For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by unusual and unique art, tattoo’s being one of them. However, for even longer I’ve had a phobia…needles. After moving out of home aged 19, the idea of having a tattoo played on my mind a lot. Living above a tattoo parlour and watching Miami Ink didn’t help either, so I began looking at possible ideas. I won’t bore you with all the details of my life, however it hasn’t been easy and I’ve had to fight my way through many battles. After a little research, I finally found something small yet cool that symbolised this - “Warrior” in Japanese Kanji…

Japanese Kanji for “Warrior” (Bushi)

Originally, I was going to get the outline only, just because many people had tattoo’s that were filled in. However, after visiting one artist who had the reputation of being grumpy, his comments “I don’t do outlines, you have to get shading” kind of put me off the idea. My sister had visited another tattooist, Max MacAndrews and was raving about how good he was, saying all his artwork was custom designed or edited.

So, one afternoon I decided to head down to his shop, Old Town Tattoo, and showed him my idea. He recommended filling the tattoo in and putting a grey shading behind it so it looks like the lettering was floating above my skin. That sounded ace, but I had to tell him about my phobia. He was totally cool about it, and in a very calm voice said “It’s not that sore and you won’t see any needles“.

Feeling ready, I booked an appointment for the following week and off I went. I must admit the adrenaline began pumping from that day forth however I just kept reminding myself that all my friends had tattoo’s and none of them complained about the pain etc. I was a lot happier that Max and his side-kick, the piercer Mam’Zelle Nane La Rose had made me feel really comfortable and that I was in good hands from the moment I was in the shop.

A week later I returned with my friend and sister, who came along to watch me faint! As I was coming in the shop Max was diving out for a bite to eat. This gave me a chance to sit down, feel comfortable and just relax whilst I filled out the required forms and read the tattoo aftercare guide. When I went through to the tattooing room Max showed me the design, kept talking to me and was gave me time to relax on the bed. I must admit my heart was pounding so I just took some deep breaths. Max was busy getting ready, setting up, shaving the hairs of my arm etc.

The buzzing began, it was pretty loud to begin with. “And off we go“…the tattoo had begun! So what did it feel like? Well, a cross between a constant, yet tolerable nipping sensation and heavy vibrations. This was it, I was getting tattooed! During some parts the nipping was slightly more annoying but nothing too sore, I just concentrated on how cool the design would look when it was done. At that point my iPod would have helped lol.

The actual tattoo didn’t take too long to do, I reckon about 15 minutes maximum. I would say maybe around 30 minutes from start to finish for everything. When he was done I quickly sat up and had a look. This is where things kind of went a little bit off track…

The adrenaline had kicked in and I felt faint, something that happens whenever I come face-to-face with my needle phobia. This is where the Max’s customer service really came into play. He sat me down and told me to put my head between my legs. I was sweating and feeling like I wanted to vomit. He re-assured me everything was fine, I have done great and that this little bad feeling would pass. Giving me a sweet he nicknamed “the cure”, he said I just needed to get my blood sugar levels up.

As he tidied up, destroyed and disposed of the needle in front of me, he contined to talk and make sure I was ok. I’ll never forget that part because I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have received the same care elsewhere. So Max, if you are reading this, thanks buddy.

My tattoo was complete, I had conquered my fear and got an awesome piece of bodyart that I wanted for a long time! Below is the finished product, please excuse the bad photography, I was using my phone camera and the Bepanthen cream I just put on the tattoo distorted the image.

Japanese Kanji Bushi Tattoo

(The red is the grey shading, it will change colour as the tattoo heals)

Did I mention I want another one already?