Mistake number 2: Although I knew the problem with the chinese character, I kept it and even incorporated it in the building of my half sleeve tattoo. Why? I didn't really know how to get cover ups at the time, and it still looked cool enough - how many people can read chinese anyhow?
Mistake number 3: I had a vision of the chinese symbol floating above a lotus flower in a blue mist... don't ask me why, I was 17, ok. That wasn't the problem, the problem was I only had limited funds so my choices of flowers on the poster were scarce. I live in the world of instant gratification so instead of waiting for more money I went with one that I thought was decent enough. **sigh**
Mistake number 4: The decent enough lotus actually looked more like a bond fire, especially because I wasn't able to describe the mist to the tattoo "artist" well enough - it looked like smoke. To top it off, when he asked me if it was okay I said yes because I didn't want to hurt his feelings.
Mistake number 5: I lived with this tat for about a year or so before I went back to get it modified. Again, I left it to the judgement of the tattoo "artist" to fix the mist and make the flower look less fire-like. The result was positive with the flower, he made the bottom petals larger which really helped. Unfortunately he added this odd graphic around the mist, in yellow and green no less, which was just weird. "Yeah, this is great, thanks!" I tell the Hell's Angel looking dude working on my arm.
A step in the right direction: In 2003, in Victoria, I added the faeries and stars to the upper portion of my arm, this took the focus away from the still butchered image below. What I really liked about this experience was the Artist took his time designing what I asked and used a west coast technique of watermarks for the stars - no black outlines and softer colours.
Although it was better, I still was not satisfied with the lotus and odd graphic, so in 2007 I had yet another Artist do a major overhaul of the flower and the results are... almost satisfactory. He was able to make the lotus look like a decent flower and added water around it for a nice effect but after 5 hours my arm was so swollen he couldn't quite fix everything we'd discussed. No problem, "Come back in a month or so and I'll finish it" he said. Well, my wedding was coming up soon after this so I didn't go, then time just kept passing and now we're 3 years later and I haven't been back. I think it's too late to take him up on the offer to fix it without having to fork over more cash, but I plan on doing so before returning to work.
What it looks like today:
The obvious lesson here is: take your time, really think through what it is you want to have permanently tattooed on your skin and choose your Artist wisely!!