May 31, 2016

"And That's Better Than A Sticker On Your Car...?" - My Dad

Looking back it was all pretty cliche: I was 18 years old, had a friend dating a tattoo artist and it was the late 1990s. Guess what I got? I still love the idea behind the tattoo, but the execution wasn't that great and 16 years of mostly forgetting it was even there haven't been very kind to the ink. It is faded and a little blurry these days.

For many years I have wanted an "adult" tattoo. Something I felt passionate about, researched well and shelled out the cash to make it come alive. I've had idea here and there, but nothing stuck. Then I completed 100 miles on Gem in 18 hours on a hilly and rocky course.

The 100 miles we covered that day weren't the hard ones. Those were fun and quitting wasn't an option. I've always believed that the actual competition miles were the easiest part of the entire sport. The 6 years leading up to those 100 miles were the ones that counted. The countless nights leaving the barn in tears early on, the times I ate dirt and got back on to finish the ride, the knots in my stomach as I slowly pushed the envelope past my comfort zone in all aspects. The first time I hitched up the trailer, loaded Gem, drove to the trail head and rode all by myself. The decisions on nutrition, health care, and foot care. The trials through numerous saddles that didn't work out. The tack changes, the clothing changes. The maturity I gained through all of it peaked when I found myself crossing the finish line in the dark 100 miles and 21 hours after tacking up the first time that day.

Gem has never been an easy horse, but I didn't need an easy horse. I needed a horse that would make me really grow up. A horse that would make me earn it. And earn it I did.

When reality sunk back in, I knew that I had found my "adult" tattoo. I took some time looking up various ideas and techniques, compiling a folder on my desktop filled with pictures of various tattoos. Once I finally narrowed it down in style, I started looking for a tattoo artist who could do it. I was fully prepared to drive to Atlanta if needed or wait and save up more money to get it done right. My biggest fear with it was getting another tattoo that I loved in theory, but was only meh about in execution.

It turned out that there was a shop around the corner from my work that had amazing reviews and great artists. I made an appointment for a consultation and headed over one day after work to discuss things. The artist I wanted was booked out two weeks, but I was happy to wait for an opening. I booked it for Memorial Day and patiently waited for the day to come.

Yesterday came and I went to the shop with nervous anticipation. I fiddled with the placement for a bit. I wanted it in a place that I could easily see it, but was out of sight from the public. The original intention was to have it on my right rib cage way up by my breast, but when I put the stencil there and looked down I couldn't see it. That wouldn't do. So I moved it down and then up front more, so that when I looked straight down I could see it in all its glory.

The tattoo took just over 2 hours to do although some of that was me peeking and him double checking that he was doing exactly what I wanted. It turned out perfectly. I am 100% thrilled with it in every aspect.

Of course, I can't take pictures worth a darn so these don't do it the justice it deserves. Anyway...

This was taken right after. Some of the yellow pigment isn't easily seen with the red hue of the tortured skin underneath. This morning the yellow is much brighter and it should look even better as it heals more. 

So the size is better appreciated

Dusty had though I was going with my original placement up high and more on the side under my breast.  This placement allows me to look down and see it. 

He took the line drawing off my ride photo from Biltmore. I didn't want a portrait of Gem for various reasons, but he brought her to life for me through the use of color and it looks like she is on fire. I adore it.


  1. What a great tattoo, with a great inspiration

  2. Fresh ink...awesome :) love me a good horse tattoo!

    1. I really enjoyed looking through the internet at horse tattoos. There are a lot of gorgeous ones out there.

  3. That is an amazing tattoo!!! Love the location and everything about it :) it's pretty much perfect in every way!

  4. Awesome!! It looks like Gem.

    What was the early tattoo?

    1. It is a series of three horses done as cave drawings across the small of my back. I still love the idea behind it and would 100% get it again (even 16 years later), but the execution isn't good. Dusty thought it was just a really crappy tattoo for years until a friend of ours asked me and I said it was cave drawings.

      Someday I will get them brought back to life again, but since it is in a spot I never see I really just forget about it until someone points it out or I catch a glance in the mirror.