My name is Roxanne Wade... Welcome to my blog! My studio website is www.vampbodyart.com. You can also find me on Facebook www.facebook.com/missroxanne

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Art therapy...

Here's another little painting that I did this week, while exploring my arm strength and hand dexterity in preparation for getting back into the studio and back in the saddle of tattooing.


I am just starting to re-book consultations in preparation for starting to tattoo again - it is taking some time to work through the long list of emails that I accumulated during my time off - so if you haven't heard back from me yet, please know that I am doing my best to work through that list diligently and you should hear from me within the next 2 weeks. I will be starting with consultations and small tattoos (1 hour or less), and building up to longer and larger pieces - or at least that is the plan.

In the meantime, I will also continue to splash a little paint around - I look forward to continuing to share the results with you...

Always grateful,
Rox :-)

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Patience is not a virtue that comes naturally to me...

Hi all,
Well, I'm doing well today so I thought I'd spend a few minutes on the computer, updating you of how my recovery process is going, and what I've been doing.

I've been in less pain than in the first 6 weeks, which is wonderful. The pain in my throat, where the operation incision was made, has eased dramatically. I have had some burning pains down my neck and spine which are uncomfortable, but nothing that feels unbearable, which I am very grateful for.

I've been trying to get back to some normal activities - now that I can both bath and dress myself with ease - and so I did a little painting over the weekend, along with taking some photos. The goal for this is to try to remobilise my arm and hand and get some movement in my neck so that I can gauge how quickly I can get back into the tattoo studio... Which is my ultimate aim over the next 2-3 weeks.

Considering it had been a few months since trying my hand at this, it was wonderful to get back into a creative zone again. And although not exceptionally impressed by the results, I was happy with the dexterity and mobility that I was able to function with. Unfortunately, I did end up with some aching and burning after painting these, but I am hoping with more practice and, a little patience, I will be well on my way to getting back into the studio.


I guess the hardest part of my recovery so far is patience. I'm not the most patient of people when it comes to limitations on myself. I've frequently worked through pain, living by the old motto, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". However, I have been warned that applying that old adage in this situation will only serve to cause more pain, prolong my recovery process and quite possibly cause irreversible and long term damage, which is incredibly frustrating. As much as I would love to just "get back on the horse", I cannot. But I can work to the limitations set, stay vigilant with my rehabilitation practices and focus on the opportunity presented for me to deepen some of my spiritual virtues - patience and compassion. These are virtues that I have previously felt comfortable practicing and expressing when it comes to other people, but as I have recently experienced, I am far less comfortable affording myself that same consideration and understanding. The universe has a way of giving me what I need when I need it, and growth in the area of patience, compassion and kindness towards myself is quite clearly what I need. Who would have thought? (I know my friends and family are secretly smiling at this, because I am sure it has been clear to them for some time that I have neglected these areas of my life at times, much to my own detriment).

So, on with the process. And in the interest of ensuring some sort of financial independence during this time while I am not tattooing, I am doing an online Spring Sale of InkAddict clothing, the brand that I stock in my studio. All of the clothing are limited release items and will not be restocked once they are sold out, so now is the time to get one of these sought after items. I will also be adding some hard-to-find, custom size and limited edition body piercing jewellery to the online store, and I am also considering adding some of my one-off paintings for sale too, so please check that out over the coming days if you are in the market for some tattoo-inspired Spring clothing, piercing jewellery or a little piece of original art. I've also created a coupon code for FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $50 for the next 2 weeks (until 25 Sept 2016) - simply enter the code SPRING at checkout to activate your free shipping.
Click here to go to the Vamp Body Art online store
Or just follow the links from my website (www.vampbodyart.com)

I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you...

Many thanks and much love to all,
Rox

Monday, 5 September 2016

Pain in the neck...

Hello!

It's been a long time since my last post. Yet again, life has been keeping me busy over the last year, and a few hurdles along the way has hampered my ability to spend some quiet time in front of the keyboard to pen updates. Alas, I have just found a few minutes to steal some time to share my most recent goings on.

I guess the most pressing news I have to share is my most recent spinal surgery. While I'd suffered some aches and pains over the years, the daily discomfort I was experiencing over the previous few months had become a real issue.

