At midnight this past Friday, I was scrolling through Twitter and settled again on the Diablo social page. For the past month, I had really and truly been considering going to Dallas, Texas, for the Diablo Hell’s Ink event and the idea of the event kept seeping into my mind like some sweet eldritch whispers every night since.
Now, I’ve never had a tattoo in my life but I’ve wanted one for years. The main problems being that they’re expensive, and I’m indecisive. I’ve also gained a considerable amount of weight with my health problems so I’ve been kind of self-conscious when it comes to getting inked. What if I lost weight with my kickboxing and the tattoo becomes distorted? That’s a lot of money to spend if it ends up looking later.
So, at 11:30 on Friday night I turned to my fiance (we got engaged last Monday!) and jokingly asked if I could go to Dallas for the event. Never in my life would I have expected him to say yes. It’s pitch black outside, I haven’t had a whole lot of rest except for a big power nap earlier in the day, and I had brought my chunky calico cat Cinnamon with me to visit. He turned to me and asked if I genuinely wanted to go, and I said yes. With zero hesitation, he told me if I wanted to go that he would keep the kids (both our fluffy cats) and he fully supported me. After a quick trip to Walmart to grab a $10 chair for the line, booking an affordable hotel in Dallas near the tattoo studio, and a big kiss I was out the door and on the road.
Dallas. Tomorrow. The Dark Lord comes to ink thy flesh.?? Come to Eden Body Art for your free Diablo flash tattoo. Drape thyself in darkness. #HellsInk?? 13360 Preston Rd. Dallas TX, 75240 pic.twitter.com/HeiaKbkRHk— Diablo (@Diablo) March 11, 2023
The seven hours it took to get from my fiance’s home to Dallas flew by before I knew it. With audiobooks, spotify, and coffee in my veins I was definitely riding high on adrenaline all throughout the day. I couldn’t believe I was actually going through with it. Was it stupid? Probably. But I hadn’t felt this excited in a while and I really wanted to seize this opportunity. For me, this might genuinely be the only chance I got to attend this event. If you’ve never been to Dallas before, it’s gigantic and all of the overpasses can definitely be intimidating if you’re not used to the sight. There are so many restaurants, shops, museums, and business buildings that it can make your head spin trying to take it all in as you enter the city - and you definitely don’t want that while you’re driving.
The Hell’s Ink event in Dallas took place at Eden Body Art Studios in the northern part of Dallas and I managed to pull in at around 8:50 AM CST. I was under the impression that the event was starting around lunchtime and that I would be extremely early. However, the line that was already wrapped around the building told me otherwise.
Checking my discord messages as I parked, I saw a quick message giving me the details of the event from my fiance. Apparently, it started at 10 AM. Oh boy, I was only an hour early. That definitely explained why there were already so many bodies. Slinging my small chair over my back, I began the trek around the building and parked myself at the end of the line. A gentleman who was part of the staff handed me a red band, and I overheard from a few other participants that I was somewhere in the 80s in line. Up to 100 guests were guaranteed access to get a tattoo, so I had just made it in time!
Now, I’d consider myself to be fairly introverted. Most of my friends come in the form of goobers that I’ve met online, and I’ve known them for a considerable amount of time. Making new friends, in person? Not so good at it. From moving to a new town where I didn’t know anyone, transitioning to a remote job, and spending all my time inside gaming, I haven’t really and truly socialized with strangers in a little while unless it was in line at the grocery store.
The great thing about the people at this event though, is that everyone already had one thing in common: their love of Diablo. From small talk about the weather, to discussing which tattoo they had picked, conversations slowly but surely morphed into games we played and things we were looking forward to. It was so wonderfully refreshing to just naturally connect with strangers over something we loved.
Our particular group waited approximately 8 hours to get in for our tattoos, and while the Dallas weather changed from chilly in the morning to humid and melting in the afternoon, I actually didn’t glance much at my watch or phone. Those hours were spent listening to people talk and laughing together. I don’t think any of us were expecting food, but in the afternoon we were treated to a free lunch at a nearby BBQ food truck that was delicious.
