Author tonid -tonid@bme.anon
It took me quite a long time to reach the right decision. But finally I did it.
It all started somewhere around 1998. My girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend but still one of my best friends), got her first tattoo. It was a miniscule black panther on her shoulder. The same year she got a floral design on her arm, and a similar one on her lower back. All three tattoos were done by the same beginner artist, and were actually quite terrible. The ink quality made them grey out within a year or so, and they simply looked like an amateur's work.

Luckily, in late 1999 or early 2000, we discovered Artur Szolc. A friend of mine from work got a tattoo, and the quality was excellent. I asked her who made it, and she gave me Artur's phone number. So my girlfriend decided to get her tattoos corrected by Artur. When I saw his work, I knew one thing. If I was ever to get a tattoo, it would have to be made by him, nobody else. But I was still very far from making such a decision. Especially since I had no idea what I wanted to have tattooed.

Within the next couple of years, my girlfriend got her tattoos extended (now she's got one all over her back), and about a dozen of my friends, neighbors, colleagues etc. decided to get tattooed (by Artur, of course). But I was still uncertain as to the subject of my future tattoo. My first ideas were related to my zodiac sign (Capricorn), in a tribal form. Then I thought of a realistic dwarf miner (since I first read LOTR, I was fascinated with the dwarfs). But the true inspiration came in late 2006. There was no planning, there was no reason why it came. I simply one day thought about it, and then knew that was perfect for me. The Shrike.

I first read the Hyperion Cantos in 2001 or 2002 I believe. I was instantly in love with this science-fiction series. It was way better than anything I have ever read in the past. I absolutely loved the whole universe portrayed, all the characters, everything. I still do. I found myself a lot like Raul Endymion. But why choose the evil Shrike to be the subject my tattoo? Well, it would be difficult to explain without spoiling the story, and the readers might not like that. Enough to say, that the Shrike is not as bad as it may seem. It symbolizes pain induced in order to awaken empathy. And when that empathy awakens, the Shrike stands its guard. So my personal Shrike is the guard of my personal empathy.

Even though in late 2006 I already knew, that if I was to get a tattoo, it would be the Shrike, and it would be made by Artur Szolc, I still didn't make up my mind. But one summer afternoon in 2008, I took a nap, then I woke up, simply picked up the phone and called Artur to arrange an appointment (with the earliest possible date ?January 2009). Just like that.

And so, on January 19, 2008 I got my first tattoo. I sent Artur excerpts from the book, depicting the Shrike. I asked him to design the Shrike on the basis of only those excerpts, not the drawings one could find on the Web (which, in my opinion, are very inaccurate). Artur decided, that he would rather design it with me present, so the first three hours of my appointment we were drawing, discussing, correcting, until we came up with a design that I was satisfied with. Then it took Artur only about an hour and a half to complete the Shrike's head. We decided to leave the rest for the next session, since this was my first tattoo.

The experience itself was much less painful than I expected. I was a bit scared, since one of my friends actually fainted when he was getting his first tattoo. I found the pain completely bearable, it was more irritating than painful, and I almost fell asleep when Artur was working. I found out that the less I tense my muscles, the less pain I feel. The healing period afterwards was short. After about 2 days the epidermis peeled off. After about 4 days there was some itching, but it was bearable. Within a week the tattoo seems completely healed.

The remaining part of the Shrike shall be tattooed probably in late March 2009 (at the latest). The Shrike's upped body will cover my whole arm, with two of its four arms encircling that arm, and the remaining two spread wide, down below my elbow and above my shoulder, ripping the skin. We may also add a background: the Shrike's Tree of Thorns.

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