The story behind my tattoo.
For the longest time I wanted to get one. I think it goes way back to when I was 8, 9, 10 years old. I was very much into bikes, tattoos and all that roams in that specific circle of the human society.
Tattoos always fascinated me, and for me it's beyond a social belonging and a being branded for life - it's an artistic statement! We all have different artistic tastes, different statements in life, a tattoo is the absolute and ultimate way to make that statement. When I was younger (I am now 29, but I was in my early 20's let's say, because I don't remember the exact moment year) I had designed one that made a lot sense of a statement for me. It was a yin-yang symbol with the Chinese characters for Death in white in the black spot (meaning that Death is the deliverance from the darkness of life) and Life in black in the white spot (meaning that Life is the challenge in an overall easier existence in the broad sense of the term) which is still true and valid for me today, except, all of a sudden, I find myself liking the challenge!
Another idea was angel wings I doodled one day while watching Miami Ink and I think it was Chris Nunez who was working on an angel girl for a client; if my memory serves me well, it was a super soft enchanting young female faced angel with incredibly gorgeous wings. It instantly inspired me to draw my own angels and as I was going doing the wings, I really liked them and I thought they'd look good on me! That became my second tattoo concept that I kept for a later time. Next came a stylized cross I drawn having the names of my guardian angels in the 4 branches ; Samaël, Reiyel, Astaroth (my "bad angel") and my own name written in Angelic font but I wasn't too hot about that one for the simple reason that my reason and instinct weren't so sure about getting permanently marked on me such names in such a way. Half of be believes in God and magic, half of me doesn't, but to be safe and avoid regrettable misfortune, I kept that idea safe in my heart and only there.
The third biggest / strongest concept I had came around a few years ago; maybe 2-3, max 4! At least half of it goes back to 4 years. Very long story cut short: I fell in love with a doll. Yes, an inanimate object. But bloody fuck that sculpt was drop dead gorgeous! In my mind he became his own individual self and my boyfriend, lover ... call it what ever, but it was just awesome to have him around me when ever I wanted or needed comfort. His original name was and still is Sabik (you can find him on the Korean BJD doll shop called SOOM Emporium - he is a Mecha Angel; the first and the best!) And since he was my most loved "man" I gave him a family name in accordance; Mavourneen (Irish for beloved). As my feelings grew for him, I dug deeper into what his first name meant too. In Tagalog it refers to an unbearable longing for someone, a loved one. In Arabic it refers to the first, most commonly the first born. There is also a constellation wearing this name or a star or something. And I thought that his name in the right gothic font would look ravishingly awesome on my right hip bone! Some years later (about 2 years ago or a little over), another huge-ass long story cut short, I thought that the name of another man would complete the first! It's a guy I dream of since I'm 8. He is blond, taller than me and a few years older than me, a couple at max. In one dream, in April 1994, he kissed me and told me his name and I hated him for years! At 12 I was not ready to have a boyfriend. But much later, I thought his name sounded quite great! Henri in French, descending from the Germanic Heinrich which basically means home ruler or something. And so, Sabik Mavourneen + Henri Morvan (Morvan means fisherman in Breton (French north Brittany) = the first beloved ruler fisherman ~ pretty much a complicated way to say Jesus. Yes I am a Jesus fan. And I have no shame what so ever to stick with my principles and fanship of this man! I was born Christian Protestant, I tried Wwicca, Satanism, I tried atheist - nothing worked for me, and he was the one who was always there, like an old buddy who would see me through shit and still be there at the pub to have a pint with me at the end of the day. But this tattoo didn't made it either. I love it - I still to this day but, in the back of my mind, my deeper self kept pushing it back.
And he we are at the 4th idea.
Long story very condensed. In June 2012 I finally saw Thor. The man behind Loki inspired a maelstrom of conflictual feelings in my heart. I fought it. I lost the battle. I gave in. In December of that same year, after a Saturday nap I believe, I found the fourth and ultimate tattoo idea. A red lily flower with the actor's full name.
