Consult & Background
On a humid October night I walked into Inner Vision to nervously await my consult with Kian. I’d had a long time to think about this moment. 5 years since first deciding I wanted a japanese tattoo, I was finally one step closer to bringing my vision to life. I’d loved tattoos since I was a kid. When my cousin proudly showed off an eagle in full flight that spanned his shoulder blades, I was hooked. It was so beautiful, I loved how it moved with his body and looked alive. Body art was definitely for me, but witnessing all my mates drunken mistakes growing up, I decided to save my skin for something special. I’d wait for inspiration to come calling.
When I picked up a copy of “The Japanese Tattoo” by Sandi Fellman, I knew that moment had arrived. The beauty, the history, the stories, the symbolism and complexity of the Japanese tattoo connected with me. It was perfect…and there she was, on page 99, waiting for me to find her all this time, a stunning full phoenix backpiece. I was fascinated and had to know more. I hit the books & internet, sourcing everything I could find on Japanese tattoos, mythology and history of the art form. I copied, scanned and compiled an A3 folder of references to take along to my consult. I was ready. Now I just had to find the artist! I’d narrowed it down to 3 whose work I considered to be the best, 1 was in Melbourne and 2 in Sydney. As soon as I read Kian’s “Philosophy” on his website, I was sold. This bloke got it. I contacted Kian and briefly pitched my idea. I received a reply in a couple days saying he was keen and asked me to ring and put my name on his waiting list.
2 years and a much fatter reference folder later, I sat waiting to meet the artist who could hopefully bring my vision to life.
My first impression of Kian was of a passionate professional. He loved my research and it enabled me to communicate exactly what I was after, a large piece that flowed with the contours of my body. I was unsure about extending it down to my buttocks, but Kian dismissed this concern, being truthful about how “cut off” it would look. He was right, the whole organic flow would have been lost if he hadn’t pushed me to be brave and get a “proper” back piece.
He took a trace of my back to draw up some ideas. I came in a few days later to check them out, but I only had to see one. She was stunning, better than anything I had imagined. It was love at first sight and I couldn’t wait to begin the process and bring her to life. I loved it that Kian seemed just as excited as me. He let me know about the process and happily answered all my questions (and there were many!)
The plan was to do the outline in one 5 hour session and then 3.5hour sessions every 2 weeks until she was complete. This would give the body time to heal between the sessions. He estimated about 25 hours all up, we compared diaries and booked it in.
A Phoenix is Born – The First Session
At 11.30am I arrived with really no idea what to expect. I had small tattoos but nothing on the scale of what I was about to undertake. Nerves soon gave way to curiosity as I relaxed into the environment. The whole process fascinated me and Kian was very accommodating with my questions and soon we were chatting away. Before I knew it we were ready to start. Kian asked if I was ready to go. Damn right I was. The machine hummed into life and the sting of the needle as it bit into my skin made me question the wisdom of getting such a large piece. But half an hour into it, the adrenaline (and the painkillers), kicked in. The body soon adapts and I found my yoga breathing helpful in controlling the discomfort and can’t really recall much pain. What I do recall is the crazy ninja music (I’m still a massive Die Antwoord fan) and debating competing theories about life, the universe and everything.
5 hours is a long session and by the time we finished my body was stressed and swollen. I left in a daze but with strict instructions on how to care for my new ink. Being on my back, I wasn’t able to look after it myself so I had a mate help. She was very thorough about scrubbing all the seeping ink off and making sure it was clean before covering it again. That hurt. I threw up, almost fainted and went to bed.
The Second Session
The Third Session
By this time I was familiar with the routine and looked forward to each new session, watching her come to life was amazing. The detail and personality of the piece was starting to emerge and I could sense just how spectacular she was going to be. This session was right before Christmas, and Mum, who advised me against such a large piece, proceeded to show me off to all her friends, “look at my daughter’s tattoo, isn’t it stunning” Seeing how appreciative she was really highlighted just how special Kian’s work is, it has the ability to change opinions, people recognize and respect beauty.
Each session blew me away. I always came out with much much more than I expected. The feathers and shading added depth and I was keen to finish so I could finally see her complete. By this time I had a group of family and friends demanding updates, so after each session I would send photos and share my experience. I soon got over lots of people seeing my naked behind and hopefully broadened a view people’s opinions on tattoos.
This was the session that really brought her to life I stood for hours in the mirror after this session studying every inch of her. I couldn’t have been happier with the result. I still look at her all the time. Her beauty will always captivate me.
Sixth and Final Session
All the waiting, discomfort, healing and staying out of the sun for a summer was worth it. I have the honour of sharing my life with an amazing piece of art. Most people spend a shitload of money and put their art on their walls and view it occasionally. Mine is on my body and with me always. I’m so proud of Kian and what he has created. The skill, professionalism, dedication and passion he brings to his art is truly inspiring.
Its been 2 years since the completion of my tattoo and every time she is on display I get compliments and questions. Everyone wants to know “where did you get it done” I’ve given Kian’s details out all over the globe, won an award, been stopped in the street and been photographed for a book. I love her more and more as time goes by. She is part of me and I wear her with pride.