All done. Now dead.
Poppies. Tattoo by Victor J Webster

Poppies in October

Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.
Nor the woman in the ambulance
Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly –

A gift, a love gift
Utterly unasked for
By a sky

Palely and flamily
Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes
Dulled to a halt under bowlers.

Oh my God, what am I
That these late mouths should cry open
In a forest of frosts, in a dawn of cornflowers.

— Sylvia Plath (27 October 1962)

Today I got the poppies tattooed. I had vaguely remembered the poem but not that the month was October. And, you know, Plath wrote that on her last birthday alive. Her 30th birthday.

I hadn’t looked up the poem before I got the tattoo. I turn 30 next week.

xx xx

I am, of course, just overthinking this all. It’s just a strange strange coincidence. Also, I am not even in the slightest bit suicidal. So there’s that.

This tattoo, oh, it hurt so bad. SO bad. I hadn’t had my hip tattooed since October 2010 and yeah, there was a reason it took me three years to get the nerve to get another hip tattoo.

Both Victor and Simon Morse complimented me on how well I sit while getting tattooed. Like the terminator, apparently, I just shut down and don’t move. It’s not the most useful talent to have, but I will take it.

But I think my favourite moment was when Victor asked how old I was and, after being told I was a week away from 30, had me repeat myself and then told me he thought I was 23. This baby face of mine is both a blessing and a curse.

Love is the bone and sinew of my curse.

A no-good very-bad tattoo experience.

Pity the artist was such a dick, I do like this tattoo

Before I begin, a few caveats.
Perhaps the artist & I just didn’t get along.
I haven’t heard anyone else complain about him. The studio is still excellent, this was a guest artist. I’m not sure I want to name either of them.

I’d seen the artist’s work on Instagram & as soon, literally as soon, as I saw that he was booked to do a guest spot in NZ I was sold.

I sent an email asking if he could tattoo me, if he had any time on the Friday or Saturday of his visit as I would be flying up to Auckland, not the easiest or cheapest thing.
I also asked if he was keen to do the kind of tattoo I was after, a symmetrical flower similar to ones I had seen in his portfolio but in bright “feminine” colours like pink and purple. I told him I was looking to get it done on the back of my neck.

He seemed to have no queries as he emailed me back and set up an appointment.

I arrived at the studio 10 minutes before our appointment time (I am punctual to a fault). The first thing he asked me was where I was getting the tattoo again. He seemed annoyed the back of my neck was so small.

He huffed about the place shrinking it down – telling me about how he would have to simplify what he’d shown me, and that if he made it too small it would look “shit.”

From the outset I told him that I would trust his instincts as he was the artist and if he had any other idea about placement, I was open to it.

After trying to put the stencil on a few times, barely saying anything or telling me what he was doing, pushing my head this way and that, we had the following conversation:

Him: I can’t make it fit. I’ve already shrunk it about 20%. If I do it any smaller it’s going to look shit. I’m not sure what you want to do …
Me: Oh.
Him: Yea. This won’t work on your neck. I’m not sure what you want to do.
Me: Uh. Well I don’t want to just leave it, I flew all this way …
Him: ………..
Me: Ummm. Would it work as a shoulder cap?
Him: uh yea, I suppose.

So we did it as a shoulder cap and halfway through the tattoo he disappeared.

Stings

He’d just finished the outline when he put down his tattoo machine, took of his gloves, and left the room. He didn’t say anything to me or to either of the two artists in the room and just left me there. He came back, eventually.

He asked me what colours I wanted I told him “like I said in my email, girly colours, pinks, purples, turquoise, yellow, unexpected colours.” His petulant response?
“Oh. So all the colours I don’t do.”
He stormed around the studio making a big show of borrowing colours from the other artists. I was such an imposition.

It was at this point I wanted to tell him to just forget it, that I would get someone else to finish it, but I’ve never done that before. I’m pretty sure that’s something that’s just not done. I was also pretty sure I would burst into tears if I tried to talk, and I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.

