Tattoo #7

My tattoo posts are some of my favorite non-travel posts to write, but thanks to COVID it’s been a while.

My last tattoo was a Friday the 13th tattoo of a dead fishy in December of 2019. Since then, I’ve just been watching the “that’s it i’m inkpraising” Facebook group (where artists and tattoo-owners alike post their body art) longingly looking at inspiration. I have a lot of ideas don’t get me wrong, but it’s just a matter of what idea I want to execute and what local artist can help me with my vision.

I saw a guy called Lee Mullen posting some of his work he’s done on clients to the page and it just so happened he’s in Seattle and a less than 15 minute drive from me. His style is neo-traditional and I especially like the animals and human busts he’s done. I sent him and e-mail with a few ideas of what I want and what design idea would best fit his ability/interests. I’ve watched a few videos of tattoo artists talking about how they want artistic freedom and I wanted to give Lee that rather than showing up with a picture from Pinterest and saying “I want this, nothing changed.” Lee told me my idea of having an fox or deer as a half-sleeve would be most in his wheelhouse, so after we exchanged a few e-mails we made plans to meet up and talk in-person about final design ideas and make the deposit.

I met him at his stomping ground of Cicada Tattoo in Northgate and we had a quick chat (literally five minutes) while I showed him some reference pictures explaining what I like/didn’t like and told him the rest is up to him. We could always change the final design if I don’t like some aspects. We set an appointment for a few weeks later.

I returned for my appointment (about three weeks ago now) to get stabbed. He showed me the sketch he made and I loved it. He did such an amazing job of bringing the vision I didn’t even know I had into a design. This is why you give your artists artistic freedom! He made the final sketch and put the stencil on me.

While he was doing final preparations, I had some hesitations about the rose at the bottom of the stencil. First, I already have a rose and I don’t have enough tattoos yet to start repeating flowers and I also liked his other flowers he’s done better. I over came my crippling anxiety and asked him to tweak the design and I fell even more in love with the new design.

Then, it was time to get inked. He did the line work, shading, coloring and then white highlights. The tattooing itself took about three hours but between each phase we took a short bathroom break. The pain wasn’t too bad but some spots were definitely spicier than others. I had to lay on my side which got uncomfortable towards the end and that just exacerbating the pain from the tattoo.

I love the way it turned out. The colors are great (even though I could have gone for more bold colors in the leaves and flower), the placing, the size, everything. Absolutely beautiful, unique and timeless. This tattoo is immediately recognizable as his work and I’m so happy I went with an artist that was clearly as excited to give this tattoo as I was to receive it.

Once I was cleaned up, he put a dressing on me like I never had before: basically a super cling-wrap/bandage for your skin. It will trap all the ink and goo my tattoo will expel for the next few days so I don’t get my clothes or bedsheets icky. At first I was annoyed that I couldn’t immediately show off my tattoo properly, but after one night of seeing just how much ink filled the sacks I’m glad I kept it on.

After a day, I took the dressing off and did after care as usual: moisturize, clean, try to to peel/scratch. And dare I say now, it’s fully healed! I’m very happy with the healed result. This is a timeless piece of art that I’m thrilled to carry around on my body forever.

Check out more of Lee’s work on his Instagram @leefscented! 


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