Sunday, September 8, 2013

Portfolio update: Proto Cover V1

This is going to rock!

   Here is the prototype cover for my portfolio so far. I am really excited to finish this thing, you have no idea!

   I don't think there will be much else to do with it, it's alright as it is now, I think, until someone points out some glaring mistake that I missed, and then I will redesign the entire thing. Though as simple as this cover design is, I'm confident that this is the final design as much as it is the prototype.

   I still have those last few pages to work out; an intro page, and a back page where all my social media urls and "thank yous" will go.

   I have been using the lulu.com photobook builder for this project. not too bad really... I am still figuring things out as I go, so I do have to backtrack from time to time, but it's an intuitive process. They have a lot of presets and make general layout really easy. However, I am thankful that there is the option to upload full page graphics, as their fonts, layout and lettering options are far too limited for my purposes.


   As you may have noticed, the title of the portfolio is the same as this blog. not an accident as I think they are kind of extensions of each other, or at least that is my plan down the road. As I complete the book, I intend to redo the header graphics and backgrounds for much of my social media pages, unifying all of this stuff visually. it's been a while anyway, and it all could use a little updating.

   Back to work! I hope to wrap up these last bits for the portfolio in the next few days, and get a proof copy in my hands as soon as possible!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 2, 2013

A bit of a preview...

This is the art for the cover of my tattoo portfolio. Although a pic of a bad ass tattoo would be an obvious choice for a portfolio of tattoos, but I wanted to show something on the cover that no one tattoo could quite show. so there it is.

I like it.

  I still have a few more things to do with this piece before it is totally finished. and then a few odd pages in the book, and it will finally be ready for a proof sample, where I will make sure everything is the way I want it to be, then. finally publish. yay. I have been working on this new portfolio more more than half a year, and I am finally getting close to completing it!

  And afterward I have a list of side projects that I will be working on completing. one at a time. All of which you will see here.

thanks for looking!


Saturday, August 31, 2013

How long is TOO long?

It has been WAY, way too long since I have been on here. and though I intend on working more on this blog, I have had many other priorities that have kept me away. Though I have amassed lots of new stuff to publish and show off, I have been focused on specific projects not including my usual tattoo work. I have a childrens book I have been working on for more than a year or two, and then on top of that a set of Tarot cards, and a few other story projects with various collaborators.

I plan to post and show pics and other examples of these projects. mostly in the hopes to promote and make them more known, as these projects will eventually become "products"

So much has been going on in the world, and my own life that I have been chomping at the bit to express and reveal here, but then, time has been short, and bills high. However as part of my new "master plan" I will be working the blog back into my routine. Showcasing the collectors of my tattoos, ideas on culture and society and a few doodles or odd drawings along the way.

I hope that the few people still reading this blog find a reason to return.

thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Article: Cover ups and Fix ups.


This time around I am going to do a bit of an article, covering a subject in tattooing that I think more people need a more honest assessment of – Cover ups. We’ll go over my own observations from why people get cover-ups and how to avoid this kind of tattoo, to how different approaches should be taken for different kinds of cover ups, including names and disaster tattoos.
Good ideas gone bad...



             I've been thinking about putting this article together for a while now, and I am hoping maybe I can provide some info and tips about how to go about getting the right cover up for someone out there, or maybe help a few people avoid this situation in the first place.
Collectors: Don't go for the cheapest "artist" with a "gun" you can find.


The three main reasons a person typically needs to get a tattoo covered or fixed are; 
1. They were too young to know better.
2. Too cheap to get it done right the first time. 
3. Got a lovers name on them that they don’t love anymore. 
Or a combination of these...

Her son's names, All fixed up.

The cover up design was by the Collector.


Here’s a tip: NEVER get a lovers name. EVER. I don’t care how much you love them, your relationship with that person can always change. The names of your children, parents, family, lost loved ones, your relationship with those people will not likely change, and those are good options for getting a tattoo. Tattoos are permanent and not easy to cover or remove (in case you’re not sure what permanent really means) so don’t get your tattoos on impulse, or for fashion or to prove anything to someone other than yourself. Tattoos are best as benchmarks to your life and expressions of your experience in this world and those things you cherish. Not for some passing fad. As many women with “tramps stamps” have now learned. –don’t get me wrong, if you come to me wanting your boyfriends name on your neck, or the Tasmanian Devil pissing on a Ford logo on your lower back, and I can’t talk you out of it, and you’re willing to pay the price, I will do it. My responsibility only goes so far. (as a note, I do refuse to tattoo images of hate, gang/biker/nazi/organized crime affiliation, but that’s pretty common in the professional tattoo industry)

