When I was 15 years old, my friend, Leo, asked me to skip school so we could head to his house and have him do a tattoo on my shoulder. Before you start judging, let me bring your attention to that really dumb thing you did when you were young. Got it? Ok, now we can move forward without judgements.
So, there I was, sitting at Leo’s mom’s kitchen table, with my sleeve rolled all the way up, ready to have him poke my shoulder with a sowing needle wrapped in a cotton thread that he soaked in India ink. If the previous set up wasn’t enough to let me know that what I was about to submit myself to was a terrible idea, the first couple of pricks did the job. I had never experienced pain like this before, but it was too late to turn back. He had already started the task of giving me a homemade tattoo. After about an hour of constant poking, the design on my shoulder loosely resembled a poorly drawn shield with even worse looking bat wings. Yes, bat wings.
It wasn’t until a few months later that I came to my senses. “What the hell were you thinking?”, is all I could tell myself. I wanted that thing off my shoulder as quickly as possible. As with all things though, money was an issue for 15-year old me, and so it wasn’t until I was 22 years old that I finally decided to do something about the “bat shield”. I had heard there was a tattoo convention happening in town that year, and I had every intention of going there to find the tattoo artist that would help me come up with a design to cover up the damage Leo had done.
As I walked around the show area, I came across a Japanese artist who spoke little to no English. Luckily for both of us, I had taken some Japanese classes, so I was able to communicate what I wanted. Once he saw my tattoo, his initial reaction was not promising. He told me that cover-ups are not an easy thing to do, because depending on the size and color of the piece you want to cover up, you could be looking at a rather large tattoo to cover up the old one, and that can easily cost a couple hundred dollars.
Long story short, we were able to settle on a design and price that worked for me. What I got was a very colorful, traditional dragon piece that is 3 times the size of the original tattoo. I absolutely love it, but I wish I would’ve been more selective in my decision when it came to my first tattoo. So, if you learn anything from my personal story is this: always think it through before you decide on letting an unqualified person poke you with a needle.