Words by Thomas Willet.
It’s the first week of November, I’ve only just recovered from my Halloween hangover when my boyfriend turns to me and asks the eternal question, “What do you want for Christmas this year?”
I’m sorry, Christmas? Honey, I’ve only just taken down the skeletons and now you want me to get the sleigh bells out? Okay, let’s go through the list: clothes, bit basic; a trip somewhere, who’s got time for that?; something techy, will probably end up breaking it as soon as I open the box. No, this year I wanted something different, not some throwaway gift that I won’t use a month later.
I turn to my boyfriend and tell him, “I want a tattoo.”
Yes, no need to adjust your screens, you did read that correctly, I asked my boyfriend for a tattoo this Christmas. Now I know what you’re thinking: urgh, just some hipster wannabe trying to look cool and edgy. Well, you’re partly right. But this year I wanted something for Christmas that I would remember and cherish for the rest of my life. And with a combined total of 11 hours of pain coming my way, I certainly wouldn’t be forgetting it any time soon.
Now, this idea didn’t suddenly spring out of nowhere. Up until now I have had two smaller tattoos. I wasn’t going into this blind. And that’s very important when considering both a Christmas present and when getting at tattoo. So, take some—albeit not professional and completely personal—advice from your gay best friend, Tom. Here are my top three tips:
- Take time in deciding if you want a tattoo and what you want. This is very important. Before I got my first tattoo I had been mulling over the decision for over a year. Over that period, I had changed what design I wanted many, many times, until I finally settled on my inkwell. Even then, I didn’t rush off to the nearest parlour. I waited for another six months to make sure that design was the right one for me.
- Do your homework, y’all. Tattoo artist are individuals. They all have different styles. It’s key to look at different parlours and the artists within them to find the one who creates in the style you love. I wouldn’t suggest going to an artist who specialises in black dot work and asking them to do a colourful portrait of your cat. They could still agree to do it, but the love and enthusiasm might not be there.
- Commissions are collaborative. When you approach a tattoo artist with a commission, the design you receive might be a little different to what you had envisaged. That’s fine, artists will interpret designs differently. But don’t settle for a design you haven’t fallen in love with at first sight. Speak to them with what you would like to change. This is what me and my artist, Olivia Fox, did with my design. Two weeks before my appointment she emailed me with an initial sketch. I wasn’t too keen on one of the potion bottles, so I had a look online and found an alternative design that I liked and asked if we could change it. She liked the alternative much better, so we swapped it out. Ultimately, this is your decision, and this will be on your body, so don’t be afraid to throw some ideas around with your artist before sitting down to have the transfer put on.
Two full-day sessions and three weeks of healing later, I have my Christmas present. Thanks, bae. I won’t be putting this presenting on eBay come boxing day.
Note from author: Big shout out to Oliva Fox (@oliviagracefoxxtattoo on Instagram) for your amazing work.