Friday, May 25, 2018

Indy Eleven supporter gets one-of-a-kind tattoo

Being a soccer supporter manifests itself in many ways. For some, it manifest itself as season tickets for themselves and family/friends. For others, it's a potentially unhealthy addiction to supporter's scarves. Some value game-worn jerseys. Some spend countless hours working on a tifo that the soccer nation recognizes. As I've discussed before, my fandom manifested itself into this site.

For Laura Mills (@laurameme), one of the ways fandom has manifested itself for her is by being one of the highly talented artists that bring you the Indy Eleven game day posters. By my record, Laura has been credited with 4 posters, all being done during last year and this season. However, in just 4 posters, she quickly jumped up my list of favorite artists.

Looking back through the list of posters from Opening Night to this past weekend's Brad Ring 100th Game poster, only 7 posters have include Victory on them where she is included somewhere other than in the Eleven's crest and 2 of those have come from the same person. Laura. Topping the list of my favorite poster of all time was Laura's "Faith and Family Night" poster from the July game against Jacksonville. It's spectacular in every way. The black background of the poster accentuates the stained glass look of the rest of the poster, playing off of the religious and church theme for the game. Key components of Indianapolis's flag, the Armada's logo, and Lady Victory herself all came together to provide one of the most visually interesting posters of the team's history. There have been some other great posters, but Laura's stained glass poster takes it a step further for me into being great art. Not surprisingly, I wasn't the only one who was enamored with her work, including a poster request from another supporter who had talked to Chuck Lofton about him wanting one. (If this article gets to Mr. Lofton, Laura would like to know she has a copy of the poster waiting for you.)
"When we (the club) first printed the poster, I remember getting pictures from friends—many of whom had seen this poster come to life over weeks of lunch breaks—as they spotted it around the city, at shops, or cafes. At the time, I thought, damn… what a cool feeling to have something I’ve made, pinned up around Indy and Carmel. Obviously, I’d put a lot of time into the design (way more than I’ll ever admit to) and that reason alone, would have made displaying it around the city rewarding enough. And I was completely content with that; it was my second poster for the club and I was happy with the finished product."
However, it's at this point where our next Indy Eleven supporter joins the story.

Where I saw the poster and thought, "that is amazing and I need to get it on my wall", Indy Eleven, Brickyard Battalion, and Slaughterhouse-19 supporter Josh Lauritsen (@jolaurit) thought, "This is it. This is the one." "The one" being the tattoo that he wanted to get for awhile to "represent his club, its supporters, and his Indiana home," which had "been such a big part of my life over the past few years and I wanted to get something to remember this time."

In the respect that I've come to expect from Indy Eleven supporters, Josh recognized the amount of work that went into the poster and instead of "outright stealing it," he got down on one knee and asked for Laura's handiwork. Okay, I fabricated the knee part because I think the idea of permanently inking someone else's art onto your body figuratively includes "until death due them part." Josh envisioned the marriage of taking Laura's art and transferring it to his arm. Josh did, also, recognize the effort involved in the poster and he did ask for permission to use it.
"Fast forward a few months (and a VERY long offseason) to this February, when I got another DM, this time, it was Josh asking if I’d mind if he used my poster for a tattoo idea he was thinking about getting. Of course my answer was "Yes!" without hesitation. I can’t really imagine a more humbling request for a designer, than having someone ask if they could put your work on their body for life! I was honored."
With his conscience clear to pursue the tattoo from the artist herself and after working through the factors of cost and artist availability, Josh went to Artistic Skin Designs, where Adamm Nicholson set about taking Laura's artwork and transferring it to Josh's arm. Intended to be a half-sleeve, Lady Victory and all her stained glassed glory were meticulously inked into Josh's arm. Josh has one other tattoo, but his newest addition far exceeds the size and scope of his first tattoo. The entire process of transferring Laura's vision onto his arm was spread out over three sessions and three months, with Josh sitting down for 2 hours each time to get the tattoo fully realized.

The process of converting the main portion of the poster into a tattoo started in March and included the line work:
When I asked Laura what she thought about another artist duplicating her work, she said that she
"was totally ok with duplicating. Josh and I didn’t really speak about the artist modifying it in any way, but I think in the end, I would have deferred to Josh. This is his body, it should be whatever he wants it to be. Tattoos are personal, I would never dictate how it should look. When I saw the line work from the first session, I was impressed with how accurate the transfer of the design was—it looked great!"
Color for the tattoo was added in two more sessions, with Phase 2 happening in April and completing the coloring process was Phase 3, which happened this past weekend before the Bethlehem Steel game:
In the comments to the above tweet, Josh stated, "Right now, it just burns." There may be other Indy Eleven fans with tattoos celebrating their fandom, but as far as I'm concerned, none of them are quite like this one from what I've seen. Being a fan of a sports team can cause emotional joys and pain as you support them through the highs and lows. Josh has now physically suffered in his support for the Eleven, the Brickyard Battalion, Slaughterhouse-19, and Indianapolis. Josh's dedication to the team was not lost on Laura and she understands the story that the two of them will share forever:
"For the most part, every tattoo has a story. Not often does a game day poster get a story beyond that of the event for which it was created. So, that is pretty cool! I have the poster framed among other gig/gameday posters I’ve designed, in my house. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever talk about it with someone seeing it for the first time, without saying….”ya know…funny story about that poster…”  So, I may not have the tattoo, but I have a story now."
For me, Laura and Josh have solidified themselves in Indy Eleven history and lore. Creating a poster with as much intricacy as Laura created and sitting through the sessions required to convert that into a tattoo of the size and scope of a stained glass Lady Victory takes serious effort and dedication. Laura and Josh have demonstrated what this team, the supporter's groups, and this City mean to them.

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