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Want to know a fun way to spend a Friday night? How about spending it getting your foot poked millions of times by a bunch of needles. No? Didn’t think so. Last Friday night was the third time I’ve done just that, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that I don’t want to sit through another tattoo session on my foot. However, I’m beyond pleased with the results of my coverup tattoo, so I guess it was worth it.
My foot had a nearly-four-year journey from plain old boring foot to modern art masterpiece. In October of 2010 I got my first tattoo on my left foot. My friend and former high school sweetheart had convinced me to get wings on my feet when I ran a marathon, and coincidentally this friend was a tattoo artist. So, I let him give me my first tattoo.
I spent months (nearly two years) coming up with design ideas for the tattoo. I wanted something abstract, but not tribal. Finally, I got out some paint and ended up with the design that was on my foot for the last three years. Well, technically it’s still there since tattoos are forever, but it is nicely incorporated into the new piece.
I was never super happy with the way that tattoo turned out. It wasn’t just the application, it was the original artwork: it was too small for the area and didn’t follow the natural shape of my foot. I should have waited a bit longer or searched around for an artist whose specialty is fine art and not traditional tattoo flash. In 2011 or 2012 I started looking around for an artist to do a coverup piece on my foot. I found a couple of people, but there was nobody that had a portfolio piece that proved to me that they could not only execute the design, but bring their artistic expertise to it and apply it to my skin appropriately.
Finally, my friend Amanda pointed out that I should work with her friend Daniel at Inkblot Studios. I asked to see his portfolio, and my friend pulled up her sleeve to reveal this:
And that was all of Daniel’s portfolio I needed to see.
I originally asked Daniel to work with me on this coverup in the summer of 2012. At that point I wasn’t open to much editing — I just wanted to make it bolder and darker. I was attached to my original artwork. He said he didn’t think he could help me because the area was so small, and that I would be better off doing a coverup instead. It took more than a year for me to realize that I would either be stuck with that dinky wing for the rest of my life, or I could hop on this opportunity with a good artist and get something much better. We started working together in September of 2013.
The process of working with an artist who happens to work on skin as a canvas is different than working with a tattoer. The best way to illustrate the difference between an artist and a tattooer is this: you can’t walk into an artist’s shop and walk out an hour later with a tattoo you picked off the wall. Artists will ask you questions, ask to see examples, and show you ideas before giving you your final option. Daniel sent me about 10 thumbnail sketches, and I didn’t like any of them. He knew I would be a tough client because I have an art background, but he was friendly and willing to work with me. Instead of going back to the drawing board, Daniel invited me to come in early before my appointment and work with him on a design. We got out the paint and worked together for about an hour before we found something that worked well.
I was in no way prepared for the piece to cover my entire foot. He put the stencil on, and I looked at it for a bit, then said something like, “Well, I guess this is happening.” While I was gearing up for some pain, Daniel was mixing the colors. I, of course, brought my Pantone swatch book with me, and we had chosen specific colors, which Daniel matched on the first try (this is his photo).
I have no idea how long the actual tattooing portion of the evening took, and I honestly don’t know how painful it was either. We did a shot before the session, I popped a couple of Xanax, and we kept drinking throughout. Probably not the best plan, but …
So that’s where I was at the end of 2013. Meanwhile, I have been suffering with plantar fasciitis. I constantly had to wear shoes, which rubbed against my new artwork, and made it heal all blotchy. I finally scheduled a follow-up session to get touched up and to finish covering parts of the old tattoo. Daniel touched up the whole thing, and I told him to take some artistic liberties with it while he was at it. I love the way that he incorporated the black splotches into the rest of the piece; the splotches make this more believable as a painting, and not a tattoo.
As you can tell from the blood (sorry), this photo was taken immediately after we were finished. I’m sure you’ll see tons of healed photos in the near future.
Final thought: Who the hell forgot to tell me to get a pedicure before getting a foot tattoo — THREE times? I felt kind of bad for both of the tattoo artists who had to touch my skanky feet.
Oh wait, just kidding. One more thing!
When I went in for the first session in September, I had another request. I wanted to get Mark’s first “I Love You” tattooed on me. I actually carry around a little piece of paper that has his first “I Love You” written on it. I’ve been wanting to get something on my left ribcage for a while, but I hadn’t decided what it would be. I knew that I wanted the new tattoo to be something close to the heart (literally), and something that nobody else would see unless I wanted them to see it. When Mark moved away, I wanted something to remind me how much he loves me because I knew that the distance between us would be hard.
I know. I can hear all of you who are thinking “why would you do that? it’s like tattooing his name on you.” Not really. If you look closely at the picture below, it doesn’t say “Mark.” Tattoos are a reflection of who you are and what stage of life you are in when you get them, and this is part of my (our) story.
Am I going to end up head-to-toe covered in ink? No, but my next piece is already in the works, but it may or may not actually end up embedded in my skin. Since Daniel works with other mediums, I’ve asked him to work on a piece for me that I could eventually get tattooed, but it will be on canvas first. If it doesn’t end up on me, it will at the very least end up on the gallery wall in my bedroom.
Do you have any tattoos? Of what, and where?
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Hi there. I'm Calee (pronounced CAL-e). If that's too hard, just call me Cal. I also respond to Chimes. I'm a gal hanging onto the last bit of my 20s as I venture into a graduate degree in graphic design, whilst balancing a career, a long-distance relationship, and a million hobbies and trades. Here's the unabridged version.
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