The first tattoo I got with a machine was this thing right here. I got it in an apartment by this guy named Bob. It was 1997 and I was seventeen years old, not quite eighteen. That’s the first tattoo I got with a machine.
The first tattoo I ever got has been covered up. See those couple dots inside that tree right there? My cousin came down from New York and she had a couple stick and poke tattoos. I was twelve and thought, wow that’s awesome. So I made a couple dots on my ankle to see if it would work, and it worked.
My parents were truck drivers and were friends with bikers and shit like that, so tattoos always seemed natural. We lived next door to this old couple that I kinda grew up with. The guy, Ray, was this master gardener and my favorite things he grew were lilies. He died when I was in high school and I drew up a design of a lily with his name, and I always thought that would be my first tattoo. Later on, I had moved to Oregon and was walking around and I saw this girly looking tattoo shop. The guy drew it like four or five times and I didn’t really dig it, but it was my first tattoo and I was intimidated, so I said, whatever. I look back on it and it’s not good enough for Ray. But I’m glad that I have it.
I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbs. I own every single book. Figured, I’m going to turn eighteen and I’m an adult now, so I thought I’d take a piece of my childhood with me forever. I tried to get it the day before I turned eighteen, just 'cause I wanted bragging rights, to say I got it when I was seventeen––didn’t work out though. The next day, the tattoo kicked the shit out of me. I was all pale and weak. I had no idea what I was signing up for.
My sister and I had never been very close and we always fought a lot. We made this pact that we were never going to fight ever again and decided to get matching tattoos. We decided to get a rainbow with each other’s names under it. So we went to this guy’s house and he tattooed us in his kitchen. I got my rainbow tattoo and then she decided to get a butterfly. Looking at it now, it’s not how I think of my sister, it’s not how I represent myself today, and maybe it’s not that aesthetically pleasing, but I’m glad that I still have it––it’s a relic.
I remember being a little kid and wanting to be covered. When I was sixteen I started working at Domino’s and I was saving all my paychecks to get tattooed. Then on my eighteenth birthday I got my first tattoo. It was my straight edge tatt. Two months later I broke edge. In that first week of being eighteen I got six tattoos.