So I got a tattoo. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for years but never worked up the courage to do it due to a general disliking of pain. I came close to getting the band tattoo a couple of years ago but The Fear got a hold of me and I didn’t bother (thankfully).

But, after getting over my fear of needles (I started giving blood) and the dentist (I found one that isn’t a sadistic nutcase), I decided it was time to man up.


I knew I wanted to get something Scotland-related. Not a map or giant Saltire (or a bloody picture of Mel Gibson) but something a little more vague. Searching through various related redesigns I found online, I found something that was along the lines of what I wanted and punted it off to the excellent Garry Calderwood with some ideas on how I’d like it to look. He, as ever, came back with a cracking design and is currently owed sea-monster-themed rum.

Tribe 2

Tribe 2, 1 Bank St, Glasgow, G12 8JQ
Tribe 2, 1 Bank St, Glasgow, G12 8JQ

To find a good place to get the ink done, I turned to resident office expert Dee and was recommended Tribe 2 out at Kelvinbridge.

I sent them the design along with a terrible photo I took in the mirror with a ruler jammed between forearm and chin with a version of the design Photoshopped onto my arm. To be honest, it wasn’t my greatest work. Anyways, they said it should be fine and suggested I come out and see the place and make a booking.

Possibly sensing my fear and judging me a flight risk, Dee escorted me to find the place and make the booking (and find a ridiculously tasty sandwich). So, I booked in and waited to see if I’d chicken out.


So the day came. I booked a half-day off work and slinkied out, jumped on the underground, headed up and went in and met Tim, the artist who’d be carving the design into my arm. We sorted out the size and I filled out the requisite forms. I had ten minutes to kill while he sorted out the stencil so took the opportunity to load up on sugary stuff (I was craving a Mars Drink but had to settle for Lucozade and Snickers) and send a couple of texts to tell Dee and co that I was going through with it.

Then headed back in and was ready to go.


Tim was incredibly friendly and, since it was my first tattoo, took the time to show me how the equipment worked and laid out how the process would proceed. He stuck on the stencil (actually higher up than I had planned but it’s much better positioned than what I had thought – something to do with putting features onto musculature) and primed the liner.

He said that he’d do one small line so I could gauge how painful it was going to be so I braced myself for the oncoming agony, he counted down and the needles cut in and… it was nothing. Like a mild scratch. And it didn’t get any worse than that.

The bits at the bottom left of the tattoo, I didn’t even feel. I was slightly worried that I had some sort of nerve damage that I was only just finding out about but it turns out it’s normal.

So we chatted away and he did the outline in about an hour and a bit then switched to the shader and started filling it in. The was even less painful than the liner.

It started to get a little bit sorer towards the end (Tim had said that it was likely to happen) as the adrenaline was wearing off but was still next to nothing.

The whole thing took about two hours.

Nappy Care

After I was done, Tim took me through all the rules and process of aftercare (don’t soak, don’t pick, don’t feed after midnight) and gave me an idea of how the healing would progress over the coming weeks. Then he taped up some paper towels below the tattoo and covered with clingfilm so it’d survive me going home without my shirt glueing to it.

I’d heard from a few places and people that the best aftercare cream was Bapanthen Nappy Care Ointment so I got some of that to use a few times a day as a barrier.

So, a couple of days on and it’s still looking good. It just feels like mild sunburn. The only annoying thing is not being able to sleep on that side but hey, I was expecting still to be recovering mentally from agony so: win.

I can see why people get addicted to it. I’ll probably never get over my fear of pigeons though.

Kevin Wilson

.NET developer, JavaScript enthusiast, Android user, Pebble wearer, sometime musician and occasional cook.

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