After several years of thinking about tattoos, I finally made two decisions: Since words reflect who I am far more than images ever have, I wanted a literary tattoo—and I would get it done before my next birthday.
I narrowed the choices—so, so many choices—down to three, and spent more time than is strictly sane on FontSpace, downloading and experimenting, apparently willing to spend the next fifteen years tinkering.
And then life dropped me a wake-up call or three.
The day I learned the results of my biopsy, I started looking for an artist.
If you’re going to be tattooed for the first time, I highly recommended taking my SIL with you—she let me drag her all over the place, looking at portfolios and policies and general cleanliness and she leaps in when the artist asks you what you want done and your brains freezes up because oh, my God you’re actually going to do this.*
I made an appointment at one place with an artist whose portfolio showed beautiful lettering and I wanted her to do the Big One—but she isn’t free until June, so we kept looking around, just to see.
Yesterday, we had lunch out and decided to stop by a nearby studio. The girl at the desk told us that there weren’t any artists available, but that one was subbing for the piercer and could at least talk to me about what I wanted done.
While we were waiting for him to finish in the sterilization room—which I thought was a comforting sign—we wandered around to look at the photographed work on the walls. It all looked good, especially a selection of portraits in a single frame.
A few minutes later, a guy with a friendly smile and extensive sleeve art came out of the back and asked me what I thinking about.
“What is that from?” he asked. “It looks really familiar.”
I told him the rest. “It’s from a Sherlock Holmes story.”
He broke out into this huge grin. “Yeah! I remember —man, I love Sherlock Holmes. My dad’s a huge fan, too—we watched all those old movies together! Which font?”
I told him, and he started laughing. “That’s excellent.“
And I knew I’d found my artist—even before I learned those portraits were his.
He checked with the owner to see if he could tattoo me that day and got the go ahead. Then he walked me through it and we worked out the placement, alignment, and size together—his enthusiasm is completely contagious. He also answered all my questions, some of which had nothing to do with the matter at hand, since I tend to go all scattershot when I’m nervous. But he was terrifically patient, kind, and gentle to this newbie.
And he does fantastic work.
So, here it is:***
When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
—Sherlock Holmes, “Sign of the Four” (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Done in a slightly tweaked Old Baskerville font.
I love it.
*She also keeps you distracted in all kinds of inventive ways while the actual tattooing is going on, including a soft shoe routine that I can’t possibly describe.
**Something I also recommend bringing for a text-based tattoo, along with a flash drive for easy transfer to the artist’s software, if s/he’ll be using any. I had no fears about misspellings and he was able to see what I wanted and modify from there. Saved us a lot of time.
***Looking grayer than it really is, because I took the photo. The ink is black.