A friend of mine recently changed her Facebook status to mention that she got the go-ahead to get the tattoo she has alwys wanted (hi Margaret!) and of course, that got me thinking about my tattoos. As most of you know, I have a number of tattoos in various places all over my body. The short, chronological inventory is: a blue dragon holding a rose on ankle (dude, it was 1992) that has since been reworked and relined to be a nicer looking blue dragon holding a rose; a sun with a crescent moon and star inside that has since been covered up with other work because it healed so poorly; a quarter sleeve on my left shoulder / arm that features Native work and Japanese styled design that vaguely represents the four elements; flowers on my right shoulder blade to cover up the sun/moon/stars; and finally, three swallows – one on my right rib cage, one on my right collar bone, and one in the centre of my shoulder blades, worked into the flowers, each swallow representing a love lost.
I love my tattoos, as does Kale – they stupify him and he could spend hours trying to pick them up. But I care about them more for what they mean to me than what they physically are, because with each of them, there is something I’d really love to change to make them better looking tattoos. I don’t heal particularly well, I have discovered – my skin is sensitive and while they were healing I guess I didn’t take as good care of the tattoos that I could have and in the first few years I guess I probably exposed them to the sun a bit too often.
Tattoo work is expensive, and a good tattooist is hard to find. The first two were done by men in slightly shady operations; I walked in with a girlfriend, showed the “artist” the picture, and it was done – a simple business transaction. The flowers, the Native/Japanese elements quarter sleeve, the birds – they were all done by the same tattooist and let’s just say I’d rather not use his services in the future for a variety of reasons – none of them dramatic, but like any paying customer, I think you have a right to choose from the competition if you aren’t 100% happy with the service you bought.
So now I have some minor touch-up work that needs doing to fix some of the healing blunders of the swallows especially, and I have another tattoo I’ve been pondering for a few years now to memorialize my dad. Nothing big or elaborate – it’s small and graceful, and it’s the first tattoo I’ve designed that’s more about the design than anything (it’s a working of his intials into a vine with flowers).
But like I said, tattoo work is expensive. Good artists are upwards of $150 – $180 per hour, and the touch up work I want done tends to be even more expensive because they are essentially fixing other people’s errors. That sort of money is not a tree-grower here in my world, unfortunately. This is one of those expenses that won’t happen till I win the lotto or inherit something and even then? Well, even then there is always Kale’s RESP to think about.
What do you think? Tattoos – justifiable expense if you save up or not justifiable at all once you have kids?