We finally, FINALLY got started on my sci-fi back piece yesterday.
Fortunately, I'd already printed out the full piece in colour, on A3. Ryan Busta Bolton (or Boltoon, depending on his preference) is my artist, and owner of Golden Tiki. His normal style is quite cartoony (hence his preferred nickname) but his colour skills are phenomenal. And I'd seen some of his realism pieces before, so I knew he was good. I just didn't realise how good.
Serenity is flying in from my left shoulder, pointing towards the centre of my back, with the bridge just to the right of my spine and the crew area and part of the port engine crossing the spin. Tthe SG-1 Stargate looms in on my right shoulder. We didn't get to that part as we ran out of time, unfortunately.
He completed Serenity's bridge within about 20 minutes, then moved on to the crew area and the port engine, at about 20 minutes per section. I'd expected that he would first do the outline and then colour in, but as Serenity is a modular ship, it was easier for him to do the colouring at the same time - pain I wasn't expecting. I had to stop myself from screaming several times and I'm afraid I was a real wimp. But no one thought that of me, except me. In fact, people were quite impressed that I did my best to joke throughout the session, which ended up lasting about three hours, excluding a total of 20 minutes in breaks.
By the last half an hour, when he was working on the living quarters, I was starting to jiggle and move around, on the verge of crying. It felt like now he was hitting nerves (yes, I know the back is full of nerves, I guess I should have expected the pain given that the back is so sensitive to the lightest touch). He got to the section where the muscles generally knot up from stress and I don't know how I didn't leap up from my chair and start beating him about the head. That was around the time he figured we should rather call it quits, as he'd finished most of the ship except for the hyper drive.
I'd managed to spend most of the intervening time either reading on my phone, talking to MadCat or engaging Ryan in conversation, or even talking to the people who kept coming over to check out what he was doing (did I mention that this was the first real starship that's been done in the parlour?) and comment on its awesomeness. I don't know if that was due to the concept or his phenomenal work, although I'm leaning mostly towards the latter, with a bit of the former thrown in.
And boy did he outdo himself on the colour. She looks battered, beaten, but proud. A home, a ship with a life, a real work of art. She's bronzed and glowing and glorious. She's my Serenity. I still get goosebumps at the thought, and I can't stop grinning. She's freaking fantastic, and she's not even finished.
Next session is in two weeks' time. He finishes the hyperdrive and may start on the SG-1 Stargate - which we've decided can actually be a lot bigger, because there's so much space available on my right shoulder.
One of the things we discussed was how much more likely I am to start exposing my skin now that I'm having my back tattooed. I'm always covering up because I hate the way my back looks - my hereditary bad skin, which both my dad and Mama Jo have and had. As Ryan said, what many people don't understand about tattoos is that they make people more comfortable in their own skin. It's a side effect I'm planning to embrace.
I'm terrified of the coming pain, but in the end? It'll be totally worth it.