Monday, January 31, 2011

My Back Piece

I'm often showing pictures of half naked clients, so it's only fair that I return the favor.  
Here's my back after a recent session in SF.  Still have to do the background on the butt, so you'll just have to use your imagination for now...

Peonies, Rocks and Water

This a a great old client and friend of mine who is a very prolific artist himself.  We did the samurai half sleeve on him about seven or so years ago and he recently decided it was time to bring it all the way down.  
We will be continuing the background elements all the way down (except for the clouds, because water doesn't exist above clouds and I try to keep in mind the natural order of things when laying out this style of background no matter how stylized) and adding peonies.
There are an infinite number of variations on a Japanese nature/flowers piece, and this stuff never ever gets old for me.  Having fun so far, and after we finish it's over to the other arm to do the same thing...

TOTT Global

TOTT (Tools of the Trade) Global is a company that was started by a very good client of mine.  He has hooked up with all kinds of contemporary artists to make a variety of games, puzzles, and other all around interesting, interactive, art themed games and events.  
Here's the press release...

After tremendous succes at Art Basel in Miami, TOTT Global ( will now be showcasing their work for the first time in the company's home turf of San Francisco. We invite you to come and enjoy the opening for the exhibition at RVCA's flagship store (1485 Haight Street) on February 5th from 6pm - 9pm.  Bring your friends, family and lovers to check out new works by Donny Miller, Mike Giant, Anthony Ausgang, Claw Money, Tara McPherson, Nate Van Dyke, Greg Mike, Mark Bode, and Oliver Black.  While knocking back complimentary drinks courtesy of PBR and Blue Angel vodka, listening to PartyPat (BLAP Productions) on the 1s and 2s spinning fresh dub step and classic hip-hop.  After getting buzzed and artsy join us for the official afterparty at Vessel in Union Square where DJ DRU (JRD/BLAP Productions) will be opening for Pheeko Dubfunk (Swank Records) setting the vibe for a sweet sexy house party in an intimate setting.  Free entrance before 11 and 2x1 drinks with password "Basel."

Gallery Show
When:  Saturday, February 5th - 6pm to 9pm
Where:  RVCA San Francisco - 1485 Haight Street @ Ashbury

After Party
When: Saturday, February 5th - 9pm to 2am (free before 11, password "Basel"
Where:  Vessel, 85 Campton Place (behind Nike Town)

Snake and Chrysanthemeum

Took care of a few shading odds and ends.  Brought another piece of the snake through some clouds in the ditch (tattoo lingo for the elbow "pit").  The clouds covering the snake will lighten quite a bit and create a cool hazy effect when all the scales and color goes in.  
Also capped off the shading around the wrist and a bit up the back of the forearm.  Probably one or two more outline sessions for the upper arm then shade away until completion...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tengu Sleeve

Outlined this little guy to cap off the bottom of the Tengu sleeve.  This one is a karasu (crow) tengu, and is holding a long staff.  Still need to put a tengu statue on the inner arm to match the fox statue on the other arm, then background time...
We've started doing more frequent/shorter sessions, and it's nice to be able to just really focus on one small piece at a time and give it full attention.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Toshi Hide

I am very pleased to announce that my friend Hide, from the Horitoshi Tattoo Family in Japan, will be coming to Humboldt to stay with me and tattoo for a couple of weeks in February.  He does traditional Japanese tebori style tattooing (hand poked shading and color).
There are quite a few folks already lined up to get tattooed by him, but if you're interested, get in touch with me and I'll see what I can do.
There is a link to his web site over to the right there and here is a video of him working to give you an idea of what it's all about...

