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I've had a number of people requesting close-up photos of my tattoos, so here they are.
The most frequently-asked question I get is about how painful it is to get a tattoo. I won't lie -- it can be quite painful. The pain factor really depends on the individual and his or her tolerance for pain. Some areas are more painful than others. In general, tattoos on the arms aren't as painful as they are on the torso. It really depends a lot on where the nerve endings are. I've found that it's best to approach getting a tattoo with the idea that it's going to hurt like hell, but will be over with soon. Large tattoos must be approached in sections -- on very large pieces, it's best to get the outline done first, and allow it to heal completely before the color is applied.
Most of my tattoos were done by "Gypsy" at Black Dragon Tattoo in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Their website is www.blackdragon.net. The back of my right calf was done by Robbie at Black Dragon. If you stop by, tell them that Tom Wiles sent you!
The backs of my hands, the back of my head, and the work on my shins was done at Visual Addiction Tattoo in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. To my knowledge they do not have a website, but here is their business card.
Tattoos are one of those things that people either like, or they don't like, without much room for ambivalence. Click on the thumbnails for the full-sized images.
Here's the front and back of my right arm.
This is the front and back of my left arm.
Here's my back. My knees and shins.
The back of my left calf. The back of my right calf.
My chest. A close-up of my chest.
The Buddha on my belly -- easily the most painful tattoo I've ever gotten.
I hadn't planned on it, but I ended up getting a new tattoo this evening (10-7-04) by "Gypsy" at Black Dragon Tattoo in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Here are some photos of it:
The new tattoo binge continued into yesterday 10/8/04. I got a tattoo from "Gypsy" at Black Dragon Tattoo, Fayetteville, Arkansas on the left side of my neck to balance out the new one on the right side.
Look closely at the truck's tag.
For many years I didn't think I wanted any tattoos above my collar, but in recent months I've changed my mind. In the end it's really just more of the same.
Give me a few days off, and guess what happens -- I've gotten more new ink, this time on the back of my neck. It is of a large padlock and partial chains, the chains links being constructed in such a way that they can easily be extended on around my collar bone area at another time.
Here's a picture with my head leaned forward so as to stretch the back of my neck out.
Here's another photo, with my head leaned back slightly, causing the image to distort just a bit because of the wrinkles in the back of my neck.
This is likely all the ink I'll get on the my neck since I'm clearly running out of room !!!
Here's a photo I snapped with my camera as I was getting the tattoo on the back of my neck. I had my face resting on a circular neck rest.
Here's a quick-and-dirty cell camera photo of the latest tattoo I got on March 4, 2005:
Here are a few quick-and-dirty webcam shots of the new ink and how healing is progressing. This is the latest tattoo I got a couple of days after the 8 ball tattoo, a pair of flaming dice.
Here's the 8 ball after a bit longer than a week's worth of healing.
The 8 ball is quite prominently visible from both the side and back.
The dice tattoo is also visible from both the side and back.
The other 8 ball on the back of my left hand.
The back of my right hand thrown in for good measure.
My current tattoo plans are to do something I at one time thought I would never to do -- I'm going to get a Paul Booth-style tattoo on the back of my head right up on my scalp. I also want to augment the existing ink on the back of my neck with black and gray highlights.
Having always-visible ink that cannot be hidden with clothing is not something I'd suggest for someone getting their first tattoo. Someone getting their first tattoo should always go for an area that can easily be hidden with clothing. The only people who should even contemplate moving tattoos into very public areas of skin such as the backs of the hands, the neck and the scalp should already be heavily tattooed and be perfectly comfortable displaying ink in any and all situations. A tattoo novice or newbie getting a tattoo in an always-visible area is very likely a prescription for instant regret and unhappiness.
I carefully contemplated the move to always visible ink carefully over a couple of years before taking that step. I'm glad I waited until I knew I could handle it. Quite frankly I've been surprised at how easy it is to pull off. Once you've got the "heavily tattooed look" about you, moving into always-visible ink is something people are not shocked by at all -- in fact it becomes something they almost expect.
