UPDATE: Interview added of touch-up with artist 1.15.09
Location On Body: Right leg
Shop Location: Covington, Kentucky
How Long It Took: 12 hours
The main idea for this tattoo came when I was driving from Seattle to Cincinnati with the family over this past summer. I was listening to one of my favorite songs from high-school called Dandelions by Five Iron Frenzy. This is one of the few songs that I have been able to consistently worship to for 10 years. It’s not that I have not had songs to worship too, it’s just that most of the songs have come and gone, so this song has been different in that regard. To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure why I never even thought of this tattoo design earlier, but when I did it seemed like a no brainer. The simplicity of the images combined with the 10 year association was a lay up.
Here were the problems I had to deal with:
- I was in Northern Kentucky (for 3 months) which is generally known for fried chicken and horse races but not necessarily top notch tattooists and artists. This was reiterated when I walked into a couple of shops and the shop owners said “whoa, where’d you get that work done? (referring to the heart cleaning tattoo) because I know it wasn’t from around here!”
- I was in the middle of my previous project and had never really started a new tattoo before finishing the old one. It turns out that the consequences of this were not that detrimental.
- I’m not sure if I have mentioned this in any previous posts but i can’t draw. One thing that kind of drives me nuts is that if I get the best idea in the entire universe in my head I might as well just let Seven go to town on my leg with a sharpie, like he did to our wall and desk because unless I can find the right artist who can translate my idea to paper or skin it’s over.
With these problems in mind I was content with waiting until the time seemed right. But in an interesting twist, my good friend Stephen, invites me to a shop he was going to visit to get a piece done. Being the good friend that I am I could not turn him down. Before I know it I’m describing my idea to this shop owner and he’s telling me about this artist that can put ideas on paper faster than anybody in more creative ways than anybody.
One week later I’m sitting at the shop with Brian telling him about my idea. It was kind of cool because Five Iron Frenzy is a smaller band that Brian had, not only heard of, but he knew exactly what song I was talking about. I tell him that I’m looking for something that is more graphic looking as opposed to photo realistic. I want a lot of black but I do want to incorporate some bold colors. I want some movement. As a guy, getting any type of flowers tattooed on your body can be a touchy subject. I wanted to stay away from the bouquet look. I give this guy 10 minutes and he comes back with more of what was in my head than anyone in the last 10 years has been able to do. At first I was trying to be kind of polite but he says: “listen if you don’t tell me what you like and don’t like, I can’t draw what you want.” So I start off with less of that and more of that and more flowers and this and that. By the time that I left, he had a rough design concept that he was going to redraw before our appointment and he had my $20 deposit which was a $20 bill that he taped to the day of the calendar that I was scheduled for (The book was full of numerous other $20 bills taped to other days.) One of the cool things I remember about the art process was that Brian said something to the effect of “if you don’t like my art I want you to send me a picture of the tattoo when it’s done because I want to see how it turns out.” This was cool because it told me that he was excited about the project and not just the $$$. I think instead of saying any more about Brian I should just show you some pictures.
All I really have to say is that we started at 4pm and ended at 4am. Brian’s longest previous tattoo session had been 8 hours. Twice during the process I had to take glucose tablets because I was shaking so hard. Props to Brian to sticking with it. We had to finish it because I was going to be leaving for Seattle. At the last minute I decided to get the script on the bottom that says: “You see flowers in these weeds…”
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time explaining the song and why it is meaningful to me. Instead I am posting the lyrics for you to read and a video which as the full audio for the song if you would like to listen to it. I think you will find that it is pretty self-explanitory.
In a field of yellow flowers,
underneath the sun,
bluest eyes that spark with lightning,
boy with shoes undone.
He is young, so full of hope,
reveling in tiny dreams,
filling up, his arms with flowers,
right for giving any queen.
Running to her beaming bright,
while cradling his prize.
A flickering of yellow light,
within his mother’s eyes.
She holds them to her heart,
keeping them where they’ll be safe,
clasped within her very marrow,
dandelions in a vase.
She sees love, where anyone else would see weeds.
all hope is found.
Here is everything he needs.
Fathomless your endless mercy,
weight I could not lift.
Where do I fit in this puzzle,
what good are these gifts?
Not a martyr, or a saint,
scarcely can I struggle through.
All that I have ever wanted,
was to give my best to you.
Lord, search my heart,
create in me something clean.
you see flowers in these weeds.
Gently lifting hands to heaven,
softened by the sweetest hush,
a Father sings over his children,
loving them so very much.
More than words could warrant,
deeper than the darkest blue,
more than sacrifice could merit,
Lord, I give my heart to you
Interview from 14 months later
Because I still love the art, still love the idea BUT one of the leaves is a little bigger than I would have liked so there’s a little to much black on my leg I am going to rate this on the