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Welcome to My Life Tattoo

"The Who Sell Out" was The Who's third album. It was their/Townsend's first foray into the concept album (their second album, "A Quick One" showcased Pete's first mini-rock opera, "A Quick One, While He's Away").  It was crafted to parody a pirate radio station in London…complete with commercial spots. The album is a set of killer songs and a glimpse into the humorous and playful side of the four hell-raisers.

Song five on the disc is, "Tattoo".

"Welcome to my life, tattoo.
I'm a man now, thanks to you.
I expect I'll regret you,
but the skin graft man won't get you.
You'll be there when I die Tattoo"

I got my first tattoo 19 years ago when I was 18 years old. Since then I have been back to ink-slinger three times. Tattoos have run the gamut on stigmas…sailors, motorcycle gangs, criminals and full-on ink freaks. In the past decade, they have made there way into the mainstream with mixed results (see, "Tramp-Stamp" for one such bad example).

Personally, I like them; I now have three, one of which is a growing work in progress.  It is a matter of preference, really.  I like them, but I don't like them everywhere.  I try and keep mine corralled to a certain area. Mine are all on the left side of the body. I'm a "right-brained" guy so, maybe I am trying to convert my left brain to the creative side (check out Dan Pink's book on right brain'ers). I have one on my left upper thigh, one on my left shoulder blade and one on my left arm…that goes shoulder to elbow.

The one on my left arm used to be just a simple, classic tattoo: A heart with my wife's name in it. I like classic tattoo designs. I usually take a classic design and try to put a spin on it. This past December I had the ink fever. I wanted another tattoo, but I didn't want to start using up more skin real estate to put it somewhere else. I loved the heart tattoo I had as it was and I liked where it was.  I figured, "why not add to it and fill up the whole arm".  Sure…why not?!?

I found a guy in Sydney who's work was recommend to me. His name is Heath and he works at Steel Lotus in Sydney.  I went in to talk with Heath and told him I wanted a skull…but not a skull representing death, rather it should represent life. That was the brief.

What Heath came back with was unique, but it didn't stray too far from the classic skull tattoo design.  We set up an appointment and went to work.  The skull took about three and a half hours. Once finished, I had these two tattoos sitting on my arm that needed to be joined.

Over two more session, Heath filled in the blanks and we ended up with a short-sleeve of ink…on the outside of my arm.  I let heath take direction on how we should join the two.  He made suggestions, I gave feedback and then he got the needle buzzing.

I am very happy with the result…but we're not done yet.  I am going back in in a couple of weeks to do the inside of the arm; this will fill up the entire upper arm from shoulder to elbow, top to bottom.

Heath took off to Spain and Germany to hone his craft.  Before he left I gave him a new brief. I want certain images in the design…how he incorporates them all is up to him.  I'll sign off on final design and then we'll finish 'er off.

This is what I wanted included:  the Highway 61 & 49 signs in the image in the my profile on this blog (to your right), an old 45 record spindle, a horseshoe and another skull & heart (smaller and different than before). I am thinking I might want to replace the skull and heart and have a few thoughts on what I can swap them with.  One idea is the classic R.Crumb portrait of Charley Patton. I'm open to a suggestions if you have any.

After this last inking, I'm done…at least for a while.  I have one other idea that I am leaning towards, but not for a couple more years.

I've attached pics of the tattoo transition on my left arm. They show the simple heart design, the addition of the skull and the first and second round of "fills".  Stay tuned for the updates…


Not familiar with "The Who Sells Out"?  You should be…check out these links:

Wikipedia: The Who Sell Out
Official Site:The Who

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. YourUnemployedDaughter #

    Wow! Amazing!

  2. Stephen Robinson #

    Awesome tattoo


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