Answer: Do your research and talk to people!
I was nearing the end of my month in Thailand. I had been quite stingy with my money and found I had some beans left over. So the second to last week I found myself indulging in spa days and fancier dinners.
Now I consider myself a minimalist. Nothing brings me more untold joy than having very few belongings and having lots of space to exist. So the idea of getting a tattoo from places I had been, spoke to the minimalist in me! I could have a little reminder of my time in a country without having to purchase an extra bag for all my trinkets and random pebbles and twigs from around the world.
So one hazy, lazy, hot, mid-afternoon in Chiang Mai I did some Googles in search for a tattoo shop around with reputable reviews (I’m no fool!) I came across Celebrity Ink. Straight off the bat, I did not like the look of this shop.
I have a background in branding, digital marketing, media, graphic design etc, and I was a sucker for good branding. I appreciate it. I took one look at Celeb Ink’s branding and did a tuck and roll out that moving vehicle. No way. Their branding is garish and commercial. They’re a franchise. Their artists have to wear uniforms. Let me repeat that, the ARTISTS have to wear a UNIFORM. Talk about artistic expression…
When I am looking for a tattoo shop and specific artist, along with the genuine reviews I am looking for an artistic flare that I can get down with. How do I know what you’re about and what your art is about if you’re in a uniform man?
Butttttt having said that, I dropped my pride because the reviews were the best, and from what I could see online the art was decent.
I went in, was greeted by an Australian shop manager, something Celeb Ink prides itself on, having an English manager to avoid any errors in translation.
So my idea was to get the traditional Thai tigers under my collar bones. I presented this idea with an openness to be told this was offensive and should not be done. I questioned whether I would offend an entire culture and I was told I was probably the most respectful client they have ever had!
And as if by fate (if you believe such a thing) The manager pulled out two tiger stencils the perfect size, mirror images of each other and said..
“dyou mean something like this!?”
“Whaaaaat, yes! Exactly that! How weird!!” Wide eyed me said.
I was given the choice of a tattoo gun, or to experience the traditional stick and poke method – of course I went for stick and poke!
Jab Jab Jab Jab Jab Jab Jab 4 hours later, we got ourselves a pair of Tiger Twins!
My experience was fantastic, the shop was wicked the people were cool. So sorry for the prejudice!
I intend to do this for every country I visit!