The illustrated man

02 Sep,2015

The illustrated man

Rodney Glanville is one of the primary technicians at FishCore. He attracts a lot of attention and not just because he’s great at his job.

Walking around the aquarium at ARMI, it will be hard to miss Rodney Glanville.

Rodney is one of the primary aquarium technicians at ARMI’s FishCore, responsible for such things as fish husbandry, water filtration and pH maintenance.

But after hours, Rodney is something very different. He is a stigmatophile – someone who is obsessed with tattoos. It has been 10 years since Rodney had his first tattoo and is now a seasoned living canvas with a total of 13 intricate pieces of art on different parts of his limbs.

With a huge, bearded smile, Rodney says that it has “became a really, really expensive addiction.”

The tattoos denote different points in Rodney’s life that he would like to remember, but also the things he is interested in. One thing you can clearly observe is his deep following of the Batman universe.

“My left arm is what I call my ‘fun arm’. There’s Harley Quinn tattooed behind an inferno. I just got the Riddler done and I’m going to get Joker and Batman facing off each other really soon.”

It’s worth noting that as Rodney says this, he is also sporting a well-worn batman T-shirt.

While his left arm showcases the fun aspects of his life, his right arm is dedicated to events close to his heart.

“I’ve got this big rose with a diamond centre done to remind me of Lexi (niece) and Squirt the little turtle (from Finding Nemo) to remind me of Jake (nephew). I also have a piece dedicated to one of my cousins that passed a few years back, as well as his sister who was very ill and passed away at 13.”

One of the common questions that Rodney gets asked is when and why he got his first tattoo.

“Rebellion. My first tattoo parlour experience was when I was 15 years old and I was a rebellious kid. My dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said that I wanted a tattoo. He called my bluff and he brought me to the dodgiest parlour ever. I backed out of it, I’m sure, to his relief.”

Rodney eventually got his first tattoo at 21 when he went with a bunch of his mates to get the Chinese zodiac of the pig () on his right leg. This was a huge step for Rodney, as he once had a phobia of needles. As he lay down to get it tattooed on his right leg, he had clamped his eyes and teeth shut, anticipating the biggest hit of pain ever. But he was surprised to learn that it wasn’t as painful as he thought.

“It really just feels like having a sunburn and someone flicking it constantly. Annoying, but not painful at all. After knowing that it wasn’t that bad, I got my next tattoo two weeks later.”

But the tattoo artist he went to was “an absolute crazy person,” motivating Rodney to find an artist of a higher calibre.

After searching through a magazine one day, Rodney was drawn to a cartoon of a blue tiger. That picture was a portfolio art piece by Heath Clements, a tattoo artist who also runs Dark Horse Tattoo Parlour in Essendon.

Rodney knew then that he had found his ink artist, a relationship that has since spanned 10 years. Rodney is now good friends with Heath and has even jumped on board on events that are held at the Dark Horse Tattoo.

“They organised a Good Friday appeal this year, doing free tattoos for people who then gave donations based on the amount the customer wanted. We raised a total of $3610, which all went to charity, and I helped out with contacting the Herald Sun about the event, was in charge of photography, customer service and general maintenance of the place. It was a really fulfilling day overall.”

After spending many years in the ink art environment, I asked Rodney if he wanted to become a tattooist himself one day, but Rodney said he can’t imaging working in a business where he spilled other people’s blood. He also felt that it was beyond his artistic ability.

These days, Rodney has to think carefully about future artwork, because real estate on his limbs is becoming a scarce commodity. But he’s decided on the next piece to add in the following few months.

“The next tattoo I’m going to get will be of the Dark Horse logo. I’m not doing it for my tattooist, I’m doing it for my friend (Heath) who I have come to know really well for the past 10 years.”

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