My First Tattoo

Yesterday, I did something that will probably give my mom a migraine, or a heart attack, or the urge to have me move back in with my parents just so she can kick me back out. I got my first tattoo.

Tempted as I was to go with the lower-back butterfly, I went with this:


What follows are some of my answers to the most frequently asked questions about the tat.

Did it hurt?

Yes. That's all I'll say about that.

Does it hurt now?

Yes and no. It's not too bad--it feels like bad sunburn and bruising. Touch it, though, and you die.

Do you want another one?

As fresh as the aforementioned pain is, and considering how long it took me to arrive at this tattoo, my answer is no. At least not for a while.

Who did it?

There's this cool guy I met in the alley behind 711. He offered to give me a tattoo, and I agreed to pay him in cigarettes. Don't worry--I watched him clean the needle with a Clorox wipe.

Okay. It was this cool guy named Mike Ski. He has a place in Fishtown and does some really cool stuff. Here's his website, and here's his Instagram account. Mike made the experience a ton of fun--if you need some ink done, hit him up.

What's the story here?

I thought you'd never ask.

I've considered a tattoo ever since I was in high school. It's something I've always wanted, something I've always considered, but I couldn't decide on anything.

I wanted any tattoo I get to be something meaningful to me--it wasn't enough to look cool, or say something interesting or spiritual. After years and years of kicking around ideas that were okay but ultimately not moving enough for me to permanently ink myself, I finally stumbled on some inspiration.

I first got the idea back in January, and I thought, "Holy rip. This is it." Once I got the idea, I contacted Mike, and we got together and tossed around some ideas.

I always thought that I would want a lot of control over my tattoo--as in, "Hey. This is exactly what it looks like. Don't screw it up." With this idea, I ended up collaborating a lot with Mike. I knew I wanted trees coming down my forearm and a skyline going up my arm. It ended up being his idea to throw in the mountains (which was perfect, and I can't believe I didn't think of it) and last-minute, the sun(s) and the color. 

The suns and the color are pretty huge--my original idea was all black. When he showed me the picture, he said, "I put the sun in there because I wanted it to be optimistic." tattoo1

And I thought, "You brilliant, brilliant man." It really is perfect. I want this tattoo to be optimistic, hopeful. The color brings that out even more.

The coolest thing about this tattoo is the collaboration--I gave up my idea of "the perfect tattoo" and decided to trust Mike as an artist. The final product isn't anything like I first pictured, but ultimately, it's so much cooler and surprisingly more me than my own idea by itself. [Insert commentary about how life is like this.]

Ultimately, the tattoo is about reflecting two things I love and make me who I am--the city and the outdoors. I'm not all one or other. The top is a mix of buildings from cities I've been in and love (also Mike's idea). From left to right, they are Philly's BNY Mellon Center, NYC's Chrysler building, Pittsburgh's PPG Tower, and NYC's Empire State Building.

Separating the top from the bottom is water (Mike's idea). The bottom half is pine trees and mountains--my second home.

I love it. I love what it represents. I love that I'll be able to tell my grandkids about it and what it means to me--or anyone that asks.

Next tattoo idea? How about this: