The tale of my first tattoo

This post has been a long time coming. Unfortunately I got my very first tattoo during my blogging dry spell so I missed out on the chance to share my excitement as it was happening. But now that I’m back, I thought I’d share about my first tattoo, when and where I got inked, and why I decided to take the permanent plunge at last.

The first buzz

Let me start off by saying that this first tattoo has been in the pipeline for a very long time. I’ve always loved tattoos and since a child, I’ve been drawn to other people’s body art. My grandfather, uncle, and siblings all have tattoos and I knew it was only a matter of time before I took the plunge. I’m a fairly level-headed human being and I was determined to NOT be one of those silly 18-year-old girls who just got any old tattoo without doing any research and then regretting it a few years later.

No, no. I would wait for The One. I’m not talking about Daniel here. He was already a done deal. I was going to wait for the One Tattoo to start my body-art journey. The One Tattoo that I could firmly stand behind without any shadow of a doubt and say, “Yes, I want this on my body forever.”

Now I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to beautiful tattoos, I follow far too many tattoo accounts on Instagram, and if I see your tattoo out in the open, I will probably ask about it.

The big decision

I’d always considered getting a tattoo to honour my parents when they “one day” passed away. Unfortunately, that day came much sooner than I ever thought it would when my dad passed away last year. I was heartbroken and after a couple of months, my sister and I both decided that it was time to start the healing process. We both did so by getting a tattoo. It really worked for me as I’m able to type this without crying, which is a good sign!

I sent the design I had in mind to an old family-friend, Anthonie Lopes, formerly at Metal Machine in Cape Town, now at Otherworld Tattoos in Knysna. Well, Ant knocked it out of the park. He totally redesigned the tattoo and when he placed the stencil on Β my arm, I was in love. It’s a lot bigger than I had expected, but honestly, it made me even happier. Go big or go home as they say!

The design

The main focus of the tattoo is the pocket watch. My dad loved pocket watches and the one in my tattoo is actually based on one of the pocket watches he owned. It’s beautiful and intricate and Ant did such an amazing job.


On either side of the pocket watch are roses and these have two meanings. One, my dad loved to garden. He loved to potter about in the garden and watch new things grow. He had a “green thumb” for sure. The roses are also for my mother. Her favourite flowers are yellow roses and frankly, dad just wanted her to have the most beautiful things in life. I also think it’s very significant that the roses are supporting the pocket watch, because that perfectly describes the relationship my parents had. So different, yet always there for each other.

And lastly, the butterflies in the design were not originally there, but they are the perfect addition. My dad had a slight butterfly obsession. If he had butterfly stickers in his hands, it was guaranteed that something, somewhere was about to get decorated. You see, dad loved the finer details, the small beauties, breathtaking shimmers of colour when the sun was just right. Butterflies are all of these things rolled into one.

Tattoo day!

A photo posted by Zayaan Schroeder (@zayaan27) on

Obviously the day that I headed to Metal Machine was an exciting one. I was finally getting my first tattoo! But it was equally emotional. The reason for getting this ink was not a joyous one, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but think that dad would’ve loved it. He would’ve loved how beautiful it is and he would definitely have appreciated the artwork, as well as the sentiment behind it. Big old softy, that dad of mine was.

So when the big day came, my sister and I headed to Metal Machine and I had no idea what to expect. Strangely enough, it wasn’t nearly as sore as I had told myself it would be. In fact, I sort of dozed off a little at one point. It was a pleasant sort of pain.

Later my brother joined us and my best friend, Zayaan, even walked down from work and kept me company.

All-in-all, I loved my tattoo experience, and I’m sorry, Mom, but it won’t be the last. I do however promise to make good decisions when choosing what comes next. Mostly.

A photo posted by Robyn van der Merwe (@robi27) on

Do you have tattoos? Will you be getting more? Comment below!

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