First Tattoo

I got "Lions don't lose sleep" inked on my left forearm last week.

The quote means two things to me:

  1. "Lions don't lose sleep over the opinion of sheep" reminds me to keep doing what I think is right and not concern myself with the thoughts and judgments of those who sit on the sidelines.

  2. It's an homage to my education at Berkeley, where I studied Psychology and contributed to research in world-renown Matthew Walker's Sleep Lab. I turned my life around as a young adult, and I attribute a lot of that success to improving my sleep using what I learned there.

I'm by no means a tattoo expert, but a few people have asked what it's like to get my first tattoo and I wanted to share the timeline of my experience.

1 Year Ago

Before committing to something permanent, I wanted to feel out the size and placement of the design I had in mind. I looked into Ephemeral Tattoos, a 1-year tattoo, but ended up getting custom 1-week tattoos with Inkbox.

Here's what one of those looked like:

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I ended up loving the design and the idea that it reinforced.

It can take over a year to work with Bang Bang artists so I contacted them to inquire about Hector Daniels to get the ball moving. I sent the photo above over but told them I wanted to tweak the font.

1 Month Ago

To see how I felt about the tattoo in a different period of my life, I tried another 1-week Inkbox tatoo. Again, I loved it. I replied to the Bang Bang email thread and put down my deposit.

Day of: Before

Bang Bang is a short walk my apartment so I showed up just about on time. Hector came over to introduce himself and let me know that he's just about finished with his client.

Not only is Hector's work top-notch, but he's an incredible professional. He calmly walked me through the process and answered any questions I had throughout.

The design process was a back and forth that involved me picking out some fonts, talking about what I liked/disliked, and then working with a single font and allowing him to take some creative liberties. There were a few things I suggested tweaking from what he came up with and we worked on a few versions until we got one I felt great about.

We printed out a few stencils of different sizes and then agreed on the right size and placement. He shaved my arm, put the stencil down, and then got ready to operate.

Day of: During

The tattooing process itself was easy.

Supposedly the forearm isn't very painful, and I gotta agree. I think going to the dentist is less comfortable than getting a forearm tattoo. It took around an hour and a half. I was just vibing to lo-fi beats and he had his headphones on to stay in his flow state as well.

Day of: After

Immediately after, I loved it.

But over the next few hours, I wavered back and forth between "I fucking love this" and "What have I done??" I've never made a big enough purchase to feel "buyers remorse" but this is definitely what I felt. I had been second guessing the size, the spacing between letters, and the idea that I could never go in a public Onsen in Japan again.

Turns out this is natural! Many people feel this after their first tattoo, and reading about their experiences helped put me at ease. I went from like a 60/40 ratio of "Love/Not-Sure" to a 90/10 by the end of the day.

Aftercare isn't bad either. Pretty standard stuff for taking care of a wound.

One Week Later

I absolutely love it.

It's growing on me as part of my identity. When I look down at it or see it in the mirror, it brings me joy. I love every part of it and what it means to me. I'm very happy with the decision I made and I'm over any sense of buyers remorse already.

I'm already looking at some artists with some new ideas in mind...

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