Tattoo: Amy Winehouse

As I posted on Monday I made a trip to Kingsport recently to deliver my most recent painting: Schlitzie. Commissioned by my friend and tattoo artist Rob Jarrett at 2 Ton Gallery, I set out trying to find a good time to bring the painting by since I didn’t want to swing by while he was working on someone and ended up getting a tattoo appointment in the process. This honestly wasn’t my intention but I wasn’t about to argue with the guy when he said he had an opening on Monday afternoon.

Feeling a little adventurous I was in the mood for a portrait tattoo which is something I’ve not had done yet. I also wanted to fully go below my elbow for the first time (not counting the script on my wrists) so it was a small challenge to determine who I wanted to grace such an important piece of bodily real estate. In the past I’ve considered Edgar Allan Poe and Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams, both of which I do intend to get one day, but I took a sharp turn in a different direction and went with a portrait of an artist that moves me like no other: the late Amy Winehouse.

Amy was an unbelievable talent and the only celebrity death that has ever truly bothered me. No other artist whether musical, painting, sculpting, writing, photography or digital art has been able to consistently “hit” me the way Amy does with her voice. She had a very difficult life, one that, unfortunately, a large portion of the general public likes to focus on, but what she was able to give us through her talents was one of the greatest gifts any artist has ever been able to give humankind.

While I intended to get this image of Amy from Rolling Stone Magazine I diverted about a week or so out because I didn’t want Amy’s cleavage to be the first thing people saw when they looked at my arm so I went with another image that showed her in her element – singing before an adoring audience:


And so it was set. After re-sizing a time or two, the placement was set and at about 1:15pm on Monday I was in the chair and the buzz of the tattoo machine filled the air (along with the sounds of a motion-activated Halloween prop that kept saying “I wish you would take some candy!”). Getting a tattoo is such an awesome experience. Sure, getting a nice piece of art permanently on your skin is exciting, but the entire atmosphere is incredible. Music in the background, sounds of machines buzzing around, overheard conversations between artists and clients with bad ideas, getting to see the work other people are getting done, etc. The whole thing is a great experience that I’m very happy I’ve been able to experience 13 times now. This time was the longest, most detailed session so I got to witness almost all of it since I was in the shop nearly an entire work day.

About 6 to 6-1/2 hours later we were finished. My arm was so sore that it just quit caring what was being done to it – probably the most painful tattoo I’ve had to date but worth every second – she’s beautiful.

The next day I was stopped by 5 or 6 people wanting to see the work that had recently been done on my forearm. Everyone was mouth-open impressed and I was proud to be able to say that it was done by Rob at 2 Ton Gallery. Someone said “I don’t think I could get a portrait like that done on me. Because if it messes up…” I was able to reply with “It’s easy to get portraits like this when you trust your artist as much as I do.”

As always, thanks for the awesome work, Rob!

This is post 3 of my very first time participating in NaBloPoMo, a “Blog a Day” project for the month of November.

Follow me on Twitter @justintfirefly

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