Leah from Maui

Sometimes things happen in life, or people come your way and then things can just *click* into place.  I’ve wanted a phoenix tattoo for 20 years.  A long drive across the county when I was 19 and a line in a song inspired me and the idea never really faded.  It’s had different forms in my head, but I never really decided on an exact drawing.  Just the phoenix….and what it meant to me.


And that I really wanted a female artist.


Fast forward – lots of travels and moves and experiences and 20 years later the phoenix made more sense than ever.  It was back and the desire to make it a reality was stronger than ever.  I’m lucky enough to be on Maui where we have many talented artists, but I knew for this I needed to connect.  I didn’t really want to wander into a shop and pick a photo off the wall.  I wanted someone to know my little tale and care about it like a friend would.  A close friend of mine knew my thoughts on this and shared he thought there was a woman that I would connect with, mentioned that she was only here part of the year.  But I didn’t really follow through.  Then several months later I was at a party (that I almost didn’t go to).  As I was speaking to the hostess she mentioned getting a big piece done by a girlfriend of hers.  I said, “Oh! I’ve been looking for a good female artist.”  She said, “You must meet Rachel.  She’s amazing.  She gets to know you and she wants to know your story.”  And of course at that moment, the little girl in my head waved her arms around and shouted, “I have a story!!”  And there she was.  As we spoke at the little, backyard Lahaina party I realized suddenly this was the girl my friend had mentioned months ago.  *Click*


And that’s when I knew I had found her.


I was so nervous the days up until my appointment.  I had gotten a few tattoos, but small and the last one was six years ago.  We spoke on the phone to finalize the day of my appointment and even talking to her made me less nervous and more excited.  I had an idea of the size I wanted, and I had sent Rachel some pictures of other phoenix tattoos that I had liked.  My favorite were the watercolor styles and I knew it had to be a special artist to make that right for me.  I got to the cozy little eclectic shop in Wailuku, and we immediately started to talk and get to know each other.  The more we talked the more I was happy I was there with Rachel.  As she made me kava tea and listened to me I knew there was a genuine care for where I was coming from.  I told her about when and where I was when the idea came to me, and where I am now and how it all came so full circle it has nearly knocked me off me feet!  She listened as I explained my first tattoo – a conji symbol for the word “strength” – and how it was always, in my head, a stepping stone towards my phoenix that I would get one day.  She began to sketch and draw right on my skin as we talked about the design.  When I got to look at her first draft I was blown away.  It was beautiful.  She encouraged me to share what I thought, and for me – I need that.  So I felt comfortable telling her what little tweaks I wanted (No boob! Eek….too low!  No crack!  HaHA) and she adjusted the design.  When we were ready for the ink to begin I had no doubt it would be amazing.  She took my idea and turned it into something even more special and unique (and larger!!) than I ever imagined… I was thrilled.  She even managed to incorporate and honor my first, small tattoo on my lower back into the design.  She didn’t completely cover it, but she weaved it in.  She said the phoenix is rising up, pulling it’s “Strength” from the base.  I loved it!!


Thank you Rachel for making a twenty year dream a reality.  I can’t really begin to tell you how blessed I feel for connecting with you.  I’m afraid and excited that I will probably end up in that little, sweet shop on Main Street again.