My first tattoo – ouch


Yes, I am an ambitious person, and I don’t do things by halves – so naturally I chose a full back tattoo as my first (and most probably only) tattoo.

By the way it hurt a lot, so much so, I cannot begin to describe it, or think of any comparisons. But I am glad I did it, it took about an hour and a half of solid drilling – Crying face and I wanted to have a little cry, but I think my tear ducts were also in shock from the pain. The tattooist did muck up the piece in a one crucial area (apparently only I notice it unless it’s pointed out). I may just have to live with them….. unless they fall out during the healing phase and itchiness – then he can fix them. Fingers crossed the latter happens, all else fails I will get it coloured in and then the little mistake wont be so noticeable.

I have had this design in my head for at least 6 months to a year now and had refined it a million times on paper. I wanted something feminine and personal to me. Designed by me – an artwork that I will carry with me everywhere, a permanent display of my creative soul.

It was very important to me that the image looked more arty and organic, than general tattoo design and to do that I based the drawing on an art nouveau stylised composition. I paid special attention to the ‘S’ shapes to create art nouveau composition  and provide an organic feel to the piece. I then rechecked my analysis of the image to assess the visual balance. I also took into account the shape of my back when finalising the design – flared at the top and pinched at the base.



I am undecided if I should colour it or not. I don’t even want to think about it at the moment – I only had it done yesterday and I am still feeling the pain. Everyone that has seen in so far thinks grey wash fading into red flowers will look best. I think I will go over it again and again until I find the right mix. I kinda like it as crisp unblemished linework – and it’s not me being a sissy.

The six poppies stem from a 3 part knot, they are in various stages of life. The base knot is eternal and sustains this concept of life. The Poppies also represent remembrance, dreaming, nature, death and life.

I have some amazing 1940’s & 50’s french backless dress patterns I will soOOOooooo need to make for the upcoming summer months.



43 thoughts on “My first tattoo – ouch

  1. What happened in the end? Would love to see.
    Always a pleasure to read on and feast my eyes with your up-cycling power.
    How come do you think you guys in NZ have so many Art Deco pieces? In Europe they are far and few between and very expensive – ie certainly not undiscovered at thrift stores and up for grabs for a few bucks!
    A bit envious I have to say, makes me want to move to NZ (as an illegal immigrant 😉
    Best, x


    • Hi LeChatPonti,

      I’m still undecided on what colours to get in my tattoo. But I’m at that point that I’ve forgotten how painful it was to get it done, so I’m getting ready for the next phase. For now it still looks the same.

      I don’t know why there are so many art deco objects in our opshops. My guess would be that ‘Art deco’ is not ‘in fashion’ here and it’s viewed as a bit nana-esque as it seems to be on trend for Scandinavian mid century modern pieces or anything minimalism. A lot of our upmarket boutiques peddle out knockoffs of scandi design or pieces that are in for only one season. Another reason maybe because we have funny little towns ‘that time forgot’ like Napier. An earthquake completely flattened the place in the early twentieth century so they rebuilt the whole town entirely in the style of art deco and they hold a number of themed events every year. 😄 I’ve heard it’s amazing.

      Thanks for your comment and have a great day!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for your reply. That’s great for you for the Art Deco founds, and you do a great job with them, you have so much talent!
        Regarding the tattoo, I understand how at first the outline can feel like it is enough, its beauty could be lessen by colors… but the shadowing in fact enhances the drawing (done by a great tattoo artist, which I am sure you have chosen!). Well-chosen colors make for a lively tattoo, where I feel however moderation is key.
        Regarding the pain… you have given birth, mommy! ‘Pain’, for some of us is is welcomed, part of the process interwined with the end result… but it doesn’t have to be! For others it can be only the tattoo process is only an end to a mean, and what’s wrong with that? Think painkillers, they work for everything. Also long sessions bring pain because the whole area and nerve ending become ‘inflamed’, increasing sensations and bringing pain then, I found. If you have paid/pay for the whole piece rather than an hourly rate (such a killer!), it could be an idea to break it down in shorter session.
        I hope you go for it! Excited to see if so.
        Thank you for your blog, it’s always such a pleasure to read.
        And happy belated birthday 🙂 x


  2. Wow, I love the poppies! I can imagine how painful the back was as a first tattoo. My first (and only) tattoo was done on my rib cage/side. Everyone told me it was ambitious for a first haha and afterwards I agreed. I like the idea of your tattoo having color on the flowers and black/grey on the rest.


    • It was really painful and sooo big for just one sitting. But I don’t regret it for a second even though I am anxious about going back to get it coloured – it’s just hurts with the needles and the stabbing and I am a huge coward. I have been thinking this year I will get it finished though. I might need an encouraging push.


    • Thanks, I just really, really, REALLY wanted this art work as a back piece…. I didn’t even think about how much it would hurt until the tattooist started, by that stage it was too late to stop. 🙂 so glad I got it done though – I love it. 🙂


  3. AMAZING! I have a back tattoo, not full… and that made my eyes cross from pain. I can’t imagine full… though I want one…


  4. Thats huge! How brave you are, and your first tattoo even! Mine first was much smaller and on my side/stomach area, from the bottom of my ribs to the top of my pelvis. That hurt like crazy! I think coloring of this will look pretty amazing! Give your skin time to heal and continue to take your time to pick the coloring 🙂


  5. Simply beautiful! Most of my tattoos are either my own design or something I found and altered. I am like you and don’t (typically) like the traditional tattoo style. Several of mine are self-outlined (no harsh black line – you know,.. the one that hurts like hell) and they all are colored. I can tell you this – the color hurts WAY less than the outline – if the artist knows what they are doing. However, as others and yourself have said, it’s a very personal choice to leave as-is (beautiful!), continue on and just do shading in grey, or go all out with color. As each of mine healed, I just knew that they begged for color so that’s the direction I went.

