Monday, 11 April 2016

My first Tattoo.

Since I was 16 years old I had always considered having a tattoo.  My step-brother was a tattooist and was covered in them so from an early age I admired the artwork and talent.  My idea of what design to have has changed over the years; as a teenager I wanted stars and a moon on my ankle.  As I approached 40, I had decided on something abstract on my back.  Unfortunately, I fell down the stairs and hurt my back to that felt it was the universe’s way of telling me not to have a tattoo. So I left it. I still had virgin skin.   

In January 2016, David Bowie passed away.  I have loved David Bowie since I was 12 and would describe myself as so much more than a fan.  He is a part of who I am.  He knows me.  He loves me.  He raised me.  I felt lost without him.  But in my grief of his loss I found the Bowie community, many who felt the same way as me. They felt the loss as deep as I did.

So when some people started to get the ‘Blackstar’ tattoos I considered it too. I felt it was a permanent way of telling everyone how much I loved him with no words.  Not that I needed a reminder, but it would also comfort me in my grief.  It would be a big step as I hate needles and after watching all those tattoo mistake programmes I was worried about having something permanent on me that wasn’t perfect.  But I knew I really wanted this.  I wanted to join the gang.

I couldn’t just rush into it. I wanted to research to make sure I made the right decision. I found out that all tattooists should be registered with their local authority. Hygiene is very important too – so as I was faced with new photos of other people’s tattoos everyday on Facebook making me want it more – I still took my time to research.

I wanted a personal recommendation. It was hard as my friends offering suggestions hadn’t used the person they suggested. Or the artwork wasn’t the sort of design I was looking for. I knew I needed someone who was good at line work. Luckily since January two Facebook groups had been set up just for Bowie tattoos. This was great as I was able to look at variations of their Blackstar designs. I asked them for personal recommendations and narrowed my options down to two tattooists that I really liked and that were commutable. One was in Coventry and one was in London. I liked them both. When I found out that the London one wouldn’t do the stars as small as I wanted, my decision was made.

I nervously rang up Queen of Hearts in Coventry and spoke to Natalie. I was put at ease straight away. I felt nervous for so many reasons.
1.    I’d never had a tattoo before so was unsure of how it works
2.    I was worried about design and perfection of executing the design
3.    I was worried about hygiene
4.    I was worried about pain of the needle
5.    I was worried I may change my mind on the design after its on my skin
However as soon as I spoke to Natalie all my worries disappeared and I booked my appointment.   I had about six weeks from my initial call to my appointment and during that time I emailed her and spoke to her about all my worries and questions. All were answered and put me at ease.

So almost three months to the day we lost Bowie, I caught a train to Coventry.  I hadn’t been for many years and it has changed in places with new buildings and landscaped greens. Almost unrecognisable from the 70’s look of many buildings I remember.

I headed for the cathedral and with a print out from Google Maps and my smart phone tried to find my destination.  When I found it I was warmly welcomed and offered a cup of tea.  I relaxed and not felt rushed or hurried at all.  We discussed the final changes to my design and I chose my final font for the lyric which was actually a difficult decision. The font was called ‘Angelface’ which felt right and looked right.

I had decided a while ago I wanted the Bowie Blackstar’s.  I like the abstract design that spells out Bowie but that not everyone would know.  I like the idea of being part of a secret bowie society. I have always been a lyric person and knew that I also wanted a lyric on my arm.  This was a difficult job as I love so much of his work and so many of his lyrics mean so much to me. Eventually I narrowed it down to two.

‘It’s only forever’ from Labyrinth.  I liked this as my love for him is forever and so will the tattoo be.  And I do spend my life quoting from the film ‘she chose down?  Too late now’. ‘Come inside – meet the Mrs’.  ‘I need you Hoggle’.  Yep I was always a big Labyrinth fan and especially ‘You have no power over me’.

‘Cause you’re wonderful’ from Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.  I like the fact he could be saying I’m wonderful, or I could be saying he is wonderful. My blog is called ‘It’s a wonderful life’ and Iike the positive connotations. I also sang this loud when I visited the V&A Bowie Is… exhibition. When he says ‘Not only is this the last show of the tour but it’s the last show we’ll ever do’, I always cry.  It was the winner and the right decision to put it on my arm forever.  
I wanted it to look like a bracelet around my wrist and to finish it off have a small red heart as Bowie will always be in my heart.  This was my original idea and I had not seen anyone have anything like this to date.

I don’t know what I had been worried about.  The tattoo space was lovely and decorated in a quirky way.  It certainly appealed to my personality.  I felt excited about doing this.  It was the right time and the right place.  Natalie asked me what music I wanted to play and I chose Young Americans and Hunky Dory albums. I’m a 70’s Bowie girl at heart. I admit that I had a small tear in my eye when 'Somebody up there likes me' came on. 

To my surprise it didn’t hurt at all.  And suddenly I had a tattoo.  It had taken me years to find the right design, the right reason, the right place to have it but now I was a Blackstar and proud to be so.

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