If I had any kind of hint when I’d emailed him that he would be anything other than pleased to do this tattoo? I wouldn’t have flown to Auckland. I wouldn’t have done all of this. I could have avoided this whole stinking mess.
I could have a tattoo that I just like, not one where I’m reminded of a jerk.

When he was finished he didn’t even take a photo, he barely let me look at it, wrapped my arm, told me about after-care, and I got out of there as quick as humanly possible. On the street I called Craig and sobbed.
Shortly thereafter I unfollowed him on instagram.

Post-tattoo, post-crying jag

There’s no moral to this story, I haven’t really learnt any kind of lesson.
I guess some people are just jerks.

Fluctuat Nec Mergitur

Devon Anna freaking Smith

This past weekend I added to my walking art gallery.
I commissioned Devon Smith to design a tattoo for me based on one of her paintings.
It’s beautiful.

I had it stabbed into my skin by Char at Dr Morse Inc as she’s got skills with lovely delicate drawings and, well, I decided to get it done before I knew Devon was heading to Dunedin to become a tattoo artist herself.

One more session a few weeks from now and it’ll look something like this

Sketch from Devon

I’m pretty damn lucky.

Pinky Fang vs Nursey No Mercy – Kitty Gang

Nursey stabbing Craig

The moment at which Craig started his initiation into the coolest (not so) little gang in Wellington.

Nursey stabbing Craig

So I have some of the coolest fucking friends around. Not even kidding. Two of them, the inimitable Pinky Fang and Nursey No Mercy (aka Char aka apprentice extraordinaire at Dr Morse Inc, Tattoo Studio) have teamed up for this excellent … art piece? I think that’s what I’d call it.

Sign Up Sheet

Currently there are … 18? initiates. 18 individuals all walking around with these rad similar but different tattoos. All of whom love the work of Pinky & Char.

Tattoos on Dr Morse Inc's walls

Nursey stabbing Craig

Besides which, Craig and I didn’t ever really do anything for our anniversary so why NOT buy each other matching Kitty Gang tattoos?

Kitty gang tattoos

It’s hard to explain, exactly, but we love what we came out with.
I was an OG supporter of the Kitty Gang, buying a drawing from Pinky way back when. I just love her work & I love supporting emerging artists (which partly explains my addiction to Kickstarter) so I’ve had this on my bedside table for months

OG Kitty Gang drawing

Oh and believe me, the unfortunate coincidence of being a member of the Kitty Gang who both adores and is allergic to cats? That’s not lost on me.

CharlotteJack
Coley and Simon
Fellow gang members Charlotte, Jack, Simon, and Coley.
GCs all.

Craig's pirate kitty

Girly Kitty Gang tattoo

(incidentally, someone in my play the other day asked if he’d spotted the words “intrepid” and “immoral” on my back. As he’s a psychiatrist I seriously considered telling him yes)

Mermaids & Unicorns: New Plymouth Tattoo Festival

Quick departure to New Plymouth

Exploring around the stadium
I landed two hours early in New Plymouth. I ended up at the Stadium … pretty well close to two hours early.

Mount Taranaki
I considered hanging around the stadium carpark. But there’s only so much one can take.

Walked all the way down to the sea
It turns out that New Plymouth IS actually that small. I walked down to the sea.

Light and the sea

All stencilled up by @tattoosbytoby #npfestival

Getting there #bleeding #tattoo #npgonewild

Nicole Draeger at the Tattoo Festival!
I loved this chick’s work – Nicole Draeger from Melbourne.

Crowds and artists

Saturday: Rose Hardy at the Tattoo Festival
Rose Hardy. Seriously. Look at those lady faces! I am so excited for Thursday.

Laura getting tattooed!
Laura named her tattoo Sparkle Pie Ponycorn.

Sunday: arriving back into Wellington

Lorelai, my mermaid
Tattoo by Toby Gawler

Lorelai, my mermaid
I named her Lorelai. Toby told me it’s bad luck to have an unnamed pin up tattoo.