Firstly, tattooing is stressful on the body - leaning over, frequently in awkward positions for hours at a time, followed by evenings spent hunched over the drawing board, creating designs and concepts. I was always aware that I would need to maintain good posture and spine health to have a strong and long career in this industry, which I took very seriously to ensure longevity as a tattoo artist. Secondly, I had been in a few car accidents over the previous 20 years (none of which were my fault) and these probably didn't do much good for my back and spine health. I had been assured throughout this time that my injuries were nothing more than soft tissue damage and that pilates/ physio/ chiro treatments would be sufficient to ease my discomfort and treat my frequent aches and pains, which were often made worse by tattooing. I was diligent in following  these suggestions and had been practising pilates under the supervision of physiotherapists (including weekly classes) for over 9 years. At times I also saw a chiropractor, and I had weekly massage therapy with the hope of alleviating the stress and pressure on my spine and muscles.

I worked hard to increase my core strength, made the necessary adjustments at work to reduce the pressure on my neck and back, and used hot and cold packs to ease muscle tension after work. And this seemed to be working relatively well to treat my pain for some time. However, over the last 6 months the pain and discomfort that I was feeling, particularly after a day of tattooing, started to become more than I could handle. I was frequently frustrated and exhausted by the severity of the neck pain I was experiencing. And in the last 3 months, I seriously considered having to leave the career that I loved so much simply as a result of being unable to manage the physical pain it caused me. I would come home from work, spend an hour stretching out and trying to treat my aches, then fall in a heap on my sofa, very often in tears at the pain that I was in and the overwhelm of having to go to work the next day, in pain, to do just the same thing again. It was all just too much. So at that point, my physio suggested getting an MRI so that we could try to re-tweak my exercise regime to better treat my symptoms - I was not giving up without a fight so I went to my doctor, had the MRI booked and within a week I had the MRI. This was followed two days later by a call from my physio, who told me that I needed to go to a specialist as soon as possible. The results were not what was expected... And there were some serious issues that needed addressing by specialists. Panic set in.

I walked into my doctor's office unsure of what to expect. I wasn't sure what was going to happen or what needed to be done, but I was going to turn up and participate in my own recovery. I was going to find out what my options were. And at that point I was told quite simply that there would be no other option other than surgery. And with that information in hand, I was referred to an orthopedic spinal surgeon.

It would have normally been a 6-8 week wait to see this surgeon. However, the surgeon looked at my MRI results and called me just a few days later to arrange a meeting that week. He went through the slides, showed me the damage, and told me what I needed to know: I needed surgery. I had a disc in my spine that was pressing on my spinal cord so severely that if I did nothing, I would likely continue to lose the feeling and mobility of my right arm and fingers and permanent damage would occur. The pain would also continue to become continuous and unbearable. The damage was well past the point of less intrusive therapies. Surgery would be my only solution. Surgery would take the pressure off my spinal cord, create space between my vertebrae and alleviate the pain and discomfort that I was feeling, although I was told that it could take months after the surgery for my body to heal completely and for the pain to dissipate to a manageable level. I took 24 hours to process all of this information and when I was through, I realised that I needed to do this as it was my last and only hope to reduce my pain and get back to doing what I loved. The surgery was booked in for 10 days later.

I cleared my diary and prepared for surgery - anterior discectomy (removal of disc) and fusion (insertion of a cervios synthes disc replacement device). I was scared, don't get me wrong, but the fear of continuing to live with this pain was far greater than my fear of the operation. It is amazing how strong of a motivator pain and fear can be.

I had the surgery. My spine was reached by going through the front of my body, around and through my throat, which created all sorts of muscle swelling that impacted my voice. The pain when I woke from the surgery was incredible, as was the relief in my right arm. I immediately felt as if 5kg had been unstrapped from my arm, and my shoulders felt loose again. It was an unreal, and indescribable experience. I spent the following 3 days in hospital and was then sent home with a soft collar around my neck and a strict set of orders regarding what I was and was not able to do - and what that meant was that I was not able to do much at all. My partner became my full-time carer for the first two weeks as I was unable to shower, dress myself or even lay down in bed without assistance. And my voice would come and go, depending on the level of swelling in my throat on any given day. The pain and discomfort slowly started to ease, as did the headaches, nausea and the croaky voice.

The restrictions continued until 7 weeks post-op (last week). At this point, I had the follow up exam in which x-rays were taken to gauge the success of the fusion. This was nerve-wracking. I wanted more than anything else to find out that the bone had started to fuse. And I was rewarded by good news. Not only had there been successful fusion, but there was more bone growth than the doctor would have expected at this stage. It appears I grow good bone!

