My Tattoo

For years I was tempted to get a tattoo. In Portland a tattoo seems to be part of the accepted tribal regalia. Even at my age, I figured any body art would just help me blend in

“She flies with her own wings”

with the highly decorated populace.

What gave me pause was my dread of prolonged pain for the hour or so the tattoo process would last. I also harbored a fear of operator error: What if the tattoo artist had a tremor? What if he or she was a lousy artist?

I already knew what words I wanted to use in permanently altering my epidermis. When a fitness instructor at my gym told me that the Latin words tattooed on her upper deltoid were actually the words of the Oregon State Motto, I thought, “Why not have that in plain English?” So, the decision was made at that moment. Someday I would get a tattoo that included the words “She flies with her own wings.”

And this being Portland, I was also inspired to put a bird on it. My initial thought was to have a Western Meadowlark (the Oregon State Bird) attached to the motto, but I feared its yellow and tan plumage would not stand out. So, just to liven up the design, I resolved to add a burst of color with a red-breasted bluebird.

The next task was to find a tattoo artist, one who was good at drawing birds. I started visiting websites of Portland tattoo parlors. Someone suggested attending a Tattoo Expo in Portland and choosing someone who was exhibiting there. However, I ended up finding my wonderful tattoo artist purely through happenstance.

Atlas Tattoo Studio

I was invited to a media event at a bar on North Albina Avenue. When I looked up the address on Google Maps, I noticed Atlas Tattoo Studio was just down the block. I checked out their website and perused some of the sample artwork. After perhaps too many cocktails I popped in and made an appointment with Brian Paul, whose birds I thhad judged to be exceptionally good.

When the day of my appointment arrived, I was as nervous as could be. Friends had warned me that I would suffer excruciating pain, or that I would be stuck with a visual disaster, complete with misspellings. Brian turned on his electric needle and I began my Lamaze breathing. Not long into the process, I accepted the fact that I could actually relax and enjoy it. I felt absolutely no pain at all. Brian carefully followed an ink template on my upper left deltoid and after a short break, he applied the color.

The entire process lasted about an hour and cost $160. Brian added decorative touches

Taking a break before Brian adds the color.

that brought the design to life. For example, he turned the motto into a parchment scroll that was being pulled through the air by the bird. As Brian was working his magic on my upper arm, I asked him if Atlas, this tattoo studio I had stumbled upon, was highly rated. “It’s the best,” he stated, and said that when he moved back to Oregon from New York, it was the only place he wanted to work. I congratulated myself on my excellent taste in tattoo parlors!

After coddling and caring for my healing skin for about two weeks, I unveiled my new tattoo for public viewing. I love it! How about you?

The finished product!

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