There was a little bit of a mixup at times that had others waiting longer, but everyone was so genuinely nice and polite and didn’t seem to care. They were just enjoying each other’s company and were grateful to be there for the experience. Even when we needed to walk down to the local bookstore at the end of the strip mall to use the restroom, people were more than happy to hold your place in line for you and move your things up if the line shifted.
Now, remember how I said I was indecisive? Well, I was torn between two tattoos for the entire 8 hours up until they handed me the papers to circle my decision: the rogue icon, and the druid icon. I had already narrowed down my location to my right hip, a place that was meaningful because it was beautifying a place I felt self-conscious about and could be well-hidden in a wedding dress, but I just could not decide between the two icons.
So, what was I to do but to ask the fatherly security guard that had been checking on us constantly and keeping our spirits high. I asked him laughing, “which one would you pick for me?” His suggestion was the bear claw, and I very seriously considered it. Not only do I love the Druid class, but it felt powerful and strong. But for some reason, I felt that familiar pull to the Rogue icon.
Since there is no Demon Hunter in Diablo 4 I had already decided that I would be maining the Rogue class. Point one for that design. Looking up the symbolism of a bow and arrow, I came across the themes of struggle, tension, and triumph. These past several months especially have been increasingly hard on both my mental and physical health, so those themes resonate strongly with me. I debated on the designs until I had the papers placed in my hands to circle the design. At the very last second, I chose the Rogue icon.
With the papers signed, four of us were finally led into the Eden Body Art Studio tattoo parlor to check-in to the experience. The decorations alone and seeing them in person were well worth the drive down and several hour wait. The rooms were dark, with dark candles everywhere, and red ambient light pouring from every corner. Bookshelves with ancient tomes and health potions littered the space, and our ears were gifted with the Tristram theme song overhead. Everything about the experience was immersive, with the exception of the camera crew walking around.
When I was finally called to get my tattoo, I was greeted by Gio Macias who welcomed me warmly with an elbow bump and was all smiles despite the several hours he had already been working that day. His specialty is neotraditional and watercolor. When asked, he confided that his most popular design of the day was actually the Druid tattoo! I was pretty candid and awkward about it being my first tattoo, but he was extremely kind and patient and talked to me about my choice, placement, and how I’d need to lay on the table.
Once I was finally laying down, he did a test line to let me get used to the sensation since I said I was nervous. And honestly, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. All of these years I had worked myself up about pain tolerance, and how I was sure I would probably be a baby and start crying (just another reason I’ve talked myself out of it) but as the Diablo music gently thrummed overhead and I looked at all of the concept art on the walls, I started to feel myself drifting off. Never in my life would I have thought that getting a tattoo (for me) would be so therapeutic. The one thing that kept me from really and truly falling asleep was the knowledge that the cameras kept circling around and I did not want to be that girl snoring on the tattoo table.
Twenty minutes later and we were done! I gave Gio a huge hug and thanked him for his beautiful work and snapped a picture against the wall so I could show all of you who took such wonderful care of me. I tried not to tear up in the room, because it was such a wonderful, special experience. He was super kind and caring, and really made me feel comfortable. I left the parlor feeling so proud that I had made it to the event and actually committed to getting my first tattoo. Not only did I get a free tattoo and some amazing goodies to take home with me, but I left with an immense sense of pride that I had overcome everything else happening in my life and all the negative thoughts to leave with a genuinely happy experience. This one moment in time was mine, and I had seized it and claimed it for all it was worth.
You’re probably wondering at this point: where is your tattoo?! Well, like I mentioned before, it’s on my right hip-butt adjacent. Because of the nature of its location and not wanting to show my rear to the internet, I decided not to include a picture. But, it isn’t hard to imagine! It looks exactly like the design, number 1 on the tattoo list chart at the beginning of the article. The linework is incredibly clean!
If Diablo Hell’s Ink has another event in the future, you can count on me driving down. I’d do it ten times over again in a heartbeat. And yes, I will be playing a rogue in the open beta this weekend! Since Diablo games are few and far inbetween, it will probably be another few years before they have the Hell’s Ink event, but I can’t wait to go back and sacrifice my flesh. Consider me a tattoo convert.