For Corina Wieser-Cox, an English major from Los Fresnos, Texas, an average Saturday of her senior year became the day she got her first tattoo.
I tagged along with Corina, her wife Jana Wieser-Cox and two friends to see firsthand the creation of a lifelong art piece.
“Oh my God, I’m so excited!” Corina said as we drove to Dothan.
“The artist we chose also specializes on details and snakes, so that’s why we wanted him,” Corina said, pointing to her phone containing the intricate tattoo design — a snake eating its tail with two roses on the background.
“I’m scared because it’s going to be on me forever,” she confessed.
When we arrived at the studio, Corina had to fill out medical forms at the front desk, and we had time to look around. The afternoon sunlight hit the studio’s framed illustrations on the walls, the books on anatomy, birds, plants and mythical creatures on the shelves, the polished wood of the couches’ handles and the journal table.
We sat down and peeked at the tattoo artist, a bearded guy with piercings. He was tattooing another bearded guy in a snapback whose girlfriend sat nearby, watching him watching ESPN on the flat screen near the ceiling.
If tattoos were clothes, we’d be very underdressed in this room. Sean Robinson, Corina’s artist, whose very scalp was inked, came out of the inner room to clear up last-minute details and invited us inside.
The room looked like a dentist’s office with its sterile table for tools, recliner and a lamp. What made the difference was the all-American mirror with a colored carving of a bald eagle and of a draped flag, the graphics on the walls and, of course, Robinson himself.
It took Robinson quite a while to sanitize everything in the vicinity, which comforted the germophobe in me.
“This s— kills AIDS,” he said half-jokingly, spraying the seat with an antiseptic.
After preparing everything, he shaved the chosen part of her seemingly hairless arm, sanitized it, moisturized it and imprinted on it the design’s rendition. Corina grabbed her wife’s hand as she lay down to stay still for the next hour. Robinson loaded the pen, turned it on and bent over Corina’s arm.
Three days later, I met with Corina in class.
“Look, it’s peeling,” she said, pointing at the snake on her skin. “Just like a real one.” The black ink seemed to be coagulating like pellets.
“Skin’s a little tight,” she said. “It (the pain) went away after the second day.”
She also said she was going to get more and was not very afraid of her tattoos being a problem in the workplace—a common concern.
“I mean, I don’t really want to work for people who would discriminate against me for having tattoos. I mean, I probably could; that’s what long sleeves are for.”