Art has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. From admiring my Grandfather’s tattoos and paintings as a child, right through to my career as a designer – I was always going to be tattooed.

Kian was responsible for my first ever tattoo, a small piece back in the days when he was taking on all kinds of custom work. Word of mouth lead me to the studio, the portfolio lead me to Kian.

I continued to follow Kian’s work and watch his profile and reputation grow, eventually getting on his waiting list for a large Japanese piece. Fast–forward a couple of years and I get the call up for my consult.

Everything was pretty straight-forward, I wanted a Japanese full sleeve incorporating a phoenix, the rest was up to Kian. I didn’t come to a talented, reputable tattooer to tell him how to do his job. Deposit paid and dates booked in, we were ready to roll.

Make no mistake: getting a large tattoo is a big commitment. It hurts. It costs money. It takes time. It’s a bitch to care for. But in some twisted way that’s what makes it worthwhile: it has to be earned.

One of the most interesting things about the process is the relationship that develops between tattooer and client. When you think about it, one appointment every few weeks for 3-4 hours – I was spending more time with Kian than I was with some family and friends.

That was a part of the process that I wasn’t expecting: how much I enjoyed being in the studio with Kian. Some days we debated spirituality or talked about video games, some days we cranked Die Antwoord and just got down to business.

As the sessions went on, it was interesting to see the sleeve take shape. The outline was done in the first (5.5 hour) session due to the amount of freehand elements in the design. Then the background, colour and re-lining over the remaining sessions.

Among the highlights of the process was being tattooed at the Sydney Tattoo Expo. Being part of the event and being able to showcase the work, the process to others was a fun experience.

I couldn’t be happier with my tattoo. It’s connected to a rich tradition but it’s unique, it’s mine. It’s a work of art from a craftsman at the top of his game and it’s built to last. It’ll look better than it’s wearer in 20 years time, I’m sure of that.