Monday, September 15, 2008

Got Ink?

So I've been bitching a lot lately about how much I want a digital SLR. About how much better my pictures would look if I had one. About how good other people's blogs look because of the great pictures they took with their nice big cameras. I even found some extra money I'd been saving that I'd actually forgotten about that would have easily paid for one. I carefully prepared a sales pitch for Supreme Leader backed with weeks of subtle hints (she's shaking her head as she reads this) and "hey, look at this!" Feeling cocky and infallible I went in for the kill. "Maybe we should pay down some debt first. Besides, we're still paying for for your dragon."


And she's right, as much as I hate to admit it. The dragon in question is a full back tattoo I started working on last September and finished back in May. It took almost 24 hours of work and stretched over 5 sessions. Two hours of driving each way and pain in the ass border line-ups every single time. All the work was done by Aaron Bell of Slave to the Needle in Seattle, Washington.

Supreme Leader and I went down in July of 2007 for a consultation and then we started work the next month after the drawing was done. This was taken on September 7th, a few days after my first session. This is five straight hours of work.

The whole family went down for the first session. Supreme Leader took the boys to the zoo while I hit the needle. We didn't realize just how long the first one was going to be. I think Bern was ready to let me walk back to Canada before I told Aaron we'd have to quit. (If you read about the trip, I don't mention the tattoo because I was planning on surprising my family with it)

Ok, second session, October 2007. Six hours under the needle. SIX HOURS of being stabbed with tiny needles, yee ha! This session was all filling in scales and shading.

Session three, December 2007, 16 hours in. Finally got some colour after two sessions of black. Aaron still hadn't decided what colour the head was going to be at this point.

February 2008, session 4. Lots of colour. This was another five hour session and Aaron actually wanted to push through and finish it off. He thought he only had about two hours of work left to finish off the eyes, teeth, claws and spikes, but I couldn't do it. I was in agony.

This is my fourth tattoo so the pain wasn't anything new. The size and amount of work required was though. Even though I was going a month between sessions and the surface skin would be totally healed it was still very sensitive. The first session was long and hurt, but no more than I'd expected. In fact I was a little surprised by what did hurt. Bony areas like the spine and shoulder blades hurt like I figured they would, but the fatty bits like my love handles? Holy shit! I have an old tattoo on my right hip which is only about... 3 inches below where the dragon ends. The difference in pain, even at such a short distance, was day and night. And the ribs? I don't know how people get their ribs done. I could not do it, not a chance. The areas where the dragon's claws and legs wrap around the sides was hell.

Anyway, every time we started new work it hurt more than the time before and it did it right from the start. You don't realize how much blood you lose either. Every time I'd get up off the table my legs would be shaking and I felt dizzy. Then I'd jump into my car and onto the I-5 for my two hour ride back home. That was safe.

Last session was back at the end of May and was only about two hours. This picture was taken about two weeks ago. The skin on my back decided to let me know just how unhappy it was with the rough treatment and wasn't in shape for photos for a long time. If I can get a better shot today I'll replace it.

And that's why I'm stuck with my old camera.


  1. Ho. Lee. Shit. That is some big-ass dragon, Captain. Yowsa.

  2. wow and i thought my little tattoo was a lot of work.

    Cheer up, I still have my stinky old camera and no back art to show for it.

  3. ellie-wink wink, I wasn't always in banking. Gotta' show my colours on the soccer field.

    tuesday-is your tattoo a little cake?

  4. I would trade my SLR for a kickass tattoo like that. I am thinking I might get some Cherry Blossoms across my back when I get to England. Better start saving now.

  5. u know u broke your sister's heart
    with that incredible tattoo,
    Bet she's not as empathy filled for u right now as...lets say
    "your not favorite mother!"

    ps... there's always Christmas...

  6. I'm wincing reading the story. That must have HURT.

    I wanna get one so bad, but that girl that I wished a Happy B-day today? Yeah, I gotta wait til she turns 18. We promised each other that we'd get tattoos as the same time once she turned 18.

    Yes, I know I'm 31 and a grown up but still, I need someone there with me.

  7. kat-lots of really good artists in England. Save up.


    mamadawg-that will be fun. It's nice having someone else around cause aside from the pain, it does get a little boring. I sent a lot of text messages.

