Tattoo-thousand and 12 pt 2

Tattoo-thousand and 12 pt2

Where do I begin? Having lost a good six hours worth of writing I'm debating how best to conjure up the events covered. It would be impossible to rewrite word for word but only I will know the difference. Just gotta come to terms with the fact I was happy with what was done, and now whatever comes of this will have to do.

So, part two. I want to dedicate this entry to a good man who has not only given me beautiful work but also raised my awareness of other artists and the world behind the needle. It's easy to see the websites, blogs, reviews of artists work but the behind the scenes in kept mostly well, behind the scenes. How artists relate to each other, their integrity and aspirations. It's a bad ass world for sure but the relationships, respect for and lack of can be found in more places than just the tv shows currently on air.


Upon meeting Mr Lee you'd be forgiven for seeing only the hard exterior that comes with being an experienced tattoo artist and studio owner. Of course this is my own opinion and in line with the cliché of going to a tattooist and what to expect. This is probably unfair to Lee as he is approachable and genuinely interested upon first sight, but give him a couple poor moments and it can turn. That also comes with experience, how to read the pretenders. It's more than just a transaction with Mr Lee if you wish it to be, and if you have the right stuff. I like to think I fall in this category.

My first experience with Lee's studio was back when he ran Buzz Stop Tattoo on Sidcup high street. At the time he had some artists working for him and I collected a UT Longhorns emblem on my calf. This was still at a time when artist came second to my need for an immediate statement. Buzz Stop was a walk in studio and local so worked a treat. The Longhorn was another anchor to home during my ongoing voyage in life. Now my memory of this time is mostly full of gaps and my recollection of the timeline may be inaccurate. What I know for sure is that I collected a total of three tattoos at Buzz Stop before I had the chance to work with Mr Lee himself. Before this I chose a bible verse to commemorate the passing of my father (part of the reason for my memory loss during these years) and after that an Icthus fish around the verse. The quality of this piece leaves a lot to be desired but was exactly what I had asked for. Once again I gave the artist instructions and wasn't yet at a stage where I knew they could run with it and produce something beyond my limited expectations. I believe the sign of a great artist is one that will both offer to better your existing idea, as well as flat out decline to do it. I don't know if it's a footfall/money thing but I had never been turned away regardless of my idea.

More recently I have had ideas that would not translate well into tattoos and took this from the artist as they intended, for both our sakes.

Each visit to the shop I was greeted by Buzz Stop co-owner Syd. Syd's knowledge of what works and what doesn't is very beneficial for client and shop and it comes as no surprise that she is an alumni member of the University of Arts London. I went in with an idea for an ornate style letter B to represent my family surname. Placement would prove to be crucial and my initial idea was somewhere on the neck or behind my ear. Thankfully Syd voiced her concern at this and we opted for bicep which not only saved me from making a mistake but also gave Mr Lee much more room to work with. Syd herself having completed an old school tattoo apprenticeship some seven years ago is always drawing (see artwork attached) and also tattoos in Aching Soul (visit their Facebook page for galleries). Once I'd chosen the lettering style I got booked in and waited for the day. It's fair to say that Mr Lee works slow and methodically, I'd imagine on every piece he does. The B took time and came out very sharp and remains one of my favourite and better executed pieces. It's not a picture as such nor a theme but is often commented on as it's sitting just below the short sleeve line.

Mr Lee and I have talked about everything from family life to world politics. We don't always see eye to eye but I respect his views immensely. Sitting with him reminds me of how very little I know about London in particular. Hearing about it from his perspective is enlightening. Although our backgrounds are very different I think we share a certain kinship (especially when it comes to family relationships) and in light of this he doesn't butcher me when I'm in the chair and so I have devoted an entire arm to him and his work. I just need to be better with my finances and time now so he isn't getting a raw deal. Something I learned recently was not to take on a piece that you won't be able to dedicate all your tattoo time and money to. In other words, if you start something, make sure you finish it. A partially finished tattoo is not a good advertisement for an artist and hardly expresses what the wearer intended. So I've done my best to plan out my tattoos for the foreseeable future, money willing. I do hope Mr Lee will understand where I'm coming from and my struggles.


Which leads me nicely to the current piece he is working on. The idea always revolved around a traditional eagle, and at times I thought I'd never know what it was supposed to be. However we had a meeting of minds and came up with a concept that really works for me and from what I can tell has Mr Lee on his toes. First session we had to thrash out a re-design, taking an additional hour or so of drawing. But he totally nailed the eagle, to perfection. Since then we've sat through layers upon layers of a trippy sunset made up of oranges and blues. Mr Lee is a perfectionist and this background could take a while as he wants to add more darks and ensure it comes out as close to our vision as possible. This will cover the top half of my arm and then leaves the bottom half for which I'm playing with a few ideas. Before I move on I will admit I've both loved and hated this piece during its progression. It's easy to allow the mind to wander and lose sight of the concept, and fully submitting to the style is sometimes necessary. I think the coverage and style being so different to what I already have has caused some degree of anxiety, and not in any way the actually art itself.

My forearm currently has four Mayan hieroglyphs depicting the birth months for myself, my wife and our children. Mr Lee also did these with the intention of always making them more than what they currently are. Having seen Mayan art on our honeymoon it felt like a good and fairly unique in this part of the world way of representing my family on my skin. I'm toying with the idea of shadows and waves, possibly colour not quite sure yet, around the symbols. Think this will take a bit more thought and I'm in no rush to get this started. I will definitely be asking for direction from Mr Lee and I am confident we'll come up with something amazing.



At this point I'd like to make it clear that I am by no means an easy client. I'm ok with interaction, silence, music, whatever the artist wants really. I'm there to be worked on and suffer for the art. But as I'm learning more about me, about how to express myself and the best artists to do this on my behalf it's taking longer to get around to having work done. I appreciate Mr Lee's patience with me and understanding. At this point I think I'll wrap this up and get started on part three. I'm trying really hard not to remember parts of my original draft that I've left out here as it'll just drive me insane. Peace.

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