This September I sat for two hours at Castle Ink in Birmingham, and had the most magnificent piece of art done! A big Studio Ghibli fan, Howl’s Moving Castle is one of my favourite films. It was my first Ghibli film, and I watched it for the first time in 2012 with one of my best friends and instantly fell in love.
I’d planned on getting another rib tattoo for a long time, and I’d also planned on getting a Studio Ghibli tattoo – but it all happened pretty quickly when one of my favourite tattoo artists on Instagram had a cancellation for the following day and posted that she’d do reduced rates for anyone who could fill the spot. It was about midnight and I just went for it, taking it as the sign I’d been waiting for. She’d only done a rib tattoo once before (she’s just an apprentice, but my god she’s brilliant) so was a little nervous, but we talked it through and I told her I’d be happy for her to have a go regardless.
Finding the design wasn’t hard at all as I already had a couple in mind, and I did know that I wanted it to be line and dot work, and that I wanted it on my ribs – probably why I found it so easy to just go right ahead and message Charlotte with a “me! Pick me!” It was a cute little adventure for me to have too, as I’d never been to Birmingham before. It was a solid train ride up from London and then bus. On the way back Charlotte was getting the same bus so I forced my company upon her and we chatted the whole way back.
The actual experience was overall excellent. Charlotte was super professional despite still being an apprentice, and I didn’t feel like I was at the hairdressers, where you have to make awkward small talk or anything, it felt pretty natural and I was happy to sit quietly and let her work away. She’d had a customer in just before so wasn’t ready to go when arrived, but that was fine, as I got to chat to some of her coworkers whilst she sorted out the transfer. The first hour went well, and only certain bits were particularly painful, but as soon as we crossed over the 60 minute mark it began to get pretty sore and I had to take a two minute break to drink my vitamin water (terrible choice, please go for something high sugar) and eat some Haribo. Another half hour in and I was feeling pretty rough. Some deep breathing techniques began to happen, I got a little shaky, and found myself half clinging to the table I was on! More Haribo was had. Poor Charlotte was super patient and reassuring, and kept reminding me that I was sitting super well overall.
The highlight of course is seeing the finished product because you’re lying there awkwardly (especially for your ribs, all stretched out arms over head, on your side) with no chance to take a look. It’s only been three months but I’m as in love with it as I was the day I got it, and also still in love with Charlotte’s work. She’s nerdy and that’s super, because I’m desperate for more Studio Ghibli stuff and possibly a little Star Wars piece!
Even though I live literally next to a tattoo studio now I’m pretty sure I’d love to go back up to Birmingham just because now I feel a little bit familiar with Charlotte’s work and she made it a much more bearable experience.