Thursday, June 12, 2014


Recently finished the color on this kirin (actually the first kirin I've ever been asked to do)...
Normally, I outline the whole arm first, then shade all the background, then the flowers, then the main image.  I think in my excitement to finally do a kirin, I really wanted to focus on the animal and let it be the complete center of attention, so I just concentrated on its design and layout with no serious thought put into the background at this point.  It was nice to change up the approach and try something new.
 There's definitely a trap that I fall into of over thinking some projects, to the point of getting  a little overwhelmed and stressed.  Not in a negative way, but there's a lot of thought that goes into laying out these larger pieces and you can get really wrapped up in all the different possibilities.  Just focusing on the kirin, with no thoughts of the future, was pretty freeing mentally.
Trying to take it one step at a time and trusting that you know what to do, and that the next phase will work out and fall into place.
He's interested in finishing his body in a fairly traditional Japanese style, so holding off on the background right now might even be advantageous in the long run.  Drawing larger sections of background at once would be a little different for me (like do the foreground on the back, sides and chest, then all the background as one).  Seems like it could be a good opportunity to follow the stylistic path I've been going for, but trying to see it from different angles and execute it with slight variations.  It might seem trivial, but sometimes when you've been doing things the same way for a long time, those little tweaks can really open up some new doors mentally.
His enthusiasm and respect for Japanese tattooing helps rekindle my own love of this stuff and want to keep experimenting and evolving...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Snake and Peonies

So it looks like it's been almost a year since I've added anything to this blog.  It certainly hasn't been from any lack of working hard or fun projects to be had...but not having been able to prioritize the time or really just find the head space.  Within the last year I've opened up a new studio, had an amazing trip to Japan, hosted some amazing guest artists and decided to handle my scheduling and communication without a helper (hence the horrible delays if you've tried getting in touch).  All the while raising a new child (aka not sleeping much) and trying to keep up on the home front.
Lately I've been feeling pretty good about the tattooing, but that there's kind of been some component  missing.  I think that once you get to a certain level of comfort in your work it can become more difficult to push yourself and keep improving at the rate that you might like.  It's been my experience that the older I get, those mental or technical "next steps" are kind of more subtle and less often, but more meaningful.  I've realized that a big part of what's been lacking for me is the need to self reflect.  I think that it should be a practice in everyone's life, and I'm feeling really ready to get back to it by keeping up on this blog.
I guess the above tattoo brings these things to mind.  It was done a few weeks ago on a really great guy who came out from Utah.  He's a talented tattooer from Salt Lake, and that really adds a layer onto the process.  I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who's been coming to me for work, but there's something about a fellow tattooer going out of their way to get something from you that makes you feel honored.  There are certain things about this job and lifestyle that only another tattooer can really relate to or understand.  That coupled with the fact that I believe like energies attract (meaning that I feel that I share a pretty good connection with most of my clients) made for a very enjoyable tattoo session.  It was was nice to have some good conversations about life and tattoo philosophy while getting to do a fun piece...working and reflecting at the same time.
As far as the tattoo, not that it's the most groundbreaking idea ever, but I always wanted to try and do peonies with some different colored tips.  I'm always getting the request for flowers with white tips (the Horitoshi look that I love deeply and is my main inspiration), but he wanted a white snake, so this was the perfect time to try something a little different.  The white tips on the flowers provides such a dramatic contrast with other colors and dark background, but would've been lost on a white foreground.  Great experience getting to do a very subtly tweaked version of a classic on a really great and thoughtful person...