A lot of content creators – with tattoos – seem to do explanation posts or videos going through their tattoos and sharing the stories behind them. I thought this would be a good exercise for me to go through as well and it can be something I can keep contributing to as and when I get more tattoos.
I currently have 5 tattoos; the first of which I got in 2014 and then I got one each year up to 2017, nothing in 2018, and then another one this year (2019). I will split up these into a separate post each to keep everything to a sensible length so it’s easier to read.
Despite wanting tattoos since I was 15 or 16 I didn’t get any until I was 26 for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I was very hesitant before that as I couldn’t decide what to get and I was concerned about not liking something that I wasn’t 100% sure about after it was done. Secondly, going through university I didn’t have a lot of spare cash and my first full time job wasn’t until 2 years after graduating – in the summer of 2013. I didn’t want to go to a cheap studio or artist because I wanted to wait, save up and pay to have a well respected artist who had a long reputation that I could trust. I’d heard and seen first-hand the results of cheap studios: misspelled words, backwards numbers, wonky stars. I wasn’t going to risk going cheap and looking shit.
That’s not to say that I wasn’t having ideas over all these years. In fact, my first tattoo was an idea I’d developed a good 7+ years before I got it and relates back to something that I’d had in my head since 15 years old. At that age, I’d had a dream that I later formulated into an idea for a story and in this came about the concept of ‘Wvelkala’. In this fictitious universe, Wvelkala was a sort of demi-god who had created magic in the world. Wvelkala was also me, as the author, and while I realise how narcissistic that sounds, it was more the idea of me that I wished I could be. I never managed to write more than a few pages and over time I started using Wvelkala as a screenname, particularly in gaming. The added benefit being I’d never encounter a username clash as it was a word I made up.
Back in the heyday of LiveJournal, I saw someone offering to transliterate words or names into the Tolkein elvish script, so I got Wvelkala converted. The Lord of the Rings movies in the early 00’s were a big deal in my life and my family’s life back then so it felt natural to bring these two elements of fantasy together. Originally, I used the image as a profile picture on gaming platforms and only later thought about it as a possible tattoo.
When I was 17 (and for a few years afterwards) I wanted to get the word ‘Sonne’ on my inside wrist, inspired by the Rammstein song of the same name. I also had an idea to have the original Doom cheat codes IDDQD and IDKFA on the inside of my middle fingers. Neither of these came about and when I started my first full time job there was a chap in the team who had tattoos and was working through a sleeve at the time. Thanks to his patience for fielding all the questions I had about tattoos, the process, the healing and a couple of recommendations of studios I felt a lot more confident to go out and take my idea to an artist.
I went with Modern Body Art in Birmingham as both owners, Jo and Matt, were highly renowned and everyone at the studio’s work looked impeccable. Plus, they were an easy bus ride from where I lived at the time. I emailed in and then came in with my elvish script on a print out and saw Ricardo Pedro who suggested adding some extra decoration around the word so it looked more like a complete tattoo. He also persuaded me to go a little bigger than I initially planned and trusting that he knew what he was talking about I agreed on both fronts. I booked a date and paid a deposit and was on my way.
A design was ready a week before for me to pop in and have a look, I don’t think I managed to get over there until two days before but when I did I was bowled over in love with what he’d done. It was simple and it made such an impact. I had been anxious about seeing the design and not liking it so it was a huge weight off.
I had the tattoo on a Monday. I took the day off work. I didn’t heed the warnings to have a high-calorie breakfast so I nearly keeled over about 10 minutes after we started. A boat load of emergency sugar later I was fine. It hurt but not as much as I’d expected. I had more trouble with my back objecting to having to sit up without support for such a long period of time (this was before I had been diagnosed with Fibro or ME so I hadn’t mentioned anything to the studio about back problems). Owing to my chronic pain conditions, I don’t think me rating the pain out of 10 is going to be much help to anyone as my nerves and pain levels are all sorts of wonky.
For healing, I used Bepanthen (don’t use this nowadays, they have changed the recipe and it is no longer suitable for healing tattoos!) after the first night. Yes, it was itchy AF when it started to scab but once it was healed, I didn’t need any touch-ups and I was superbly chuffed with it. It made me feel confident and powerful and I, almost immediately, started thinking about the next one. Now that it is 5.5 years old, it hasn’t seen much fade or wear and tear as it is usually under clothing – when it isn’t the factor 50 sun-cream in covering it up. Sometimes I forget it’s there because I never see it during the course of a regular day, which likely has contributed to the placement of my next 4 tattoos being visible to me.
The one thing that I noted to myself for the future was to make sure I always left enough time for healing between a tattoo and a summer holiday where I might want to go swimming. I don’t think it particularly effected me that year but I was a bit anxious about it given it was my first tattoo.