Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Sometimes drawing a tattoo on the skin can be the only real way to make it fit properly, but man it sure makes it trickier as well (especially when the client tells you they have "very high expectations" of you)...
I've been doing a bunch of work on her lower arm (jungle scene) and did that lion on her back years ago, but she's always mentioned wanting a large chrysanthemum on her shoulder.
The other day seemed as good as any to go for it.  I do a lot of flowers, and especially "Japanese" ones, but never ever tire of it.  It's an interesting thing to try and free up your mind and have something flow and feel natural, while at the same time having it be a very technical and focused process.
I'll be adding the leaves and starting the color next time...

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Mucha

So this is the next lady on the Mucha sleeve I started a while back.
I think I mentioned it before, but I really love his work and am compelled to reproduce it as close to the original as possible.  Sometimes translating very fine line work from a print to a tattoo doesn't really work so well, but I think we squeaked it out on this one.  It was difficult (and a little scary) to do something so delicate and complicated on the forearm, as any glitch would be very obvious.  I'm especially relieved that the face worked out.  I'm not exactly sure, but it's probably the size of a dime or so.
Another Mucha muse on the back side of the arm coming soon (then background)...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Guy

Well, after this week I guess he's not really "new" any more, but that's what people still seem to be calling him.
After almost 2 years alone, and the last few years with just me and Mike, I've finally made a new addition to the shop roster.
His name is Aaron Osborne, and he's the newest member of our little tattoo family.
I've always been vaguely receptive to the idea of a third person, but figured it would happen in time if it was meant to be.
As a lot of you know, our little studio is fairly small and intimate, so expanding the energy is a pretty big deal and it really had to be the right person.
Aaron is a great artist and tattooer that can do just about anything extremely well, and is super hip to our philosophy of treating clients well and giving them our all.
Here's just a few examples of his work...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tiger Sleeve

Started the lower tiger on this sleeve that is a continuation from a few weeks ago:

As always, he was a model client, and his understanding and respect of the process really motivates and lights a fire under me.  I like being around people who are really passionate about the things they are into (and if it's their tattoo work, even better).
This tiger will have water cascading over it, obscuring the rear and one side of the body.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed this Hokusai print...
...and was really struck by it, and wanting to go for a similar look.  That composition looks like a natural fit for a forearm, and although mine isn't quite the same, it served as great reference.
I have been fortunate to have spent time with some amazing tattooers over the years, and some of the best advice I've gotten was to buy books, study them, and keep them around myself.  Over time, you start to really form a mental library of images (and the more of a visual foundation you have to draw off of, the better the tattoos is the idea)...

Durga and Flowers

Got the weapons colored in finally.
In true Hindu deity style, they are solid gold baby.  The snake is technically one of her implements as well, but that will be getting its own unique little color scheme (and really tie things together).
We're also brainstorming on the addition of some flowers and leaves to fill in more space.
With something this busy, it's nice to get the bulk of it on and colored, then really sit back and take it all in to really see what could use more attention and what to leave be...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hagoromo Tennyo

We've had a few week layoff and now we're back on it.  I'm not able to get a crazy amount done in these hour sessions, but once you add a bunch of them together, it starts coming together.
Another session or two to finish the feathers, another for the skin tone and some detailing, then probably another for more patterning and I imagine we'll be pretty close to done. 
It's been a little while in the making, but I feel like she's really growing into the tattoo, and in these final stages is really starting to understand and "own" it...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Water Dragon

I might want to go back in on a spot or two, but this is basically a done deal.
We did the upper portion of his arm several years ago with no plans to bring it all the way down, but I like the way it blended together.
The top of the arm is very tranquil and serene, and he wanted to really contrast that on the bottom.  Chaotic and tumultuous was the feeling we were going for...trying to show that there can always be darkness and difficulty lurking under the surface (but the dragon is grabbing a pearl of wisdom on the inner arm rising out of the turbulence, for him to signify that calm and wisdom can be achieved if you have the fortitude to weather the storm).
Nice opportunity to do some fun art while at the same time give someone the very specific meaning and symbolism they were wanting to capture...

Mr. Natural

He is complete...
It's really got the look now that it's all colored in, and I for one am very happy.
I love that this tattoo is at the same time whimsical and goofy, but also fairly deep and philosophical.  It's also the type of piece that makes people smile when they see it, sort of a feel good tattoo.
If you missed it before, here is the last post that gives more of the back story of this inspirational underground icon...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


People who've been getting mostly black shading for a while always seem to get so excited for the color.
But I guess this is starting to pop a bit more now that it's got some, and that's a good thing...
Still have one more short session to finish everything up and then she's anxious to get going on her next piece (large phoenix on the opposite shoulder).
Now that she's decided not to do Burning Man and Phish and whatever other psychedelic wanderings this summer, it looks like we can really prioritize focus our energies in the right direction towards new work...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cherry Blossom Cover-up

So here's what was going on before we started...

She 100% wanted to get rid of the lily and fairy in the lower/middle back, and was open to going over the tree as well...but definitely keep the Bambi.
We discussed several options, and my biggest concern was not doing something too "heavy".  The work to be covered is very thick and dense, and a serious challenge to cover (not to mention all the tattoos we have to work around at the same time).  The idea of doing part of a cherry blossom tree arose and seemed like it might be workable.

It was very difficult to cover the existing branches with new ones and maintain a little skin showing through, while not totally overwhelming the lower back.  She has a fairly lean frame, and anything too blobby wouldn't look good at all.
There was a desire on her part to bring the tattoo from the hip up over to the other shoulder, and this image was able to do this very well I believe.
We still have to finish outlining a section on the lower right, and the rest of the lower middle back tattoo is getting covered with a very stylized rock formation.
It took quite a bit of effort to figure this one out, but I'm really happy that she's getting rid of something she truly didn't like (imagine a really bad haircut that never changed), and feeling really positive about her new tattoo...

Durga and Flowers

A little while ago we started to color in the pomegranate branch on the top.  Almost done with all the flowers on the arm, then on to coloring the weapons.
Kind of a hard one to photograph as there is so much going on, but I think having all the weapons filled in  the same will really bring it all together.
This was one that seemed pretty daunting at first, but we've found our rythym with it and it's going to end up being something really cool I think...

Monday, August 1, 2011


So this was my view for the last eight days...
My life lately has been a fairly relentless drawing and tattooing schedule, and combined with some personal stress, it was just time to escape from real life for a little while.
Just got back and I'm feeling more rejuvenated than I have in years.
Looking forward to getting back to all the work in progress and starting up some really exciting new projects.  Didn't even pick up a pencil for almost two weeks, kind of had to flush out my system and start fresh (sometimes you need to empty the cup so that you can fill it back up).
New pics coming soon hopefully...