The Story Behind My Guardians of the Galaxy Sleeve Tattoo


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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Sleeve Tattoo

As you likely already know, I have a pretty large Guardians of the Galaxy tattoo. In fact, it is a full sleeve on my right arm (and it was mentioned on Nerdist!!). Many people have asked me the story behind this tattoo, so I figured I would write it down. This is something that had been planned for years. Not drawn out for years, but I knew I wanted something Guardians of the Galaxy for a long while. It has been one of my favorite comic book series since I can remember and I knew I wanted to honor it. It was all about finding the right artist to do it. The artist that I trusted to make it perfect.

Meeting The Artist

One day, I was out of town and a new tattoo shop opened up a few streets over. My husband went to check them out and chatted with the owner Nic for a while. He discovered that Nic was pretty awesome at comic book tattoos, and told him about a Poison Ivy tattoo I wanted. I was glad he did because it was the perfect way to test out how Nic’s work was. That tattoo is actually for my daughters, Ivy and Lorie. Ivy, because, Ivy, but then Lorie is actually derived from the Laurel flower plant. Laurel flowers are featured in the tattoo as well. Anyways, he did an incredible job, so I mentioned my Guardians sleeve idea to him.

Mama's Geeky with Marvel's Kevin Feige and James Gunn & Kevin Feige

Planning It Out

I planned on this being a full sleeve from the beginning. Honestly, way back when I first thought of it, I wanted the comic book versions  of the Guardians. Likely Yondu and Ego would not have even been a part of it – kind of weird to think about. My whole mindset of that changed when I was lucky enough to go on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. I saw Baby Groot (I even got to hold him!) and instantly fell in love. It was that moment that I knew I had to have baby Groot versus big tall regular Groot on my sleeve. In looking for a good photo of him for Nic to use as reference, I discovered one of him on Rocket’s shoulder. Well, it all went from there. I was going to use James Gunn’s Guardians as inspiration for my tattoo.

Special thanks to my BFF Joyce over at Women and Their Pretties for snapping this photo of my before the Thor: Ragnarok premiere!

Coming Together

I sent Nic over reference photos of Star-Lord, Rocket, Baby Groot, Gamora, and Drax for the top half of my tattoo. I was not one hundred percent on who would be on the bottom half of my tatt00 – I wanted to see the film first. Lucky for me, I was able to walk to purple carpet premiere in LA and was one of the first people to see it. As I told James Gunn after our interview, I immediately knew that Yondu was going to be the focal point of the rest of my tattoo. He had to be. I shed many tears for him and it just seemed right. I also wanted Ego to be a part of my sleeve, in planet form. Nic made him small, and placed him behind Yondu. Kind of a nod to them both being Peter’s father, but acknowledging that Yondu was his daddy. Another one of my favorite parts of the film was Nebula and Gamora’s relationship, so I made Nebula the final piece of the puzzle.

After 40+ hours and just under a year, my Guardians of the Galaxy sleeve is finally complete! As you might know, I have been teasing a special finishing touch, which you can see here. I guess you could say my people (@moviemarshall) reached out to @jamesgunn's people about getting a clear autograph to be tattooed in my sleeve. Luckily he thought it was a cool idea and sent it right over! These are, after all, his Guardians, even though they were based on the comic books. I couldn't be more thankful for him doing this for me! It truly completed my tattoo. . . . Thanks to @tattoonic from @oldeanchortattoony for this brilliant work of art! . . . Full sleeve photos coming as soon as my elbow swelling goes down. ?? . . . #GotG #GotGVol2 #GuardiansOfTheGalaxy #MarvelComics #ComicBooks #MamasGeeky

A post shared by Tessa Smith – Mama's Geeky (@mamasgeeky) on

Finishing Touch

I certainly picked the right artist because Nic was able to freehand all sorts of amazing “galaxy swirls”, spaceships, and stars in between all of the characters. He used purples and pinks and it came out ridiculously awesome. Sometimes I catch myself just starting at my arm, I love it so much. At the Thor: Ragnarok press event, I happened to bump into James Gunn and Kevin Feige. We talked about the progress on my tattoo and well, it was a pretty amazing night to be recognized by them both. Anyways, also on that trip, while talking to my friend Marshall, he suggested the perfect finishing touch. James Gunn’s signature. The Guardians on my arm are, after all, HIS Guardians – his vision. He reached out to James, who thought it was a really cool idea, and immediately sent over a clean autograph. During my last session I had his signature added to the bottom of my sleeve, and it is now complete. And I couldn’t be more thrilled with it.

Follow me (@MamasGeeky on Instagram & Twitter) 4/22 to 4/25 as I attend the Avengers: Infinity War premiere in LA WITH the cast! #InfinityWarEvent


      • Timothy Morris on

        Just the fact that you were able to have the name James Gunn tattooed onto your arm is arguably the coolest thing anyone could ever have done to them! ?????❤️Happy Friday and enjoy the weather considering it’s nearly 60 degrees outside.

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