The Nordic Tattoos of Sean Parry

My very first tattoo was quite an ambitious half chest/back/sleeve by Sean Parry aka Sacred Knot Tattoo. Sean’s traditional Nordic/European style of knotwork, mythical beasts, ancient gods, and protective symbols are all done in black ink with dotwork (using the needle to add detail with many individual dots) for texturing instead of shading. The piece itself is of Jörmungandr, a child of the Norse trickster Loki, and is a sea serpent which grew so big that it eventually encircled the world. The tattoo was completed in around 12 hours over two consecutive days. Within the design Sean added depictions of stories from Norse mythology such as Thor’s fishing trip with the giant Hymir.

An excellent resource for these stories is Neil Gaiman’s book Norse Mythology which presents these stories in an entertaining format for the contemporary reader and I highly recommend it.

At the time, Sean was a resident artist at Meatshop Tattoo in Madrid. Sean’s instruction to me was “bring a towel”. As it was my first tattoo I figured that this was normal tattoo etiquette, but I discovered subsequently that it wasn’t so. However, for every tattoo session after this one I always brought along a towel as it serves so many purposes, a makeshift pillow for your head or between your knees if you’re on your side, wiping up sweat if the session gets intense, and covering your dignity for those more intimate tattoo areas. Douglas Adams said it best in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.