As a result of this great news, many of my restrictions have been lifted. I am now able to shower myself, dress myself, and I can now travel! No longer restricted to my house, I can drive myself around (although avoiding peak hour traffic is preferred), and I must still be very careful when turning my head so that I don't over-extend my stretch. I am allowed to lift light objects (like a 1L water bottle) and start to draw and paint again. And over the next few weeks I will be trying my hand at tattooing again, just in small doses, using my dear family as my practice canvases. As the doctor has said, if I start tattooing and feel the burning pain in my neck creep back I will need to stop immediately and try again a few weeks later, as the pain can take several months to slowly subside after a procedure like this, and trying to push through that pain is counter-productive to the healing process and will only hamper my recovery.

I will then have what is hoped to be the final follow up x-ray and exam in 6 weeks time and from there I shall be able to resume all of my exercises, and whatever necessary physiotherapy that will be required for me to to gain back the lost muscle mass and muscle memory so that I can get back to my pre-surgery fitness as quickly and safely as possible. And hopefully, get back to full-time tattooing.

Today, I am in a little bit of pain, but it is different. And different is good. The headaches come and go, and I get muscle spasms around the scar tissue in my neck, and I get the odd burning sensations through my spine around my neck, but my arm still feels light, and the pain is far more bearable than any of that I experienced prior to the surgery. Things are moving in the right direction.

It has been a slow process to get to this point, but I am very optimistic that my quality of life will be improved as a result. I am not sure what the next few months will look like, or how quickly I will be able to get back to work but I am doing everything possible to improve my chances of a full recovery. And I will be sure to get in contact with all of my clients on my wait list as soon as I know I can give you the best of me. I have not forgotten about any of you and I can't wait to see you all in the studio soon!

In conclusion, I am so grateful... Grateful for the understanding of my clients, who have graciously accepted the delays in getting their tattoos finished or started; grateful for my family and friends, who have brought me treats and just sat and chatted or watched movies with me when I have felt isolated and frustrated by my immobility; and grateful for my partner, who has been here for me throughout this whole journey, looking after me day after day, both physically and emotionally (through the tears and tantrums), and who has always kept my spirits high with his comic relief and enduring positivity.

I love you all!

Until next time,
Rox

Monday, 19 October 2015

InkAddict Spring Sale...

I'm back! I just had a lovely time away with my partner and got some much needed rest and relaxation. And as I sit here now, trolling through my emails and packing orders for the online shop, I can't help but express how very grateful for the support that my wonderful clients and customers have shown me. It can easily become overwhelming when trying to balance all that is required out of life; to run a business; be creative; stay practical and functional (particularly in terms of time management); and to fit in some necessary but easily abandoned "self care". It is the support of the wonderful people in my life that make all of this possible for me - so I thank you dearly. While the great juggling act of life continues and I am super pumped about all of the wonderful things in store for the future!


Now, as a small token of appreciation to everyone who supports and follows me, and as a result of the success of the last promotion I offered, I'm going to run the online Spring Sale again... FREE EXPRESS SHIPPING on all orders over $70. This will run until the end of Spring! All you have to do to access this discount is to enter "SPRINGSALE" in the coupon code area when you go to http://www.vampbodyart.bigcartel.com and place an order (there is also a link to the shop via http://www.vampbodyart.com).
Love and light,
Rox x



Sunday, 18 October 2015

Tattoo Apprenticeship... The FAQ...


I get asked regularly (several times a week) whether we are taking on apprentices and what do I look for in potential apprentices/ interns. While I am not looking to take anyone on, I can certainly speak about what my own apprenticeship required and, therefore, what I would be looking for. Please remember, I'm not speaking for everyone in the industry - there is not necessarily an industry "standard" as everyone does it differently, but it is my experience, and the experience that I've gained watching others enter this industry, that I am sharing.

So, to the question "How can I get a tattoo apprenticeship", this is my answer:

