|Don't care what anybody says...all time greatest!|
So, me being me, I did my research on the local shops. That leads me to this little side note: as an indie writer (and proud of it!), I am very big about supporting the local business. Sure, I can save a few cents at a box store, but I have learned that the local proprietors often make up in price with service and "little extras" that you NEVER find in a chain store.
Armed with my information, I hit the three parlors that are within 3 miles of my home. I had already numbered them by my liklihood of selecting them, but chose to visit them third choice first, first choice second, and second choice third.
The third choice had a lot of reviews complaining about punctuality. I arrived 30 minutes after they opened...and found the place empty. (As in nobody had shown up to open yet!) Okay...scratch them. Then I went to my first choice. Star Tattoo in Milwaukie, Oregon. The store is owned and operated by one guy: Draygon. The first person we met was his mom...who rocks a lot of her son's work. (She is getting a full back piece done currently.)
I told him what I wanted and he said he would be happy to draw up a piece and then we could go from there once I was happy with the artwork. He told me ahead of time that this would not be a hasty process since he is the only artist and employee of his shop. He made that point again as he got to know me better and figured out how anxious I was about having this done.
After two hours of talking with this man, I was sold. However, he actually insisted that I finish my search. I did, but the final stop reminded me of what a tattoo parlor would be like if they started becoming mall franchises. The mood just did not work for me. So...Star Tattoo it would be!
|The Shawn Conn logo...love it!|
Since I have been a KISS fan forever, I knew that my all-time favorite guitarist had to be part of the tattoo. Also, there is this whole "zombie" thing that I still have not outgrown. Our cover artist, +Shawn Conn created an amazing logo that will always be the logo for my DEAD series (see above).
|Denise got a ladybug symbolizing Ronni|
I gave the art to Draygon and waited. It took a couple of weeks (remember that early warning?), but at last he was ready to show me something. I was hooked the second that I saw it. So, we scheduled the date. Denise went in first for a ladybug tattoo. Draygon drew her one with the ladybug in flight which she loved. So he did hers first while I watched and they joked about my first time "under the needle".
The best one was that I would get the first dot, scream and flee the building sporting a single dot that I could boast was "picture of earth from very far away". Finally, it was my turn. So, he put down the tracing of the drawing. That didn't hurt a bit. Then I laid down on the table and the real work began.
The work began and after making sure that I was going to be fine, Denise went home. As he worked, Draygon checked on me over and over, making sure that I was okay. There were actually a couple of times that he found a ticklish spot. (He said that was a new one in his 13+ years.) As the work progressed, we talked about all kinds of stuff...zombies, survivalism (he is big on this topic and it was fun to listen to his ideas). Eventually, it was time to stop.
|Day one outline|
|Day one shading|
Both Draygon and the missus commented on how blown away they were by the amount of time I submitted myself to on my first session ever. I have always had a high pain threshold, I guess it is higher than I realized. I was in thew chair for around 4 hours.
Draygon was great about wrapping up my arm and giving me all the instructions for care. He also told me about how the colors would "come in" after it healed. I was ready to schedule the next session. He repeated the part about needing to wait until it healed. But I was just so dang excited. I went home and followed all of his directions. I then discovered that I heal quickly. I went back a week later and the peeling was almost done already. He was stoked and scheduled the next session.
I went in on a Tuesday and he went to work. Once again, this guy is a blast to just talk with while he works. A few times, customers came and he was actually apologetic about having to stop so he could deal with them. Also, his mom stopped in and we visited for a few moments while he took care of scheduling some future appointments. At last, after another 3+ hours or so, he was finished. He noted a few times that this piece would be a three or four sitting event for most. I won't lie, it does start to burn and tingle at times...but it was not nearly as bad as I had been led to believe.
|Right off the table|
Again, he gave me instructions for proper care and told me that I should come in once it heals so he can get some pics for his book (I am his first zombie AND his first KISS piece!) and check for any touch ups that may be needed. Also, once again he reminded me about how the color would come in after it healed.
|Two days later|
Now, I will say that I am adamant that this is the only person I will ever let work on me. He has a customer for life. He is simply amazing, very personable, and also will not hustle the customer. I saw him explain very clearly to one person that walked in with a quote from another shop for a piece that they should take that offer because he could absolutely not match it.
I have my next four already planned and will probably go back this fall for number two. The next will again feature +Ace Frehley, but this time it will be a rendition of a concert shot with the word "Surrender" on the guitar neck. (That is a personal reference between me and the wife.) Also, Dyagon has said that if I am ever fortunate enough to meet Ace and get his autograph on my arm, he wil make it permanent.