The Zoey Blog: Filling in the Blanks with Ink and Words...and Love FINAL - COVER UNIVERSE EXPLORERS ORDER

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Filling in the Blanks with Ink and Words...and Love

Tattoo stencil and table

With less than 24 hours between when the ink gun started buzzing and now there's been more discomfort than simple smiling satisfaction although there has, indeed, been plenty of that. Kinda lets you know how much six hours of tattooing can sting. With a half-assed sleep behind me and a day of laying around in the shade under bending palms there are plenty of details to fill in.

First, there's Mia Graffam...I know I've mentioned before what kind of stellar artist she is but any kindness I bestow upon her would be understated appreciation and respect. She's good...really good, and oh so quietly sweet and kind, exactly the kind of girl I wanted paying tribute in ink on skin to my little girl. She's super talented and on her way to Brooklyn if all works out. I hope it does.

Secondly, about Black Cat Tattoo Studio on Bethel Street in Chinatown, here in Honolulu, Hawaii...I walked into a lot of shops in search of this one...I mean a lot...and nothing felt as perfect as Black Cat. It's owners, Anthony and Bobby, have generous sized dreams and the smallest fraction of egos in the perfect proportions to run one of the friendliest and first rate tattoo shops I've ever stumbled into. I wish it was a place I could drop in on every Friday night.

Lastly, the artwork still makes me smile. I spent all of six months filling sketchbooks and discarding almost as much as I created. I searched endlessly for artwork I could use or that already existed and in the end creating my own art and then handing it over to someone who could clean it up and make it better was the best decision of the entire process. Now I couldn't be prouder.

Now if the whole thing would just heal. I wouldn't mind sleeping on my back again.

The whole thing took about six hours and by the time it was done both Mia and me were pretty used up. We broke only for about five minutes halfway through and ended up closing up the shop and then some. Normally a piece the size of this would take no less than two sessions but I'm back on an airplane to Canada sooner than later so we pushed on through in one go. I was assured that it was a championship effort on both Mia and my own behalf but I wouldn't recommend squeezing two or three sessions into one, not if you don't have to. By the fifth hour I was sore and raw and even the sound of the gun made me cringe. Up until that point I managed fine, but once you're done there's nothing quite like a tattoo gun to emphasize it. By the end I was biting the inside of my own cheek, so we can add that to the list of what hurts today.

I jumped into a cab at about 1 AM and headed home to my family. June and Zo came down to the shop but left after about an hour. I was stupid excited to rouse her and raise my shirt but, naturally, she was awake and waiting for me. I cleaned up, we snapped a few photos, and I headed out to the balcony for my nightly ritual of watching Marines and hookers do their weird mating dance before heading back to lonely motel rooms on dark streets that empty out onto the Alai Wai Canal. I had a drink or four and stared at palm trees I'd surely be missing in just a few short days. I was sore and tired and happy. Falling asleep with my wife and child a few short minutes later closed off a day better than most you're going to fall into on vacation, but then this has been a lot more than just a vacation. This has been a life changer, and now I've got a pretty permanent reminder of that. Best souvenir I ever bought.

Some pics from the night...

Tattoo - Zoey w book
Zoey considered getting a tattoo but Mom nipped that one in the bud pretty quick

Tattoo Rarrr w book
No one cared whether Rarrr got some new ink or not...but he didn't. Apparently tattoo shops won't tattoo pink stuffed Domos.

Tattoo stencil on back
The stencil is applied and you can see the old tattoo work that the Mia's work will cover up.

Tattoo Mia close up 2
Mia Graffam hard at work...with only a five minute break in six hours I'd say that she was focused.

I wish there were more shots to show but there aren't. I was indisposed, so was Mia, and June was doing her best to get a six month old home on the bus from Chinatown and to fall sleep in our hotel room. That might have been more painful than what I was enduring.

Now it's time to bust out the sketchbook and see what's next...I'd say a trip to Brooklyn once Ms. Graffam gets there. Like we needed one more excuse to find ourselves in NYC.


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