When we found out that our US Amazon Account Manager had dedicated 2 years of his life to a full Japanese back piece, we just had to know more. Introducing Joe DeRuvo, a hard working tattoo enthusiast and all round lovely guy.
How long did your back take and how many sessions?
I started my back piece in September of 2020 and completed it in October of 2021. I'd like to mention that I do not get tattooed in the summer months because it limits me from being in the sun and water.
Did you have any tattoos before you took on this enormous back piece?
Yes, I have full sleeves on both my right and left arms, my right, and left chest, and a small piece on my right calf.
Was having so much coverage always a goal of yours?
My brother was my inspiration on getting my first tattoo, most of his body is covered but I am catching up to him. I also have this Go Big or Go Home mentality.
What inspired you to choose Japanese over other styles?
Most of my brother's tattoo pieces are Japanese style, he got me into it. Japanese tattoos have great meanings to them, that was also a big inspiration for me.
It must take a lot of trust in your artist to let them do a piece of this size. How did you decide on the artist?
My artist was working at a tattoo shop that my brother was going to at the time. I took a look at his work and really liked his style and after having a conversation with him I knew he was the right artist for me. I've been going to my artist for over 15 years now, he's done most of my work but I've also been tattooed by other artists, artists that specialize in other arts.
What was the most painful part and how would you rate it out of 10?
The most painful part of my back piece was my butt, it was the linework that killed me, I had to get my mind to a different place. Other areas that were painful were the elbow and inner part of my arm when I was getting my sleeves done.
Was there ever a point that you thought you were going to have to tap out? If so, what kept you going?
Yes, there were a few times when getting my back done that I wanted to tap out, this piece by far took the most out of me. I had to adjust my lifestyle to it, I couldn't go to the gym, and or play volleyball, as I didn't want to risk it. I am glad that it's finally completed but I have to say it has been a wild ride.
I imagine the healing process was pretty rough! How did you handle it?
Yes, this healing process was the most difficult out of all the tattoos that I have for me. The Stories & Ink brand, especially the Aftercare Cream was a huge factor in getting me through it. It definitely wasn't easy applying it at times, I am 6'4 and weigh 225lbs and I had to resort to family members to assist me, aka my MOM, shhhhhhh don't tell anyone. The Aftercare Cream is by far the best tattoo aftercare product that I have ever used and I will never use another product for as long as I am getting tattoos. Even my artist couldn't believe how well it worked. At one point in the tattoo process, he asked me if I was using Saniderm because the tattoo looked so fresh, 2 weeks after my last session.
Finally, is this it for you? Or do you have more tattoos planned for the future?
This definitely isn't it for me but I am going to be taking some time off from it. I'd like to complete my half-body sleeve and eventually start working on my legs. My tattoo journey will not be complete until I get a tattoo at the Stories and Ink Studio.