_____Update Update Update_____
Here it is! On Wednesday, April 27, 2005 I got a new tattoo by Rob Miller at Visual Addictions Tattoo in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The tattoo is a custom scull covering the back of my head and scalp. Here are the photos of it:
Here's another photo of it with natural lighting and no flash:
Here's a cropped close-up:
This tattoo was done by Rob Miller of Visual Addiction Tattoos in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Their phone number is 1-717-243-9799. If you are a truck driver, they will even come to one of the several Carlisle truck stops to pick you up to take you to their shop for the tattoo and then bring you back afterwards. If you get a tattoo as a result of this posting, be sure to tell Rob Miller that Tom Wiles sent you!!!
Needless to say I'm extremely pleased with it!!! The eyes are designed to "follow" regardless of the angle someone is looking at them similar to the famous World War II era "I want you for the U.S. Army" Uncle Sam military recruiting poster. Rob Miller is an absolutely amazing artist. The eyes have amazing depth and appear to be just inside the back of my scalp, which is an amazing visual effect. I'll post new photos after it heals.
Here's a couple of quick-and-dirty webcam photo I took of the tattoo yesterday. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo -- it's just about impossible to take a decent photo of the back of your own head !!! Nonetheless, I'm REALLY pleased with this tattoo. You can't imagine how many people ask me about it and how much attention it generates every day. I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome!!! Looking at these extreme close-up's it's impossible to imagine that the skin on my scalp is actually very smooth and parts of my scalp aren't ripped away!!!
About a month ago I made it by the Visual Addiction Tattoo shop at Carlisle, Pennsylvania and got more work done. Rob Miller (the artist and shop owner) touched up the skull and eyes on the back of my head. I also had him re-work the pre-existing work on the back of my neck, adding a few black and gray highlights.
Here are some quick-and-dirty webcam shots I took tonight.
Smoke was added in front of my right ear above the truck tattoo forming a bit of an artificial sideburn or tattoo sideburn.
Update August 15, 2007
About a month ago, I got more new ink, this time in front of and behind my right ear in order to balance out the ink with the left side. I got the new ink at AAA Tattoos II located in Rogers, Arkansas by artist Dustin Gray. The newest ink includes a key behind my left ear, as well as a scull with flames in front of my right ear, balancing out the ink nicely and finishing off the artificial sideburn or tattoo sideburn theme/effect. I'm very pleased with the quality of the new work.
More New Ink
After a long period of time of not knowing what images my next tattoo(s) would be, or even if there would be any more, some interesting ideas popped into my head one day. Taking the extreme prominent position of the ink into account, I waited about three months or so in order to make sure that some other design ideas didn't come along. I found the tribal-style lion on a website submitted as flash. The artist adapted the sword from a sword line illustration drawing I found elsewhere on the Internet. Here is the result. A lion with a sword beneath it in front of my left ear on my temple coming down into my right cheek. Photo taken by photographer Chris Marquardt.
On the other side in the same sitting (both tattoos done by artist Travis Hulshizer) at Brainstorm Tattoo in Fayetteville, Arkansas I got an eagle perched on a branch. The eagle came from a real photo I found on the Internet. The branch was an adaptation of the branch in the same photo. I took this photo of the completed tattoo with my camera phone myself.
What ink might be next? I really haven't got a clue. For some time I've been entertaining the idea of tattooing the top of my head with something, however I have yet to come up with a really solid idea. It's possible any additional ink might stop right here, though past experience tells me that's probably extremely unlikely...
-----UPDATE July 2009-----
After almost a year, I finally got more new ink. More than a year ago, I came across a striking image of a Paul Booth-style black and gray face on the back of someone's head. I began to think about adapting this style of image for a tattoo to fill out the top of my scalp with. This is the image:
I presented this image to artist Dustin Gray at AAA Tattoos in Rogers, Arkansas on my cell phone. After looking at it only once or twice, he was able to quickly draw up a completely different image in his own style.
Here is the spectacular tattoo now filling out the top of my scalp that Dustin Gray was able to come up with:
For the past few years, I thought no one would ever be able to top the scull on the back of my head. I must say Dustin Gray has topped it in spades. Everyone that sees the tattoo is absolutely dazzled by it. Even if they don't like the style of image, they have to admit that the image and the tattoo are spectacularly executed.
This is how the back of the tattoo is tied together with the previously-existing scull:
The next project will be to do minor fill-in here and there, to tie everything together.