Fudo Sword

Got a nice bit of color in on the flames the other day.  It was getting late so we couldn't quite finish, but I'm sure he wasn't heart broken...
It's a pretty painful area, but he did hang tough and would have finished if we could.  I'm pretty happy with how much it pops, and it's only going to get brighter after it heals.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kingyo (Japanese Goldfish)

Knocked out a fair sized piece this session,
 but couldn't quite finish.  She's been coming down from Oregon so I was hoping to finish in 2 sessions, but just didn't want to rush it for the last fish.
These rib pieces get quite a bit larger when they're stretched out on the table...
The bottom fish will be in color but it doesn't have all those negative spaces in the water overlapping it to deal with, like the top one, so it should go relatively quick and smooth.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Durga Weapons and Flowers

I'm pretty serious when I say that this tattoo might kill me.
Last time our 5-6 hour outlining extravaganza pushed my poor hand to the limit, and today gave me a bit of a run for my money as well.
We added the pomegranate branch at the top, and the last of Durga's implements (a rope) entwined in it.  Then it was on to the patterning in the snake.  I had drawn it on the stencil, but there was no way to get to it last time.  There was also no realistic way to draw it on as it would rub off immediately, so I just had to wing it.  I'm happy with the result, but I'd be lying if i said it wasn't a bit stressful to freestyle that pattern and be confident it would work out.  I just didn't really think too much (a technique that I employ in most aspects of my life that seems to work for me) and tried to just let things happen...

Swirls and Flowers

Nothing too crazy, but we added a bunch of leaves to all the blossoms at her request, and I think it was a pretty good idea.  Sounds like we might sneak down the arm a little more next time.
One of my favorite people to tattoo, so whatever she's into doing, I'm sure it'll work out...


Finished up the African Grey today.  The wings are still healing from last week, so it'll probably be looking its best in a few more weeks.  Her family actually has one of these and it sounds like they were comparing the real bird with the tattoo and were pleased with the results (which really does make me happy as I have never even seen one in real life).
She did great during this process and is definitely rocking a bigger and more involved tattoo than most other 19 year olds...
I really liked the claws, so here you go...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shoki Body Suit Day 5

Well he made it through the week.  And with flying colors I might add.
Went over to the other thigh and outlined another demon.  This dude is holding a giant hammer and stepping up through flames toward Shoki.  It is the balance to the demon on the other thigh who is falling instead of ascending, but also holding a giant weapon...

From the front you can just see both the axe and hammer, and they are forming sort of a yin yang.
Eventually we will be adding two other demons (one coming up the back of the left thigh and one across the lower back/butt that is getting stomped on by the tiger).  I'm purposely putting 4 demons back there as the word for four in Japanese is "shi", which is also a word for death.  The number four is considered a bad omen or unlucky by many Japanese for this reason.  My thought was that the oni foursome would be even more menacing with this numerological tie in...
I'm excited that he'll be back in a month, and even more so because during the whole week session he's here my friend Hide from the Horitoshi family will be in town visiting and tattooing with me.
He does traditional Japanese tebori (hand poke) tattooing and it should really add something to the vibe in the studio that week.
More info on Hide coming soon...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shoki Body Suit Day 4

Made it over the hump after yesterday so I switched it up and went to the thigh this session.  For this suit I have a fairly good idea of the direction it's going, but don't make any specific plans for each session.  I like to have some prep work done for each session like the flower or demon drawings (everything else gets drawn on the skin), but I generally just go with what pops into my head when he gets there...

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Shaded in the wings (the tips will stay dark and fade to grey at the base).  Didn't quite have enough time for the tail and claws, but we'll squeeze that in next week.  The photo below is after the first session and shows how much those greys soften in with a little time...

Shoki Body Suit Day 3

Did some shading in the top middle of the back next to some of the previous day's work, and outlined some clouds down the other side.  Capping off more of that collar line really starts to give a slight preview of the overall look...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shoki Body Suit Day 2

Today we added a chrysanthemum on the shoulder and did some shading up top (I had to get on a chair to take that 1st pic as he is 6'6" or so).  The flower will tie into the arm and make everything flow together better as a whole (and not just look like we did the back and then the arms etc).  If he's got the foresight to do a cohesive bodysuit then we will take full advantage and plan several steps ahead.
Also tried to stay away from that fresh rib work from yesterday just to be nice.  Day 3 tomorrow...