366 in 2012

366 in 2012

Sunday: ants on the roses
Sunday
It’s getting warm enough in the evenings now to sit outside before Sunday night dinners with my family.

Monday: Creepers for modelling
Monday
Dragged my Underground Creepers to work, I was, of all things, modelling for a magazine.

Tuesday: reach for the sky
Tuesday
This sculpture, though I am ambivalent about rugby, is quite awe-inspiring.

Wednesday: mint treats from America
Wednesday
Our flatmate came home from weeks in America and brought me minty treats.

Thursday: so busy making Ambrosia I almost forgot to take a photo
Thursday
I was so busy with work and making Ambrosia for a thanksgiving feast I almost forgot to take a photo.

Friday: barely took any photos at Thankspot.
Friday
Great friends and amazing food. Any excuse, really.

Saturday: Rose Hardy at the Tattoo Festival
Saturday
Rose Hardy doing her thing. I can’t wait for Thursday.

&

Windblown & squintyWashed & ready for @tinkture

Shakespeare and Diamonds: You were born in a merry hour

I am at the end of a month of tattoos and bepanthen.
For a month I have smelled like a tiny, like a child, legs and arm and finger either sticky or scabbed. I am delightful, I know.
This July I’ve gone from 9 tattoos to 13 tattoos.
(yep)

Friday the Thirteenth Tattoo
First there was my Friday the 13th tattoo. That took me from 9 to 10.

Then I heard that Char, the apprentice at Dr Morse Inc (who had tattooed Laura, a friend of mine) was offering too-good-to-be-true rates while she built up her base.
I all but jumped at the chance.
Of course she is also a very cool chick, a babe, and that Laura loved the tattoo she got from Char.

Which is how, on Sunday 29th July, I ended up at Dr Morse Inc. I was dressed sort of like a baseballer, and I walked out with three more tattoos than those I walked in with.

Looking a bit ... like a baseballer? #stabbystab
(you have my absolute and sincerest apologies for the instagram photos)

I’ve been a bit torn as to whether I should say I got two tattoos or three. Because, while it is split across the back of both of my legs, neither half would work without the other.

Ouch #stabbystabstab with @nurseynomercy

Ouch face #stabbystabstab

Things I learnt!
1. Your dominant side feels pain less than your non-dominant side. So tattooing my right leg before my left leg was not the wisest.
2. It is really hard to photograph the back of ones legs. It is even harder to get a flattering photo.

I got words on my legs now! #stabbystabstab
then there was a star danced, and under that was I born

From Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Act II scene I

DON PEDRO
Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best
becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in
a merry hour.

BEATRICE
No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there
was a star danced, and under that was I born.

It’s funny to but noone has asked my why I chose this quote. I quite like that. After all, it really is none of their business. Maybe they just assumed I really really liked the quote.
I do love the play, it was my first and always favourite, and Beatrice is probably my favourite character. She is my Hamlet, the one character I would adore to play.

But why these, out of all of Shakespeare’s glorious words, I chose to have inscribed on me.
To me the words signify that that good things can come from pain, good things can come from sadness. It’s something I find calming and useful to remember.

The third and final tattoo was a bit of a whim.
It’s something I’ve wanted for a very long time but something I’ve avoided because, well, it’s really quite visible, and because it’s so small I didn’t want to book an individual appointment just for it. It took all of about 5 minutes to complete.

And here comes tattoo number 3 for today!

Then, one evening, as I sat with my second glass of wine, Char (who is on twitter) linked to a finger tattoo she’d just done. 5 minutes later I’d asked to have my own finger tattoo added on to my Sunday appointment.

Love my finger trinket #stabbystabstab

This one has no story, no deeply personal meaning. I just think it’s beautiful.

29. The last thing I bought (besides food) #photoadayjuly

Itchy knuckle. Itchy knuckle #soweird #tattoo #macro

And really, if my tattoos are my storybook? Sometimes illustrations can be there because they’re just beautiful.