Sunday, March 25, 2012

Geisha and Tiger

First session of a new backpiece started the other week.
I'm super stoked on how the session went and how everything is looking so far.  Sometimes it can be a bit nerve wracking to start a big tattoo on someone you've never tattooed that isn't heavily covered yet.  Sitting through a four hour outline from the front of the thigh to the shoulder isn't fun for anyone, and not knowing how someone will take it is scary.  All that terrain around the hip and up the side can be very difficult to do if they're squirming or twitching (especially if you're trying to get so much on at once and the design relies on it being very smooth and elegant).
I'm very pleased to say that she sat like a rock.  Couldn't have done better and it really made my work that much easier and more enjoyable.
Only part we didn't get on was the tiger's tail, which we'll draw on to flow nicely down the front/inner part of the thigh.  I think it fits her great and she's going to wear it well.  We'll get to the tail next time and her whole right shoulder is going to be a clustered cherry blossom branch.  Also the tiger will be perched on some rocks, covering up the peace sign.
I'm really enthusiastic about the projects I've been starting and looking forward to drawing in 2012, and stoked that so many folks are going for it an committing to these more involved pieces...

Tiger Sleeve

Colored in the other one and a half peonies on this session.
Believe it or not, it really takes quite a while to do one of these in this style.  I tattoo the white first (opposite of the standard tattoo coloring logic of going dark to light so as not to muddy your lighter colors) in downward streaks and then edge the color up in the open spaces.  Might not sound all that crazy, but it is certainly a bit more difficult and stressful to do it like this (because you really can wipe your dark colors into the white and muck it up if you're not careful).  My take on it though is that it's the best way to give it that extra special pop that really jumps off that black background.
This style of coloring peonies is 100% inspired by Horitoshi and his family as observed by me over the years, and really explained well by my mentor Bill Salmon.
I'm very fortunate to have such good friends and teachers in the tattoo world, and clients like this guy that appreciate this style of doing things and specifically request it...

Monday, March 19, 2012


Did a short little session to put in some white highlights and finish it off.
I'm happy with how the white brought out more texture in the body (might have even made a reference to getting down with the down) and really brought it all together,
We worked great together on this one, and have started brainstorming the next project already.
Side note:  Since starting this tattoo, I've seen more geese everywhere than I ever have in my life...

Body Suit

Nice chunk finished on the top of the thigh this session.
I was maybe hoping to finish the outline down to the ankle, but I've been so swamped lately, I just didn't have it in me to draw up the last fish for the bottom (goldfish that is).  I'm sure it's something that could have been whipped up pretty quick, but it's really important to me that my mind be 100% in it, and since there was plenty of other stuff to keep us busy I didn't see the need to rush.
Things tend to happen when they need to, and if I don't force it too hard there's a much better chance of everything working out for the best...
Also, seeing a shot of his whole front is really making me realize that we've been making some decent headway.  Still a couple years ahead of us, but all of it I'm sure will be time well spent for both of us.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Onwards and downwards...
Drew on the next section of body and outlined it.  Much shorter session than last time and probably much more what the future ones will be like.
Decided to freehand the rest on because as we get down towards the hips, butt and thigh, the terrain becomes much more dimensional and presents many more challenges (in terms of composition and layout).  
The red marker lines above kind of denote where the misty clouds will be.  I've always wanted to do one like this, where the body comes in and out of view through the mist.  Really looking forward to the next session...


First shading session.  I'm liking the direction that it's going, but I will be breaking one of my cardinal rules on this one...
It is common to hear a request for "you know, mostly shading, but just a little color here and there".  It is my feeling that in most cases it is better to do a black and grey tattoo, or a color tattoo.  Trying to put just a hint of color in a grey shaded piece can look awkward or forced, and I try to never do it.
At first I shot down her idea for that effect, but then I got to thinking, and believe that we can make it work and keep us both happy at the same time...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Here's a few shots of some of the progress we made over our last set of appointments.
Got almost all the flames colored and started the first demon and his big ol' hammer.  Still plenty to do even in the demon we did start, but I'm happy that he's feeling very excited and positive about the direction the color is heading...


I've been beyond overwhelmed with the drawing and tattooing workload and general shop/life activity lately, so the descriptions of current tattoo projects will be seriously abbreviated for the near future (maybe to some folks' delight)...
This is the beginning of a full leg piece of all chrysanthemums.  Yup, ankle to thigh and totally solid with flowers and a little background.  He's a great older client of mine and I could not be more excited to be starting a project like this.  It is exactly the type of piece I love and want to do and I'm really looking forward to all the possibilities this presents...

Thursday, March 1, 2012


We've been talking about doing this for quite a while, and our time finally came.  
I'm very happy with how it fits and works on her body.  It's one of those things that you measure out ahead of time and no matter what, the drawing never seems to quite fit just how it was supposed to (especially trying to transition from the back to arm...avoiding the pit, dealing with the curve on the ball of the shoulder etc).  
This stencil went on in one shot and fit exactly as planned.  Hopefully a sign of things to come through the shading sessions...
P.S.  That nice purple peony was done by our friend ToshiHide from the Horitoshi family last time he was visiting.