Monday, November 28, 2011


What a perfect tattoo for the season.  All the geese have been taking flight here in Humboldt and heading wherever they do this time of year, so there's a very cool environmental tie in going on.
This tattoo technically isn't done yet though, the plan being that we wait until the grey shading heals on the big goose and then layer in some browns and other natural goosey colors, giving a rich stylized realism (think Audubon).
Also wish I had a better picture of the front.  She's a dancer and pilates instructor and the curve of the goose's neck fits her very well and really moves great with the hip.

Durga Weapons and Flowers

I think that we've finally agreed that it is a finished tattoo.  I thought we might be done a session or two ago, but she had some areas that she wanted to fill and tweak, and ultimately it really did help strengthen the piece and bring it all together.
From the get go, we were trying to balance something that would be super dense opening up to reveal more skin toward the top.  How much is too much is very subjective (you don't know where the edge is until you've gone over it as they say), but I feel like we got it just right.  Sometimes the person living with the tattoo really has an opportunity to absorb it and see it so much more than I can, and is able to notice things I might not have.  Especially in a piece like this that has so many different elements all working together.  She's got a really unique look with this one and it suits her very well.  
I think this is a good example of the client really knowing what they want while still giving the artist enough freedom, and the tattooer really trying to tap into the client's vibe and style while mixing it with their own (and knowing when to listen to and respect their input, and knowing when to put their foot down and do what's best for the piece...)
In summary...I think it's a cool and original sleeve, and I'm proud of it.

Body Suit

These are a couple of quick pics we took after a really short session a few weeks ago.  We've actually done a more extensive session since then, but as it was all an inch away from the crotch and the inner part of a butt cheek, so I figured I'd spare the graphic close ups and let you use your imagination for now...
I'm actually supposed to tattoo him tomorrow, but I've been bed ridden with a really nasty flu for the past several days, and it isn't looking good.  We've got appointments through next year, but it's always a shame to have to miss any of them and upset the rhythm.
Now that the dragons are completely outlined and the background is down the thighs, I've got some serious decisions to make.  Do I start coloring them in, or start outlining from the ankle up till we meet the dragons, then color everything at once?
Need to decide soon...

P.S.  Here's an old shot I found from our first consultation about this project.  Hard to believe that this turned into that...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Finished up all the color and now it's a wrap.  Took three sessions to do, but it's s pretty good sized flower (that I was instructed to make as busy and gnarled as possible).  
I really dig the way it fits on her and I think she wears it well.  That day after we finished there was even some serious discussion of a matching one on the other shoulder.  We've got lots of different projects in mind for the future, but another one of these is certainly a welcome addition to the queue...


This is actually the start to a phoenix/dragon sleeve.  And lucky me, those happen to be two of the more complicated images in terms of line work and design in the bank of Japanese tattoo imagery to try and fit on one arm.  Since he already had the big shamrock (and even if he didn't it would be pretty tight) eating up some valuable real estate, I'm trying something slightly different.  
Next session I'll be adding the tail feathers going around the shamrock and cascading down the arm.  My plan is to let them fall where they will flow well and look good on the arm, not worrying to much about the dragon.  The phoenix will be in full color, and the dragon will be black and grey sort of blending in with the misty background.
It wouldn't really work to try and show the entire thing, so there will just be a head and neck with bits of body and claw and what not peeking through behind the bird throughout the arm...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tiger Sleeve

Been going through an extra busy patch of life lately and haven't been able to keep up on everything.  The site here has seen a little neglect as of late, but it certainly isn't because of any lack of cool tattoos.
The other week I got to finish the rest of the line work and start shading the background.  We got to log a bit more time than usual and it was a great session.
It's rare that I only have one person in a day, and this one one of those times.  I really got to draw and tattoo at a relaxed pace (mentally), and was really able to just zone out in the piece.  It really is a treat to just direct you energies toward one task a day and have the recipient stoked on it as well.
I'm really digging this one, and am excited to start covering some serious ground soon...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


He's back already for another 5 day stretch.
Did a short-ish session to get back in the swing of things, and shaded a bunch on the left thigh.
Then at the end of the session I wanted to get a full body shot to kind of take it all in and plan some more, then it really hit me, this is seriously starting to look like something.
It's very exciting for me to start to see the over all silhouette come together.  Usually you stay so focused on these small patches that are right in front of your face, you don't ever just stand back and enjoy the tattoo. Should be quite the sight by the end of Saturday...

Hagoromo Tennyo

Added the "ghost" pattern to the lower robes.  It's basically outlined in purple that has a drop of black in it, and the idea is that when it heals in all the way it will be subtle, but still clear and readable.
I also filled in a couple of  robe folds that I had spaced on before, and that just about does it.  I need one more session in the upper yellow sash to complete the cover up portion of the tattoo, then I think we're good.
I'll admit that I'm feeling a bit relieved that the pattern worked out so well.  There is a danger that any artist faces of over working a piece toward the end (not knowing when to call it finished and walk away) or not quite nailing it on the finishing touches.
I chose this pattern for a few reasons.  I wanted something very geometric that would play with the eyes a little and contrast to all the flowiness of the piece.  She also was really wanting to incorporate stars around the tattoo, as this is a celestial being.  I didn't want to do any stars near this piece, but one way of looking at the pattern is seeing a bunch of six pointed stars, so star problem solved!

It is also a very old pattern that is sometimes used in Buddhist deity's robes, so I deemed it "appropriate" for this image (and it looks nice with the dorjes, a buddhist implement, and her daughter's middle name).  
All in all, I think the tattoo is just right for her, and it's been quite the journey for the both of us.
P.S.  That's not a bruise on her right side, just some left over purple...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Phoenix Leg

Started this one a while ago, then he moved to Colorado.  He's back in town for a little bit, so we're hoping to knock out as much as we can.  This session we drew on a bunch of the tail feathers and got them outlined.  Then, after those were done, I was looking at it and thinking flames would be a good that's what we got into next.
I'm planning on adding more feathers and flames all around the inside and back of the leg.  The idea is that this will be the one big piece on this leg to sort of bring all the smaller ones together.  The chrysanthemum was done by Shad from Belgium, the grey peony by Toshihide and the purple peony by Shunho (both from the Horitoshi Family in Tokyo), the peonies at the bottom by Bill Salmon from SF, the red dragon by Joel Long from Colorado, and the wacky traditional stuff by none other that Mike Taylor of Arcata fame...
It's pretty fun to weave in and out of other people's work and make it all one big piece.  The goal is to not overwhelm the smaller existing tattoos, but not make it look like you're avoiding them either.  I'll most likely be adding some pieces of flowers popping out here and there to really make it cohesive and more unified.  See him again in a few days so maybe then...?