Saturday, July 14, 2012

A New Tattoo on Friday the 13th, or, the Templar of My Familiar

People familiar with Tattoosday have seen my Friday the 13th tattoo posts. Melanie has two and I have one, and I remember watching enviously when she got her first (here), but it was her birthday, so it didn't make sense for me to get one then.

Someone commented on the site back then that I should check out Three Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn, that we wouldn't have to have to wait all day like at Dare Devil, but when the next opportunity came along, we were already looking at Hand of Glory, which was a little closer to home. 

This past January, we missed our chance and as our turned out, HOG was packed and a late arrival would have been for naught.

But there are three Friday the Thirteenths this year, and in April, I called Three Kings. "Sorry," I was told, "we're not doing it this month." Well, I thought, there's always July.

However, it didn't look good for July. My company is closing and as head of Human Resources, I have been coordinating and overseeing layoffs. We had twenty separations scheduled for Friday the Thirteenth.

I didn't want to wait until next May, so I reached out to Alex Mcwatt at Three Kings to see if maybe they could squeeze me in. Not really following the first-come first-served rule, but I thought having showed his work on Tattoosday before (here, here, and here) and showcasing a lot of work from  the other amazingly talented artists at the shop (a full history here), he might consider it. The worst he could do was say no, right?

Alex promptly replied, but he had an unexpected response. My heart sank when he told me they were no longer doing the event. However, he did say he would tattoo me with a piece of old flash if I wanted, just without the Friday the Thirteenth mayhem.

I was, as you might imagine, completely stoked. I got why they decided to stop doing the event. most likely why Hand of Glory also skipped this month as well. Its a great deal if you want a cheap tattoo experience, but who can blame artists for tiring quickly of people wanting cheap experiences? Especially when many of the people getting these novelty items were not always loyal customers, but merely bargain hunters who would only show up once or twice a year to zip in, zip out, and that was that. I totally got it.

It just so happened we were in the neighborhood last Sunday, so Melanie and I stopped in to meet Alex and nail down the details. We confirmed I'd come in on Friday, after a brutal day of work, and I'd pick something off the walls. I had also invited Alex to draw up something new, if he wanted, and that I would be very open and receptive to it, as long as it didn't "gross out my daughters or piss off my wife".

I had once been told by someone I once interviewed that he liked to go into a shop, ask an artist what they were drawing, and ask for that to be tattooed on them, if he dug the art. The concept is, an artist will be much more excited about doing something new and fresh than doing something they modified or have done before. The more enthusiastic the artist is about the design, I believe, the more care and passion they'll put into their work. That's not to say they'll do a poor job on an old piece, but they'll be happier doing something more interesting, and that can only positively impact the final product.

So, I arrived on schedule Friday and Alex showed me something new he has drawn up, a profile of a knight in armor. Way cool. I love the image and I immediately started relating to it. My name, "William," has etymological roots in Europe and derives from Wilhelm, which is a compound of will (or desire) and helm (protection).

I had also been doing some work earlier in the week, looking at my family ancestry on my mother's side. I descend from Englishmen on one branch of the family tree and the Scottish clan Graham on another branch. The design, which he had only recently drawn up resonated with me. When I told Alex this, he nodded and said, "it was in the ether".

From his perspective, when they had been toying with the idea of doing more Friday the 13th flash, Alex said he had been considering drawing from Masonic and the Knights Templar. There's a lot of 13 imagery in those deep mysterious traditions, and back in 1307, there was even an infamous event when a French king had many of the knights arrested on Friday, October 13. See the 13's in the date? I am oversimplifying here, but these arrests led to a wave of anti-templar frenzy in Europe and in the Catholic Church. Many of these knights were tortured and executed, and that initial date of Friday the 13th has often been cited as one of the earliest example of the superstition surrounding the unlucky thirteenth day.

But, I digress. Let's cut to the chase. Alex did a phenomenal job:

This is just above my right ankle, on the outer side of my leg. The lines and shading are brilliant. The photo above was taken by Alex on my Samsung Galaxy IIs, so it is still a little bloody, but you can see what a great job he did. 

I also got the opportunity to further support the shop by purchasing t-shirts for me and Melanie - it was her consolation for not getting new Friday the 13th ink.

I got this classic Dan Trochio-designed tee:

photo courtesy of Three Kings Tattoo (that's not me modeling)

and I got Melanie this cool new shirt designed by Josh Egnew:

photo courtesy of Three Kings Tattoo (that's not Melanie modeling)
You can check out a lot of other cool merchandise at the shop here

I found the shop clean, friendly, and I saw some amazing work being done. The line-up of artists in house is one of the most talented groups in New York City. I would highly, HIGHLY recommend Three Kings to anyone looking for great custom work in Brooklyn.

Thanks again, from the bottom of my heart, to Alex McWatt, for making this an awesome Friday the Thirteenth to remember!

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