Thursday, January 5, 2012

My First Tattoo Story

This weekend marks the 3 year anniversary of my tattoo experience. I wanted to reshare the story, and relive it a little. It was quite the trip!

Here is our Miami Ink story. My mom wanted a tattoo for her 60th birthday and I wanted to get one with her. I thought it would make for good memories some day.  We had been planning this trip for about a year, and I told her that if we were going we might as well go all out and get it done at Miami Ink (a place that had a popular tattoo show at the time). So, in September I called Miami Ink and spoke to a very nice woman. She informed me that they had a $200 shop minimum and that no appointments were taken, you just walked-in. I asked her about Chris Garver, because that is who we really wanted to do the tattoos. She informed me that all the guys are in and out of the shop, but that the time we were looking at was a good time to catch him and that he should be there one of the four days we would be there. So, we asked her how much over the minimum our tattoos would be. She said she couldn’t quote it over the phone, but it sounded pretty simple (a cross-mine, and a dragon- moms), so not to expect too much more cost. She said they had thousands of pictures divided by category so to just come by early and we may find something we like better. We then found a hotel right down the road from Miami Ink and booked the flight. So, we were set! We had it all planned out - or so we thought!

Our view of Miami as we were landing!

Mom and I enjoying lunch at the hotel when we arrived.

The original Miami Ink - now a souvenir shop!

We arrived in Miami on Wednesday January 7, 2009 at 11:30 a.m. We ate lunch at the hotel and headed straight to Miami Ink. When we got there, the door said - “Miami Ink has moved to its new location - LOVE HATE TATTOO & CHOPPER SHOP” and it was 4 doors down from there. The original Miami Ink is now a t-shirt shop, selling Miami Ink T-shirts for the grand price of $40 a shirt! So, we go down to the other shop. There is one guy getting tattooed by a guy (no one from the show) and a guy at the counter. We walked up to the guy at the counter and told him we were interested in getting tattoos and wanted to look at their samples. He said “there are some pictures in those books over there”. I asked if they are categorized or anything and he said “oh, they used to be, but not anymore”. So we looked through some dirty old books with torn drawing in them - and pages missing. There was nothing we were interested in them, so I went back up to the desk. I showed the guy the picture of the cross that I wanted and told him the size and color I wanted it. He told me it would be $500! I was shocked, I just said “Ok, well we were told Garver could do them if his schedule wasn’t full”. He laughed and said “no one from the show will be doing tattoos”. So, I told him I had to think about it. Then my mom showed him the picture of the dragon and a Tibetan prayer she wanted on her ankle. He told her he wouldn’t do it unless she made it a lot bigger. She asked how much, and he told her he would just blow it up on the copy machine. He showed us the copy and for him to do it, the dragon had to go half way up her leg and the prayer had to wrap around her ankle! We were both pretty pissed at this point, so we leave. The guy follows us out to the street and said “don’t let the price scare you” - and I just laughed and said “yeah, that wasn’t all that scared me here” and mom said she didn’t want a tattoo that big. He told her that if she wanted it done there, that is how big it needed to be done.

So, there we were. Thousands of miles away from home, sitting on the curb wondering what we were going to do! The shop was not only not in the same location, but Miami Ink no longer exists - the Love Hate Tattoo & Chopper Shop has taken its place (and yes, it looked like they worked on bicycles and motorcycles in this same shop as the tattoo chairs - not sanitary looking), the guys from the show were no where to be found, and they wanted way more money that we had been lead to believe! We didn’t know what we wanted to do. We decided to check around at a few other places and if we didn’t see anywhere that felt right, then we could always get one at home - especially if a stranger was going to be doing it anyway.

The next day we visited a few tattoo shops and then we found THE ONE! It felt comfortable as soon as we got there. The Salvation Tattoo Lounge (which happened to be right across the road from Miami Ink). The guys there catered to us and made the entire experience great! The place was clean - stainless steel and hardwood floors. Big clean glass cases and real artwork that the artist had done. He drew my cross and was able to make moms dragon and prayer just the right size. They gave us all the lotions and soaps and everything, gave us drinks and made sure everything was taken care of and they answered all of our questions and didn’t make us feel stupid for asking them. It was SO much different than the other place. We told them about our experience with Miami Ink (or Love Hate Tattoo & Chopper Shop) and he said that sadly they hear that same story all the time. He said they still answer the phone Miami Ink (which they did when I called), even though they are not supposed to, and they try to way overcharge people because the owner of the shop use to have a show on tv. He apologized that we were misled and hoped that we still were able to have fun in Miami. He went on to say that all of the people off of the show are very nice and do not know exactly what all is going on at the shop now because they rarely come back to Miami since the show is off now. He said that he is good friends with them all and hates to see the shop like that.

Mom getting hers done!

Mom's tattoo

Right after mom's was finished - the blood makes it look kind-of cool huh?

Mom's tattoo a few days later.

Now it is my turn!

It felt like a bee sting (well, I have never actually been stung by a bee,
but that is how I imagine a bee sting feeling)

My finished tattoo! I went with a cross - I figured that was a safe choice
since I don't see me ever not loving God! 

I went with brown instead of the traditional black - I love it!

We got our tattoos and they are both amazing! I love mine and moms turned out perfect! I was worried that I was going to look stupid because I had said I was going to be getting a tattoo at Miami Ink and possibly by one of the guys off the show. Well, that is what I was led to believe, and unfortunately that is not what happened. I didn’t want to just go there and let them do it just because I had said I was going to. It just didn’t feel right, and I always trust my instincts. I just hope that anyone else planning on going there and getting tattooed gets informed on the truth about what once was an amazing tattoo shop before they go.

BAM! :) This is where I took mom for her birthday dinner!

So besides all that, Miami was awesome. It has beautiful scenery and the weather, even in January was so nice! We did some shopping and ate at some really nice places. I would like to go back someday and take Nathan and Noah. As far as more tattoos - I have always heard they are addicting. I don't know about addicting, but there is one more I want, but I have to be done having kids before I can get it done - and hopefully I am not done having kids.

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