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got inked...again...

Posted by Au Lim On Friday, September 19, 2008 3 comments
i survived it!... after much trepidation and excited anticipation, the day to get the my next tattoo came. as i've said before, i love having a tattoo. it's the process of getting it that i hate! i've also often been asked why i would want one? funny, as soon as i sit on that chair and the tattoo artist's machine starts whirring,... the moment it touches my skin and does it's inking, i ask myself the same question!

seriously though, perhaps different people have different reasons. but i think most tattoed people have similar motivations for getting one. it serves as a mark that you have willingly chosen. just like birthmarks, it is a unique identifier on a person. but UNlike birthmarks, a tattoo is something it's owner CHOOSES and therefore makes it a kind of self-expression much like any creative undertaking like painting, designing, or some such art. furthermore, the fact that it's rebellious and bohemian also appeals to me. i think it's my statement against "normal" society... or heck, maybe i just have daddy issues! wahaha!

anyways, i finally chose the TAM bija of the deity Tara to go on my stylized lotus design. of course, bestfriend Nita had to be there with me to boost morale and to take photos. i'm sharing the shots below. i think it tells a better tale.

it all starts with a drawing that guides the artist... dito pa lang, parang gusto ko nang umuwi...


Martin Caoile starts the job


the tattoo in progress


Me trying hard to concentrate...no pain...no pain...oh yeah, the Emla is still working


hmmmm...teka...masakit na ha! waaah!...wa epek na ang Emla!...


konti na lang!!! matatapos na...


aray ko puuuu... di na po uulet...


ahhhh...tapos na!...yehey!...kelan nga tayo ulet?...hehehe... lovin' it already!


Martin!..you da maaan! nice work!


on EMLA
i have to admit i cheated a bit this time. i used a topical anesthetic called EMLA cream that my friend Mia mentioned to me the other day. i quickly googled it and encountered a couple of nice reviews on it. some tattoo enthusiasts discourage it for several reasons. firstly, it detracts from the tattoo experience because the pain is simply part of it. i guess being tattooed makes you a part of a modern, urban "tribe" and cheating on it makes you some kind of a turncoat. secondly, as the anethetic wears off, your body my get a shock from the returning sensation that the 'tattooee' might not be expecting. thirdly (and Martin, my tattoo artist claims last night),they say it hinders the ink from penetrating the skin.

half a tube of Emla

still, i decided to give it a try. if not for anything else, i would at least have first hand experience on what using Emla is all about. just before going to the tattoo artist, we dropped by Mercury Drug to get one. it ain't cheap. a small 5g tube cost Php501.00 and i think i pressed 1/3 of the tube before the cream oozed out. one has to apply it generously on the skin to be tattoed for at least 30 minutes before the procedure (i think 1 hour was more effective on me) and i covered it with a piece Gladwrap. just before, Martin was about to start, i removed the Gladwrap and he wiped off the cream. there was a numb sensation on the skin. then he proceeded with the tattoo.

my verdict is this: i'm glad i used it. that is, even if the anesthetic ONLY lasts approximately 30 minutes or so while the whole tattoo process for this one lasted about 2 hours--which means i felt the whole stinkin' pain for around an hour or so anyway. it at least minimized my biggest problem about getting inked. it's not really the pain of it that gets me (because it IS within tolerable bounds) but rather, what FEELS like a protracted procedure. in Tagalog: nakakarindi siya! getting the extra 30 minutes buys me the patience to sit longer for it. so i think, EMLA is still worth it if you're a sissy like me. it may be too early to tell if it affected the inking process, though. but tattoos can always be retouched anyway.

the morning after... still tender and slathered with Bepanthen cream

so here i am the day after. my eldest daughter Gabey just took photos of me and my new tattoo on her cellphone before she took off for school because she wanted to show it off to her friends. mahirap daw magpalaki ng magulang! hehehe... but i think she really just wants to show off she's got a "cool" mom.

needless to say, i am lovin' my new tats! although i can leave it as it is from here, i actually want the colored version but Martin advised me that we will just do it in 2 parts. coloring will be after it heals which may be in about 2 weeks. i think it was also partially because inaantok na sya kagabi since the tattoo session finished at around 11pm. but right now, i'm still can't get over the great job Martin did on it. i'm still scrutinizing its fine detailing yet with the tiny, hardly perceptible imperfections that make it very... uhmmm... human. and when i glance myself at the mirror, i love how it makes me look sort of "macho" in a feminine kind of way. hahaha...go figure!


tattoo design

Posted by Au Lim On Tuesday, September 16, 2008 0 comments
here i go again... 2 years after the last one, i am wanting another tattoo. it comes after the heels of incidentally running into the ads for Dutdutan '08 - the annual Philippine tattoo convention. i'm definitely going this year! not really to get myself tattoed but to get me some inked skin photography. but just looking it over made me want a new one, too. i must have already forgotten the pain of the previous one...haha! i've had 3 previous tattoo experiences. the first one was on my upper back, 2nd one was a cover-up job on same spot and the 3rd on my right leg. each and everytime, i swear it off. as soon as the tat heals, i want another. luckily, the sissy in me usually wins and my short attention span keeps the next one at bay until i run across something that makes me yearn strong enough to actually go for it. this time, it's Dutdutan + a design I truly love. i'm planning to put this one on my upper arm.

i wanted an OM or a TAM symbol as my next tattoo. Tam is the seed bija for the deity Tara who i feel the most connection to. however, i didn't know how to draw it properly and how to incorporate it with another element that i wanted in my tattoo: the lotus. i want the lotus because of it's wonderful symbolism; it grows from the mud, rises above it and finally blossoms pure and beautiful. it is also a symbol for enlightenment, a state that every being should aspire for.

i hit on an idea to ask a very good friend of mine, Karma Yeshe (who is probably the only Pinay Tibetan Buddhist nun right now), to help me with the design. Ani Yeshe happens to be a thangka painter so it couldn't be more perfect! i believe we also share a connection so aside from her art expertise, no one could be more perfect to understand and translate what i wanted to have designed.

since i had been planning for some time to join her for yoga class, i took the opportunity to request her to sketch the lotus design and the bijas when we met Thursday last week for the class. i searched on the net for similar designs of the lotus that i liked and showed this to her. after looking them over, Ani Yeshe very quickly nailed the sketches practically to the T as to how i would really want it! i simply tweaked it a bit for color and which bija to put in the center. now i am left with the decision. Om or Tam? black or colored?

as usual, i am getting the jitters now that my schedule to do the tattoo is so close--Thursday. until the very last minute, right up to the point i am already at the tattoo studio, i am usually still making up my mind on whether to go ahead or not. this always happens to me with every tat and every piercing i've tried! hopefully, i don't turn chicken on the day. anyhoo, update will be soon enough. wish me luck!

Photo Essay