Reader Request: Revised Tattoo

I’ve gotten a few questions about my revised ankle/leg tattoo, so I thought I’d tackle them today. Here’s what this piece looked like before the revision:

tattoo before

It’s a little hard to articulate what motivated this change, but I just knew it was time to tweak. After a couple of meetings with artist Zack Kinsey, he hit the nail on the head. “It doesn’t look finished,” he said, and although I hadn’t really known it before, I agreed. This tattoo was also the one with the least compelling story and least personal meaning. It was loosely based on a drawing of mine from 15 years ago, but aside from it being “growth”-related and a design I liked, it wasn’t terribly specific or special.

After my first meeting with Zack, I came home and was suddenly struck by the stained glass panels in our front door.


My dad designed these for our house. He’s an architect who has always loved Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie School design, and created a similar set for my parents’ home. When I shut the door behind me, I snapped this photo and sent it to Zack. I saw some natural similarities in the designs, and a way to expand the existing piece into something more meaningful and significant, linking it to my dad. He took some of the elements from the window and combined them with the existing art.

Here’s how it looks now (first seen on Instagram):


Zack insisted on outlining the whole thing in black, which I resisted initially since a non-outlined tattoo is such a rarity. But he was right: It helped a ton, and made the whole piece look more crisp and complete. I wanted more color, so we added the warm yellow as well as some blues in the panes toward my ankle.


It looked quite different drawn flat than it does on me, but the curved lines ended up working well with the curves of my calf. This piece took 3.5 hours to complete and was, hands down, the most excruciating work I’ve had done. There’s relatively little padding on my ankle bone, and that bit was particularly horrendous to endure, but for some reason the whole thing was just unspeakably painful. However, my other large piece is across my shoulders and I think there’s something to be said for being unable to SEE the work being done. That piece took at least three hours and wasn’t nearly as agonizing.

You can read more about all of my other tattoos here, except for the shoulder piece which you can see here (photo is of me in my bra, so not safe for work).

Originally posted 2015-08-15 06:47:52.

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11 Responses to “Reader Request: Revised Tattoo”

  1. Rebekah Jaunty

    What a cool source of inspiration! It’s neat to read a little more about your family, too. The finished tattoo looks great— I see what you mean about the outlines, I’d never have guessed what a difference they’d make.

    • Rebekah Jaunty

      I’d totally forgotten about your shoulder piece! We readers seldom see you from behind.

  2. what not

    I really like the way the new version flows up onto your leg, looking more like part of you than like an isolated decoration.

  3. Megan Gann

    Absolutely gorgeous transformation. It’s difficult transforming/covering up a piece, especially when you don’t know how it;s going to turn out. There’s certainly an obsession with minimalistic tattoos, but you know me, go big or go home. I love how the piece flows and how beautiful of an impact it has. Your guy was right, it wasn’t quite finished. But it definitely looks like it now.

  4. calmwave

    the new design is really beautiful. Works splendidly with the curve of your leg. And the black outline looks edgier.