Disguising that old design is the key.
In the world of tattooing, cover ups are one of the hardest and most complicated challenges we tattooists face. Often enough, the story goes as follows: “I got this tattoo, when I was 16 by my friend’s friend in their kitchen, and now that I am 30 I cant stand looking at it and want to cover it up” or the classic “I’m not with Alexander anymore, and I hate him, and I want to cover his name that is on my neck.” And from there, the artist has to figure out how to make an unwanted tattoo go away and make the new tattoo look good. These pieces can come with significant limitations as well such as “I don’t want it bigger than it already is” or “please don’t make it darker than it already is” It would be easy to be a dick and just tell them no, or an artist can rise to the challenge and help a person out that has made the same mistake that most of us with tattoos have made- getting a bad/stupid tattoo.

Artists: Don't start something you cant handle.

It's a difficult job.

There are many considerations before starting a cover up. One of the first things I need to know is what the collector would rather have in place of the old tattoo. If it was a good idea, bad tattoo, those can be pretty easy, just fixing and adjusting what is already there to make the original idea work may be all that is needed.
One of my Favorites.
            Often enough however, their design tends to be something the wearer wants to go away, typically, a name. Names tend to be more common, and more difficult to cover. And usually the collector comes into a shop without any real idea of what they want to do, or what they can do, aside from making the unwanted design go away. So it falls on the tattooist to identify options that would work for the cover up and provide the collector with a tattoo concept that they will enjoy. Cause no one wants to cover a tattoo they don’t want, with another tattoo they DON’T want.

On the wrist. They're going to see it anyway. So it might as well look bad ass!
Typically we provide standard options, Tribal, roses/flowers, skulls and smoke tend to be standard avenues of covering up a design, and we always make those options available. Without telling someone that the only thing they can get is tribal or roses. Usually we ask what they would prefer to have there and find a way to make idea work. Though there is always compromise in a cover up. The collector may not be able to get what they want as a cover, simply because the design doesn't cover the old tattoo, or it will end up in a confusing mess. Other factors play a part such as lighter inks cannot cover darker inks, and a cover up almost always has to go darker than the original design in order to disguise the previous work. So those bold black names make for tricky jobs that require the collector to get a larger, dark piece they may not have ever wanted in the first place.  
And the darker, or bolder the design, the more limited the options are to cover it. In these cases, a few laser removal treatments may help in lightening an area for more freedom in conceiving a cover concept.

Transforming the look of existing work can distract from it being crooked, slanted, or otherwise poorly placed.
In designing a cover up, I will take pictures of the design and surrounding areas, taking notes on the limitation of the space I can use. Then I’ll print those pictures and draw on them to work out a way I can make the desired cover work.
Quite a challenge this one. Can't wait to finish it when he gets back from deployment.
 Other tattoos that people want cover are the crappy amateur pieces done by kitchen scratchers. These are typically light and have irregular lines. Often they are done with homemade equipment and ink and tend be a general mess. Luckily, these pieces are easy to cover, as there isn’t much to them, and modern, factory made inks overpower any of this homemade junk that people put into their skin. Often, I don’t even consider the existing tattoo in these cases and just put whatever design they would rather have right over it.
Athletes: Don't get your Number either. it too can change.
Then sometimes there are the really tough situations; large, dark, heavily scarred tattoos that are usually the result of multiple failed cover up attempts, or possibly the work of a heavy handed artist. In these cases, the wearer tends to be open to whatever can make the design more appealing, or just wants a solid black shape over the area. Typically some custom drawn tribal, right on the body, can turn an embarrassing tattoo into something the collector can be satisfied with.

That "No Fear" was not easy to hide at all. 
The most important factors for any cover up tattoo are
1.                          The new design must disguise the older one. If you can see the old design through the new design, then it’s not a good cover up.
2.                          The new work must be bolder, darker, or more dominate than the older work, so that the design underneath doesn't show through.
3.                          The collector of the tattoo has to like the new design, as no one should cover an unwanted tattoo with another, unwanted tattoo.
4.                          The artist you choose must be a professional, and have some experience covering old tattoos.

When "it just needs something more"

Whew! So that’s what I've got. So far anyway. Any input, questions or comments can be sent directly to me by email. Levismith31@gmail.com I would love to hear them!

And as always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New tattoos: a fix up, Paradise and a first timer!

