I had the second part of my tattoo done yesterday. Finding someone to put permanent art on your body is a tough job, especially when you've never had one before, and are a perfectionist. Everyone in Leeds told me to go to Physical Poetry. I was skeptical as it's in Hyde Park, close to where I used to work, and I have to admit going back to that area scares me.
After my first visit, I knew I'd found the right place. Dave Bewick is an amazingly talented artist, as well as being a really pleasant bloke to chat to. I didn't want just any tattoo, as an artist I needed it to be a perfect work of art, and Dave's gallery showed he could deliver.
Some people can have a negative view of tattoos. To me, they've always been beautiful, but I've always been terrified of the permanent nature of them. My recent breakdown made me revel in the impermanence of things; yes a tattoo is permanently on your skin, but it's only as permanent as the person itself, and we are not made to live forever.
So since getting my tattoo my life has changed in a few ways. I found links to The Wet Spot on Dave's website, a burlesque evening in Leeds, and got tickets for myself and Ian. Chatting to the organiser led me to Dr Sketchy's, which I took Claudia to, and we both loved. I worked up some of the sketches I did there into paintings, which I sold to fund the next part of my tattoo! It set off an amazing chain of events in my artistic life.
In my personal life, it gave me extra confidence. I managed to do something which had frightened me, so every time I didn't think I could do something, I'd look at my arm and remember that I was able to get my ink done, and feel a boost. It boosted my body confidence, and I wore a sleeveless dress to the reunion, which I never would have done in a million years before.
My first tattoo, a butterfly for my mum - she told me she's always wanted a black butterfly tattoo, but Dad hadn't liked the idea, and it was her one big regret. When she died, I vowed I would get one as a tribute to her. The sakura blossoms are a symbol of impermanence, and a butterfly also represents change. I saw the tattoo as a symbol of me getting over my mental health difficulties, and beginning a new life.
Last night's dragonfly, fresh from the needle. I wanted a dragonfly as last year a good friend sent me some dragonfly earrings, and told me they were a symbol of freedom, and she hoped I would find some peace. Since then, dragonflies have been 'our thing'. The first thing I painted after years of not painting was for her 40th birthday, and was a dragonfly. That painting got me back into painting, and was my salvation from my mania-induced scratching by giving me something else to do with my hands. Without painting, I don't know where I'd be today. So the dragonfly symbolises how art has given me freedom.
Here I am wearing the sleeveless dress at the reunion.
The piece of work which Dave did that piqued my interest in visiting the studio and meeting him. I took a painting I'd done to try and explain what I was seeing in my head, and he just seemed to know what I wanted. The first time I went back and saw the incredible butterfly transfer for the first time, I felt like crying it was so perfect.
So, of course, I am now interested in the design qualities of tattoos. I've been looking at vintage flash, other tattoo art, artists who paint on canvas as well as skin, and the possibilities of computer aided tattoo flash during my art course.
It's going to be a great 34th year.