I had promised myself (and my family) that I had finished with tattoos. ‘You’re in danger of becoming one of those people who look more like a children’s colouring-in book than a real human being.’ Was what my brother put on Facebook after my last one. This was a huge overreaction but I took the point and had more or less decided that at 42 perhaps my inking days were behind me. Then I heard Ami James, of Miami Ink fame, was opening up a new tattoo studio in Notting Hill with the original Fun Lovin’ Criminal himself Mr Huey Morgan. Would I like to have a tattoo from one of the world’s best tattoo artists the PR asked? ‘Err, I shouldn’t but – YES!’ Did I have anything I actually wanted tattooed on me? As I matter of a fact, now that you ask, I do.
So that’s how I found myself sat in a bustling, very hip ink shop getting myself marked for life by a real live celebrity tattooist. Ami is a very easy to get on with and the level of detail and cleanliness of the lines that start to emerge on my arm are testament to a man at the top of his game. I’ve seen Miami Ink (and LA Ink, NY Ink and even the slightly crappy London Ink) and so as we settle into the session I prepare to tell the long and emotional, heart-wrenching story about why I’ve chosen the tattoo I have.
Just before I launch in though, I prepare the ground a bit. ‘You must get a lot of people telling you so many intimate stories about their lives.’ He nods. ‘I do but to be honest I wish they wouldn’t. It can get really depressing. Because of the programme everyone thinks that they have to tell me every sad thing that’s ever happened to them. I don’t need to hear it. In fact, I much prefer people who are just having tattoos done because they just really like the design and want something beautiful tattooed on them.’
We sit in silence for a little while as he works on the Day of the Dead moon I’ve chosen. ‘So this one’s done to match that one on your other arm. I like it. What does that one mean?’ ‘It means beautiful marriage.’ He smiles. ‘See that’s a nice story. I bet your wife loves it, doesn’t she?’ ‘Erm…’ ‘I bet she does.’ ‘She died unfortunately, that’s why I had it done. Sorry.’ Ami looks at me with genuine sympathy. ‘Sorry to hear that.’ Despite this small awkwardness the studio is very cool and it by far the best work I’ve ever had. Tim Arthur
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