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Tattoo Adventures of an Inky Software Developer 

 November 5, 2020

By  NickLitten

TATTOO

  1. A permanent mark or design made on the skin by a process of pricking and ingraining an indelible pigment or by raising scars.
  2. A design made on the skin with a temporary dye such as henna or ink.

tr.v. tat·tooed, tat·too·ing, tat·toos
To mark (the skin) with a tattoo – To form (a tattoo) on the skin.

Tale of a Tattoo

Nearly thirty years ago, while working in the USA for the first time, I found myself sitting in a hotel bored out of my mind and decided to get a Tattoo. Yup, the impetuousness of youth!


First Tattoo [June 1994]

I was in the USA working on an old JBA system for an American Customer. As a young man, novice programmer, and global traveler I had no intent to ever get tortured by a million needles filled with tattoo ink. But, fast forward a couple of months, the excitement of working abroad had eased and the monotony of long weeks living in a hotel room settled in.

This particular weekend, I breakfasted in the hotel and read a magazine with a large article about Ancient Art Tattoo in Roanoke, VA. On a whim, I decided to break the rhythm of yet another weekend, sitting in the Hotel Bar, and drive out to have a nose around a Tattoo studio.

I contemplated the adventure of a small tattoo, sort of hidden away.

After a cruise around Roanoke, stopping in the tattoo studio and having a long chat with a young tattooist called Eddie Yeary he offered to simply draw a tattoo on my arm with regular pen-ink:

“Go home and wear that for a few days, if you like it, come back and see me, then we can draw it under the skin!”

Eddie Yeary

Why did I decide to get a tattoo?

original tattoo japanese artwork
My First Tattoo – I’ve still got the original framed on the wall in my Study.

Some people get a tattoo for political, social, religious, or even sexual reasons. Some people get a tattoo because they’re drunk. Some people get a tattoo because they think a little red devil on the arse will pull the chicks… Chicks dig the Ink… Supposedly.

I decided not to use existing tattoo flash artwork (the example tattooed plastered all over the walls) because I wanted something unique.

I spent an afternoon in the local Library and researched ancient Japanese artwork. I found the Image that I wanted.

The original artwork was in Black and White of course, but when I returned to the Tattoo Studio, with my artwork in Hand, the same dodgy-looking tattooist, happily agreed to add some colour variations and stick the ink in me.

A short while later, I had been talked out of a small inch long tattoo and talked into a decent enough size to fill my upper arm. Purple was the colour and the inking began.

There are some photos floating around… but so old I will have to find one and upload here… later…

I’ve got one because… ehm… it was an adventure! I liked the idea and I liked the design of this particular Japanese artwork. That’s it, nothing deep or cosmic. I can’t really put a finger on it.

I suppose I just like the colours.

I was very proud of my new tattoo and became the man that always rolls up his t-shirt sleeve to show hard hard he was LOL

[find old picture scan and upload here]

I have never regretted it and joining the ranks as a “tattooed programmer” I’ve always found the only problem with tattoo’s is minority of opinionated people that don’t have tattoo’s don’t like tattoo’s.

Life is too short to be that grumpy 😉


Phase II [May 2002] – A small tattoo becomes a quite big tattoo

Nearly a decade later, a family holiday back to Roanoke to visit relatives.  This also meant a return visit to Eddie (who, quite amazingly remembered me as ‘The English dood’) for a much anticipated extension to my little Japanese fella.

The first sitting for the sleeve (eight hours of pure enjoyment!)


Phase III [November 2002] – Back in the States for Christmas

Six months later, I was back in the States having changed jobs and taking some leave in between. Despite enjoying this new tattoo, I just didn’t feel happy with the finished article. It didn’t feel complete. Too much skin showing in between the ink, I guess?

Eddie tried to hide from me, but he couldn’t.

So another afternoon in the chair was upon us.

I had just started working on this Infinity Colorworks Website so took lots of video footage of the tattoo process, inks involved, aftercare and everything. Got the video home, plugged it in to upload the media and Aaaargh the tape chewed up!!  f*@k!!!

The only media that survived was a couple of photos on another digital camera:

This made me happy.

I felt I had joined the big boy tattoo club.

Loved my dragons head and especially like my kids names are written around the outside in Klingon Lettering! I kid you not #nerdmode

That’s the end of this tattoo adventure right?

Afraid not…


Phase IV – Three Quarter Sleeve

Christmas in Roanoke [December 2003]

Had a terrific couple of weeks in America, with the kids visiting grandma, papaw and hordes of uncles, aunties & cousins. Eating, drinking and generally making merry. Kids loved it, were showered with presents and spent every day running around like loons and enjoying themselves.

But a man can only take so much  😉   I had to escape the madness, so snuck downtown to see Eddie for a slight extension to the sleeve.

It’s only grown slightly this time, with a few inches of dark graduated shading being extended down past the elbow, my kids names and d.o.b. being etched within the shading (at least I have no excuses for missing birthdays now!).

I also had an English Rose, copied from an England Rugby Shirt, etched below my elbow… just to add some colour… and a little patriotic symbol for myself.

That’s it!.

No More Tattoo’s for me!

But I did write this in my diary at the time:

Love this new tattoo. It finally feels complete. But, but, I’ve got a hankering for either filling in a cloud scene around the dragons head… or maybe going for the full sleeve. Not sure.

Me, December 2003

Phase V [September 2009] – Time for a Tattoo Sleeve

After moving to the USA it seemed like an ideal time to finally promote my partial sleeve to a full sleeve.

I opted for a forearm tattoo of two Koi Carp – one upstream and one downstream. This is old Tattoo mythology indicating putting the past behind you and embarking on a new adventure ahead.

As with all my previous inkwork, I reached out to Eddie Yeary to add this as a black and white stand alone piece

(Yes, I know that was a strange choice, he told me not to do it in black and white since the rest of my arm was colour, but, stubborn is as stubborn does! More on this later 😉 )

As the years have gone by, my initial tattoo adventure had grown into this very nearly full sleeve (there was a little virgin skin on the underneath of the forearm) It’s evolved into a tattoo sleeve with a dragon at the top, samurai dude, fisheys, flag, roses all kinds of weird things (including my kids names written in Klingon – true story).


Phase VI [October 2010] Fast Forward to Colourful Sleeve

A year has gone by and I’ve decided it’s time to brighten the whole thing up and add a little *shine* to the forearm fishes.

I felt the sleeve need some kind of continuity, Eddie glued it all together with a washed out blue water scene and added a little shallow yellow to the Black and White Koi.

A few emails later and an afternoon is scheduled with Edward and this is the result.


Phase VII [April 2014] Spring Cleaning the Tattoo

Four years later my original Black and White forearm tattoo, has been colorized for a few years and has settled back to a quite dark colouring.

It’s time to stop in Roanoke and visit Eddie for a little more colour packing…

I was a little worried about tattooing the same spot for the third time – but the tattoo colors came out excellent and the forearm piece is perfect. Color me delighted.

As always – sterling job from Virginia’s Inkmaster – Eddie Yeary

Cheers Edward!!!!

My Tattoo Sleeve, my Tattoo Adventure, is finally complete.

Or is it?

NickLitten


IBM i Software Developer, Digital Dad, AS400 Anarchist, RPG Modernizer, Shameless Trekkie, Belligerent Nerd, Englishman Abroad and Passionate Eater of Cheese and Biscuits. Nick Litten Dot Com is a mixture of blog posts that can be sometimes serious, frequently playful and probably down-right pointless all in the space of a day. Enjoy your stay, feel free to comment and remember: If at first you don't succeed then skydiving probably isn't a hobby you should look into.

Nick Litten

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