Shoki Body Suit Day 1

So it started that he had no tattoos and wanted a Japanese sleeve.  After talking over the vibe he was going for I suggested that Shoki might represent his vision well.  After he did some research on his own he resonated with the idea so much that he decided to do it as a back piece instead.
Somewhere along the line, he decided that the heavily tattooed thing was clicking for him and made the decision to do the rest of his body.  Now I've got the task of bringing it over onto his arms and chest and down to the back of the knees for now.  In the future we will plan on going onto the front and down to the ankles, but one thing at a time.
He lives in Portland (7 hours north of me by car), so we recently decided that he would come down one week every month or two and get tattooed for 5 days in a row for a couple to few hours at a go.  This was the first day of that first schedule...
Went right to the side to get some of that over with early on.  It takes a tremendous amount of dedication and perseverance to follow through with something like this and I for one am very much looking forward to the transformation.  I've got my head wrapped around this one so many different ways, the possibilities are very exciting.  Never thought about one guy's body so much...


Started this one a month or two ago and just finished up (that's why the yellows don't quite match up yet).  Great client who's super fun to tattoo, so the flower ended up a bit more "fun" looking for lack of a better word.  Never done one quite like this, but I feel like it works for her and I'm excited for our plans to do more and finish the arm.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Suikoden Back Piece

Outlined this the next day after that Durga/Flowers sleeve.  Definitely put some stress on the hands this week.
This is Hitentaisei Rikon, one of the famous 108 Heroes of the Suikoden.  It is my homage to Kuniyoshi's print from his Suikoden series.  He had the existing tattoos on his back and didn't want to cover them, so we had to work around them the best we could.  We discussed a few ideas for the back and we was particularly drawn to doing a warrior image.  He did a bunch of homework on his own and chose a few characters and images from Kuniyoshi's book that appealed to him.  After a little consulting we realized that this print would fit the space on his back perfect.  Most large traditional tattoos taken from the Suikoden use a pose that Kuniyoshi drew, and then the artist will tweak the robe patterns and such to his own liking or style.  I had planned on doing the same but at the last minute I really wanted to try and reproduce the original as faithfully as possible.  Never really seen it done exactly like this and it's been very fun to channel the straight wood block style (down to every pattern and line thickness...)  In the print he is standing on a rock outcropping, and here he his perched on one of the older tattoos.  Next session we will be outlining the rest of the open spaces on the back.  Think lots of flowers (but I do have another idea in mind)...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Durga Weapons and Flowers

Well, it's been a while since it happened, but this session kinda kicked my ass.
I think it was over five hours of line work, but it's still a bit of a blur and my hand and wrist are still feeling it.  
The concept she came to me with was wanting to do a sleeve of lots of different flowers with all of the implements of the Hindu goddess Durga scattered throughout (vajra, snake, lotus, sword, chakram, mace, bow, conch, trident and rope).  We wanted it to look pretty dense, but no background.  Sounded super fun but it definitely took some hours at the drawing table to figure out.  It's actually a pretty complicated sleeve to lay out (I think it took 2 hours just to get it stenciled and drawn on properly).  She had some good input and we got it all figured out and the tattooing went really well.  It's a lot of outline to get at once, but she did awesome.
Still have to add a pomegranate branch and rope at the top and a few flowers here and there but this is most of it...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Body Suit

Last session of 2010.  Been a productive year with this project and I'm very anxious to keep working on it and improving.  You end up building a life long type relationship with a person when you tattoo them this much, and it seems to be mutually enriching.
I am very lucky to have such dedicated clients, and it motivates me to push myself all the time.
Thanks to all for their patience, as I do take this stuff seriously and that means lots of study and prep time (which can lead to delays, but ultimately the hope is for the best tattoo for each person)...