I am so in love this this tattoo! I've wanted a tattoo of Grace for a few years now. This was actually the reason behind her recent photo shoot, I wanted the "right" picture. When Stephene was taking pictures of Grace, she stopped and showed me this one right after she took it. The expression on Grace's face was exactly what I was after. A week after the photo shoot my husband told me about a new tattoo shop that had opened in our area. He said the owner was known for his portraits. That is exactly what I was looking for. After looking at Randy's work I knew he was the one. I called and scheduled an appointment for the Friday before Memorial Day.
I let a few of my coworkers know what I was doing, the conversation started when I put a framed 8x10 of the picture I was going to use for the tattoo at my desk. I really wanted some time to resonate with it, to be sure this was what I wanted on my body. It's funny how after you tell people that you are getting your first tattoo, they all like to tell you how bad it is going to hurt. Only one person told me about how after they got through the first few minutes, that getting a tattoo was the best feeling in the world. I decided to go with his story and stop listening to everyone else! I know that I have a high pain threshold and I am a big believer in the power of the mind. I just kept telling myself that it would not bother me and that I might even enjoy it. By Friday morning I was ready! I was antsy all day at work, not because I was scared, but because I was excited!
One thing that everyone and their brother did suggest was that I make sure to eat a meal before I head to the shop. Something about the adrenaline causing low blood sugar and people passing out. I went out of my way to eat a sandwich right before I left the house. When I got to the shop I recognized Randy but was still a little surprised by how young he was. Still, I knew this was the guy, he had just posted a tiger that he did a few days ago on Facebook and the detail was just amazing. When I showed him the picture of Grace he started to talk about a Quarter Horse that he used to own. I was immediately put at ease. This guy knew horses, he is the one! He took a few minutes to scan and draw up the picture. My niece who had agreed to sit with me arrived right on time. I was thrilled to have her there, she has several tattoos the first one being a GIANT tiger that goes across her ribs. She had it done 2 days after her 18th birthday. I knew then that she was the bravest girl I knew.
I was pleased to see how clean Randy's workstation was. The arm and back of the chair I would be sitting in had a fresh layer of saran wrap. After rubbing something on my left arm Randy very carefully applied the stencil. I almost laughed when he started with the needle. It didn't hurt at all! It felt like someone was pushing their fingernail into my arm. My niece kept me talking over the 3 hours that Randy worked away. For the most part I didn't look at my arm, I would take an occasional peek, but I didn't really want to focus on the fact that someone was injecting my arm with ink. My niece noticed that Randy wasn't doing the typical outline and then going back to fill in. He started at the bottom of the tattoo and worked his way up. He explained that this was how he did portraits, lots of shading, the picture of Grace didn't have lines so neither should the tattoo. He pointed out that it would also hurt less that way, it would limit the times that he would have to go back over an area that was already inked.
Over the 3 hours I would have to say that on a pain scale of 1 - 10 most of the time I was at a 2 or 3. Mildly irritating, but I kind of enjoyed the vibration. Toward the end when he went back over a few areas the pain jumped up to a 6. The worst part was when he would clean it, for a second it may have been at a 7 put nothing I could not handle. About 2.5 hours in Randy said "you're tough, most people would have complained by now!" There were several people hanging around the shop while I was there. They would stop by every few minutes and take a look. I loved seeing their faces light up as the tattoo progressed. I couldn't wait to look in the mirror when it was finished, almost 3 hours to the minute. I was so pleased that Randy decided to work the background in. I love the color. My number one goal for this tattoo was for people to be able to look at it and know that it was Grace. It is absolutely what I wanted and I could not be happier! Now what about the right arm....