After years and years of uhhming and ahhing, I finally did it:
I got my first tattoo! (I took these photos literally the day after so she's still healing! What can I say, I'm impatient *shrug emoji*)
This feels like a rite of passage which, at 25, I’m happy to be finally passing through. I’ve wanted a tattoo for years and it wasn’t for lack of ideas that I never booked in. The honest (and slightly embarrassing but fittingly Millenial) truth is that I didn’t know how. Do you call first? Email? Turn up at the shop? Should you know exactly what you want? Should you go with a design? Should you open with ‘I’d like to book a tattoo’, or is that painfully obvious and akin to a screaming siren declaring your n00b status? WHAT IS THE ETIQUETTE?
So many questions and so little front to find out the answers. Seemingly it was for fear of embarrassment that I didn’t book in for so long, but then I saw the deliciously talented Gee Hawkes was opening her books briefly for applications and I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity. Finding someone you trust to buzz permanent art onto your body is no small feat, but I’d seen countless of Gee’s previous works which were always perfectly executed and timelessly designed, so I whizzed off a submission. Keiran applied too, and luckily Gee gave a spot to us both so we were able lose our tattoo virginity in tandem (gross but true).
I’m chuffed to bits with how it has turned out. I wanted the placement to be somewhere I could see and since I’m almost permanently wearing a t-shirt, my upper arm on the right side felt like the perfect spot. The shape of the tattoo changes slightly as I bend my arm but I’m totally fine with that, and Gee made sure that I was aware that this particular area of skin will move as I do. It’s actually kinda cute because if I bend my arm up you can only really see the little moon at the top, and then it’s like KABLAM - got you bish, there’s a whole pyramid right here.
At this point you may be echoing my Mum’s sentiment: ‘love it - what is it though?’. Good question! Let’s talk inspiration.
If the Bougie Queen Chill playlist and dedicated artworks around my home haven't give it away, I’m a big SZA and Frank Ocean fan. Frank is the G.O.A.T. and I won’t hear otherwise; those who disagree are welcome to chain-listen his entire discography and offer me an alternative for anybody more poetic. And SZA? I just love her. There’s a vulnerability, kindness and power in not only her music, but in her person too, and I really identify this period of my life with her album Ctrl. With them both, in fact; I’ve felt my own growing pains as my life changes and the world changes around me, but putting on my headphones and listening to Frank and SZA - that brings me back to myself.
‘Pyramids’ from Channel Orange and ‘Nights’ from Blond(e) are my two favourite songs from both albums, so Gee designed a minimal pyramid with a little moon over the top as a homage to Frank. Then SZA’s album name, Ctrl, is placed just along the bottom, bringing the three elements together. Keiran also had the pyramid/moon combination added to his arm in the same place, the design being slightly different but the moon matching so we still had a whisper of a “couples tattoo” (we’re sentimental okay?).
I’m so happy with how it’s turned out, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better “first tattoo” experience. Gee was amazing - friendly, chill, informative and kind; it was more like being tattooed by a friend than by someone I’d only ever stalked online.
Regardless of what anybody says, organising and sitting for your first tattoo can be intimidating. It’s an entirely new experience and you kinda want to seem cool and aloof and ‘yeah, do whatever mate’, but you also want to be relaxed enough that you feel you can ask daft questions. Top Boy Tattoo (where Gee tattoos from) is a really inviting and chill space (the playlist was excellent, too), and it made the whole experience so much less daunting. Keiran and I were able to hang out next to each other, chatting and laughing with Gee the whole time. I now understand even more than before why her books are so full; not only does she design the most beautiful artwork pieces, but she's also just a really cool person to spend a couple of hours with. Once you’ve been, you’re going to want to go back.
Oh, and no, it really didn’t hurt that much at all. You never believe other people when they say that but it is true. I’d opt for tattoo pain over cystitis pain any day, if that helps to illustrate my point.
From hereon out I will be going to great lengths to show it off (*reaches wildly across another person* “oh this? It’s just my beautiful first tattoo, thank you for noticing”), and I’m preparing myself mentally to have it explain it 10 times over to my Mum. But I love it and I’m really happy, and I’m already thinking of what I want next and where. I’d love a collection of mini momentos á la the queen Peggy Gou, so we’ll see where my imagination takes me.