Eliminating the Impossible . . .

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.

I told him was thinking of having a phrase from one of my favorite quotes done and showed him on my laptop.**

“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.

25 thoughts on “Eliminating the Impossible . . .

  1. For the first time in my entire life, I now want a tatoo!
    That is absolutely brilliant! Great choice. Perfect.

  2. Well, it was nice you didn’t mention the spectacle I made of myself with the jazz hands in the tattoo parlor.

    Poop – I just ratted myself out like Sunny… Congrats on the ink again!!

  3. So witty and elegant. I love it! Everything about it. I have a tattoo too. On my left shoulder. My husband has the same one on his right shoulder. A very old symbol figure eights right where our arms meet when we lay down side by side. For all eternity.

  4. Congrats. Glad you had sil to go with you. Keeps me from pulling a “Jane” like the first two times for ear piercing. My members were giving me the some excuses to use in July, but now I don”t have to remember them. Love you.

    • Thanks, Averil! I kept coming back to this one. It means a lot of things to me.

      Oddly, it isn’t red or puffy at all — it’s not even itchy. I was told to expect a sunburn type thing, especially in such a high-contact area, but so far, it looks like i had it done weeks ago . . .

    • On the form I filled out, I had to agree not to sue for any spelling errors that might be discovered after I approved the final design. They stencil it on first and make you look at it closely before they start inking, so there’s really no excuse. I laughed at this . . . and then had an attack of paranoia. Thank heavens for spell check!

      All librarians rock in their own ways! 😉

  5. I’m presently working my way through the complete Sherlock Holmes. Almost through with volume 1. Excellent choice. I keep waffling about getting one of my own.

    • I’ve always loved the Sherlock Holmes stories—they were the first non-juvenile mysteries I read (after Encyclopedia Brown).

      I was also considering I had no idea that such individuals exist outside of stories,, but maybe a tee-shirt would be better. 🙂

  6. That’s the inside of your wrist, isn’t it? Wow, Sarah, just wow. It is so perfect. I’m in awe.

    • It is on my wrist—for once, my thumb isn’t in the photo . . . 🙂

      The artist assumed I’d want it upside-down from the way I have it, but it’s really a crib note to myself rather than a display piece.

  7. Sarah!
    I love this! What a perfect quote.
    My favorite part is that it faces you, not the world. One of my “things” (as my husband calls them…), is that when I put on my wedding band the words on the inside must face me. One time my husband put it on and I asked him which way it was facing. He stared at the band mystified.

    • I’m glad you approve, Lyra! 🙂

      And I know exactly what you mean—I have several bracelets that have words on them, and I have to have them oriented so I can read them right-side up. I’m wearing them for me.

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