Friday, December 31, 2010

Fudo Sword

I actually tattooed the sword several years ago and it was super fun to breathe some new life into it with the addition of the flames.  For lack of a better term, I think it just looks tough.
The sword is an object of Fudo Myo-o, a wrathful looking deity and defender of Buddhism, so it is only appropriate to have it look as fierce as possible.
It was a little nerve wracking squeezing it up in between those chest panels, as the right one is by Chris Trevino and the left is in progress from Horitoshi (my favorite tattooer and a great man).
Just the outline as this was a last minute squeeze in appt. to fill a cancellation.  He sat awesome though (I can't imagine it was too enjoyable) and the color should be a one session deal.

Samurai and Clouds

It's been quite a while since this arm's been worked on, so it was great to get back to it.  Filled in the last blank spot with the peak of a Japanese roof.
His concept with the tattoo in the beginning was a samurai who was protecting his home.  Since most of his upper arm was already tattooed, we didn't have a ton of room so I decided to do the samurai from the waist up and represent the home/castle with just part of the roof.  This way we could get more impact and detail, and not just some miniature dude and a tiny building.  
The spear in his hand sort of anchors him down and helps him look firmly planted in front of his home.
Was it easy tattooing that ornate roof on the elbow? Nope.  But do i feel like it worked out? Yup.

Hagoromo Tennyo

Started in on the top robe this session.  Drew on some clouds and it all went in great.  I've been very happy at how well she's been healing and how the color is looking so far.
The bottom picture is by one of my favorite artists, Hiroshige.  I used this as inspiration for the top robe and the upper sash which will be yellow with green swirls, versus green with yellow.
So much of Japanese tattooing is based on old woodblock prints...using composition and design elements to create new works and building on a foundation of tradition...
Starting to realize we're getting sort of close to finishing on this piece.  We've got to take the next month off so she can compete in a yoga competition and run a half marathon, but hopefully done this spring.

Bee Sleeve

Here is a little sneak peek at a sleeve of bees I recently started.
I did a bee and flower on her years ago, and she popped up again recently to complete the whole arm.
Super fun person to tattoo and each session has been a pleasure, even if bees do creep me out a little bit...

Tengu Sleeve

Just the wings this time.  I think we've pretty much settled on doing shorter but more frequent sessions for this one.
That is actually my preferred method.  For larger pieces, two or three 1.5-2.5 hour sessions a month seems to work best for me.

Flower of Life

Long time no blog.  Sometimes the thought of sitting in front of a computer screen gives me a strange sort of headache.  Anyways...
Finished up this one a while ago.  Very fun piece and cool to be able to play around with a different style.  After he gets the other side of his ribs done, we will probably fractal other geometric shapes off this one to fill in some of the open space.  Definitely not opposed to trying out some more of the stippling effect on future projects... 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hawaiian Sea Life

Haven't really put up many photos of this one.
We're basically 100% finished with fore arm now, and we don't have much to go up top.  Hopefully I'll be better at getting some decent photos of this one, as it's a bit unique for me.  
There's a pretty cool octopus head on the elbow that wraps around the arm, and we recently put a jellyfish on the upper rear of the arm.  
It feels like the never ending tattoo, but we've been having tons of fun and the patientce should pay off...

Hagoromo Tennyo

Did all the turquoise around the dorjes this session.  
Pretty happy with how the yellow healed from last time too.  One more session before the new year, then January off, then hopefully done by the spring...


Basically life size...
It was actually difficult to put this one together.  Neither one of us could find any good pictures of the African Grey Parrot in flight, so I had to piece it together from other images, sort of like a mental cut and paste thing.  Usually when doing a more "anatomically correct, or realistic" piece, it's best to work from a single photo.
But all went well, and hopefully we can finish it up in one long session next time...


