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4 kittens


Posted on 2017.10.15 at 21:33
Ugh, I don't want to talk about it.


Okay, let's talk about it.  I showed up for my tattoo appointment today.  I had dutifully taken notes during our planning session, ten days ago. At a few spots she'd said, "you'll have to decide if you want X or Y" and so I had thought and decided on each of those. I shared my thoughts. Then we got started.

She printed out daddy cat and held him up to my torso for size. "A little larger?" I said. She agreed. She returned and said, "I made him 40% larger" which was quite a bigger jump than I was expecting.

I held him up and tried it on. His face was larger than a real mancoon cat's. I had it in my head that these would be actual-sized cats.  She said, "Everyone wishes they'd gone larger when they get tattoos. They seem to shrink once it's on you. It's better to err on the size of going too big."  That sounded plausible to me.

We moved on to the first kitten. She printed out the size I expected, which now looked very small next to the big daddy cat. She said, "I'd like to double the size of the kitten."

I thought about it and looked at my 3d model, and thought some more. I said, "If we double the size of the kitten and make all these cats larger, it's going to affect how close together they all are." I looked at it and tried to picture it, the gaps all shrunk because the cats were all larger.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I don't think this is going to work out. I can't work like this." I was caught totally off-guard. I'd thought we were communicating and making good progress.

She basically said that this process is not a collaboration and I have to stop debating every little thing.  "It's too much for me to keep it all in my head," she said, "I have to focus on how the image looks on your body and I can't focus." I said that maybe I could release artistic control, but I can't imagine not turning over every stone, and commenting on each thing that I'm wondering. Would she be okay with me making my comments? She said it knocked her off balance and was too destabilizing for her to settle into her groove.

Then she got out her phone and asked if I'd put my deposit down on Paypal or if I'd paid by credit card, and then she returned my money. I was out the door, back on the sidewalk, stunned at how fast it unravelled. Bye now!

(I'm leaving out some details. We talked about how I might find another tattoo artist. Me: I don't think there exists a tattoo artist who will be a good fit. Her: You need to find someone who's just in it for the money. She did the little "money" finger-rub of thumb against index and middle fingers, to indicate exactly how impure a sell-out I need to find. In other words, someone who will yield to my control freak rigid opinions, because they're all about the Benjamins. But basically it ended very quickly.)

(Also she did squeeze in a big lecture about how overly generous she's been, trying to make this work. She enumerated her generosity for me. I agreed! She's been way more collaborative and patient than any other artist I've met with. I just hadn't realize we were on such thin ice.)

Also: holy moly. If she thought I was being picky about the size of the cats, it would have been an utter disaster when we got into their shading and faces.

I get that she needs to be in her mental artist head space, but I also don't understand the expectation that your  clients will submit their actual bodies wholesale to you. (But there seem to be plenty of them that do!  She can afford to be picky.)

As Jammies put it, "All the high quality tattoo artists want to only play their own songs. None of them want to be studio session artists that show up to record other people's songs."

The problem is that the very high quality tattoo artists don't realize that they have constrained themselves to a very narrow range of artistic style. THEY'RE SHEEPLE. They believe that there's a wide range of tattoo styles, but it's actually the narcissism of small differences talking. In any other medium - pencil, or painting, or pottery, or whatever - the range of what's done is gigantically wider than the range of what's done with tattoos. THEY'RE ALL JERKS.

So that's my sad story. I'm too demoralized to add photos and flesh out this post.

No wait:

"You've seen how picky I am about my shoes, and those only go on my feet!"

That's better.


What nice readers you are, reading this boring saga.  Griping for weeks on end about my inability to get tattooed. Did you know many people have a similar story - trying in vain to get taken seriously - only they're trying to get medical care, or their education, or a therapist, or to get the police to listen, or to get a sympathetic lawyer, or to get away from an abusive situation?

All I'm trying to get is some body art. If this is all I've got to complain about, I should be so lucky, right Bubbe?