1 - The preps
First step was to get the right flower. I "googled" red lily flower and went through a massive load of images - actually images the image search could get me. I found a photography which pleased me but not quite representing the image in my head. I then headed off to Deviant Art and searched for lily tattoo to get an idea. The first time around, I wasn't completely satisfied, even if I exhausted once more all that the research found for me. I also browsed through vector resource websites, my own files. I got into the idea that perhaps I should sketch it myself since I knew clearly what I wanted. I did sketch one but I am not the most skilled flower artist out there! I knew for sure in which direction I wanted to go at least!
Back to Google. Back to Deviant Art, this time just with lily flower as search words. I did consider the magical flower in Disney's Tangled since I love that movie to bits and I am much like Rapunzel, but in the end, it simply didn't felt right.
One night, I went back to the origins of my quest, in my homeland. Deviantart.com + lily tattoo and sure after some considerable time, I found one sketch which had a top flower which pleased me, was turned and shaped in the way I wanted my lily to be.
Second step was to get the design functional for me, easily done in Photoshop. And I would like to thank FontSpace.com and especially Måns Grebäck for his font Brother Tattoo. I wanted a bit of an old school typical classic tattoo world aspect in mine.
Third step, getting the right artist to do it! At first, I recalled that Tattoo Mania had caught my eye from before, since they are decently old in Montreal and attend the Montreal Tattoo Show quite regularly (or they organize it - I am not sure). I first wanted the artist Pierre C. http://studiotattoomania.com/?page_id=7 being the son of a reputed French tattoo artist, but when I sent him an email in December, he said he was overbooked. I didn't know for sure back then when I wanted my tattoo done and I didn't though of a time after December. Since he was overbooked, he kindly referred me to fellow artists Alex http://studiotattoomania.com/?page_id=721 or another one - I can't remember now. I loved Alex's hot vibrant colors and huge pieces and I felt half right with him, so I sent him an email but never got an answer back. I got a little disappointed and so I started to look around for another shop. I know I could have called up but I do expect people to answer emails when they are filled serious questions and concerns and expectations.
December got crazy at work in my real daytime office work life and I pushed the tattoo back to January.
In January I googled other shops in Montreal, looked around, shopped around. I liked one, but I wasn't hardcore convinced. One night, I decided to go straightforward and stop kidding around. I searched for "Best Tattoo Shop" in Montreal and there is no better help than forum help! I found one forum where inked people talked about various shops in Montreal. They mostly spoke of the 2 I already looked up but didn't feel quite thrilled about, I decided to go through the whole entry if I needed to! but at the bottom of page 1 I found one shop I hadn't heard of before.
Burning Monk Tattoo shop! It had an excellent review from "Chocolatine" (it was meant to be! her name has chocolate in it!) http://www.machirurgie.net/t19128-meilleurs-tatoueurs-montreal-ou-rive-nord The more I thought about it, the more I was sold for!
Burning = fire. My astrological sign is Leo, which makes me a fire element.
Monk = I did consider myself like one for a long time. As a kid, aside my fascination for tattoos and bikes, I wanted to become a nun.
Of course I first sent them an email, which was left unanswered. I later discovered on deviant art through a tattoo artist from the UK that shops don't answer emails because out of the lot they get, maybe one or two only are truly serious, so they just don't bother wasting time.
By this time, I was seriously willed and ready to get my tattoo done and one random day I just decided that the perfect day for it would be February the 9th, Tom's birthday date.
On January the 24th, after lunch, I just randomly decided to call the shop. I went back to my desk after meal, took my phone, walked out to the corridor outside the office and called them up. There were so many rings I thought no one wold pick it up but then, an English speaking man answered and I felt my heart skipped a beat. I'm pretty sure that due to nervousness I completely mumbled the few things but then I got back on track and asked if Jeff was available in February, specifically the 9th, which fell on a Saturday. He checked his stuff and said that yeah "He was available". With a step back, I'm pretty sure I spoke with Jeff himself that day! He's the only guy who naturally speaks English instinctively, the others being more French Canadians, or Québecois and him being English Canadian.
