Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Tattoo and Some Therapy

Adam’s big day FINALLY came, and though he would not freely admit it, he was a lot more excited than he let on. I could tell. And he should have been excited, too. It isn’t every day that one of just a handful of tattoo artists in the world that do the traditional Tahitian style tattoos (and only one of just a couple that can actually create the tattoo in the style that was done) creates an original piece of artwork for you to keep for the rest of your life.

I mentioned before that there was a surprise to come along with the tattoo. Adam originally had the tattoo scheduled for Thursday. As it turns out, James ended up getting a call regarding an interview with Nylon Magazine that was scheduled for Tuesday. And it just seemed fitting to do a traditional Tahitian style tattoo instead of a machine tattoo. Adam was next in line for the tattoo, so why not try to schedule his tattoo the day of the interview and feature his in the magazine! Cool!

Well, unfortunately it rained that morning, and the weather did not cooperate to provide enough light for decent pictures, so they rescheduled the interview. And unfortunately the next two day’s weather brought up the same issue. So the magazine interview and pics did not happen. But the tattoo certainly did!

And just to clarify, a traditional Tahitian style tattoo is not done in the way you have seen tattoos normally done with a regular needle. The tool is a specially, hand-carved bone attached to the end of a stick, which James creates himself. The application is done by repeatedly striking the back of the stick with another stick. It is the same effect, but it is a very different (and seemingly old world) way to do it. Having a few tattoos, Adam said that the pain was not necessarily any worse than having it done in the regular fashion, at least for the most part.

And as far as the artwork, James likes to meet the person who he will be tattooing and then get an idea, based on personality and a few other qualities, of what the artwork will look like. Adam ended up with a very large Tiki on his left shin that extends from ankle to knee. It would have covered his calf as well, but it took about 6 hours as it was, and that was just about Adam’s pain threshold. The Tiki, in Polynesian culture, represents protection. And if James had another day to add to it he would have added waves to the back of his calf representing travel. But now Adam will just have to go back and have James add to it at a later date.

I do find it slightly ironic that Adam has a protective Tiki on the same leg that he broke as a kid. Kind of a day late and a dollar short on that one.

But Adam is thrilled with it! And it is indeed quite cool. And another thing to add to this, there are other tattoo artists out there that have been trying to get a hold of James’ very closely guarded technique. So that really brings a special value to the work as well, even beyond the originality.

What was I doing during Adam’s six hour adventure you ask? Well, I read, I brought Adam some water during his process (as it was pretty hot out), and then I put together a barbecue for Laurel as we wanted to grill some chicken that night. Not exactly what I expected to do on my vacation. But standing in the sun for the 30 or so minutes it took me to put it together earned me some time on the beach and in the water!

I grabbed my book and headed down to the beach and planted my towel under a chestnut tree to give me just a bit of shade. I looked to the left, and then to the right, and realized that I was completely alone. No one in either direction the entire couple of hours I was there. It was rather an amazing realization to come to that I was completely alone on a beach on a very small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with the entire ocean in front of me to play around in. If you ever get the chance to do the same, I highly recommend it. It is extremely therapeutic.

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