It may shock some, but if you really know me then you know that I love tattoos. I think tattoos often have a bad rap but probably because there are a lot of bad tattoos out there. While I’ve liked tattoos since my teenage years, social media really opened the door in helping me to easily discover several really cool tattoos artists such as Sasha Unisex with her watercolor style, Mr. K who does single needle micro designs, David Cote who does colorful psychedelic designs, and Dr. Woo who is a famous LA tattoo artist who does geometric and fine line tattoos. These tattoo artists are just that, artists. They’ve had to master their work and their specific style just like any other artist specializing in another area.
The artist who I’ve been following for about two years and whose work I admire most though is Balazs Bercsenyi. When I first stumbled upon his work he wasliving in his native country, Hungary. I followed him on Instagram and enjoyed seeing all of his work. I also follow Bang Bang on Instagram which is one of the best–if not the best–tattoo parlor in NYC. Tattoo artist Keith McCurdy opened the parlor and employs only the top talent. I saw Bang Bang post about how they’ve added Balazs to the team and I was ecstatic. I had honestly contemplated going to Hungry to get tattooed by Balazs because I enjoy traveling anyway, but when I saw that he came to New York I knew it was a sign.
After reaching out to Bang Bang via email with very delayedresponse, I dropped by in person for a free consultation one day after work. I got to meet Balazs in person and told him what I had in mind for the tattoo. He seemed excited about the idea and he sat with me and the receptionist to find a time for me to come in. The earliest he was able to get me in was in two months and even then it seemed like they were doing the best they could to squeeze me in as soon as possible, so I jumped at the earliest available appointment. Balazs also gave me a heads up on what the tattoo would likely cost. It is as much as a nice designer purse, but considering how good his work is and how hard it was to get an appointment, I didn’t care. No matter the artist, thetattoos at Bang Bangare not cheap, but after seeing some of the work that comes out of thestudio compared to others you realize you get what you pay for. If you’re going to have something inked on your body for the rest of your life, you want it to be quality. After all, you wouldn’t want to hang a shitty piece of art on your wall at home, so why would you want a mediocre tattoo permanently inked on your body?
So after two months of anxiously waiting and pinning tattoo ideas to my Pinterest board, my appointment day finally arrive in early May. Balazs was prompt in seeing me as soon as I checked in. We sat down together, I told him what I had in mind, and gave him my phone to scroll through my Pinterest board. The only thing I was adamant about was that the scuba diver needed to be a woman and therefore have a feminine form. He said he had a good idea of what to do so he went in the back room to draw something out. I’m a big fan of double exposure and I loveAndreas Lie’s photographs of images within the shape of wildlife animals, so the original idea for my tattoo that Balazs tried was a scuba diver swimming within the shape of a sea turtle. He came back after about 30-45 minutes though and said it wasn’t coming out how he wanted, so then he suggested doing the reverse and having the shape of a diver with the turtle in the body and I said that would be fine. After another 30-45 minutes or so he came out again and showed me the design and I loved it. He added a bit of his own flare including two fish and bubbles. The one thing I asked him to add were his signature geometric shapes. He suggested squares but I told him that I prefer circles and triangles. I also didn’t want the square to mistakenly represent a caged animal. Balazs ended up adding some circles which completed the piece and complemented the circular clock tattoo on my right forearm.
The main thing that changed from what I originally had in mind for my tattoo was the location. Iknew the tattoo would be larger than any of my other tattoos, so I wanted it on my back. I thought it would be cool if it looked like the diver was swimming down my back along my shoulder blade. However, Balasz was able to convince me otherwise. He seemed genuinely excited about the tattoo and suggested putting it in on my left inner arm where it isn’t easily visible with my arms down but would still be seen more often than my back, and he also informed me that theskin on one’s arms is apparently a lot better for tattoos. I figured that a tattoo artist wouldknow best and I also reminded myself how bad I wanted the tattoo so it did make sense to have it in a place where more people could see it. The main thing I was concerned about is my work colleagues seeing it, but I always keep a blazer in my office now if I need to cover up for a more formal meeting.
After about two hours of consulting about the design, drawing it out, and making edits, we were ready for the actual tattoo. The tattoo itself took another two hours with a few breaks in between. It didn’t hurt much until the end when it started getting more red and sensitive. I actually like the fact that he spent almost as much time drawing out the design as it took him to do the actual tattoo because he spent time and cared that the design look cool, and it is also a one-of-a-kind piece–you can’t rush art and it was cool being a part of the process.
I had a great experience at Bang Bang. I liked the fact that they played loud music, primarily Drake, most of the time I was there, and the other artists–though a little intimidating–seemed cool. Being there for four hours, I spent time looking at other people getting their tattoos and while I was getting mine done a few of the other artists came by to check out Balasz’s work which was cool. They all seem supportive of each other’s work.
I couldn’t be happier with how my tattoo turned out and the experience itself was pretty cool. I haven’t given a second thought to the cost of it because it’s an original piece that I think is super cool and representative of me and my passions, and you can clearly tell that it was done by a professional. The shading and detail is unreal. I don’t know if I’m going to be getting any other tattoos in the near future but now I know that if I do want another one, no matter how small, I will only go to a top tattoo artist for the best work.