A great honour to be given a Japanese tattoo name from no less a legend than Horiyoshi 3 himself. Its been a long long road to get here, I wish to extend heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all those who helped me along the way and made it possible. You know exactly who you all are. I am forever indebted to the kindness and grace of those who have supported me over the years when things were dark, money was tight, work was scarce and I was still learning and struggling.
Be it family, mentor, colleague, partner, or peer, I owe everything to you. Thank you.
My interest in tattoos began when I was a teenager. This all came about from my one and only influence at the time – music. Punk and metal bands were on high rotation on my CD player, all of my favourite music artists were covered in tattoos. I would go to any live gig I could get into, which is where I first started to take note of all the different types of tattoos out there. Everyone seemed to have ink on display, in a variety of different styles and sizes. I loved the idea of having a permanent piece of art on my body, and I knew I wanted one. Some older friends also had tattoos and I was envious! I was too young, so I had to wait until I was 18……
Not long after my 18th Birthday I got my first tattoo. I loved it. I was pretty impressed with myself that I had joined the tattoo family and it wasn’t too far down the track that I was thinking about another one….
Fast forward into my 20’s I started talking about a large piece on my back. I had no idea what I wanted and looked at loads of styles online and in magazines. I struggled with what style of tattoo I wanted to cover my back. So many styles crossed my mind, but nothing seemed to sit right with me.
My tattoo plans went on hold when I moved overseas. During my travels, I met a guy with a Japanese warrior on his ribcage. I loved it instantly. Japanese style had never crossed my mind, so I started looking into it. I looked online at designs and read about the history behind the Japanese tattoo. I decided I had found the style I was looking for, now the question was, what exactly do I want? I began buying Japanese tattoo books and diving into more research. I kept coming back to images of dragons. They look amazing, I love the symbolism attached to the dragon and they are a timeless, classic piece or art. I made up my mind….A dragon it is!
I moved back to Australia in my 30’s and took up the search for a tattoo artist. I had looked into loads of different artists around Sydney and Australia. I had even booked into another tattoo artists’ waiting list before I came across Kian’s website. As soon as I began looking at his online portfolio I knew I had finally found the artist for me. Every piece on his website inspired me and got me pumped for a large piece on my back. They were all unique, and pretty amazing. Kian’s website was professional and the tattoo info on his site was really helpful. I cancelled my spot with the other artist, and emailed Kian. I jumped on his waiting list, which at the time was an 18 – 24 month wait.
I had no idea what I was going to do with my old tattoo. It was positioned at the base of my neck, and most probably in the way of my new back piece. I thought Kian might be able to work some sort or miracle and make it look ok with the dragon. I did read his advice regarding old tattoo’s on his website. His website suggested all cover-ups have a few laser sessions BEFORE the tattoo consult. In my naïve state, I thought this didn’t apply to me. Surely he can do something with my old tattoo? Besides, I didn’t want to erase it, it reminded my of a time of my life, and it was my very first tattoo….
Around 2 years later I received a call from the tattoo shop, informing me my time had finally arrived. WICKED!!
Off I go to the studio for my initial consult. I was super excited, and a little nervous. My mind was made up on the dragon, but the rest I was unsure about. I was thinking waves.. or a tree…or some lotus flowers….I was planning on throwing some suggestions at Kian to discuss. And there was still the question of my old faded tattoo….
I meet Kian, and we sit. “So what are you after?”
I tell him I want a full back dragon, with maybe some waves or something…. Looking back, I probably sounded a bit vague. All of those years of research and that’s all I could spit out? I was feeling a bit intimidated. God knows why. He was sitting there listening to me, without saying much. Crap, why didn’t I bring all the pictures I had ear marked in my books and magazines??
“Oh yeah, and I have a tattoo on my back already.” I show Kian my old tattoo.
I braced myself for what I kind of knew was coming.
Kian explained it was in the way of my back piece, and if I wanted a cover up, I would need some laser sessions.
I asked if there was an option of leaving it there, and going around it.
His response was “ Why do you want a shitty old tattoo ruining your new back piece? “
He was right. Why would I want my old faded tattoo next to an awesome new one? I thought about it for a few minutes and decided to go with the laser option. Bye bye old tat….
