The Worker of Ink

June 10, 2010
I am the worker of ink—black, blue, red, all of it. My needle helps me create my works of art on the canvas of skin. I found the shop on the corner of 31st Street and Second Avenue when I was just a kid. It started off as teenage rebellion—petty and immature, but I came to know the man who owned the place. He taught me his art and passed the shop on to me.

I, like my teacher, have become good friends with my usual customers. Most of them would not be my top choice to meet in a dark alley, but they are simply in love with the art. My best friend is actually one of those big and scary biker-types. He seemed pretty predictable up until the night of the new tattoo.

He’d always had this spot between his wrist and elbow totally bare of the usual black and blue images that covered his body. Then he came to me one night with a picture, telling me to ink that bare spot with the image of the Bride of Frankenstein. I asked him about it. He told me about his dream to make movies back when he was a kid. Frankenstein had spurred that dream.

I then started my work, performing the delicate swirl and etch of the needle and slow dispensation of ink. Her face appeared on his skin, saved in time, space, and memory. She was intense and frightening, yet feminine and appealing, even with the horrendous bee hive. She was probably one of my best pieces, inspiring a flutter of feeling I didn’t get from just any tattoo, even some of my own. When I was finally done, I let him leave with a bandage around his arm and a pat on the back.

Those tattoos are my favorite—the ones that come with a story. I see teenagers come in all the time and ask for random butterflies, chains, and roses. They don’t mean anything, and I know they’ll regret it. I certainly did. Maybe I should have gotten a meaningful quote or a dream for the future like my friend. I don’t know. All I know is that ink should be treated with reverence. It lasts forever.

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