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My family has always been number one to me and we were all close to each other! My late mom and I were especially close and I was definitely a mommy’s boy (although helluva independent and never home). She was also an incredible role model to me and many people that knew her. A week or two before my 16th birthday, when we were still living in Durban, I was having brunch at Umhlanga Sands hotel with my mom and she asked me what I wanted as a present.
I knew she had already bought me something, as she usually did, but she would try go the extra mile always. She was quite sold fashioned in some ways (obviously over-caring) but reasonable. Without hesitation I answered ”I really want a tattoo Mom”. Without hesitation she laughed that one off. Undeterred, I drew up a rough design at the table and showed it to her. I said to her (with all the respect in the world that only a son could have for his mother) that I was going to get a tattoo whether it was now or in 5 years’ time. For that reason I really wanted her to approve of it. After some classic Lebanese negotiating, I managed to twist her arm…kinda. She said I could get one but it could only be 2cm big and on my bum where it wouldn’t be visible. I immediately said “NO WAYS Mom, whats the point, I am proud of the design and want people to see it!” To my amazement, she agreed to go chat to the tattoo artist and get an in-depth explanation of the process of getting inked!
The plan was to chat with the artist and potentially book a date (if my mom approved of course). The artist was Mully, a proper surfer-type guy, long blonde hair and very laid back. His studio was in Umhlanga Rocks across from Beverly Hills with the catchy name of Electric Eye. He had done many celebs’ tats and won numerous awards so I figured he was legit. There were many fascinating pics of his work on the wall but one that caught my attention was the metro police van filled with a dagga plantation. Mully was extremely proud of that pic…and his home grown plantation which is probably what inspired that tattoo. He looked at my design, handed it over to his wife who perfected it on the computer while their son sat happily in his cot playing with toys: a proper family business! Then Mully started getting the needles ready, sanitising the chair and checking on the ink levels. At this point, I was getting the tattoo done, there and then, much to my mother’s shock and horror.
I sat down in the chair, faced forward, Mully turned on the machine and started tapping my neck. When he asked if it was sore I arrogantly replied “this is nothing.” He laughed and said “Good man, I haven’t even started”. So I got my first tattoo with my mom beside me, which will always be a special memory.
The design is orientated around my family and consists of their names. My late dad, MJ Solomon, is at the top and below that is my mom’s maiden name, AM Harvey. I used her maiden name because her brothers never had any sons and I wanted to personally keep that name alive. In the middle is my brother’s name, Dane, who is another role model of mine. The entire tattoo is in the shape of an eye, as all of us are watching over each other always. There is a heart on the left and cross on the right, signifying the love that we have for each other through God. I decided to get the tattoo at the base of my neck as I thought anywhere else on my body wouldn’t suit the design.
My tattoo hasn’t personally affected my career at all (nor in school) as it is almost always covered up (unfortunately). The only time it is visible is when I am maybe being “very social” on a work function dance floor, running through the streets of Joburg in a speedo or wearing a t-shirt. I think people who have tattoos are judged harshly in the workplace (and in general) today and I disagree strongly with that. More and more people are starting to realise that just because you have ink doesn’t mean you are a convict or thug. A business man in a suit who has a sleeve of tattoos doesn’t make him any less of a respectable person, it merely shows that those tattoos are significant to him in a personal way.
Would I get more ink? Definitely, although most likely not a sleeve, it just won’t suit me! I do want to get another one at some stage, but it has to be meaningful to me. It will probably involve aspects of my mother and grandmother as both have played a massive role in my upbringing and life. The design may include a bit of a cancer emblem as cancer has had a direct impact on my life but I have yet to decide on a concrete design or where it will be. Watch this space! 😉
The final question I often get asked; was it sore? Nope! Although I really psyched myself up and to me it is important to go to a reputable and clean artist. Mully was a champ!