  1.  Do you have a strong art portfolio in a range of different disciplines – pencils, oils, acrylics, watercolours, calligraphy, pen, CAD, etc. – and with a wide range of styles (abstract, realism, impressionists, art nouveau, cubism, graffiti, oriental, renaissance, surrealism)… If you haven’t mastered drawing/ painting/ writing, you can’t do those things on a human canvas with a tattoo machine.
  2. Do you have some formal art training behind you (professional art classes), and have a vast  knowledge of artists – both tattoo and non-tattoo artists. Know your stuff… There is nothing worse than asking someone “which artists influence your style” and getting a blank stare back, or even worse, the names of some B-grade reality TV tattooists. We are artists first, tattoo artists second. If you don’t know the difference between Matisse, Van Gogh, Klimt or Banksy, you are not nearly enough the art nerd for us! 
  3. Are you willing to get some training/ experience with skin – do a TAFE waxing course or ear piercing course? This is great preparation for getting to know whether you have what it takes to (a) cause pain to people for a living (b) manage your own anxiety while dealing with anxious clients – it will also give you some basic understanding of skin biology too!
  4. Are you able to commit to 25 hours per week “in studio” and another 10-20 hours per week of homework? All of which is UNPAID! There are no award rates for apprentices and your apprenticeship is considered "voluntary work experience". If you get a small allowance from your mentor, that is a bonus - but be prepared to live on noodles, savings and whatever your "other" part-time job pays for the first year at least.
If you answer yes to these questions, then you may well be on the right path! But, if you have any neck, back or anxiety issues, this may not be the career for you – we push our body to the limits, and the level of pressure, stress and anxiety is high. You need to be able to take care of yourself physically and mentally, and be willing to invest in your continued health (regular physiotherapy, meditation, yoga and pilates is a great start).

Personal skills and attributes that are considered “essential” are:

  • Ability to accept and take on constructive criticism
  • Ability to work well under extreme pressure
  • Excellent customer service/ client management skills
  • Highly organised and skilled in time management
  • Confident yet humble
  • Strong record keeping skills (financial records/ client information)
  • Exceptional computer skills, especially CAD
  • Social media savvy

Know the local industry; get tattooed by as many well-known and reputable artists as possible; understand that getting an apprenticeship means you still need another job to support your “unpaid work experience and training” as a tattooist’s assistant (which is what you will be for the first year), and be prepared to give up your social life while apprenticing. You will have more homework than a medical student for the first few years! I still have more homework now than when I was doing 2 full-time degrees at University!!!


Last, but not least, do you have realistic expectations of what being a tattoo artist involves? If not, speak with as many as possible, and ask them about their first few years tattooing. Preferably, do it WHILE they are tattooing you. You will soon find out that it is not all glamour and gold.

Now, if that still sounds like something you want to do, get your portfolio sorted (in both an online and hard copy format) and your resume in check, and start sharing it with the tattoo artists that you admire and look up to. Get their feedback and keep working at it, and when someone sees the potential in what you have, the offer to apprentice will come.

Good luck!

x Rox

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Long Time, No See!

It's been about 18 months since I've blogged... And it's great to be back!!! I'd love to go into the story of why I've been absent, but that is a story for another time. Today, I'm just glad to be back in front of the keyboard, sharing a little bit of me.

In the last year, work has been hectic! I've been booked out months in advance and I've spent most of my time drawing, tattooing, and answering emails. As such, I've just finished updating my website with a new Frequently Asked Questions section, which I hope will answer some of the questions that I am asked in the emails sent to me. Hopefully, this will give me a little more time to get back into having a bit more of a personal life - and by that, I mean time spent paining, taking photos, spending time with family and, of course, more time with my partner and our furry babies! I have had some snippets of time with the ol' paint brush and watercolours and I still find such joy in the simple act of throwing down a little paint...




I've also created a new online store, with the hope of streamlining the online ordering of The Aftercare Company tattoo, piercing and laser after care products, as well as the Ink Addict Apparel orders. Those who know me know how passionate I am about these two terrific brands and I feel very privileged to be an authorised stockist for these two phenomenal brands.



I was blessed enough to recently attend an Advanced Eyeliner Training workshop in Sydney with USA cosmetic tattoo master, Will Anthony, and as such I look forward to sharing more cosmetic tattoo work in the future too. Cosmetic tattoo is a very different technique and process than body tattooing, and although I've had a few years of experience with performing this work, I am still always challenging myself and seeking further training to be the very best technician in this highly specialised field of tattoo.

And, of course, I've had the great fortune of spending countless hours with some absolutely amazing clients. I can't say enough how grateful I am to have so many wonderful people come into my life, and work space, and allow me to create art on their skin. From the simplest, smallest "first" tattoo, through to the massive 40+ hour pieces, I love doing it all, and I still relish in the the experience of sharing this sacred art form with like-minded souls. I really do appreciate the trust given to me by my clients and I look forward to sharing some of the work from the last few months with you now. And I will continue to add more photos as I get the chance to go through the countless files stored on my computer to add as many as I can over the coming months, while hopefully keeping up with posting new work as well.

So, without further adieu, here are some of the pieces that I've done since I've been "offline"... Check back soon because I promise not to leave it too long between posts this time :-)

Love and light,
Rox
www.instagram/roxtattoo
www.instagram.com/vampbodyart