Sunday, December 30, 2012

Finally Got Inked!

I've been contemplating about getting a tattoo for the longest time. My lifestyle having parts of my body coming into contact with metal and skin friction got me postponing. Plus, also there's my pain anxiety too. Society also has this discrimination with people getting inked. Thankfully, with shows like Miami Ink, it has been portrayed as a visual art as well, being accepted slowly as an art form. Actually, if you really look at our history, people have been getting tattoos in tribes usually as a rite of passage, or depending on their ranks as a warrior.

As for me, I'm one of those who view tattoo art as a representation of yourself or an idea or something dear to you. Angelina Jolie has had a prayer tattooed on her as protection for her family. People also have images or representations of a loved one tattooed on them. Personally, I keep this idea also to myself. Just like makeup and visual art, it's a form of self-expression. So, the design has to be something original.

I finally decided to get my ink this Christmas season as a treat to myself. With that, I decided to do my homework, meaning research. A tattoo was going to be with me forever. It has to represent me and of course, be something original. I don't want to be walking around the face of the earth for the rest of my life with someone in another part of the universe having the exact same tat as I have.  I researched also for tattoo artists. I googled a few and asked recommendations from some of my friends who got inked. I was really thankful that I did this step because with my excitement, I would have just picked a random tattoo shop in the malls with hiked up prices. I should also be concerned first with safety and quality, for very obvious reasons, like using brand new (and sterilized) needles, and high-quality ink. Two friends recommended an artist meeting the same qualifications I was looking for. However, he was fully booked. Looks like  lot of people had the same idea to gift themselves.

Just last night, I was chatting with my blogger friend and yogini, Ria. I remember she had this very beautiful tattoo of stars on her back and I asked her who her artist was as I plan to get inked. She referred me to Joe Saliendra of Epic Tattoo  and showed me a Facebook page containing his works. "He came as a recommendation and I personally liked his style". She told me. I saw that his works had very fine details and fine lines, and were somewhat more feminine. He also doesn't copy a design. This is great, since that would mean the design inked on you would be made for you and unique. With encouragement and that in mind (plus the fact that I would be in the area that day), I decided to just go for it. If I'm meant to have a tattoo that day, I figured everything would just fall into place.

After our conversation, I googled more of Joe's artworks and some of the reviews. He's very popular among people in the South area.  Most of the reviews I read were really good, and he ranked one of the top in this article about tattoo artists, with a lot of awards and credentials to boot. Also, I saw in a website photos of his tattoo shop and guess what? There was a pole. I was like, wow! Fate must be directing me to this place.

Epic Tattoo is located at President's Avenue in BF Paranaque. It's right in front of  Zeus Spa. If you're coming from Aguirre, you turn left and it would be on the right side. You have to really pay attention to the signs because there's also a car shop in the compound with a bar in front selling food and drinks. 

Epic Tattoo is a really, really nice and cozy place. The people are very friendly. They do not intimidate anyone, even if it's your first time. Joe and the rest of the people were really friendly and I was glad that they made me feel right at home.  I met Joe, who I spoke earlier to on the phone when I asked about the location. He's a really cool guy who answered all my queries. I didn't expect to get inked though but I wanted first to check out the place and do a consultation (it's very very important too). I didn't have an exact idea though. I just gave the elements I wanted: a Gemini sign with four stars. I also wanted the ink to be reddish-brown, like a warm henna brown instead of black. I also wanted it to be on my right forearm for the reason that I wanted it to be seen. Thankfully, my day job as a makeup artist does not have much restrictions with dress code and personal style - body art and all. 

Oh, and did I tell you? I wasn't kidding there really was a pole right smack in the center of the studio. I wanted to go mount and play with it right away.

that's Joe on the left as I did a flag

And so I did. I'm glad they were really game too! I think that pole in the center broke the ice. Oh, and I really was fated to get inked because I was told I was okay to get inked that very day.

