It's My One Year Cat Lady Tattoo Anniversary!
Exactly one year ago, to the day (yup - November 19th), I got my second tattoo. I consider it my “real, real” tattoo since my first one, that I got six years ago, was small and simple — and it still does have a very special place in my heart.
In celebration of my other tattoo’s birthday, I wanted to touch on the who, what, when, where, and why of my experience.
WHO — THE ARTIST & WHY I THOUGHT THEY WERE THE BEST FIT
When I got my first piece I went into a tattoo shop and crossed my fingers that I would get a good artist with a steady hand, which I thankfully did. The second time around I made sure to do my research and went on the hunt to find someone who’s work I really loved. It took a couple years, but I got there.
I was looking for someone who did clean line work and and had a style that was inherently their own. I started searching through Instagram hashtags which ended up in me following a ton of insanely talented tattoo artists on their pages. I spent HOURS on this for weeks at a time. Eventually I came across @lillyanchor’s profile and knew that I needed to book something with her. Although they are based out of Los Angeles, I noticed they often did travel to Chicago.
I had originally inquired about a something custom and when they said what I had described wasn’t their style, I knew that they were passionate about their vibe and I respected that. The fact that I couldn’t get my original idea done but still wanted it done by Lilly is a testament to knowing that they were “the one.”
WHAT — THE TATTOO DESIGN AND ITS MEANING (FOR ME)
Even though I didn’t go with what I originally had wanted, I ended up choosing the most perfect flash piece. Lilly would post their flash work on their IG and would call out the location they were willing to tattoo it in. I just so happened to be scrolling down when I saw a sheet with the cat lady tattoo that made me feel like it was meant for me. So when I saw they were willing to do it in Chicago I emailed them so fast, it felt like I blacked out for a second. Lilly books up FAST and I had missed these slots a handful of times. After some back and forth, we settled on the date and I sent my deposit.
The meaning isn’t too deep, but it is me: a proud cat lady. I never grew up with animals, and since adopting both of my cats, I truly feel like I saved them and they saved me. They’re my absolute favorite and I love how much warmth and joy they bring into my life. Being able to rep that makes me so happy. And of course, it was a beautiful piece.
Told ya, nothing too deep.
WHEN — THE TIMING AND HOW IT WORKED OUT FOR THE HEALING PROCESS
Time of year: Since it was November, I didn’t have to worry too much about having my tattoo exposed in the sun. It allowed for the healing process to be really seamless.
Length of tattoo session (time): A little over four hours. I didn’t anticipate for it to take that long, but I was so relaxed the entire time that it felt like maybe one hour had gone by.
After my thigh was done, Lilly covered my ink with tegaderm bandaging (which is a transparent film dressing) and told me to keep it on for 3-4 days. This was very different from my first experience where I had a saran wrap-type of dressing and was told to take it off after a few hours.
I took off my tegaderm after a full 3 days, in the shower under warm water as instructed, and HOLY SHIT was that way more painful than getting the actual tattoo. I nearly passed out because I think my body was like “WTH is going on here?!” I got over it in two hours and made sure to wash it with fragrance free Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. I used the basic Cetaphil lotion to keep my art piece moisturized.
I took care of my tattoo better than I’ve taken care of most things in my life — and I personally think I do a good job of taking care of things.
All of my flaking stopped within a week and a half! I was able to indulge in bath time two months later.
WHERE — SHOP LOCATION AND BODY LOCATION
Shop: Lilly was a guest at Black Oak tattoo, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever walked into. The interior decor and energy in there was/is so fucking cool. A true gem in Chicago.
Body: I have always had this grand idea in my head that I am going to get a sleeve of tattoos done. I had wanted this on my left arm (outer or inner bicep area) but was told it was too big and would need to on my hip or thigh. I settled on having it on the front of my left thigh (about 9 inches long, 6 inches wide). A spot on my body I never thought would be tattooed but am so glad I went with it.
WHY — WHY DO I ENJOY THIS TATTOO SO MUCH THAT IT MAKES ME SMILE EVERY DAY?!
My heart fully believes that the combination of my stellar artist, relatable subject piece, shop environment, and healing process made this such a positive and bitchin’ time of my life.
I finally felt like I had agency of my body and was making decisions based on things I liked versus what I thought I was supposed to like.
The first couple of days when I would sit and look at my fresh ink made me panic a bit, not going to lie. But once I got used to seeing this incredible piece on me, it made me feel like a badass in my own way.
Tattoos are a form of self-expressions, no matter what or how someone chooses to display it.
After 365 days with my cat lady tattoo, I can say with confidence that I grow to love it more each and every day and it’s going to hold me over until I choose my next one — which probably won’t be for a while because they’re an investment! I’m over the moon and can’t wait to see this grow old with me.