Bits & Bites / PSAs

PSA: West 4 Tattoo

Sometimes I think there’s a place you’ve just got to know about and my Public Service Announcements (PSAs) will give you the full skinny.


I still can’t believe I got a tattoo.  Not only did I get a tattoo, I got three of them…all at once.  Those who know me know that I’m absolutely terrified of needles.  They also know I have conservative Southern parents.  So how did I all of a sudden get inked up?!  Allow me to back up:

I’ve always been very intrigued by tattoos.  Anytime I see one, I want to know the story behind it.  I think that’s why I like them so much – I love that they come with stories.  I like the idea that there is something so important, something you’re so passionate about that you would feel comfortable living with it permanently displayed on your body.  However, as much as I liked them, two things held me back from getting one: the whole needle thing and the fact that I wanted to be super secure in my decision of what to get.

About 6 months ago, my best friend (who has recently gotten several large tattoos of his own) started pushing me to reconsider it, knowing how much I’ve always liked them.  He said he was taking it on as a pre-wedding, Man of Honor duty to get me tatted up.  With his prodding, I ironed out what I would get if I ever got one and also figured out how I would get over my fear of needles.  Alcohol is out of the question.  It thins your blood so the tattoo doesn’t work as well.  Weed seemed like a bad idea because with my luck it would just make me more paranoid about the needle. Then I realized I could take a Xanax.  Ta da!  It seemed like a perfect idea and my friend at work offered to give me some.

tattoo1

Yes, I did plan a “tattoo day outfit.”  I tried to wear the coolest hipster skewing outfit I could come up with.  That’s not easy with my preppy closet.  I ended up with liquid leather leggings (which wouldn’t irritate the tattoo I’d planned for my hip), graphic tank with a longer back, beanie, open mid-length coat, and hard shells.  Of course, I still had to get a monogram in there (on my purse) – a leopard can’t totally change his spots.

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Very proud of myself for putting this outfit together, which included a lacy bralette that peeked through the armholes of my shirt.  That bralette also served the purpose of being gentle on another one of the tattoos – I didn’t wear an underwire for almost 2 weeks.

Another reason I felt more at ease with the needle is that I was told it doesn’t feel like a needle.  It’s not like the feeling of getting blood drawn.  It’s more like a deep fingernail scratch combined with a burn from a hair straightener.  That feeling I can handle.  In fact, I would rather do this than get my blood drawn any day of the week.

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It really did feel like a deep fingernail scratch!

Though I had been talking about it, [to some] it seemed spur of the moment that I would get it done on the Saturday that I did.  Here’s how it went down: I already had plans to spend the day in the West Village with Jourdan.  She knew I was interested in tattoos and knew that the spot I liked was in the West Village.  She was also the friend who had offered to give me the Xanax.  Knowing all this, she reached out to me that week asking if I wanted to go before lunch because she wanted to capitalize on the momentum of the “nevertheless she persisted” movement just after it happened and get a tattoo of her own.  I knew the place I liked offered walk-ins so we decided to go before lunch.  So that specific day was not originally planned, but I had done lots of research and had even previously gone into the shop for a consultation.  It wasn’t out of the blue.

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Inspo wall found in all tattoo parlors…though this is not really their style

But anyways, this whole post is actually supposed to be a PSA for the tattoo shop I went to, so allow me to explain why I love it so much.  I knew from the get-go that I was interested in fine line tattoos.  I think there is beauty in their delicate simplicity.  Aesthetically, I’m not drawn to large pieces with thick lines – just not my style.  Bonus: they hurt less.  I’m a nerd in most ways so even when it came time to do something “cool” like get a tattoo, I nerded out and researched like crazy.  I looked online and on Instagram to find an artist who specialized in fine line tattoos.  The designs I wanted were small so I needed someone who had mastered the style.  All signs pointed to West 4 Tattoo.  Turns out the place I’d passed a million times on Bleeker is actually a pretty famous shop that works on celebs, a fact I didn’t realize until after I was already obsessed with their work.  They were definitely on the pricier side, but their work is incredible and since this is something you’ll have forever, it’s not really the time to bargain hunt.

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A peek at the shop

Every artist in the shop is skilled in fine line work.  I worked with Drag and thought he was fabulous.  I knew what I wanted, but he worked with me to pick fonts and sizes.  He was also very professional (considering one of the tattoos required me to basically go topless) and a very calming presence.  Speaking of calming, how did that Xanny work, you ask?  Well after splitting one with Jourdan, I informed her I wasn’t feeling anything as they were tracing me up.  “It’s not like booze,” she said.  “You’re not going to feel anything.” “Yea well I don’t feel calm at all,” I snapped as I began to sweat along my brow line.  She offered me another, this time giving me a larger one which did, in fact, calm me down significantly.  All three tattoos came out exactly as I had envisioned, and I can not thank Drag more.  Also, if you’re into shading or realism, he’s your MAN.

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Drag, setting up shop

Another reason I loved West 4: the music.  They had the best playlist.  Some old school R&B and a little pop.  Exactly what I wanted to hear.  No grunge or heavy rap that would only make me agitated as I got ready to take such a bold leap.

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Calm…

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…even smiling mid-process!  And this was on tattoo #3!

Like I said, I’m very into tattoos when they have significant meaning.  In case you’re wondering, here are the stories behind each of mine:

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  • Outline of a fork on my wrist: It’s no secret that I’m a major foodie.  Yes, the fork represents that, but the meaning goes a little deeper.  My love of food led me to start this blog, which is how I realized I love writing as catharsis and expression – and that I wanted to write a book.

tattoo11

  • The words “je vais y penser demain” on my rib cage: This is the French translation of the phrase “I’ll think about that tomorrow,” which is a line from my favorite character in literary history, Scarlett O’Hara, from my favorite book, Gone with the Wind.  This one combines my passion (obsession?) for reading with my love of France.  Living in France was quite literally a life-changing experience for me so I wanted to be sure to incorporate that as well.

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  • The numbers 6790 and 201, stacked, on my hip: These are the street numbers of the two most important places I have ever lived.  One is from my house in Savannah, which is a reminder of the importance of family.  The other is for my apartment in NYC.  Not only was 201 the address of my first apartment in New York (a monumental move and leap of faith), it is also the address of the first apartment I bought (and felt like I became an adult).  In fact, everything about those two 201 addresses was identical, down to the apartment number.  The only difference was the street number was inverted (73rd for one, 37th for the other).  I saw that as a major sign.  The goal is to add to this piece if and when I ever move to another significant place.

I like that they are all mostly hidden.  It’s something I did for myself so only I need to be able to see them.  It’s funny that almost everyone reacted with complete shock that I would get a tattoo – they all said they saw me as too preppy and proper, the last person they expected to get tattoos.  I guess I’m full of surprises.  Bottom line: I’m completely obsessed with them and don’t think I’ll ever tire of any of them.  I know that a major reason I’m so happy with them is because I love the way they turned out.  That’s why I say if you’re looking to get a tatt, I highly highly recommend West 4 and my main guy Drag.

And no, my parents don’t love the tattoos.  Just because they’re small and they love me doesn’t mean they think tattoos are any less trashy.  They do, however, recognize that I’m a grown up who can make my own decisions…and since they can’t really see them it’s outta sight outta mind.  It’s all good in the hood.

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