Since I didn't have a very exact design right then and  there I told Joe, "Basically, these are the elements I want. I leave it up to your artistry to compose." I'm more of the symbolic girl than designs that are just cute and pretty. I want my tattoo to tell stories and reflect my personality. 

The elements have a lot of meaning. I wanted a Gemini sign for a lot of reasons. For one thing, it's my zodiac sign, and I'm proud of it and love being one. Aside from that, it's my favorite pole move. I look pretty in my gemini and they're stable on both sides. The four stars symbolized the four levels of pole to attain - Beginners 1, Beginners 2, Intermediate 1, and Intermediate 2. The tattoo would symbolize my love for pole (I was advised by others to never get a tattoo that symbolizes another person, except if it's your parents or children), as it changed my life entirely, turning me from a sickly weakling to someone who's strong, confident, and healthy. As you all know, it is during pole where I can totally be myself and I'm around people who do not judge and in fact, encourage you to be your best. 

Epic Tattoo uses a brand called After Ink. It's a highly recommended ink by many tattoo artists that is of high quality. And the best part too, is that it's vegan and cruelty-free. Yay! No animals have been harmed!

Just like in makeup, my skin was prepped well and then the stencil was transferred on to my skin. Joe asked me too also if the positioning was right. It was adjusted a bit and then it was good to go. I like too that in every procedure, safety was the #1 concern - clean needles, surface, etc. Name it. A fresh, new needle was used on me and everything sterilized. An OC girl's dream.

I was really nervous before the procedure started. And when the machine was turned on, I got really nervous. Joe proceeded to do the outline first before the shading. Did it hurt? Of course it did, but it wasn't the pain that made me collapse or comparable to near death. It was quite tolerable. To those curious, it's like getting papercuts. It kinda helped that I was watching as it was being done. Thankfully for free wifi, I was able to relax and look at my arm from time to time. 

The procedure was quite quick, since it was a small tattoo with very clean lines. I was cleaned up after and then petroleum jelly was applied on my tattoo before wrapping it with cling wrap to protect it. I was advised to keep it on first for an hour and to apply petroleum jelly on the tattoo before and after taking a shower for a week. Cardinal rule too, was not to pick or scratch and just let it be.

My tattoo before it being wrapped in cling wrap.  Yep, it's kinda red at first but I promised, it subsided.

I don't know actually if Joe read my mind and knew my personal style from our conversation. I'm not a fan of frills and ruffles, spirals and curlicues. I like simple, clean lines in my wardrobe. This tattoo was simple and straightforward. However, the simplicity holds more stories than one. It kind of grew on me as the four stars may symbolize guidance in how I go about my life, since the Gemini sign represents who I am. Notice also the symmetry of the design. As a pole dancer, it reminded me of learning to perfect both sides all the time. In life, there should always be a balance.

After my tat session, I of course wanted a photo with the artist. Normally, we would just pose and smile. Joe, however suggested something more awesome:

On the pole of course, this time, he would be the one there. I showed him the flag and he nailed it really well. In fact, it was way straighter than mine! Looks like someone sure has pole potential!

In getting a tattoo, here's what I would suggest:

  • Think about it one million times. It's going to be with you forever. 
  • Ask for recommendations, do your research and look for an artist whose style you like. An artist will put a bit of themselves in their work. Each person and each style is different.
  • Safety first! Look for a shop that's clean and uses only clean and brand-new needles and high-quality ink. 
  • Don't be afraid to do a consultation. Just like a wedding or big event that only happens once, your ink, especially your first should be carefully planned, something you won't regret one million years from now.
  • Have fun and relax! 

I'm very happy with my first ink. Will this be the first and last ink? I was told it won't be. :) It's an awesome design and a great experience and even the universe agreed. Like I said, fate even brought me here, and to think I just winged this day.

One item in bucketlist: Get a Tattoo. CHECK! 

Joe Saliendra is located at Epic Tattoo Studio in 81-82 Kanoma Park, President's Avenue, BF Homes Sucat, Paranaque. You may call 0916-578-6493 for consultations and appointments or check out Epic Tattoo's Facebook page here

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