April 19, 2011

Ink is brought to you by the letter I

I decided I wanted a tattoo while a junior in high school.  I knew exactly what I wanted as long as  noone asked me to describe it.  Not that it mattered of course, because I have a mother.  And there is no way my mama was gonna get on board with me permanently SCARRING my body.  The horror!

Fast forward to 1996 when my BFF from way back in school called me in May to wish me a Happy Birthday.  (I know right?  Had she ever even met me?)  The first words out of her mouth were  to ask what I was doing mid August and just as I started to ramble on about having plans with a real friend she interrupted to suggest maybe we should go to Hawaii for 2 weeks and perhaps I should probably just shut up.

So I did.

Back in those days you could find excellent deals on flights if you planned far enough in advance, and since Jen is a major planner I scored my round trip flight from Houston to Honolulu for $485.  After a $75 island hop over to Kona my expenditures on things other than mai tais and shopping were complete.  We stayed in the basement apartment at Jen's dad's house for the majority of the trip and when I say basement apartment what I mean is the view from the doorway was my first glimpse of Heaven.  I could have slept in the driveway and in fact did once.  While Jen probably still blames that on the Mai Tais I secretly know it was the 2 shots of tequila I had with that Norwegian guy standing at the bar while she was off shakin' her groove thing on the dance floor with the Spaniard.  

Anyway, 5 days before we were to leave I decided it was finally time to get that tattoo.  I went to the only ink shop on the Big Island where I was greeted by a 6'3" painting named Rockwood.   The only mistake I made during my stay in Kona was failing to get a full picture of him, because to say he was covered in tattoos does the man no justice.  He was covered in them, y'all...everything but his palms and face.  And they were gorgeous.

We sat down and chatted about what I wanted for a good 45 minutes.  We probably talked about island weed too, but since some of you reading this would be shocked to discover I once had more than adequate knowledge on the subject I won't tell you that I once had more than adequate knowledge on the subject.

We ended our meeting with him promising to draw some sketches and me promising to come back the next day and see if he got one right.

So I did.

I opened the sketch book he handed me and on the very first page was exactly what I wanted.  I looked up at him in shock and exclaimed "This is IT, Rockwood!"  He laughed and said "I know.  It's the only one I drew."    That was the first time I ever felt creatively understood by another person,  and the first time I understood that true art is an extension of the soul behind it~ no matter what form it takes.

That's a lot to ask of a tattoo, huh?  Still, it is what it is~ an experience that was 9 years in the making and culminated in one of the best of my life.  This photo of him working on my ink is the only one I have of Rockwood, the magic tattoo guy who saw into my soul.



  1. Hi Juls, sounds like you made some memories to last a life time it's a dream of mine to visit there and also to go to a real live bead show maybe one day i can go to a real live bead show in Hawaii ttfn L:)

  2. Wow. That is quite the story! I love that you and Rockwood had an artistic connection that reached down into your soul and lifted you up. That man had some serious tatoos! I am sure that this is beautiful on you, not just in the memories it provides.
    Enjoy the day!

  3. Hey Ink Sister... I've never heard this story before! I love it! Holy Rockwood Batman... can you imagine the combined recovery time from all those tattoos added together - YOWZA! I bet it adds up to 34 years of not swimming, keeping it moist and trying to stay out of the sun (yeah, right... it's Hawaii.)

    BTW, nice legs sista... So, where's the photo of the tattoo finished, completed, work of art... I don't care if your legs are hairy and you haven't shaved in 8 weeks... show me the ink! :)

    ♥, me

  4. I am your mother. Well, maybe not really, but when my younger one was in Hawaii she, too, got a tat. I was horrified and shocked. It's really a very pretty design that she had worked on personally and it's very meaningful and blah blah. So flash forward several years and the older daughter (who swore she would never do something like that) calls on the phone with this long story that I know is leading up to something. What? Is she coming out? No, still straight. Is she changing her name? No, still Brooke. She got a tattoo. Man, by the time she got to that, I was so glad it wasn't something really major I was just breathing a sigh of relief. Besides being the 2nd one to get scarred up (w/ pretty colors) made me much more accepting. She, too, had a design of her own making w/ much personal significance. I can dig it. They are individuals and isn't that what I raised them to be? Like you. One of a kind. And holy crap, are they ever great!

  5. Hey Tat girl! Yes I too have a tat but I have to tell you that it was a Mother's Day gift from Shelby when I was 35! I know what took me so long but yes I also love mine! (someday we can also share other knowledge as well...just sayin)

    Hey them legs are gorgeous! Jealous here as I have petite legs (just another nice word meaning short and stubby)