Oct201413
Kuniyoshi Dreamin' by Brian Dunn
02:58 PM
8330d1356070011-full-back-piece-thread-003-copy.jpgI love stories of body transformations, particularly large tattoo work, so I thought I'd share a piece by Brian Dunn, entitled, "Kuniyoshi Dreamin'" on Medium's Human Parts collection. 

In his essay, Brian writes on the creation of his Utagawa Kuniyoshi-inspired Japanese backpiece, tattooed by Jay Cavna in Mesa, Arizona; however, he shares more than just the process, but also the thoughts that run through one's head when making such a huge personal change:  the leap of faith with the artist, finding the right expression, dealing with the physical pain ... and how to tell your wife. Brian is a really engaging writer and uses words like "sweet, callipygian backside," so how could I not share it?

Here's a taste:

Despite not having any recent successful pain management campaigns to point to, I was confident that I would lie like a cadaver while still recognizing that what men think we're capable of is both wildly optimistic and grossly inaccurate. We consistently overestimate our ability to do everything from throwing a football over those mountains to drinking a gallon of milk in one hour. That I had zero qualms about my ability to lie perfectly still while someone carved into my dermis for hours meant nothing in the final analysis, but blind self confidence was one thing I had going for me.

It wasn't the only arrow in my quiver. If I should ever be writhing on the table and looking to bolt, I need only remind myself that nothing's more sad than an unfinished tattoo. Except the person wearing it. I've heard of tattooers who, when tattooing dragons, save the eyes for last. They claim that it's only when the eyes are done that the dragon comes metaphorically to life. No one wants to walk around with a blank-eyed, dead dragon adorning their skin. What's more, half-completed tattoos are a tangible sign of failure. What example would I be tacitly setting for my young daughter if, every time we went swimming, I ripped off my shirt to reveal her father's lack of follow through in the form of colorless peony flowers?

I also had my modest-patron-of-the-arts status to uphold. I support live jazz. I've donated to NPR. I buy the occasional art fair original work of art. When I ponied up the deposit for the tattoo a month before my first session, I wasn't just saving a slot. No, I was entering into a tacit contract with Jay to see things through to the end. Composition is crucial for large tattoos, and I was making the man fit three large animals, plus clouds and waves and flowers, onto a funky-shaped canvas complete with curves, lumps, and crannies (see buttocks). His work was markedly front loaded, and my tapping out after a session or two would render his pre-tattoo toil for naught, effectively pissing off a man who would see me naked and was at liberty to divulge to the entire shop the relative size of my genitalia.

Read more of "Kuniyoshi Dreamin'" here. And see more of Jay Cavan's tattoo portfolio on Instagram.


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EDITOR IN CHIEF:
Marisa Kakoulas
CONTRIBUTORS:
Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
Brian Grosz
Sean Risley
Patrick Sullivan
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