Many moons ago I had a Playboy bunny tattoo’d onto my hip as a very young lady, as I’ve always had a fondness for pet rabbits and hand reared eleven little bouncy nosed, buck toothed bundles of my own. My parents gave me the family nickname of ‘Bunny’ as my first pet was a Dutch Belted Hollandais named Sugars because of his coat of half white caster and half golden brown demerara. Immortalising my love for my fluffy friends in a lifelong top shelf mens Playboy magazine logo on my hipbone was naturally the next step in my rabbit revelation, and it seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight perhaps it wasn’t the best decision to permanently brand myself with what looked like a preschool stencil, however in my defence it was totally the fashion of the new millennium.
Fast forward fourteen years and my proud Playboy tattoo with the name ‘Bunny’ scribbled beneath that was once bright pink and perky is now a little faded, washed out and embarrassingly basic, it seems tattoo art has come a long way in the past couple of decades and rightfully so. As my Bunny has grown a little long in the tooth, rather than facing the horrible pain of tattoo removal and the risk of being left with scarring, I’ve instead decided to have a ‘cover up’ by having another tattoo placed over the top.
John Capasao of RedInk Aylesbury has already done three of my seven tattoos and I’m a big fan of his work. I know first hand that he’s professional, precise and his studio and equipment are clean and sterile. Because of the location of the bunny on my hip I asked John to create a freehand feather quill pen starting from my underwear line up to the tip of the bunny ears.
A tattoo is a permanent body modification which involves inserting inedible ink into the dermis layer of the skin with a needle to change its pigmentation. The first recorded writings about tattoo’s date back to Joseph Banks in 1743, a naturalist aboard Captain Cook’s ship when he described how people marked themselves indelibly. Whilst tattooing artwork is referred to as a professional tattoo, I’ve also had cosmetic tattooing to my eyebrows, eyeliner and lip line to highlight and balance my features with a natural coloured pigment which is semi-permanent and fades over eighteen months. To perform a professional tattoo a handheld tattoo machine is used with a single needle to outline and a group of needles to shade, which rapidly drive ink in and out of the skin between eighty to one hundred times per second.
Tattooing doesn’t seem to hurt me, as it’s more the buzzing sound that causes a fuss than the actual sensation which is much like scratching an itch through jeans. Fortunately my mother always taught me that big girls don’t cry, and after having various cosemtic and surgical procedures, as well as giving birth in silence without pain relief, I like to think that I can control pain by mind over matter. Having a cover up meant that John would have to blend the feather design over my bunny in order to hide it, and as such he extended the length of the feather up along the hip and to my side to balance the width and length to fit my torso. He completed my tattoo freehand, without the use of a stencil or a design, and first planned out the width, length and curvature with rough markings on my skin in a green felt pen. When we were both happy with the placement he then used a blue fine marker to draw on the details before he began tattooing.
Every reputable tattooist should practise good hygiene, as all equipment must be disposable, sterile and the chair and wires wrapped in plastic to avoid contamination of germs and skin infections. The skin should be cleansed prior to tattooing and repeatedly throughout to remove blood and excess ink, and surgical gloves must be worn by the artist at all times. It took just over an hour and a half to complete my coverup tattoo and it didn’t feel any different to a normal tattoo despite going over scar tissue. I’m absolutely thrilled with the results and it’s a piece of body art that is very dear to me that I will treasure forever.
Immediately after the tattoo is finished the skin is effectively an open wound which must be cleansed and covered to protect it from bacteria. It should be kept covered for the first 24hrs and the dressing will need to be changed when it bleeds and weeps as the skin is red, raised, swollen and tender. Throughout the first week scabs will form, which if they’re picked or pulled at they can draw the pigment out of the skin and ruin the tattoo, so it’s essential to treat them with care. Shower lightly, pat dry and don’t wear clothes that will rub and irritate the area. By the second week the skin will start to dry out and must be moisturised to avoid cracking, so I apply Bepanthen cream every few hours and any skin that peels should be left to do so naturally. By the third week the scabs should all have dropped away and a layer of dull dead skin will make the tattoo appear faded, once this naturally sheds the final tattoo will be visible.
My love of writing first began when I was old enough to hold a pencil, which then progressed to my first ever typewriter, word processor, PC, laptop, ipad, smartphone and website, for which I now astonishingly have over 3 million views. My classical feather quill pen tattoo not only symbolises my love for literature and self expression, but it has also rescripted my poor body modification choice from the past; lesson learnt.
Red Ink Tattoo Studio
40b Cambridge street
Tel: 01296 410013