A while ago now, I decided that I wanted something really big for my 25th birthday – that something being my thigh tattoo. You wouldn’t believe how many questions I’m asked about my tattoo. From “can I touch it?” (yes, really!) to the design process, and of course the one I hear most of all (even from strangers!) “are you going to colour it?” I thought I’d share a bit about why I chose this for my tattoo, and how I got it from an idea in my head to a decoration on my body.
For as long as I’ve known, I have been sailor obsessed. I own an insane amount of sailor themed clothing – I just love it! I always knew that I wanted my first ‘big’ tattoo to have a sailor theme too.
My boyfriend, Barnaby and I sat down and talked about sailors. We made a massive list of everything even remotely sailory; rope, anchors, ships, treasure, tattoos.. you name it – we had it! Eventually, after a couple of ciders and a whole lot of Googling, we started talking about sailor tales. I love the story of mermaids luring sailors in with their voices, so decided to base it off that. So basically, my design just plain comes down to the fact that I really like sailors!
The design process:
I sketched out so many ideas. I was looking on Pinterest constantly, both for tattoos and poses, to brainstorm exactly what I wanted. When I had decided that I wanted a sailor and a mermaid, that’s when things started to come together. I sketched up a draft of how I roughly wanted it to look, and as you can see that it’s very close to the final design.
Finding the artist:
This was the bit I found really hard! Finding the person to bring it all to life is really tricky, man. I Googled like mad and couldn’t find anything.. I went on Pinterest, but nope, nothing.. Eventually I started looking through hashtags on Instagram. I found a tattoo artist from London, James Moule, and I loved the way he drew faces. We messaged, worked things out, and after a bit of backwards and forwards correspondence – I had my design. He even posted the original paper design over for me – how neat is that!
Next we had to find the tattoo artist to do the actual tattooing. I went to four different parlours before I found the one I was happy with. My requirements were making sure the artist’s line work looked clean (as I wasn’t getting it coloured) the shop was clean, and the price wasn’t too insane. I ended up going with the very talented Joe Chin from Ninjaflower. Call me a nerd, but it was pretty neat being a Jo getting tattooed by a Joe!
Update: I’ve had a few questions regarding whether what I did was normal for a tattoo process. Here’s your answer: nope! Usually you bring your idea to the tattoo artist and they take you through the entire process of designing as well as tattooing. I completely respect this and WISH I had as much talent to do the same – you guys are amazing! The thing is though, I knew exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it to look, and couldn’t find any local artists to create that vision. So you definitely can go straight to the artist, in fact it’s 99% more normal than how I did it. Hopefully that clears things up a bit more!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Did it hurt?
Yes, it really, really did! This was the most painful by far out of my three tattoos, especially the closer to the inner thigh. The picture on the left was (obviously!) during the tattoo process. On the right was a few hours after it was all finished – isn’t it swollen!
Are you going to colour it?
At this point, no. I was never sure whether I wanted colour or not, but now I love the simple outlined look.
How long did the tattooing process take, and how long did it take to heal?
My tattoo took about three hours, from start to finish. It took about three weeks to heal completely. After a couple of days it scabbed (sorry if you’re eating!) then slowly started to flake away, leaving the finished picture behind.