Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Getting tattooed at a convention

As a treat for myself, for all my hard work being me basically, I went to the Boston Tattoo Convention last Saturday. I had hoped to meet an online friend there, but it didn't work out so I was flying solo.

I knew ahead of time that I was going to get a tattoo from Elize. She's done two other pieces for me and I like knowing there's an artist I can always go back to for quality work. She's also very easy to talk to and I need that kind of comfort from such a big commitment! A week before the convention, she uploaded a few pictures of sketches she had drawn just for the convention. It was mostly flowers and a tulip in particular caught my eye. I decided that my initial attraction to the drawing was enough: I was going to get that tulip. In purple, of course (my favorite color).

When I arrived at the convention, I bought my ticket with cash and headed in. I was immediately overwhelmed by the noise and people. I suffer from sensory overload in busy environments, even just out shopping, so it was a bit difficult for me to think. I decided to just walk around. I felt so nervous and didn't like feeling so clueless. The convention was occupying several conjoined meeting rooms in the Boston Back Bay Sheraton hotel, lined with many booths of tattooists, piercers, and tattoo/piercing supply companies, not to mention clothing and jewelry as well. I found a stage and stopped to watch a side show performance. Someone was in a box, contorting themself around knives and swords being inserted into it. Stopping there gave me a moment to recuperate and realize that I had to "fake it till I made it," pretending like I knew what I was doing.

Of course, just down an aisle from the stage, I found Elize's tattoo shop booth. I spoke to Elize about the tattoo I wanted and she started prepping her equipment. I scanned her other available convention flash (tattoo "flash" is a pre-drawn piece of art that you pick out to have done with minimal modification, rather than a custom drawing) and the other artists' books while I was waiting. A nice person gave me their map, which I hadn't seen when I'd entered the convention after getting my ticket. Brilliance Tattoo had a box of Dum Dums (small lollipops) on the table so I grabbed one to suck on while I was getting tattooed. This ended up being a nice though short-lived distraction.

I laid out on a folding massage table while Elize tattooed the side of my calf. To pass the time, I ate the lollipop, played a Bubble Shooter game on my smartphone, listened to the sideshow/burlesque performances on the stage behind me, and watched people walk by. I got the sense that people-watching and ogling was totally acceptable and expected at the convention. There were a lot of scantily clad women there, perhaps just to show off their tattoos, but maybe also for some of the beauty/tattoo contests going on. The time passed pretty quickly like that. This was my second tattoo where I had the outline and color completed in one session (about one hour) and I definitely prefer that to outline and color separately. By the time she got around to doing the color, my skin was working hard to dull the pain so it hardly hurt anymore. She took a picture (though I'll visit her at the shop once it's healed so she can get a better one), wrapped it up in plastic wrap (for temporary protection, until I could get home and wash it), I paid, and that was it!

Terribly and not color-accurate smartphone picture. The tulip is a light purple, but my skin is still very red from the process!
Getting tattooed first thing really calmed my nerves. Having something fairly intense to focus on gave my brain a chance to process everything around me. I think some of that tendency to get overwhelmed comes from the Executive Functioning Disorder, or maybe Generalized Anxiety Disorder (or both). When I left Elize's booth, I used the map to navigate towards an artist's booth whose work I have been wanting to check out. I flipped through her book of finished tattoo pictures and grabbed a business card and sticker. I hope to get in touch with her by January about a piece I have in mind. Just across from Holly's booth was Precision Body Arts, who are based in Nashua. The piercing apprentice knows my sister and her fiancé, so I said hi and asked some questions about jewelry and piercings to the main piercer there, Ryan. They were both very nice and obviously well-educated in their work. I'm not a fan of the fancy Anatometal jewelry that seems very popular these days, with all the extra stones and gems, so I didn't get any new jewelry for my existing piercings. I will definitely visit that shop in person sometime though.

I had to wait a while at Precision's booth, so once I was done there, I felt ready to head out. My leg was pretty sore from the tattoo anyway and my phone was about to die from playing a game on it for so long. I bought a poster on my way out and headed home.

Overall, 10/10, would do again. I would love to get tattooed at next year's convention (or another convention). Next time, I might scan the booths more to see if there's a different artist I'd want to get something from, if something Elize has doesn't strike my fancy immediately. It was awesome having so much distracting me during the tattooing and I think I would recommend it for anyone who already has at least one tattoo. Dare I say it was even fun?

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