a.k.a. “That Time I Got a Big-Ass Typewriter on My Arm”
When I told my dad recently that I was getting a rather large tattoo of an antique typewriter on my arm, he asked, “Now, why do you do that?” It wasn’t judgmental or harsh in tone. It was simple inquiry. So simple, in fact, I didn’t know how to answer him. Mind you, both of my siblings have tattoos, so this was nothing new for my folks. My brother has full sleeves on both arms and then some.
So when Dad asked why anyone gets tattoos, I wasn’t sure how to articulate it. I don’t even remember how I answered him. I probably deflected the question and changed the subject. (In other words, I went with my strengths.)
If I were to formulate an answer, I guess it’d be this: I’ve long had an affinity for body art, which for whatever reason tends to surprise people. I find nicely done tattoos to be expressive, creative, personal and, okay, sexy. And really that’s enough of an explanation, isn’t it?
The operative word in that answer is “personal.” I hear lots of people say, “I want a tattoo, but I don’t know what I’d get.” Fair enough. It’s definitely not something to rush into. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted. Well, sort of. On my 28th birthday, I got a little Libra symbol just above my ankle. Not on a whim, but without nearly the thought and research I put into the typewriter. It’s very small, only about an inch and a half wide. It’s perfectly lovely, but it was a starter tattoo. I’ve always said I’d get more ink in honor of each book I publish. Well, that hasn’t happened yet, and I’ve been getting impatient, itching to get something new.
Then I finally landed on an idea that really revved me up. I wanted something literary-themed. At first, I was a bit all over the place with the idea. I knew I wanted a typewriter, but I also wanted imagery that would illustrate a handful of my favorite books. I wanted big, as in a half-sleeve, but I knew that was a lot to fit into a cohesive design. I’m rather scrawny, after all. My arms don’t provide a huge canvas.
I started researching artists in my city. Charleston, W.Va., is a small town that calls itself a city, but we have several talented tattoo artists here. I asked around, put out feelers, scoured the Internet. I even emailed with a pretty popular local artist who sort of ghosted me mid-convo, perhaps because my idea was still a bit broad for him…I don’t know. I found that annoying at the time, but I’m glad he did it, because it led me to the artist I ended up working with.
“You should go to Devin Hodge at Lost Time,” my hairstylist told me.
I was familiar with Devin. Some relatives and friends have gone to her. I looked at her online portfolio and was blown away by her skill for realistic artwork. That’s what I wanted. So I reached out, despite knowing she has a very long wait. I didn’t mind. And she loved the concept. We began a dialogue through Facebook and soon landed on something that we both seemed to love. Eventually, I found myself sitting in Devin’s chair, looking around her studio in awe. An artist in all aspects of the word, her studio is a virtual Pee-Wee’s Playhouse of creativity, originality, and just plain fun. And, well, you can see what she came up with.
And I’ve remained in awe ever since. I’m considering cutting the sleeves off of every piece of clothing I own just so I can stare at my own arm all day. The intricacy of her detail work is stunning, and I couldn’t be happier. We settled on “Chapter One” for the wording because of space and as a bit of inspiration to write – which I need these days.
As I showed it off, the questions came rolling in: Did it hurt? (I describe it as a tolerable discomfort instead of outright pain, although certain areas did hurt more than others, especially after hours in the chair.) How long did it take? (About 12 hours in two visits.) How much did it cost? (I’m not one to broadcast such things, but it was a reasonable rate and worth every penny.) She’s amazing, how do I get in touch with her? (Devin prefers Facebook. She’s selective about what she takes on and has a long wait time, but just look at the results.)
And the other question I’m getting a lot: When’s your next one? Well, this one is freaking huge, as you can see, and will probably satisfy my craving for a while. But I do still plan to get something in honor of any books I publish. And that idea of pulling elements from my favorite books into a sort of collage is still intriguing. And…well, I could keep going.
But I’ll stop now. I need to go stare at my arm.
Do any of you have literary-themed tattoos? Show me in the comments!