Today, I am getting tattooed. I don’t know the design yet. In fact, there isn’t one. Thus, the Guild.
I am also in Denmark, in a shop owned by my favourite tattoo artist: a man whose work Vikki and I found entirely independently when showing each other some of our favourite pieces whilst in Laos. His name is Walrus; Peter ‘Walrus’ Madsen.
His studio is called Meatshop Tattoo. In front of me, a massive skull hangs on the wall alongside a collection of mean-looking cleaving implements. To my left, a colossal (taxidermy) raven is perched nearby an expansive floor-to-ceiling bookshelf filled with more tomes than my eyes can comfortably handle.
Peter appears and furnishes us with tea and coffee. Some things must always take priority. Then he sits me down at a table and explains that he has looked through all the ideas I have sent him since November. Then he utters the fateful words:
“I have a crazy idea. It’s insane, but it’s brilliant.”
No more needs to be said: we set to work.
To start with, Peter draws three Norse God masks on my arm: one on my shoulder and one on either side of my forearm. Whilst he draws, we talk; it’s important to get to know each other in situations like this and Peter is a very friendly and interesting fellow.
Eventually, he rubs out the stern-looking God mask from my shoulder and draws a new one. It’s a fire troll: looser and more chaotic, it is a bringer of Ragnarok and the fires of creation and destruction. The idea is to draw it out in dark black dotwork, then make the spaces of remaining skin burn…
On my shoulder, Peter draws a bindrune. It is one of his own making, using runes that he feels are appropriate to the piece and to me. He double checks them with fellow artist and wonderful human being, Uffe, who agrees they are suitable.
On my forearm and in the gaps around the troll mask, Peter sketches in the scaled armour that will lie underneath the entire sleeve.
Then we set to inking. By ‘inking’, I mean having my skin punctured 80 times per second. For hours. Strangely, it doesn’t actually hurt all that much. Parts of it are awful, but on the whole it’s bearable. Sore, but bearable.
The plan is to get the linework of the mask done this afternoon. It sounds ambitious, but Peter doesn’t hang around. This is my first tattoo, but I get a feeling Peter is bloody fast as well as bloody good.
One of the huge benefits of doing a fire troll (other than the fact it is A GOD DAMN FIRE TROLL!) is that the lines don’t have to be as neat and straight as with other work. We are going for a cracked lava effect, which means Peter can fly though the linework at stunning speed. That doesn’t make it any less painful, however.
Eventually, we call it a day. I’ve done it: I’ve finally been tattooed. Ten years of thinking and planning resulted in this: turning up in a shop and letting a madman doodle on me, permanently.
I could not be happier.
When Vikki and I get back to the apartment, I suddenly find myself freezing cold. This is very unlike me. I am never cold…
Day Two of My Meatshop Tattoo: 26.03.2014
This morning, to the sounds of Wardruna, Peter Madsen is drawing on my forearm. Whatever he draws will stay there forever…
Over the top of the scale armour he drew yesterday, he is starting to create a wyrm: a snake-like dragon, reminiscent of Jörmungandr – the Norse World Serpent. He is doing this using masking tape…
When this is completed, I point out that I would like to have something on my inner forearm, where he drew the initial God masks when I first arrived. We agree that a bindrune would work well there and, after some thought, I choose Veldismagn.
When draw out in my blood and carried close to my body, this bindrune will offer me protection and ensure I remain healthy when travelling. Or so the Ancient Texts lead me to expect. As far as I can tell, it is my adventure bindrune.
Then we set to work making it permanent. Peter also starts to fill in the massive amount of black dotwork that makes up the troll mask on my upper arm.
I was expecting to have to distract myself from the pain, but again it’s really not that bad. There are moments of sheer agony (my back, the crease of my elbow, the middle of my shoulder and my triceps), but the majority is bearable. It certainly helps that Vikki doesn’t leave my side for a moment and Peter is a constant source of interest and amusement.
Between him and Uffe, they make me laugh so much throughout the day that we sometimes have to stop tattooing for a few moments to calm down. Eventually, however, we hold ourselves steady long enough to finish off for the day.
Oddly, for 8 hours of pain, it is one of the most enjoyable days I can remember. By the time I get home, however, I am exhausted. And FREEZING!
Day Three of My Meatshop Tattoo: 28.03.2014
Today, my final day of tattooing, has been long and painful. After three days of tattooing, my arm is tender, swollen and in no mood to be punctured tens of thousands of times an hour. Even so, since the moment I arrived at the Meatshop at 10:00, that has been its fate. Once again, it was the unexpected places that hurt the most: the back of my arm and shoulder.
Luckily, the shop has been playing Rammstein for most of the day. This has helped enormously.
The entire process of getting this tattoo has been incredible. Without a doubt, it is one of the very best and most enjoyable things I have ever done. I can’t believe I waited so long to do this, but I’m very glad I did.
From the initial discussions about what I wanted, and flying to Denmark, to the whole process of creating a design and making it permanent, I honestly can’t describe how much I have enjoyed being here and how happy I am with what Peter has achieved. The sheer volume of ink he has pumped beneath my skin is staggering, especially when I consider that 4-6 hours out of 24 were spent coming up with and drawing the design!
In fact, it has been so inspiring that Vikki has booked Saturday with Peter to have some work done on her back!
It will be nice to reverse roles for a bit…
Then we’ll finally have some time to look around Copenhagen!