Back in February of this year as a part of our ongoing professional development webinar series,
TattooNOW and Off the Map Tattoo produced and broadcast an unprecedented live streaming
internet event. A collaboration tattoo from tattoo masters Guy Aitchison and Jeff Gogue,
watched as it happened by over 6000 viewers. Matt McKelvey was the lucky recipient of this
amazing tattoo. Here is his story of the experience…
When I saw that TattooNOW was offering the opportunity to be tattooed by Jeff Gogue and Guy
Aitchison, I spent the next few days writing my submission. I treated my entry like a resume,
which was built upon the image of the Heike Crab. I first saw the unique creature and heard its
mythology on Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. My goal was to have elements where both artists could
bring their strengths, but it would be unique enough to be exciting. A few months went by, and I
was honored to find out I had been selected.
It just so happened that I ended up in the same exact hotel room that I stayed in when I started
my bodysuit. There was some pretty bad weather in Portland that weekend and after a phone
conversation with Jeff, I wasn’t sure if Guy’s plane would be landing. We decided if things fell
through, the least we could do would be to work on my existing tattoo.
That morning I made the familiar walk to Off the Map. Guy’s plane did land, but I know he had
a late drive into the night to arrive at Grant’s Pass. Others were arriving for the three days of
seminars. I wasn’t really nervous, more excited than anything I’d say. Gabe Ripley and Ben
Licata from TattooNOW started getting set up and ready to broadcast.
Guy had prepared a general sketch for the basic layout of the tattoo. Jeff drew up the Heike
crab, and then Guy filtered that rendering through his style for the final stencil. They joked
about Jeff’s “red numbing towels” and Guy’s magical light touch, which as you know, didn’t help,
but made me laugh and settled some nerves. Food was ordered because many of us hadn’t
eaten yet, Jeff and Guy took turns laying out the design. When we finished getting it all laid
out, I realized I hadn’t gotten a chance to order, so Jeff kindly offered the other half of his meal
to me. The idea of being broadcasted didn’t affect me very much, but I knew I didn’t want to
disappoint anyone by not sitting well for the tattoo.
Many people asked how I managed the pain; I don’t know if I can say it any better
than Nick Baxter: http://www.nickbaxter.com/Frequently_Asked_Questions/
Extended_Sittings_and_Pain_Management.html. In my experience, some of the moments
when they were using two machines at once were easier than when they used just one; it
created a general sense of pain rather than it being in one precise spot. Other times it was
twice as bad. There was a computer monitor in front of me showing what was being broadcast
online that I could see out of one eye. This allowed me to almost pretend like I was watching
someone else, and I was able to detach myself at times. The constant flow of questions for Jeff
and Guy was also a pleasant distraction, but I find it hard to remember anything that was said
during that time. When Gabe from TattooNOW would relay support from the chat room it would
give me a big boost, so thank you! Bactine was a lifesaver, but it had diminishing returns, and
seemed to stop working completely towards the end. Pizza was ordered for everyone at the
seminar, and I enjoyed those opportunities to refuel and meet other artists. We wrapped up
around 1am. I headed back to my room to get some rest before the rest of the event.
I tried to be a sponge the following days, and take in everything that I could. I highly
recommend going to any seminars you can in person. It’s an investment in your future and
yourself. Meeting people you respect is very surreal; you learn that they are normal people who
have put in the hours to get where they are at.
I want to thank the following people: Gabe and Ben for organizing and planning this event, Jeff
and Guy for the newly adorned arm and their constant inspiration and education, the Off the
Map crew, and Canyon Webb who spent the next two days helping me with my aftercare. It
was a pleasure meeting everyone at the event, and sharing the following days of seminars
together. I want to thank my wife for being so supportive and understanding of why I needed
to fly across the country for this experience and everyone’s families who support us, as grown
adults, to draw on each other out of passion.
For more information on our proffesional development live events, on demand webinars and
new batch of DVD’s go to TattooNOW.com/webinars . Thanks for reading.