Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sitting 4

Date: January 2, 2012
Prep/Hand-Drawing/Stencil-Application: 0 hours
Breaks: 0
Tattooing: 2 hours
Total Tattooing Time To Date: 14.5 hours

Well, there's no real way to beat around the bush here... I arrived at Kings Ave with a hangover that must have escaped from an old Irish novel.

Originally, this sitting was supposed to be on Tuesday - giving me an extra day to recover from New Years Eve and the subsequent "brunch gauntlet" that I valiantly ran on Sunday.  Funerals happen, however, and we had to move my appointment back to Monday.

Fortunately, it was a short session today and - after stumbling into the shop and announcing my sorry state of affairs - we were able to get right to work on shading because we completed the outline at the previous sitting.  Wind-bars, clouds and waves are now complete on my upper back and we connected the right breast-plate over the shoulder and into the design of the back.

At the very least, the pain of tattooing helped me momentarily forget that my brain was swimming around in a bucket of poison and - while the nausea never really subsided - Rube and I were both amazed that I wasn't bleeding like a stuck pig.

If there's one lesson I can impart to you here, gentle readers it is this: DON'T SHOW UP HUNGOVER.


A friend and reader, Patrick Sullivan, asked me to discuss the healing process which I'd now like to touch upon...

Obviously, all of my previous work has been easy to care for; my chest and arms are easily accessible so cleaning off the lymph and applying Aquaphor was always a one-man operation.  A large portion of my back, however, is simply un-reachable which makes me very happy to have a wonderful, loving girlfriend who knows a thing or twelve about tattoo aftercare.  Quite honestly, I'm not sure how people care for their backpieces without a significant other or a very compassionate roommate (though, I suppose a rubber bowl scraper could be employed with a fair amount of success and some jockeying with a hand-mirror).

After the first sitting (and a few celebratory martinis afterwards), our bathroom became a scene from Oz. There I was: standing in the shower, whimpering with my hands against the wall as she stood behind me whispering "just relax, I'm almost done." As I watched the blood and lymph spiral down the drain, I made a (half-hearted) pledge that this would be my last tattoo and a (full-blown) promise to myself that I would never wind up in prison.

As could be expected, sleeping is really the hardest part of the healing process.  I'm an admittedly restless sleeper so rolling over in the middle of the night can/will jolt me out of a deep slumber numerous times over the course of the evening (I also despise sleeping on my stomach).  Not being able to sleep on my back, however, is a blessing as far as my girlfriend is concerned - my snoring has drastically decreased since we started the piece.


My next sitting will be at the Bowery location of Kings Ave: a gorgeous, open-layout shop that I've visited but have never been tattooed in.  Should be interesting to have my bare-ass hanging out for everyone in the shop to see...


  1. Brian, I am really enjoying your blog as I am about to start my back piece in May. And it's true nothing is worse than a session done whilst hungover.

  2. Thanks, Alexandra! Who's going to be doing your work?

    (and while I'm usually used to mild hangovers, this one was thoroughly epic - it took several cocktails just to feel "normal" again)

  3. Hi Brian,

    Thoroughly enjoying your blog and thank you for sharing your experience. I'm a big fan of Mike and that entire staff of King's Ave at both the Bowery and Long Island locations.

    I actually got my first tattoo and subsequently more work at both King's Ave locations by Mike's friend and guest tattooer, Henning Jorgensen. I currently have 3/4 sleeves on both arms and started a thigh piece this past fall, all by Henning.

    I've managed to convince both Mike and Henning to do a collaboration piece on my back towards the end of 2012. (dragon & phoenix). I had the exact same thoughts about the problems with aftercare on the back and the need for assistance. I'm also very nervous about the pain. My arms including the elbows were tolerable. The thigh was surprisingly painful, different from the arms and more like a burning sensation. Anything over the pelvic bone just killed me (had to double up on the percs).


  4. Hi, Ricky - Thanks for reading (and enjoying) the blog!

    Agreed, the staff at Kings Ave are an amazing crop of artists! Henning (whom I met briefly at the London Convention in 2010) is also one hell of a tattooist. I think it's totally sick that you'll be getting a collaboration from the both of them and you'll have to be sure to post pictures somewhere online!

    Remember: the pain is temporary... the tattoo is for life.

    Expect a post about yesterday's sitting in the next 24 hours.