From the artist's point of view. I have zero credibility. There's no reason they should trust me at all to design a tattoo. It's similar to when mathematicians get an email from a citizen who has been working on the Grand Unified Theory of Physics by themselves, and has a big breakthrough they'd like to share. There are red flags all over the place. I'm sure I'm setting off red flags - I'm not immersed in the tattoo community. I'm not versed in the norms or lingo. I do weird things like take notes during my tattoo appointments.  I'm a super basic fucking soccer mom with a minivan, and I put my ideas on Pinterest for god's sake. What's more depressingly basic than that?

All the same, I have a goddamned vision. It will look beautiful, I swear. I just need someone sufficiently talented to buy into the premise.  I can feel where the cats are supposed to go, little cat phantoms. I just can't conjure them up on my own.

Missed Connections/ISO
You: highly talented tattoo artist.
Me: Controlling, rigid client with nontraditional vision for a giant tattoo, where I mean "nontraditional" in a bad way, not your cult of "nontraditional" which is actually quite constrained in the acceptable ways of rejecting mainstream America.  I mean I will make your skin crawl with my unpleasant notions of middle aged sedentary basicness.

At this point I think there's a 10% chance it actually happens, and a 90% chance it becomes a story I tell, of the time I spent five years trying to get a tattoo and couldn't make it happen.


This is the first line from a Yo Gabba Gabba song by The Roots:

Sometimes when I am sitting by myself,
Those quiet moments when not with no one else,
I'm mesmerized by all the many good things in my life.

Isn't that the most lovely line? It's not profound. Just nice. The entire song is so lovely:

I just want to devote my life to cultivating friends and family relationships. Everything else is deck chairs on the Titanic. And boy, is the larger Titanic sinking fast or what.


Maybe I'll learn to draw and paint and mock up the whole tattoo design myself! Then order it online as a temporary tattoo, and put it on, and photograph it! Prove to the world! Then all the tattoo artists will surely be sold on my vision!

Eccch, that sounds so tiring.


The kids did cute things. The weather was crisp and beautiful, if still warm.  Ace said, "It smells like tacos from Savanna," upon getting in the car. I was totally mystified.

"You mean Taco Cabana?" asked Pokey.
"Yes!" said Ace happily, "It smells like that."  And lo, so it did.


(Anonymous) at 2017-10-16 12:58 (UTC) (Link)

J, Robot

That sounds infuriating. I wonder if getting one cat at a time would make a difference.
heebie_geebie at 2017-10-23 02:28 (UTC) (Link)

Re: J, Robot

Possibly. At the moment I just have to mentally step away from the situation. Ugh.
(Anonymous) at 2017-10-16 13:04 (UTC) (Link)
"The rest is deck chairs on the Titanic."


You do have a vision, and just because it strikes members of the Cult of Tattoo as suburban basic doesn't make it any less lovely or profound. It's going to be a beautiful tattoo when you find the right person.

And I am loving The Roots this morning. Thanks for this!

heebie_geebie at 2017-10-23 02:29 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! Eventually it'll happen. In the meantime, I think I just have to mentally decamp from the subject for a little bit. Ugh. But that Roots song is such a good pick-me-up for refocusing on what's important. I love it.
treereenee at 2017-10-16 16:13 (UTC) (Link)
You're not crazy for wanting a say in what goes on your body! I kind of get the whole "I'm an artiste, so let me do my art" but come on! You might have stumbled onto a good idea in creating the image yourself. Maybe you could pay a graphic artist to hash it out with you. They are usually more open to back-and-forth until the client is satisfied, no? In my mind they are.

Then you take that picture to someone really good at copy catting. Like people who do tattoos from photographs.
treereenee at 2017-10-16 16:21 (UTC) (Link)
Get it? Copy catting?????
heebie_geebie at 2017-10-23 02:31 (UTC) (Link)

It does seem crazy that so many people are happy to hand over so much control. I've been wondering what happens when artists themselves want tattoos. Surely they don't concede control?

In the meantime, I'm giving myself a mental hiatus from thinking about tattoos for a little while. I don't exactly know what will become of it. But I do appreciate the support.
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