After a bit of a layoff we're back in action.  Looks like not too much work, but he is like 6' 8" or so. 
We've set up a fun schedule for next year.  He'll fly in once a month to do 5 half days in a row (which is certainly one way to get to know yourself).  I appreciate the commitment and look forward to the challenge.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


First picture was taken off my back porch a week ago.
Second one is Rick Rubin.  A music producer who has done everything from Slayer to Johnny Cash.  Definitely on my list of creative people who's vibe and philosophy I dig.

Flower of Life

Started this a week after finishing the tiger sleeve on him.  Fun to totally switch gears and start a completely different style of tattoo on the same person.  Shows his total interest in tattooing of all styles, and I can definitely dig and respect that.
Went from a traditional Japanese look to fully stippled (doing it one dot at a time) sacred geometry.
We finished the Ganesh above about 2 or 3 years ago I think.

Snake and Warrior

Outlined this the other day.  It is actually an interpretation of a bible verse.  Not sure which verse exactly but it alludes to fighting a serpent, and makes reference to a sword, breastplate, belt, boots, and helmet.
His first request was to represent this as a samurai fighting a snake.
Unfortunately samurai didn't use shields, and wouldn't have fought giant snakes.  I went with a more Suikoden style take on it, which was the inspiration for a lot of Japanese tattoo imagery anyway.
The shield is just peeking out from behind his back (as I was hesitant to make it a main image) to show that it is there as it had to be to include all the elements from the verse.
There will be substantial patterning in the dude and the snake and all that coming soon...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tiger/Warrior Sleeve

Here's the finished product.  We did the half sleeve and chest a couple of years ago.  It is a character from the Suikoden (who's name for the life of me escapes me right now) fighting a demon holding a sake gourd.  The demon is more of a personal metaphor for him rather than an actual existing legend.
The tiger ties into the top image for him symbolically and was great to actually do in the year of the Tiger.  There is a peony on the chest and a chrysanthemum on the lower arm.  Although some tattooers believe in not doing flowers representative of different seasons on the same piece (peony and cherry blossom for spring and mum and maples for fall), it can be appropriate in my opinion.  I've read and believe that it represents a full year or duration of time.  This piece for this client was born out of a series of experiences over a length of time.
Although it sounds cheesy it was a bit of a "journey", and I think his image selections work great for what he was going for.  
Really fun tattoo on a very interesting and dedicated client...


Well, it's done.  Just had a few cherry blossoms and odds and ends to finish.  
This was the forearm extension of a previous half sleeve to turn it into a full sleeve.
Full arm shots for the next entry...

Hagoromo Tennyo

Short session to put the yellow in the upper sashes.
This is just a base coat and I'll be doing a pattern over it.  I've got a maroon swirly design in mind.  Next time though, I'll probably start on the top robe (think deep blue and cloud like pattern).
Realized that although there is much more work to do we are definitely getting there...

Tengu Sleeve

Tengu sleeve update...the Fancy Pants edition.
I honestly don't even want to admit how long these took me.  But we had a great time and so far it's looking cool.  He has a fox on the other arm that has some very detailed robes as well.  In fact, all the major elements of this Tengu arm are a mirror of the placement of the various fox images on the other arm.  This one will get a little bamboo though, as they do live in the mountains and he found a cool story about a tengu and bamboo.  I'll try to get it and mention it next time.


Back in action after a little pause.  I'm happy to get in a good session on this one.
I feel a little bad though, it was pretty much all elbow and funny bone and those spots on the arm that don't see the light of day too much.  Looks like it hurt but she was down to sit longer if I wanted.  Next session as next week or so...
Don't think I've ever done this much or this style of water on anybody before so it's very exciting to chart a slight new direction.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crane and Pine

Finally outlined this on a great client I've had for a long time.  We have already done her other sleeve with a tiger and flowers and all across her shoulders and upper back with more Japanese nature stuff.
We did a crane and maple leaves on the upper arm quite a while ago, and just now started the bottom after a several month break.  
Next will be morning glory and wisteria to round out our representation of the seasons...