My First Tattoo Experience, Rite of Passage #1

Hi かわいい + creative family!

Coming thru this Monday to share my first tattoo experience *eek!*

Not too sure if you’ve noticed, by I’ve been talking a WHOLE bunch about tattoo. (You should have noticed I been hustlin’ IG Live like crack huhuhu)

Why tho?!

Because I want to change the things I cannot accept ~

And I CANNOT accept how much of a fleeting moment we treat tattoo as.

Also I just wanna see black folk make better life decisions. Especially if they’re permanent! I’m a judgmental soul. So I think I’m safe in saying that when we make poor decisions in that right, you are definitely being judged HARSHLY!

And we better than that. So lemme use what I got to help get us where we need to be with the permanent decisions.

But right now … it’s story time!

Having gone through 3 (maybe 4, if you count Japan) rites of passage on my tattoo artist journey, my first rite of passage was my first tattoo. My introduction to the industry ~

My First Tattoo

Before we go down this road, let me give you a HUGE


As I speak about my own experience with self harm and how it led me to tattoo.

kawaii journaling
when your PR coach catch you crying on camera talking about your first tattooo experience >.<

If you’d like to proceed, I do welcome it. HOWEVER please do not ingest anything here that will affect your own mental, in any way. I love you and I want you to be well. <3

And while I’d love that you know me and my story. I’d much rather KNOW that you too are OK. That’s most important to me. NOT this blog post. Kay?!

Now that we got that out the way *hugs*

leggo ~

College + Expectations

When I went off to college, I was a straight-A student and felt like I was supposed to have it all together. But when I got to college, things kinda fell apart.

It wasn’t anything I did or wasn’t doing – as I say that aloud, maybe it was ~

And I say that because my health was waining. So much so that I started suffering from horrible tension headaches for weeks on end.

Such a drastic change, my mom thought that since I was at a party HBCU (shout out Clark Atlanta University … muahfuggin’ FIND A WAY OR MAKE ONE! Panther Pride fam ^.^) I must have been partying all my life ~

Like she didn’t know I’m 95% introvert LOL BUT! I digress ~

When I received my diagnosis I was prescribed a cocktail that made me sleep a LOT. In fact I slept so much that I slept my way to academic probation *yikes!* And once again, mom thought it MUST be something I’m doing other than school ~

Long story short, conversations and accusations started to weigh on me and I turned to cutting and other forms of self-harm for a release ~

I’d even attempted suicide 2 x’s in our dorm showers. Don’t worry! I was committed. I didn’t change my mind or anything.

I’m ONLY here cuz … GOD <3 And that’s fact.

Anxious Doodles + Cutting

I started finding a lot of solace in doing anxious doodles. Scraping on paper until it tore – it was my way of cutting without cutting. I preferred my paper on wood-type surfaces. That way as it went through the paper I could scope the wood as well. The feeling was *whoah* and was like a secret release.

I’m an artist. It was/ is easy and no one though twice about it. They’d think I was drawing in our labs. Meanwihile I was having the (best) self-harming fantasies of a my LIFE!

And then there was cutting. Cuz it’s not like I wasn’t doing that too ~

I have a secret spot where I cut. It’s secret because the only person I care not to know about it is my mom. Well … she can know. But she not gon’ touch me to find it. So there’s that haha

And at some point I said … what if my cuts could be art, somehow?!

I’d Rather a Tattoo Instead

These are MY DREAMS. To share the ideals of tattoo therapy with the world <3

C’mon … I already knew how to make the shift to it being art. I’d been doodling my entire high school year ‘my first tattoo’ cuz why not –

Away from home. Grown. On my own.

It’s my body I do what I want whatevah! (in my Carton voice)

So one day, my mind just kinda shifted on its on.

✨ P.S. I talk a LOT about subconscious vs conscious decisions in getting tattooed. And how experiences just like this are more a rites of passage, tattoo therapy and so much more than a tattoo

And I decided that I wanted to go for my first tattoo experience instead.

So my first Thanksgiving away from home. I DID IT!

Preliminal: #moshimoshi West End Tattoo

A homie and I walked up the street to a black owned tattoo shop in West End Atlanta. It was THE historic West End Tattoo. (catch you some history in this tattoo doc)

I met an artist Redds, who was incredibly patient with me. Allowing me moments to be scared as he prepared his tattoo station, my stencil and his set-up.

He took my design and connected me to what the meaning of it was. And how I could be negatively marking myself ~

My Design

It’s a heart with a ’69’ in it. Not because I was trying to say something bout my bedroom life. I didn’t have one and I didn’t know what the number meant in bed. *kanye shrug* I liked doodling the number because of it’s perfect asymmetry. And challenging myself to doodle it to the perfection of typeface always soothed my raging OCD.

In fact –

I still have my middle + high school journals of compulsively doodling this number in various styles ~

Thankfully Redds sensed that what my design would read with placement (and content) isn’t what I was REALLY trying to say and gave me his best professional advice. So that we could proceed.

Liminal: My Tattoo Experience

We flipped the tattoo to read ’96’ which is EVEN cooler to me because i’s my oldest brother’s death year. And he was my first best friend. We compulsively doodled together and THAT was heaven for me. So having all of that in was A-OK with me ^.^

He called me back and I got THE COLDEST feet ever. Redds didn’t push. I told you … he was incredibly patient.

He hung out and after enough was enough he said

“I’m not gonna make you get this tattoo. But please now you don’t get your money back”

Before I know it, I was straddled on a chair, holding a teddy bear. And probably humming old negro spirituals to cope with the pain ~

Poor bear. His ear didn’t survive. But he did his job well!

Postlimenal: After the Tattoo

Truthfully, I don’t remember much about how I felt after the tattoo besides grateful.

I DID however take notice to Redds eyes pre-tatoo and I knew that look …

Also I didn’t have moolah to tip. Broke college kid here! And decided that since were were going to Wendy’s I’d get him a frosty.

What’s the worst that could happen ^.^

And THE BEST happened! He was so happy when we returned with his own frosty while we were smackin’ on ours. LOL

And that was that.


I went back to my dorm exhilarated. I didn’t know when my next “session” would be but I know I needed to prepare for it. So I did.

And THAT recognition of tattoo being my alternate form of release is when tattoo became therapy for me.

And I’m not alone. <3

These days in my practice, I attract and help so many people just like me. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

In my own pain and progress, I have found myself seated at the table of spiritual tattooers and tattoo therapists. Ready to share my own tattoo experience that they may have the most successful rites of passage themselves.

And what an honor to be the one to guide them through it.

I appreciate Redds for EVERYTHING he did for me that day. As it’s those things that have helped shape me into the artist that I am today, always paying it forward.

Thanks so much for getting through this with me. Words cannot express how much I appreciate you ^.^

Later this week, I’ll be updating with a call to submit songs for a tattoo therapy playlist. Just telling you now so you can put your thinking caps on OR start pulling songs now.

And working on a template to tell your own tattoo story. Cuz why not! LOL

But seriously ~


Gambare, minna


Imani (イマーニ)

Let’s keep in Touch!


insta_icon  facebook_icon twitter_icon email_icon

2 thoughts on “My First Tattoo Experience, Rite of Passage #1

  1. What a great experience! I’m no longer interested in tattoos and I’m afraid of needles lol but I think a lot of tats are really dope, especially those with color!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.