Kian booked me an appointment with the lovely Linnea at Fade Laser, and the following day I had my first laser session. Linnea warned me it would sting…..She wasn’t wrong! I only needed three x 15-minute sessions to fade it enough for Kian to work his magic. Anyone considering a cover up… do yourself a favour and have your old tattoo faded while on the waiting list! I had to wait another 10 months or so with healing times in between each laser session, which for obvious reasons sucked. I was itching for my new tattoo to start.
When my laser treatment was all healed up, it was time to visit Kian again. I explained to Kian I wanted a dragon with “something”. I was thinking a cherry blossom tree or a lotus flower thrown in there and some waves. He squashed my tree idea pretty quickly. Kian explained the tree was not an option. Basically it would look crap. I considered this for a moment and went with it. I guess he is the expert….
The waves were an option, but I would have to commit to full back coverage. I hadn’t visualized or even considered full back coverage, I was instantly worried it would be too much. I must have looked a bit dazed and confused, as Kian suggested I go home and think about it. I changed my mind a million times in the next 24 hours. Full back…..dragon only….fullback…..
I went back to meet Kian the following day. I changed my mind several times on the way to my consult. As I walked into the studio, I settled on full back coverage. When Kian asked what the verdict was, I chickened out and said dragon only. At the time I was still unsure if I had made the right decision! (I now wish I had gone for the full back coverage!! Yes Kian, you told me so…) Kian measured me up and sketched some rough outlines on paper. It looked like a page full of scribble. I wondered how on earth he could design something around that! I paid my deposit and booked my tattoo appointment a couple of weeks down the track.
Tattoo outline day arrived. I was so nervous, I had a swarm of butterflies causing havoc in my stomach. I hadn’t seen what Kian had designed. Would it be as awesome as I pictured? What if I didn’t like it? What would I say if I wanted to change it?
Of course I was worried about nothing. I loved it! It was perfect. It was better than perfect, and it was gong to live permanently on my back! I stripped off and Kian applied the stencil to my back. I checked it out in the mirror and had a grin from ear to ear. Awesome!! Now down to business…
Kian set up all his gear and warned me when he was about to start. WOW, It hurt more than I remembered. After a few minutes he asked how I was going. I lied and said great. I was secretly wondering how the hell I was gong to get through 5 hours of outline. Kian gave me breaks asked how I was doing throughout the day. There was plenty of chatter around the shop, and Kian attempted to have some sort of conversation with me, however I think I just zoned out and tried to get through the day. There were words of encouragement, and on more than one occasion I was told to relax and get in the zone. Some areas hurt more than others, but the bum cheeks were by far the most painful bit!
My first session ended, and I went to admire my new back in the mirror. I was so happy with the outline; it looked great! I left feeling stiff and swollen, wrapped up in cling wrap. My legs were shaking and my body did not enjoy the walk. I thought I might pass out as I left the shop. Later that evening I followed all instructions by scrubbing all the blood and ink off my back. That certainly woke up all the sore bits!
Two weeks went by and I was back again for session number two. Kian asked how it healed up and if I was happy with the progress. Of course I was happy, I had an awesome dragon underway! The scales were the next step, and they took ages to complete. It was great to watch the dragon take shape over the weeks. The scales started to bring the dragon to life. Week by week the dragon grew in size, snaking down my back, and after every session I couldn’t wait for the next. In between sessions I would look in the mirror every time I walked past one. I was so impressed with the art unfolding on my skin.
The many hours spent on Kian’s tattoo table was entertaining to say the least. Often I would leave with a new piece of useful, (or useless) information, following our days conversations. There was no shortage of laughter, as Kian’s sense of humour kept me entertained for hours. And of course there were the sincere questions at the beginning of every session… How’s the healing? How’s it all gong? Are you happy with it?
The months went by and I would visit Kian on a regular basis. The session to fill the peony’s was one of the hardest. This was the area I received laser removal of my previous tattoo, and the pain was pretty intense. I stopped Kian several times this day, as I completely greened out. I did everything in my power not to throw up all over his tattoo table!
Throughout the whole process I left the colours up to Kian.. The only colour I was specific about was the colour of the scales; the rest was up to him. I completely trusted his judgment on all areas of design. He is the expert after all!
I love the finished product that now lives permanently on my back, and I am so happy my dream back piece is as awesome as I pictured. I am now saving for the background to be completed, and before too long I will be back for another tattoo consult with Kian….
Hope you all had a safe and happy holiday.. I’m gearing up to get back to work, if you’ve emailed me in the last 3 weeks I will be replying to your emais in the next few days. Thanks for your patience! Lets make 2013 the best yet. Cheers
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