I love how art transforms. It can transform perspectives, ideas, and even mediums. How its beginnings can be a spark in one person’s mind and connect to so many others through inspiration. I do not mean to sound all philosophical, but that is exactly what happened when it came to my Wonder Woman tattoo.
Roughly twenty years ago I acquired my first patch of ink. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted permanently placed upon my skin because I wanted it to mean something. Something I’ve loved since childhood, not just in recent years. A piece that I would still enjoy well into my sixties, seventies, and beyond with no regrets. That is where she came in: Wonder Woman, Amazon, Diana, Princess of Themyscria. I owned towers of her comic books and watched the campy television show faithfully as a kid. She was my symbol of Balance and all the fantastic possibilities a woman could be. Wonder Woman was and is limitless to me.
Fast forward to my early twenties and you’d find me sitting in a little tattoo parlor on the Eastside, getting etched the WW symbol on my upper arm. The tattoo artist even included hokey blue and red stars, but at the time I didn’t care. It was my first tattoo and I was thrilled. Over the years I protected that ink with sunscreen and would occasionally have to explain to strangers why it was NOT the World Wrestling Federation logo inked on my arm.
I don’t know exactly why this year I decided to make some changes in my life. There is nothing particularly spectacular or relevant about the year 2014, but for the longest time as the ink thinned under my skin, I decided it was time for an upgrade. The Powers That Be (TM) must have heard me because within a few months every little thing clicked into place like a Tetris game.
First, I was greatly inspired by Meagan Marie’s interpretation of Warrior Wonder Woman. A professional cosplayer in her spare time, photos of Meagan’s cosplay were placed upon the interwebz and the moment I saw what she helped create, I KNEW that’s what I wanted for my tattoo. I never considered Wonder Woman strictly a diplomat or Goddess of Truth. At her core Wonder Woman is also an Amazon. A Warrior. One who defends the weak and brings justice to the guilty. Megan’s artistic collaboration with illustrator Tess Fowler personified it.
If I am citing my sources correctly, Meagan approached Tess with an idea for a Warrior Wonder Woman costume. They collaborated on the design and when it was finalized, Meagan created the costume. You may read about Meagan’s experience with Warrior Wonder Woman here http://www.meagan-marie.com/warriorwonderwoman/#more-3323 on her blog. She goes into great account of what it took to bring this project to life.
Once created, it was then photographed. It was that photo session which created two of my favorites pieces. This one….
And this one….
Next on the list, I had to find the right tattoo artist. As the Powers That Be (TM) would have it, I had checked out the website of a parlour in my town. A week later, my boyfriend decided he wanted to get a tattoo done and found through Yelp reviews a parlour called “Dead Gods Tattoo” (deadgodstattoo.com). It was the same establishment. When I attended his first session, I watched the artist work with speed, skill, and an impressive grasp of colour theory and shading. Plus the detail. By Gods, his eye for detail was exactly what I was looking for. Bingo. I found my man and his name is Dominick McIntosh.
After a consultation appointment, I had my first session scheduled for Memorial Day. Because I was excited and nervous as hell, a few friends joined me to keep me distracted from the needles. The first thing that surprised me was the design Dominick created from the photo. During our consultation he asked me which picture I wanted to use. As I did not like the idea of merely a face or torso floating within the pale universe of my skin, I opted for a full figure pose. Dominick agreed and advised we incorporate the old WW tat with the new design. The idea was neither one of us wanted a “Shopping List Tattoo” as he called it: one design right below the other.
I picked the second photo because to me it conveyed a sense of “I just kicked a bunch of Spartans on their ass and I’m ready to kick some more if you test me.” Dominick included an archway of Mesopotamian design, as that is more historically accurate from where the Amazons originated.
The second thing that surprised me was how big the stencil was. I was thinking perhaps a quarter sleeve, but he had it blown up to a half sleeve. Eeep! Yet it made sense. If wanted all the detail I asked for, it needed to be bigger.
What the hell. Go big or go home, right?
The first session Dominick focused on Wonder Woman herself. I will admit, the first twenty minutes were rather uncomfortable. Fortunately I had friends to keep the energy high and I took the advice of one co-worker and sipped on Gatorade throughout the 3.5 to 4 hour process.
The second session in July, Dominick focused on the background. This was grueling. It was more intense this time around because Dominick had to get to my inner and outer arm, plus go all the way down near my elbow (AWESOME FEELING /sarcasm). My body did start shaking a bit around the 3.5 hour mark as I was hitting adrenaline overload and possibly a bit of mild shock. Thankfully I was laying down on a massage table so all was well. Once he was done for the night, I was able to get up and walk around with no problems (Yay for full tummy and more Gatorade).
The final session last week, Dominick finished the cloak, the sword, the sandals, and tightened up the overall composition.
I am very proud of this piece. I am also blown away by the fine details (the cracks in the columns, the braids in her hair, the studs on the sandals, the lines and highlights of her armor). Once it heals completely I will post pictures without the redness of my sensitive skin.
So. This story began with an idea, turned into an illustration, which then turned into a cosplay costume, which then became a photograph, and finally transformed into a inked piece of art on my arm.
I love how art and inspiration works.