Monday, January 4, 2010

Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright!

This is my fourth tattoo and the one I pondered the least.

If you've been reading, you know the premise: 2010 marks the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac, and when I heard that Thicker Than Water Tattoo Studio, a new shop on the Lower East Side, was doing a special tiger-inking event for the new year, I grew interested.

When I saw the flash drawn for the event, I knew I wanted one. And, after talking with artist Shon Lindauer, he drew up a special one for me, and the rest was history. Because he wanted to put more time into it, we scheduled the session for Sunday, after the Saturday of the Tiger, and did it on the third, happy half-birthday to me.

So why a Tiger? Aside from the topical (thank heavens it wasn't year of the Rabbit), I can say I have connections to tigers.

My favorite baseball team is Detroit, and I spent four years at Occidental College in L.A., home of the Tigers. In that sense, since 1985, I have been part-Tiger.

But like most tattoos, meanings grow and new meanings emerge. I am a poet, and what writer is worth their salt if they heard the word tiger and didn't think of William Blake?

THE TYGER (from Songs Of Experience)

By William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


And so I strode onto Avenue B with a sense of purpose, and a desire to go under the needle again. And the snow flurried but I did not feel the cold. I knew, soon enough, that I would feel the fire from the tattoo machine.

Even in my most positive frame of mind, I didn't dream that this great drawing

would become this much bigger and more colorful tattoo:

And one of the many things I love about it is, that at a slightly different angle, the perspective shifts significantly:

Lucky me, Shon worked with mechanical precision, and I was his first client that got to experience his new custom shader, built by Seth Ciferri.

The tattoo was done in under two and a half hours, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. I love it.

Thanks to Shon Lindauer for his hard work on this awesome tattoo and the staff at Thicker than Water for welcoming me into their shop.


Julia Ergane said...

Great tiger! However, I have always loved the big cats -- and I was born in the year of the metal tiger (1950). My very first tattoo, which I will be getting this year, will have a tiger in it.

seanh said...

this is an awesome piece! I really dig the colors going on in there.

Anonymous said...

That looks fantastic! I really like the color choices

great blog btw, one of my favorites :)

Karen Olson said...


Anonymous said...

I love that you you chose this! This poem is my next tattoo, I already have a Gothe poem. over the years I've cherished it more and more. you can never go wrong with these inspirations.