Since I was 12 years old I knew I wanted to get a tattoo and got my first one at 15 on Khaosan Road here in Bangkok. That first tattoo is long gone thanks to familial pressures but I’ve well made up for it over the years. I had a short lived apprenticeship in the late 90’s but ended up giving my equipment away to help someone out. When we pass, so will the tattoos and I like that they will age, fade and eventually return to the earth.
Simon Erl tattooing Nic Mudskipper at Six Fathoms Deep (BKK,TH)
I got my first tattoo when I was 15 years old on Khaosan Rd. with the help of some older friends. I probably didn’t spend more than $20 USD for two Chinese characters on my forearm. Long story short, that tattoo was removed and it wasn’t until I turned 18 did I get another one but in a place far more conspicuous. I tried for a while to get an apprenticeship when I moved to NY but with no success and ended up scratching out of my dorm room for a bit. Fast forward 10+ years, I’m building a frame and using parts from another machine to make my own liner. This is just a personal project and the most action this machine will probably see is my leg for practice.
I appreciate and respect the art of tattooing on myself and on others. Do I enjoy the pain that comes with getting tattooed? No, but I think it’s an integral part of the process, to come out on the other end having endured the discomfort. Perhaps one day I will be completely covered with a collection of memento’s both significant and superficial.
My friend Claire recently got tattooed by monks who specialize in these protective omens. There’s a lot of magic here and I am wary to get one myself.