We spent most of the month of May in Hawaii with friends. On one of our last days, the majority of our group went to Soul Signature where I received my hand tapped tattoo.
I decided to join in when I met Aisea, the owner of the shop who also specializes in hand tapping.
Brian ended up getting a large machine-created tattoo by Eugene:
And had it finished up by Bong, who was trained by Aisea and is now working in San Jose at Humble Beginnings:
The hand tapping has a lot of preparation that goes into it. There is a back room where it is performed. That was probably why I the last of the evening, but my friend Leah and our mutual friend Don Julio waited with us…
We were asked to put on skirts and climb up on a wooden stage. The room has dozens of photos of various tribes around the world known for traditional machine-free tattoos.
I got my tattoo around the middle of my forearm. Leah kept wincing every time the stick with the metal piece dipped in ink was struck by the the other tool, which made it press into my skin. It sounded way worse than it was, though. I was actually worried the tattoo wasn’t going to stay because he was being so gentle. Despite my worries, it definitely stuck around…
This is my only tattoo, so I can’t compare it to a machine, but the people I know who have had both prefer hand tapping, so I think it is less painful.