60 Second Sketch, Brought to Life

Screen shot 2009-12-17 at 10.59.36 PMI enjoy the exercise of creating a 60 second sketch. I travel with a sketch book and when something of interest catches my eye I’ll often quickly render a series of ideas from that subject, whether it be on the subway in New York or from a canoe in the Boundary Waters. It’s a terrific way to familiarize oneself with the most basic structure and detail of a subject; 60 seconds allows time to nail down only the design structure itself with one or two primary details necessary to bring the subject to life. When I’m in the canoe, I look forward to seeking out beds of lily pads and blooms. The canoe perspective is dynamic as a series of 60 second sketches occur from multiple perspectives as the wind and current carry me on the water, producing some interesting results. I rendered one of these sketches in the medium of scratchboard for a traveling gallery show and subsequent publishing in the book “Scratch Art”. Curated by Guy Aitchison, this collection of scratchboard art was created by tattoo artists from around the world. When Jessica requested this particular water lily, it was fun to put these points of reference and experiences together to breathe life into her piece.

Phoenix Rising

Phoenix in process...

Phoenix in process...

Building onto an existing tattoo is a challenge I enjoy, particularly when the client I’m working with is game to relax in to the journey by trusting the creative process. While our first tattoos are each significant to us, often times they are unrelated to one another which can result in a patchwork appearance. When the desire to wear an extensive piece of art comes upon us, we are faced with a two fold design process: planning the new piece itself as well as strategizing about how to incorporate the existing art in a way that is consistent with the overall design. This requires creativity as well as an openness to allowing the process to unfold.

In this week’s photos you’ll see the first two steps in the creation of a half sleeve that is building onto an existing tattoo. “Before” shows the existing work that we needed to work in and work around. The “stencil” is the freehand sketching and stenciled outline of the custom Phoenix, smoke and flames that will become the focal point of this piece. And “in process” means this story is to be continued once the piece is completed. Stay tuned…

Dr. Death Gets a New Tattoo

art with a point custom tattooDr. Death is back from Bath, England and ready for a new tattoo. His newest piece is a Celtic half sleeve designed by his friend, Nathan. This piece has nicely integrated references to Dr. Death’s other tattoos, and reflects the half sleeve on his left arm beautifully. The intricate detail in Celtic work makes the process of applying an elaborate outline such as this one rather intense. I expect six to eight hours of outlining alone. Photos of the outline will be posted later this week, so stay tuned.

Hold the date on July 29! Dr. Death – AKA John Troyer – from the University of Bath’s Centre for Death and Society talks memorial tattoos. His perspective on our cultural attitudes towards death and how we express them through tattooing is eye opening.

Come on down and join us in the discussion.

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.