Getting a Mike Stout tattoo was something I knew I wanted.
Wanting something is kind of necessary when permanently marking your body.
But to be more specific: I knew that I wanted a Mike Stout tattoo to be my first tattoo.
You see, I’d followed Mike Stout’s work for a while, first discovering him on Instagram’s geo-location feature when I discovered his Configuration of Chichester print. So when he announced that Mike Stout tattoo was soon to be a thing, I booked myself in immediately.
With the date set, it was time to choose a design…
After all, you need to think before you ink. Whatever you choose will be on your body for a lifetime. A fact that can both cripple, or inspire decisions and as a result, it’s a mantra I have been repeating to myself for years. Not because I’m particularly afraid of committing to having something which will be on me for the rest of my life, but because you have to hope to like it for life… and I’m terribly indecisive.
Growing up I adored tattoos. I loved that you could quite literally walk around wearing art on your body, and from the age of sixteen getting a tattoo was something I found myself regularly thinking about. In between homework and socialising I’d often find myself wondering what tattoos I’d have and where I’d have them placed, and before long it changed from me adoring them as a concept, to planning when I was going to head to Mike Stout tattoo to get my very own. Only, I was never entirely sure what I wanted (I did tell you that I’m indecisive). My tastes ranged from something delicate to getting a sleeve, and don’t even get me started on how addicted I became to following incredible tattooists on Instagram in the process. (Cally Jo and Niki are beyond incredible).
Eventually, I plucked up the courage to go ahead and do it. You see, Mike Stout tattoo wasn’t the first tattooist I went to see. The first time I thought about getting a tattoo was back in 2012. I was feeling confident on my first trip to Thailand and had spent ages thinking about it, so it wasn’t like I’d had a drink or two for liquid courage and decided a tattoo was what I wanted. (That never goes well). I’d envisioned what I wanted and I was sure I could handle the pain. I mean, I’d been friends pinch me all night to make sure, which at the time I assumed was what the pain-level would feel like. And I could totally handle that. So as far as I was concerned, I was ready. The only problem was that the tattooist I wanted had a man with his pants down getting his buttcheeks tattooed at the time I was available. He said I could wait, but as I sat there chatting away to the man with no pants, I realised I was hungry, wanted to go dancing and didn’t want to spend hours of my time in Thailand waiting for a tattoo when I could be hanging with friends.
So I left.
But fast forward 3 years and there I was with a booking for Mike Stout tattoo at Skinned Alive in Brighton. I knew that I wanted a paper plane, because let’s face it, getting a Boeing 747 on your arm just doesn’t have the same appeal, but I wanted it to be a little different. So I popped Mike an email and asked if he’d be interested in designing my tattoo and, in the words of my nan, “permanently mark my body”.
He agreed and I loved how fresh his designs were. The clean lines and dot work were unlike anything I’d seen before. My eyes were happy—even more so when Mike sent me over the first concepts and I got a first glimpse at what my Mike Stout Tattoo would look like. After going through the concepts which housed different angles and designs, we decided upon what the final design would look like.
Everyone says that when you have a tattoo you should pick one with meaning. Which, to a certain extent, you should. But the truth is, if you do that you may end up thinking too long and hard about the decision, and meanings and objects aren’t always directly representative of one another. For example, I didn’t choose my tattoo because I love paper planes, I chose my tattoo for an abundance of reasons, (which you can read about here if it interests you).
That morning, as my alarm beeped with the words “Mike Stout Tattoo – 1pm”, I was excited, nervous and excited again. But honestly, the whole tattoo process went pretty effortlessly. As I arrived at the parlour I began chatting with Mike about sizing and positioning on my wrist. He resized the design multiple times until I was 100% happy (a very non-negotiable percentage when it comes to permanent things!).
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous as I sat down on the chair. I hate pain and as a result, I have an incredibly low pain threshold. But the truth is that my Mike Stout tattoo didn’t actually hurt. The sensation was weird because in some places I couldn’t feel it (he’d done two lines before I even realised) but then every so often it would feel like I’d been scratched by a cat fresh out of hell for a few seconds before disappearing again. But 40 minutes later and my wrist was wrapped without a tear in sight!
I honestly love it so much and still smile every time I catch sight of it on my wrist. Now, obviously one tattoo an expert does not make, but just in case you’re considering a tattoo for yourself, here are some tips which may (or may not!) help.
Pick The Artist Not The Tattoo
Tattoo designs can be easy to pick. You may want an animal, or a balloon or a super cute quote, but not every tattooist is an artist (you only have to watch two minutes of Tattoo Fixers to know that!). For example, almost everybody can write letters, but does that mean you like everybody’s handwriting? Nah. And the same is true for tattoos. After all, not every tattooist will be able to capture the shadows required in a portrait or the detailing required for an animal, and so I think it’s important to truly choose somebody whose work you admire and trust. I know everybody says this, but when you have to live with your tattoo forever, you really do need to like it.
Take Your Time
In choosing what you want, whether it’s the tattoo itself, the design style, the placement or the size, you want to be happy with all of the elements. Because you have to look at it every day.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Tattooists may seem cool and slightly intimidating sometimes but they’re just humans doing a job they love. They’re there to tattoo what you want so don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re not happy with something.
Keep Going Until It’s Perfect.
We resized and moved my tattoo at least five times before we got the tattoo exactly where I wanted it. We even left it for a few moments to check that I didn’t change my mind (I mentioned that I’m indecisive, right?). It might seem like you’re being annoying, but never settle for anything you’re not happy with.
Listen To The Aftercare Advice.
How you treat your tattoo in the aftermath of having it done is crucial to how long it will last. Colours fade, skin dries out and sometimes you’ll lose detailing, so make sure you listen. I’m one of those weirdos that likes to read manuals on things, so I followed the advice to a tee and I don’t think a single part of me has ever been as well moisturised as my wrist has been since having it done!
Want to get your own tattoo?
Visit his website: Mike Stout Tattoo