  8. Whoa. Here I thought you were this regular dude, stay-at-home, Canadian suburban dad. And all the time you're harboring this giant dragon tat on your back. And now I'm curious. What else are you hiding? Methinks you may be holding back on all the top notch anecdotes. Spill, spill!

    P.S. I am dying for a good camera also. I'm working on an investment strategy that could net me some extra cash for the purchase. It involves the California Lotto and about $5 a week. It's a long term thing.

  9. oh

    i'm dying to get a tattoo and can't commit to something that will be smaller than my palm and will be somewhere that most people won't see it (hipbone)

    i am impressed.

  10. bc-the stay-at-home CDN dad is my mild-mannered alter ego, but really, my days with the Yaku... never mind. I also follow the same investment strategy although I haven't had much return on it yet. I'm hoping it comes through since I'm really enjoying the whole 'stay at home' part of being a dad.

    ali-thanks. And I started out the same way, small one on the hip.

  11. Cap'n. That is, as Cutie McWifey would say, 'Boss Hog'. That means kick ass. I see,now, why you're banned for a while.
    You're lucky Supreme Leader didn't make you hock the Camera you had.
    Bad. Ass.
    Now I'm jonsin'. Hard.
    I can almost hear the Bzzzzzzz of the Needle.

  12. Um. Amazing. Painful. Impressed. I only have one word sentences for you. Beautiful.

  13. Holy Cow and wow
    that is a tat -
    and WOW

  14. clll-I hear ya. Every time I see somebody with a sleeve or hear somebody talking about one, like you, I hear the buzz. And you're right about SL, I don't think she realized just how big or how expensive it was going to be.

    JBG and Jamie- thank you

  15. My cousin got his penis tattooed. Now THAT must have hurt. And what, you may ask, did he tattoo on his schlong? A bunch of tiny crabs. He was big on the comedy tats!

  16. I see new furniture in the upper right quadrant, the SLR Camera would be the dragon's head with color. LOLOLOL

  17. That is a bad ass dragon.

  18. Nice tat! Yowza! I want to get a tat too (get it, tat too? tattoo?), but mine would be much more modest - a TNG communicator badge on my chest. Actually that sounds really lame compared to your giant dragon, I'm going to go mumble in my shame corner now...

  19. mike-that's just wrong

    shameless-but he doesn't go THAT far

    goodfather-a TNG badge on your chest? You are welcome here at US & Them anytime.

  20. *bows to the master*

    I feel like a total lightweight now.

    The only piece I've ever seen that is more awesome than that was also a back was a totem that went from collar to crack.

  21. came via ninja', you have a lot of patience. that is a big tattoo. heck, i winced all the while getting the one on my shoulder blade just a few months ago. i can't even imagine the pain & blood w that one!

    of course even w a tattoo, i still want an slr, too...and an itouch, a wii, a wii fit, etc. LOL seriously though.

    i really do like your tatt though..must have cost a pretty penny. i think the next time i have one done i'm gonna save enough to have one done with more color/detail.

  22. Captain? I salute you!

  23. holy crap. I have a tiny heart on my ankle, and thought THAT was bad. HA

  24. I have matching tats on my inner wrists and I thought I was going to cry during those. I want a full back tattoo of.....a dragon. No kidding. But. Um. After reading all that, I kind of changed my mind. Everybody always used to tell me that you only feel the needles for a few minutes then it "goes numb". Yeah, bunch of liars. I felt every freaking second, but have been steeling my nerves to get more. You've scared me straight, man.

  25. jett-coming from you I feel like one of the cool kids now. I didn't want it on my ass like some people do although now I wish I'd taken it down a little further.

    ciara-you will love the iTouch. And always save for something better rather than settling when it comes to your tat.

    apathy- ; ) At ease.

    vodka-size doesn't matter, right?

    heather-I'd heard that many time too. What a load of crap. Granted my other three are smaller and yes you kinda get used to a certain level of pain, but it still hurts. Numb, my ass. And you never know, your back might not be as sensitive. Or you could always do it with anesthetics. I wouldn't tell anyone.

  26. Amazing work, its not the blood loss its the endorphin let down that has you all rubber legged.

  27. Ho-leee shit.

    That's bloody serious work.


  28. Dude... mine pales in comparison to that huge thing. It looks really really good though. I'm eventually going to get a whole sleeve on my leg but, as you mentioned, it costs a crap load of money


Come on, sailor. I love you long time.