18 November 2013

Warbler Tattoo

Everyone has a spark bird or birds in my case.  I became a birder in the spring of 2007.  I had just moved to South Florida and started working at Green Cay Nature Center.  As part of my job I knew I would need to hone my birding skills beyond the very limited knowledge that I had previously been bestowing to young kids.  So I started every morning to take a walk around the boardwalk and identify the birds.  

Missing Migrants by Charley Harper - inspiration for my tattoo.

At first I thought this daunting task of learning all the birds would be overwhelming but I learned quickly and something really magical happened.  I found that birding relieved my grief of recent break-up and become meditative in a way I had never experienced.  It was the warbler family that really transfixed me and made me into a birder.  The warblers are my spark birds and I thought it only fitting to ink a few on my skin this year to commemorate my birthday.  I have always loved Charley Harper's artwork.  I find the simplicity of his lines but the intricate patterns of his work to be visually stunning.  Thanks to ELark, I was able to take my warbler idea and put it to life.

We found a great tattoo artist named Shawn Hebrank online and I found out he would be in town for the weekend, so I shot an email over and by the next day we had an appointment.  Emily was so kind to give me this permanent artwork for my birthday/Christmas present.  What better present than one I will keep with me for life!

The best thing about Shawn, other than his friendliness, is that he really does pay attention to the details.  He worked tirelessly over getting all the right colors and shapes correct and referenced the Charley Harper Missing Migrants print that I brought along.  We reworked the Northern Parula so it could fit the design and Shawn was great at making sure that every beak color and wing bar was perfect.  I couldn't have asked for a better artist!

If you're in the Fort Collins, CO area, you can get your own Shawn Hebrank tattoo.  He will be moving here in January and will be working at Tribal Rites.  This is a great tattoo shop across from Colorado State University. All the staff seemed really friendly and they even allowed many rounds of Sibley trivia as Emily tried to keep me distracted through the painful parts.  

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