the girl with the whale tattoo.


alt title:  
The Most Elaborate Tramp-Stamp Cover-Up of All Time

so. i spent the last 8 months getting my back upgraded with some Extra Extra Detail by the amazing Matt Brotka of Salvation Tattoo in Richmond, VA. whom/which shall heretofore be referred to as "My Favorite Tattoo Artist Ever"/"My Favorite Tattoo Shop Ever", respectively.

this was a large endeavor.  i met Matt last march after scouring the internet for an artist i really liked.  i told him my general idea about wanting a Moby-Dick-inspired-whale-attacks-ship back piece and brought him some artwork i'd collected for reference.  like so:

he was into it and started drawing everything up and my first session was scheduled for a couple of months later in may.  i told him i was ready to approach this aggressively and just wanted to GET 'ER DONE. so . . 8 months, 11 sessions, and 33 hours of work (and 8 flights to/from richmond!!!) later, it was complete.  

it was all pretty grueling, truth be told. people have asked me what the worst part was and honestly, it was all just . . awful.  but the 10th session was the absolute worst and i have no idea why.  i was writhing in pain and had to actually go next door to get a shot and a beer to get through the last hour and a half. ridiculous.  and after the sessions, sleeping with my back bandaged and sealed in cling wrap was just gross and difficult, as was sitting on a plane the next day heading back down to FL. and then trying to clean/moisturize while healing is a feat in itself when you have to do it by yourself. i probably looked pretty hilarious contorting myself to get to that little spot in the middle of my back between my shoulder blades.  ha.  but it's done and i am ecstatic and it's perfect and exactly what i wanted and my ancient old tattoo is all covered up and i am tramp-stamp free!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i can't say enough about how wonderful Matt is.  he is clearly an AMAZING and talented artist, he put up with my incessant whining, he is hilarious and comfortable, and was just as committed as i was to this project.  i couldn't have asked for more.  for all the time we spent together through this process, we should be honorary best friends.  next time i come up there, we're getting BFF tattoos, Matt!!  you're welcome.

the other reason that Matt and Salvation are awesome is because they let me photograph every single session. i set up my camera to take photos at 1-minute intervals through every session - 1,988 photos in all!!  and then i compiled them in this here video so that you can experience all 33 hours compressed into about 5 minutes!!  yesssssssss.

oh, disclaimer: i will apologize in advance for incidental/gratuitous side-boob.  couldn't be helped.  carry on.

music: "Watch Song" by Shellac

i managed to take a result photo after every session, except of course, the longest, most productive one (session 7).  moron.  oh well, it couldn't be absolutely perfect, but it still makes me happy to watch.  and even happier that it's all O-V-E-R.

and, for reference, a little before and after action for you, click-for-full-size style:

thank you AGAIN to Matt!!!  time for some i-feel-awesome-and-happy-high-kicks.  kbye!


Jylie said...

YOU, sweet precious, are a teeny tiny bad ass. Your tattoo is beautiful!

Coupdavelle said...

Such a cool piece. Will catch the video soon, looking forward to it.

ian roche said...

Awesome video! I thought about doing this for my sleeve w Matt but I don't have the attention span.

-Ian (Matt's shark attack sleeve guy)

raena said...

thank you, errrbody!!! so super-stoked on all this. :) :) :)

ian, luckily the photos didn't require much. i just set up the camera and just let it go. the attention to detail came in when i had to compile everything. took me hours and hours, but i think it's worth it :)

zazazu said...

Love this! Amazing that you captured this journey so well.

I'd like to know... What kind of pants are those black foldover ones you are wearing in several of the sessions and in the photos here as well? Do you mind telling?


msred5 at gmail dot com

james said...

Great ink art!!! Super awesome! And no need for apology for the incidental/gratuitous exposure. No offense taken. Thank you though :)

raena said...

oh wow . . zazazu, i apologize profusely, didn't see this comment until now! those are actually just some cropped workout pants from Target! they are my absolute favorite pants for the gym and are super comfortable, so they were good for these appointments. sadly, i don't think target carries them anymore. i have about 7 pairs and they are looking faded and ragged, and i search Target every time i go there. hmph :(

thanks @james :) i will stop apologizing haha