Tattoo is an art that leaves permanent thrill
Published: Friday, September 2nd, 2005
If you noted the local supermarket is running low on melons, you’ll have to blame me. No, I’m not on the New Mexico Honeydew diet. Nor did I discover a new-fangled melon cookbook at the latest garage sale. I am learning to tattoo. Rather than practice on bananas, grapefruit or the corpse of a very big hog, my teacher Robert Alarcon suggested the melon. It just seems easier that way. Besides, my teacher said bananas would be distracting for clients and I believe the hog might start to smell. The first thing I learned about the fine art of inking is that you cannot go at 567.3 mph and expect success. Sure, I tattooed two entire Honeydews in less than two hours. But, as was duly noted upon the master inspecting my work, if I had dragged a tattoo gun that fast and deep across human skin, it would be sliced off in piles at my feet. And the person would probably die. The melon, alas, merely spurted. It is not like I’m drawing with a Sharpie marker. And it’s tougher, too, than creating NYC graffiti that, of course, I read about but never attempted. As time went on and the supermarket ran out of melons, my lessons were moved to this stuff called nu-skin. It’s fat and thick – like something you may find covering an ancient Aunt Jane – and doesn’t take to ink as quickly as the Honeydew. Here my speed decreased dramatically. It took perhaps those same two hours to do a few little doodles, some of which had lines that didn’t show. But the big test came when I turned the gun on a human. My rapid advancement was due to the fact the nu-skin was running out of room and I have a really cool boyfriend – who agreed to be my first specimen. Did I mention I love him? I am also quite proud of him. He didn’t ask for painkillers before we began, didn’t even ask for them afterward and he did not scream when I forgot his leg was not a Honeydew and went a tad too deep on a chunk of thigh. Deep enough, in fact, to make the needle stop. The thrill of tattooing a human – to be putting a permanent mark on a live canvas – is beyond the glee of a paintbrush, gets you higher than the buzz of New York graffiti and is equal to the delight of a Sharpie marker. I must do more. The success of my first tattoo thus went down on my permanent record – and my boyfriend’s thigh. It’s the black bones of a funky-looking pirhanna that, yes, is supposed to be funky-looking. As my boyfriend promised he would get further “Ryn-icized” with my artwork, we are scheduling my second tattoo quite soon. My apprenticeship with Alarcon, longtime artist and owner of Outlaw Tattoo, is therefore faring well. Actually let’s make that incredibly well since he is leaving out the dirty work that most apprentices get stuck with. Like cleaning the toilet, scouring the chandelier or mopping up masses of spilled magenta ink. It helps that he has no chandelier and I have yet to use magenta ink. With the black ink, however, I’ve gotten spilling down to a science. And I gladly cleaned up the mess I made with swollen, spurting Honeydew.
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