Saturday, September 09, 2006

Pushin' the Needle too far...

I got a tattoo on my leg last night and I'm still trying to sort out my feelings about it all.

For one thing, it hurt like a motherfucker. My shoulder tattoo was uncomfortable- but handleable. This one stung like a bitch and made my whole body tense up. Who knew that the back of the leg was so sensitive? (k-dog) Plus the fucker inked me deep, and it took 2.5 hours.

I have always liked the idea of text as tattoo. I like the written word, especially in beautiful written languages (like Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese). It took me a long time to find the sanskrit text i wanted to use. And then it took a long time to figure out what i wanted to do with it. My right calf and leg was a shoe-in for the spot because I already have my left shoulder done. I needed the balance.

And in my mind's eye, I liked the idea of the chosen mantra spiraling downward from my calf. In the end I think it turned out ok.

Not GrrrrrrrEAT (as Tony the Tiger might say), just ok. And I'm struggling with that.

Mostly I think it came out looking fairly decent and I think others will probably say the same thing- if only to reassure me. The problems are my perceptions of it and the fact that the tattoo isn't perfect.

I have trouble dealing with imperfection.

There were lots of obstacles with this tattoo which led to the end product. Putting linear text on a curved surface presents a lot of problems as it turns out. And due to the shape of my leg, it was nearly impossible to get the spiraling to be perfect-- and so it isn't quite. Also, we had to take into consideration of where the text would fall with relation to the curve of my calf muscle. So this required adjustment of the overall spacing of some of the lines. And then the length of some of the text segments required tweaking which causes slight breaks in the smoothness of the spiral.

Curse the human body and its asymmetry!!!

And then there's the fact that the text I chose has several repeated characters but strung together in different ways. I think this is where I just have to suck it up and realize that a tattoo artist is not a type-writer. Some of the similar characters just aren't EXACTLY identical. Very close, but not exact.

To understand how this affects me, you need to know that I am someone who will hit one wrong note in a Chopin prelude and then just freeze up because I've destroyed the composition. With artistic things, I'm unyielding in my expectations of perfection. With all else, I could give a rat's ass.

It would have just been so much easier to choose a smaller design that didn't have the repetition in it. Like a skull or dragon or something tribal. Anything that would have given the tattoo artist discretion and freedom with his needle. Hell, how about one,big Kanji even? But no. I fall in love with a sanskrit mantra.

In the end, I think I need to remember why I chose the mantra. If you condense the meaning of it, it basically calls upon the awesome power of that which is the Oneness of the universe and offers up a prayer asking for help in becoming part of that perfection. And when I feel the tattoo in the future and meditate on its meaning- maybe the fact that it ISN'T perfect isn't so bad after all.

Nothing human is- only the Oneness.


At 1:15 PM, Blogger Six Shooter said...

I'm the same way ... if it isn't perfect (atristically) I'll dwell on it forever ...

but it does look very cool ... and keep inmind most people won't know what it was SUPPOSED to look like ... so they won't see the minor imperfections the way you do ...

and a reminder... i love to lick tats ...

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous snapperboy said...

It does look good. Really good. And the explanation of your struggle with it is, in itself, the truth: our perfection is our inability to be perfected.

How cool and liberating is that?

Plus, your calves kill!

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Damn... that tattoo is hot hot HOT. For real.

And it'll look even better once your leg hair grows back.

At 7:26 AM, Blogger cb said...

Too bad I don't have lots of leg hair.... I know. Ew.

At 7:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like it. I'm getting my first one this weekend, also text. Wish me luck. I hope I don't turn out to be a fainter. That would be so lame.


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