Irish Stylings…

Celtic art conjures visions of knotwork – or what some tattooists call “Celtic Nightmares”. Not me. Can’t get enough, in fact!  There are three traditional styles of Celtic design:  knot work, maze patterns and spirals.  Celtic knotwork is distinguished by its never ending pattern, and also includes Zoomorphic designs (see the birds in the piece to the right).  Spirals are typically rendered in three’s, which while attributed to the Holy Trinity is pre-Christian symbolism for This World, the Otherworld and the connection In Between.  And then there’s the maze pattern… the path we take as we find our way each day… a metaphor for life’s journey.

Celtic Styles: Knotwork, Spirals and Maze Patterns

Shamrock Shakes, green beer and kilt lifting

Yes, it’s the week of Shamrock Shakes, green beer, kilt lifting and (for the rest of us) a nice pint of Guinness and music that is off the hook!  Pre-dating St. Pat is the indigenous tradition of Celtic tattooing, so what better time than now to peruse some Celtic art and history?

The ancient pre-Celtic people are referred to as Picts, whose name was a derogatory reference meaning “Painted” used by the Romans for their tattooed enemies.  The Gaelic Celts used the term “Curithnii”, meaning “the People of the Designs”… and hey now – I’d say that’s more like it.  The Picts were not simply painted but indeed tattooed, using sharp iron tools and a natural plant-based blue ink called Woad.

While not much is definitively known about the Picts (who began to merge with the Gaelic people by the 10th Century), there are Roman accounts of fierce warriors with “wild hair” (apparently lime paste was used to stand hair straight on end) who were “painted blue”.  So, for some of us not much has changed I guess.

Here are a few images of how the Picts may have appeared, and a piece of Pictish stone art that I recently had the opportunity to render!

the Picts

Today at the Studio

Where’s Waldo?

Celtic back piece blackwork

From the Archives

From Awen’s archives… check out the watercolor gray work.  It’s an unusual effect you don’t see everyday, providing depth and texture to a tattoo.  Ka Chow!

Gray Watercolor

Celtic Evolution

New art done in 17 minutes! Just kidding. (Got your attention, though, huh?.) Okay, here we have the most recent addition to Nate’s Celtic back piece. You will experience a Where’s Waldo moment if you look closely… Check it out: three of the challenges facing us with this piece were: 1) Tying in the existing tribal piece on the left, 2) Connecting the two existing open strands from the lower left and right sides to the new work, and 3) Lining up the new knot work to fit in a symmetrical way with the existing knot work. Stay tuned for photos of the completed work in a couple of weeks. (A photo of Nate’s right shoulder addition were posted on the Art With a Point FB page back on 1/2/10.)

Celtic Backpiece Evolution

Today’s Tattoo

WZCelticI always get excited about having the opportunity to tattoo a portrait. It’s a style of tattooing that isn’t often requested, is extremely challenging, and incredibly distinctive. When tattooing a portrait, it’s important to have multiple clear photos to work from in order to most accurately render the subject. However, as you’ll see here, even when working from one photo an accurate photo realistic representation is possible.

Evolution of a Tattoo, part 2

concept design and final tattoo

concept design and final tattoo

Another example of the evolution of a custom designed tattoo from draft to completed artwork. You’ll recognize the artwork from the blog entry dated July 4 of this year.

One aspect of this piece I enjoyed working with was the texturing in the armor. While we’re quick to think of how to add color or shading to a tattoo, incorporating texture into the piece is less common. While often under appreciated, textured detail adds significantly to a piece.

Evolution of a Tattoo

concept design, final design and completed tattoo

concept design, final design and completed tattoo

Today’s blog entry shows the evolution of a tattoo, from concept sketch to final draft and finally, the completed tattoo.  The concept sketch is a simple initial sketch which captures the flow of the arm and introduces the various design components.  The journey from concept sketch to final draft refines the design and begins to introduce some detail.  The most notable transformation comes during the tattoo application itself when full detail, shading, color and texture are introduced.

Celebrating the 4th

art with a point custom tattooYesterday I had the honor of celebrating the 4th of July by spending the day tattooing an Iraq Veteran who is celebrating his first 4th back in the U.S. in two years. I tattooed him two years ago prior to his shipping out, and was relieved to hear that he has returned home safely along with everyone in his unit. Thank you, Nathan for your service.