This was my Facebook status when I went back to my desk; "Emilia updated her status. "omfg I'm so fucking happy!!! I will get fucking tattooed by Jeff at Burning monk tattoo on Feb 9 !! Ooooh can I just like explode ??!! thank you God!! now if this current state is not happiness, it's free crack cocaine!!"
And from there on, it became a long countdown, each day bringing me incredibly hard to contain excitement. That day, around 2 o'clock I couldn't contain myself any longer and I went to the washrooms and just let myself go. I jumped and squealed and shouted and laughed like a crazy person in pure undefinable happiness.
Just the thought of getting inked, with this specific tattoo - was enough to get me happy and high and excited and refilled with unlimited energy!
2 - Getting it done
Well, for this section, I don't really have much to add - you can refer to my previous entry for a moment to moment to update.
All I could possibly add is the hard to contain excitement! The thrill, the joy, the glee! I was in heaven! And Jeff (Jeffrey Gallant) was such a nice man / tattoo artist bringing my design to such an unexpectedly high quality end level! It's like winning the lotto or the Oscar of the best first tattoo!
I overall absolutely loved my experience! And busting a few myths here - tattoos are not done in a constant "one shot". We had a total of 3 breaks, both to rest his wrist and himself and let me to take a break from the discomfort and let the body have a break from the intensity of the maneuver, because after all, a tattoo is like surgery. I was completely shy and first time and didn't go out to annoy him during his breaks, rather I just waited him to come back and updated my Facebook, or admired his tattoo room, his designs (drawings) and the various things with which he decorated it and made it his own (loved a miniature boat model, a small 1930's or 40's type of plane, there was a reprint I believe with the original burnt off marks of a Wanted poster for Jessie and Frank James from the old Far west on the wall, the No Whining signalization panel which made me smile! But I would have died to ask him ten thousand questions like when did he decided to become a tattoo artist, where did he learn, what does he love about his work, who is his idol or favorite style of tattoo, when did he get his first one done, how was it ... etc etc etc.
"I often doze off while I'm getting an MRI." ~ Melman Melkowitz in Madagascar
"I often doze off while I'm getting inked." ~ Emilia Tokes in My First Tattoo
I had my hands crossed behind my neck the whole time and I was daydreaming of movie bits (mostly Madagascar and Ice Age, which two movies I almost know by heart!) and when I got bored with watching the weird wiggly branch or tree on the right side above the door, I just closed them and enjoyed the thing, half napping, being pampered. Jeff was really delicate and attention-ate as he inked and wiped me.
Contrary to popular belief of statements, it didn't hurt me at all when he was working on the boney area of my rib cage - but it was noticeably more uncomfortable and stingy when he worked the last petal on the far left going to my back's side, which was just skin over fat and maybe some soft organs (I guess I can say the abdominal cavity's left side).
I remember at some point Jeff shouted at one of the guys in the shop to close the back door because "Y fait frette dans cabane!" (Québecois slang for It's cold in the shop!") and hearing Jeff curse in that typical 1940's Québecois with the accent and everything cracked me up so bad! I couldn't contain my laughter and I half panicked - what if by laughing I contracted by body and distracted or interrupted his line ? But everything was fine! I still giggled it for a good moment though!
Another memorable event was when the Blond Viking man peeked over by the window between the rooms asking about how it was progressing. There was a soft relaxed exchange about the colors : reds, oranges, yellows, the lines - over all, the other artist liked the tat! Then came the essential and crucial topic of how I was enduring it! And then Jeff, proud artist of his patient, "She's tough!" and this was repeated two or three times and even more so when I was done at the end. I especially liked it, of course, when Jeff told me that to me, looking straight at me, not believing this was my first tat!
The very last few minutes were uncomfortable and borderline painful, mostly because I was laying on that chair for 3 hours, and my skin had had been under strain for the same amount of time, but nothing comparable to the pain I felt when I burnt my left hand the previous year.