    I would say to check around with artists and look at LOTS of their work. A reputable artist will have a book of photos with their work in it. Wait until you find one that resonates with your style, personality and execution level. A good artist can easily repair those mistakes through the use of shading, color or a slight addition.

    Love your blog, love your style and love this tattoo!!


    • Hi, Thanks for the comment. I figured when it heals it will ‘tell’ me what it wants. At the moment I’m thinking neutrals – dark and light grey wash to red wash where the sun would hit the flower…. that way it would also go with whatever I wear – which is VERY important to me.

      I have rejigged my wardrobe to fit a 3 main color scheme – Greys/Navy/Black (I have the odd piece that is a different color but the rule is it must go with one of the three mains) and then I add in color with accessories and shoes!! So I don’t want anything too wild and colorful and I want to keep the delicate contrast of the lines, as there are sOOOoooOOoo many of them. LOL 😛

      You can read about my clothing adventures in my wardrobe here:

      Thanks for stopping by!!


  6. Very beautiful! Especially as you designed it yourself. The colouring won’t hurt as much as the line work if you do get it coloured…. and it would look brill.


  7. It looks amazing! I would love to see a full picture of it. And I can’t believe your first tattoo is a huge back piece. I have 3 tattoos…they are somewhat addicting. Can’t wait to see what you decided about the coloring.


    • Hi, Thanks for the comment. At the moment I am thinking about a light to dark grey wash and the flowers (where the light would naturally hit them) to be red wash…… I did do a full color version with greens, yellows, reds and white. But I think I want to be more subtle with the final coloring. I really want to keep as much contrast with the complex line-work that I can.

      It won’t be a the whole lot done in a rush job. Like the line-work was (not that you can tell). I think I will get the pain spread out over several sessions. LOL. 0_o


  8. OMG!!!!!! You got this for your first tattoo?!!!!! You must be more crazier than me!!!! LOL ….And very brave too!!!! It is an awesome tattoo!!! I love it!!! What are you going to get next? We can never only get just one!!! LOL Beautiful!!!


    • LOL!! I think the definition of brave is subjective.

      Not sure if I will get anymore – lets face it – if I do get more they will have to be small ones because I’ve just covered the biggest area I have available. HAhahaaa!

      I will be getting my back colored as soon as it is healed enough so once it is all complete I will decide then.


  9. Your back tattoo is actually the first one I really like! It is incredibly beautiful and I like it the way it is, although color would be beautiful too. As Eleanor stated above–be sure the tattooist is good at the blending/colors. My husband got one and had to have it fixed, as the first guy just wasn’t as good as he claimed.
    I hope you heal quickly! 🙂


    • Thanks, I don’t like the style of tattoo drawings so I had to design it myself. I just needed something feminine, organic in look and fitting the shape of my back.

      My husband’s tattooist friend owns his own shop and puts out amazing work. He did my back for me. I’m lucky because his strengths are in blending and color work. My husband is covered in tat’s – so it’s useful for me to see how the blending/grey washing/color work looks both new and over time.

      I will be doing a few color sketches before I decide what I want. But one things for sure my husband will come in handy as a color chart on my next visit. 🙂 I’m so cheeky!


    • I am glad I did it. Creativity is a part of who I am.

      and – Here’s some bad sayings I can now use:

      showing my creative side! and/or I am a suffering artist literally….. AHahahahahaaaa oh lame.

      Thanks for your message 🙂


    • yeah, I always run head first into projects and things. After all, when I have an idea in my head I am determined to see it through, aka stubborn and possibly a teensy bit of stupidity – just like a bull in a china shop I often don’t think things through [enough] in the planning stage.

      However, I have no regrets – I love it now that it’s stopped hurting. LOL

      The tattooist was very concerned that there were too many lines in the flowers, the length of the lines on the stems was too long to do in one hit, the complexity of the drawing also meant it had to be done in one sitting.

      I learnt why he had all of those concerns the hard way….. So that taught me a lesson or two. 🙂

      LOL – I’d do it again 🙂


  10. That’s really gorgeous!! The pain passed, and then you get to live adorned with such beautiful art. I’m really impressed.


  11. That is stunning! I have several friends with back piece tattoo’s and they all have them coloured. It sort of brings their vision to life. But colour in a tattoo is a very personal choice so good luck with whatever you decide. It looks wonderful!


    • Thank you. I think the color might take longer to decide on. I have a few ideas in my head but I am not fully resolved on anything yet. I’m going to take this phase slow and be absolutely sure when I make my decision. 🙂


  12. It looks amazing!! I have a self designed orchid tattoo on my lower back – not brave enough to go the whole back.

    Don’t make a decision about the colour unless you 100% sure and make sure the tattooist can do shading/blending etc as mine didn’t and I was disappointed once he’d added the colour.


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