To Ink or Not to Ink?
I’ve spent a fair amount of my adult life trying to laser off the two tattoos I got when I was 18 and 22, so it probably will come as a shock to you when I share that I decided to make an appointment to get some work done. It wasn’t spontaneous, in fact, I’ve been mulling it over for some time. However, even though I knew exactly what I wanted, I couldn’t find the right artist. There was no way I was leaving this job up to just anyone. You know me when it comes to investments, and you can’t tell me a tattoo isn’t a “life-long investment,” I mean it’s a permanent piece of jewelry for god sakes, I’m going to be quite discerning.
This past summer while I was in Santa Barbara with Jeffrey and Emily Men (otherwise known as The Wardrobes,) and I couldn’t stop staring at this beautiful brother/sister duo. Not only are they iconic fashion influencers, and a powerhouse team, but they are really cool people. Of course, I noticed their impeccable style and incredible looks, but here I was at dinner simply mesmerized by the artwork that decorated their arms. I’ll be the first to admit, I was slightly obsessed and completely distracted. I had never seen such beautiful tattoos in my life. The fine lines, the details, the positioning, I could go on and on, but all I knew was I had suddenly found the artist I had searched for to capture the beauty, style, and grace I so desperately wanted.
They immediately began gushing about Noah Lee, the tattoo artist behind nal.tattoo on Instagram. His work clearly speaks for itself, but was the entire process that lured me in and now has me dreaming of my next piece, and next, and next. See, Noah is no ordinary tattoo artist, he’s THE tattoo artist. After getting his email from IG, I wrote him and spoke with his assistant sharing what I was hoping to get, so he could run it by Noah to see if he was interested in tattooing working on me.
Noah Lee: NAL Tattoo
I first knew I wanted a tattoo from Noah the moment I saw Jeffrey and Emily’s arms IRL. Hearing that Noah carefully picked what designs he worked on made me want him even more. See, this showed me not only does he have a two month waiting period, but that he won’t just tattoo anything on anyone. He’s up for a challenge and takes pride in his work. This is exactly the type of person you want to see when committing to something so permanent.
But I couldn’t stand to wait that long. So I requested to be placed on a “wait list” if there were any cancellations, and sure enough, one hit the week of my birthday. And this was the perfect gift I could give myself. But still, I only knew that Noah worked out of DTLA, I didn’t know where, and I wasn’t given the exact location until the day of. So now I became even more intrigued, this wasn’t your everyday tattoo shop he was buying space at, nope, just like Noah and his work, the location was even special.
3.1 Phillip Lim
Friday morning I received an email from NAL’s assistant directing me to the 3.1 Phillip Lim concept store in LA’s Art District. Ummm, OK. Now I’m a wee bit confused. I’m going to be getting a tattoo in a high fashion store? This wasn’t making sense, but when all the pieces fell together it made all the sense in the world. Tattoos have become more and more visible on the runways of fashion week, but let’s be very clear, Noah’s work is anything but trendy or mainstream. His pieces are delicate and beautiful, but not at all understated. In fact, just the opposite as they are quite detailed.
I should also note that since my session with Noah, 3.1 Phillip Lim has announced on Instagram that NAL is officially their resident tattoo artist. However, don’t think for a moment this means walk-ins are available. It’s still by appointment only.
I parked my car and walked across the street, still pretty bewildered. I was about to open the door and step into one of the most beautiful showrooms I’ve ever seen, but was this where the inking would go down? And that’s when I heard this pleasant voice ask, “Are you here to see, Noah? Follow me.” So I did, towards the back of the store, where I finally met Noah, and wow, Dorothy, we so weren’t in Kansas anymore.
Not All Tattoos are Created Equal
Noah’s workspace is stark, minimalist, modern and super cool just like the man himself. Reminded me of something right off of the pages of Architectural Digest or Elle Decor. At first, I was nervous, he’s that cool. But after a brief meeting, he designed exactly what I had wanted and more. So, so much more. I knew what was about to happen would exceed my expectations, but never in million years did I know it would that much.
Oddly, I immediately took notice that I wasn’t nervous. The butterflies that I was sure to feel were noticeably absent. And I wasn’t scared of the pain. I was at peace and quite frankly, I didn’t want the session to end. Noah and the space he occupied was something out of a dream. It was tranquil and deeply satisfying. The vibration from the needle touching my skin was just that, a vibration sans any pain one would expect from such a delicate part of the body.
The next 120 minutes were the most relaxing two hours I can recall. Do I dare say it even felt slightly “spiritual”? I now understand why people are “addicted to ink.” I never thought of myself as someone who would fall under this category until now. I’m a believer. Noah is special, and just like those who collect Warhol, Banksy, Koons, and Hardings, I want to begin my collection of Noah Lee originals. In fact, my next appointment is in March…when’s yours?
Lead By Example
What I neglected to mention is Kiddo was with me at the session. Now, I can’t stress this enough, do not, and I repeat: DO NOT bring your children to your tattoo appointment. Why? C’mon, just don’t. But I broke my own rules this time for a few reasons.
1.) Kiddo has expressed an unwavering interest in tattoos since she was 7. She’d come to me with her designs, and tweak them slightly over the years. If she was going to do this, I wanted Noah’s work to be the first she saw. I wanted NAL Studio to set the bar. No, I don’t want her running out and getting inked; however I need for her to have super high expectations, and I knew Noah would deliver.
2.) Kiddo dreams of one day having her own fashion brand. So combine the tattoo lesson with 3.1 Phillip Lim, and now my Friday Night Ink has become the essence of “do as I do.”
Oh, and did I mention that I won major “cool mom” points because now I have the same tattooist as Halsey?
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