Storytelling, Tattoos & Hitchhikers


When an idea worms its way into my brain, it usually gnaws hard at my insula. What is this “insula” of which I speak? The prune-size region under the frontal lobes that registers gut feelings and is critical to the network which sustains addictive behavior. Usually, this idea-chewed region sparks and whines until I finally give in to its incessant demands.

Sometimes, with a swift jab to my head, I can dislodge a pesky idea. (Not really, though. That’s just a goofy visual for ya.)

A recent idea lodged in place: a series of tattoos depicting my wickedly warped Phreak Show characters. Due to the insanely booked schedule of my preferred artist, that thought will be painfully niggling me until November.  o.O  Needless to say, I needed a short-term fix, a compromise, to keep my insula happy. Thus, I am getting tattoos of my first 2 novels in the meantime.

After a 3-week wait, Capritare got his chance to be immortalized on (in?) my skin yesterday.

The artist, Josh Phillips of 42 Tattoo, did an amazing job of taking my loose sketch & transforming it into a permanent work of art on my arm. The engaging conversation proved as cool as the ink. I have this knack for getting folks to share stories. Maybe it’s because I’m a storyteller myself. The give-and-take, paired with genuine interest & asking the right questions, gifts me with many amazing conversations. Just ask the strangers I chat with in elevators, the hairstylist who is never  bored while giving me a trim, or the random hitchhikers I scoop up. All for the sake of hearing their unique stories.

[Sidenote: I picked up an intoxicated, unintentionally hitchhiking dude named Kevin this week. But, you see, I had to. My insula told me so. Rain was pounding at 19 billion gallons per square inch per second (estimated). I was on my way home from work and saw this poor chap getting hammered by the downpour. So, naturally, I whipped into the golf course’s parking lot & offered him a ride. A few short minutes later, I dropped Kevin off at his house with the wraparound porch “right behind the big green mansion.’ I didn’t personally consider the neighbor’s home a mansion, but I guess such things are relative.]

Back to the tattoo. Josh shared a bunch of stories during our 3-hour session. A girl who got a sushi tattoo on her ribs, but, due to the pain, bailed before Josh added the word “vegetarian” floating up from it in wisps of fishy aroma. (Personally, she sounds more like a pescatarian, so I think it was probably for the best. Tattoos are forever, after all.) Another story was about a dude who asked for “a tattoo that’s so bad I’ll wake up in the morning and wonder What the hell did I do that for?! Can you do that for me?” Josh, like any artist who is willing to make the client happy, obliged. With the dude’s buddy shaking the chair, right-handed Josh inked the dude. With his left hand. And his eyes closed. He never heard whether or not the dude was pleased with the results come sunrise, but chances are that his expectations were met.

I asked Josh to keep his eyes open & to tattoo me with his dominant hand. Once again, he submitted to the wishes of the client. Submitted for your voyeuristic pleasure, pics chronicling the process:

Pre-tattoo. [i.e. blank canvas]

Pre-tattoo. [i.e. blank canvas] Flexed, so, you know, my arm looks all quasi-muscular.

Josh prepping the stencil. The raw sketch is by his inked-up arm.

Josh prepping the stencil. The raw sketch is by his inked-up arm.

Another shot of the artist/storyteller at work. [Notice the use of his right hand.]

Another shot of the artist/storyteller at work. [Notice the use of his right hand.]

The stencil applied. We planned the placement so the antlers wrap around my baby deltoid arcing down over my shoulder.

The stencil applied. We planned the placement so the antlers wrap around my baby deltoid arcing down over my shoulder.

The outline getting laid down. Compared to previous tattoos, Josh had a very light hand. Nothing near bone-stabbing.

The outline getting laid down. Compared to previous tattoos, Josh had a very light hand. Nowhere near bone-stabbing deep.

The outline & skin-tone laid in. Josh chose to outline the top of the hair in blue, which I think was a great choice.

The outline & skin-tone laid in. Josh chose to outline the top of the hair in blue, which I think was a great choice.

Coloring in the hair with a 7-needled shader.

Coloring in the hair with a 7-needled shader.

Pardon the blurriness. Cap is done. The final cleanup hasn't happened so some rogue red is smeared over his face. Just a bit more work on the background needed.

Pardon the blurriness. Cap is done. The final cleanup hasn’t happened so some rogue red is smeared over his face. Just a bit more work on the background needed.

The final image. About an hour after completion. I switched to a beater. The worst 'pain' of the whole tattoo was the way the striped shirt's sleeve was cutting up into my armpits during the inking.

The final image. About an hour after completion. I switched to a beater. The worst ‘pain’ of the whole tattoo was the way the striped shirt’s sleeve was cutting up into my armpits during the inking.

The day after. Cap looks fantastic.

The day after. Cap looks fantastic. In the novel, he never ‘earned’ this full rack of antlers. So, this is a bit of wish-fulfillment for him.

And one final pic. Because, eye contact is good. (And key during both storytelling & storylistening.)

And one final pic. Because, eye contact is good. (And key during both storytelling & storylistening.)

I can confirm that I am pleased with the results. My insula agrees, but the little bugger is still squirming & twitching for November. To keep the damn thing pacified, a tattoo for Freeborn is next on the list. I’m wondering if I can shake things up a bit—maybe get some hitchhiker to go get a tattoo with me? If we can get it done in an elevator, I’ll not only glean some amazing stories, but experience a pretty damn memorable one of my own.

What would a tattoo post be without some invisible ink? A skilled artist with great stories is an excellent choice. Also, it doesn’t hurt if he’s kinda cute, has a ton of sexy tattoos & smiles a lot. 😉 

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6 thoughts on “Storytelling, Tattoos & Hitchhikers

  1. This is great! Josh seems extremely talented, and your “loose sketch” is awesome. I have a cousin who is a tattoo artist, and I was amazed watching him work. Congratulations!

    Like

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