Thank you so much for taking part in this blog series! I'm excited to chat with you about your rabbit tattoo we did in in August 2021 at Black Cloud Tattoos, so over two years ago!
Here's the photo I took when it was freshly done (for the readers)...
Was this your first tattoo or had you been tattooed before?
Anh: This is not my first tattoo. I already have one full sleeve and couple of small tattoos here and there. However, this was the first big leg tattoo that I have.
What made you decide to get this particular tattoo?
A: When I got this tatoo, I have just recently moved from the US to Canada, about 2 months in. Among the list of tattoo artists that I found on IG, I found your account and your newsletter. One day, I saw a mail notification saying "I have space this week!", and I was super stoked. It wasn't in my plan to get a tattoo at that moment, but the opportunity arose and I fell in love with one of your flashes. It was the design of a rabbit among some flowers, and the rabbit looks so dang cute. I knew I had to book in, and luckily the spot was still open by the time I emailed you (3 hours later FYI, I was sure the spot has been taken and I was too late). I like collecting tattoos from different artists that I admire, so everything feels just right and I had to get this tattoo.
Do you remember how you felt the days before getting tattooed, or the morning of?
A: YES!! I was super excited as this is the first time I booked a tattoo appointment and got it done only a few days (3 to be exact) later. At the time, I was living in London, so it was a two-hour drive for me to get to the studio. I arrived just in time (oof, the 401 was brutal) to get some lunch before the appointment.
What was the process of getting tattooed like for you?
A: When I get tattoos, I have this euphoria feeling because I'm getting a new piece of art decorated on my body. Perservering through the pain is my way of knowing this art is permanent. Despite all the hardship and painful moments in my life, I make a conscious decision to receive those pain, because I know at the end of it, I gain something beautiful. The tattoo session with you went by like a breeze, I got it done, spent some time in Toronto and went back home before the sun was down.
Did you find the experience painful, and was it as painful as you expected it to be?
A: You are pretty light-handed, so it wasn't as painful as I thought a calf tattoo would be. Plus, the tattoo being blackwork means I skipped the painful part of getting colours done, so lucky me!
Do you remember how you felt after getting tattooed?
A: Thrilled and happy! It looks even more beautiful on my calf than on the paper
And how about the day after? What was it like having a brand new fresh tattoo?
A: Oooh, the blood rush is real!! During the healing process, whenever I woke up in the morning, the blood started rushing to my calf when I stood up from my bed and it was somehow equally painful to getting the tattoo itself. Other than that, Second Skin helped me out a tons as I didn't need to worry about my fresh tattoo touching everything, getting dirty or too dry (I'm not a fan of dry healing). 4-5 days later, peeling the Second Skin off and it's healed!
Let’s chat a little more about life with your tattoo…
What is it like living with this tattoo?
A: With every tattoo I get, I'm more confident in my body and the way I represent it. Without dwelling too much on my life at that moment, it's safe to say that this tatoo was one of the few positive things that happened. I grew up not feeling confident in my own body (Asian culture will do that to you), and I have this odd thought of the skin on my body isn't mine, and I need to reclaim it by getting tattooed. So any parts with tattoos on my body are mine, the rest needs to be reclaimed. As I slowly work toward getting my whole body covered, I'm learning to love myself more. I'm greatful for meeting you and having your work on me. Your tattoos and other tattoos that I have mean more to me than you can imagine.
How were the reactions from people close to you?
A: To be honest, indifferent. My friends and acquaintances in North America already knows me as this Asian woman who has a full sleeve, so me having a calf tattoo doesn't phase them much. At that point in time, my parents didn't know that I have any tattoos (I had not seen them in person in 4+ years, they are living in my home country Vietnam). Fast forward to me making the decision to come back home, I told my parents about my tattoos and they took it better than expected. I understand the culture and generational differences, so I did not expect them to feel over the moon about that news. But the fact that they said it's okay, that took me by surpise. Few of my close relatives in Vietnam were less than happy when they saw the "new" me. But over time, I remind them that I'm still the person that they watched growing up but with a new "interface", and they seem to get that eventually.
In what ways has your tattoo changed your life, or sense of self?
A: My tattoos give me the confidence that I craved my whole life. Looking in the mirror, I feel happy to see my reflections. That feeling was never there during my childhood. The tattoos gives me the power to be unapologetically me, to represent myself in the way that I choose.
Let’s skip forward to today...
How do you feel about your tattoo right at this moment?
A: Still in love with it, even more in the recent month. I adopted a cute white cat this August, and he was named Rabbit by the foster home. In a way, your tattoo now has an extra meaning ever since Rabbit enters my life. Two years before I even thought about adopting an animal, I already got a representation of my pet on me. Talk about omen eh! (I attached some pics of Rabbit along with this email, as I know you are a cat mom as well :D)
Have you gotten anymore since this tattoo (or do you plan to?)
A: I got two more tattoos since then, both of them are of cats (I sense a theme here haha). I'm planning to get an otter done in blackwork style on my other calf to match your rabbit tattoo, but I have yet to decide on which artist. I have another idea in mind but I won't execute it in probably 10+ years. It's my dream to get my palms done by the one and only Luke Ashley but it's not the right time to get them done now (honestly, that's just an excuse for the immense pain that I dread)
If you could give any advice to someone thinking about getting a tattoo what would you tell them?
A: At the end of the day, you are going to be the person with that tattoo permanently inked on your skin. The opinions and judgements of other people are just words in the wind, they fly away and disappear the moment those words left their mouths. No need to obsessed over their questions of "What is it gonna look like in 20 years", "What would your children/grandchildren think?", "I would never do that to my body", etc. The answers to all those questions are "Rad", "Super rad", and "I'm glad I'm not you." Despite that, do think twice whenever you decide to get a tatto. Remember, it's a want, not a need. As long as you are not putting yourself into financial trouble over the tattoo, and the tattoo makes you feel good, I'd say get it done!
Thank you so so much for taking the time to answer my questions Anh (and get this amazing project with me). I'm forever grateful,
Thanks for reading, if you are interested in getting tattooed by me you can find all of my booking information here!