"I need a method for coming up with titles that are relevant and interesting cause this vague shit isn't working for me anymore." -That was almost the title for this blog post. seriously. I need to come up with a method, where I'm not begging some mystic muse for a clever title to these trivial blog posts every single time. And just a date may seem cool, but I just don't feel it.
Just a quick little thing.
A few updates on some ongoing projects, and a couple pics of new stuff too. We'll kick things off with the Island Paradise shoulder piece. This is a recent recurring piece that will soon demand a Collector Spotlight. You can see from earlier posts, we've got the sky worked in and various highlights. a lot of yellow and orange with a bit of purple, pink, and the blues framing out the sky. I've been working on a couple sunsets lately, and I really like how they have been turning out. A tricky thing tattooing a sunset, they can very easily go awry. To me it's like an abstract painting, that isnt... yeah, I know that probably doesn't make sense, but whatever. ha! So all we have left really is some fine tuning and bringing the yin yang element more into the piece by making it representative of the moon, sort of...

and the red beach chair looks inviting too.
 Then we have this new project, reworking a Japanese theme backpiece that needs a lot of love. First task was the tree, fix and finish. From there the plan is to go through and rework the entire piece, add more cherry blossoms, water, wind bars and a koi pond that will connect her lower back piece to the rest of the design. quite a project. This one and a couple of other recent cover up/fix designs I've been faced with have inspired an article post I'm planning actually about cover ups and fix ups. I tend to do a lot of these and developed... opinions, on the matter. but on with the pics.

This is what happens when your tattooist isn't properly trained in the craft.
 This one above is the before, none of this is me, as you may notice I am making that as clear as possible. but it is necessary to to show what I'm starting with. once the entire back is done, I'll use this image to really show how a piece can be modified and rebuilt. I list the artist as "unknown" though I am sure at least the collector knows who who did it, but I feel that's irrelevant info in the case of projects like these.

Ah yes! That's more like it!
So here we have the redone tree. This took about 2 hours altogether. I didn't mess around with any of the other elements of the overall piece, the cherry blossoms I had to resist getting into though, tempting as it was. The Tree was plenty though. Blending off the old color and shading was a trick. I had no way to tell what kinds of ink were previously used, and even if i did, the age of the piece meant they wouldn't just blend together anyway. So color matching and even adjusting the old color to what I had come up with was the only way. Normally I would also prefer to restructure the tree, but in a design like this where so much has already been decided, It was best to just enhance the existing design and keep the changes subtle. Most of what I'll end up doing with the piece is rebuilding the values, so that each element can be seen for what it is.


A close up on the branches and the ends, there was a good bit of cleaning up to do there. What I'm looking forward to for the next session is redoing the blossoms and adding in a TON more.

Finally, a simple anchor. nothing dramatic, but a good clean piece none the less. It's the collector's first tattoo, dedicated to his grandfather, a sailor, and he already has plans to expand it to a 1/3 of his calf.



Thanks for reading! and Happy Halloween! And may help come to the victims of Hurricane Sandy soon and swift! I am astonished at the devastation brought on by this "frankenstorm".

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Just stay positive

Just stay positive. If that doesn't work, fake it. Most experiences are fleeting. As we move from to the next, remind yourself that life will not stay that way. It changes all the time, good things happen and bad things happen to every one of us, all the time. Keep perspective on life and these fleeting experiences will become easier to deal with, and you'll be able to better see what lessons are hidden within everything that happens and how we respond.

This pic is one of favorites of my incredible daughter Liberty. Sorry if it's sideways. I'm posting this from my phone, and odd things tend to happen when I do. It is what it is.


Friday, October 26, 2012

And on it goes.

So I have been working on the childrens book that Davin Yant and I started a few years ago. I think we're actually going to get this sucker finished out. we've also added Dawn, My Wife and special education teacher to help us work the right kind of lesson info into the book. Yes, the plan is to have the book educational, and yet cool at the same time. Without getting all Dr. Seuss on it. (I too, love Dr. Seuss, calm down.) Edutainment, that is where it's at these days. I really think it's a bad ass property and I'm excited to see it reach fruition. it is so cool in fact, I'm still not ready to show anything about it or even breathe it's name on the interwebs. not until we're ready.

Anyway, along with the children's book, I am still working on my AfterWorld comic, almost ready to put another page up, but I'm not going to rush it. I've been setting a day to work out specific projects now, and not trying to work on all of them at once (simply doesn't work that way, no matter how hard I try) And I'm still putting together designs for tattoo commissions. though I haven't done anything for the CreateMyTattoo page in a few weeks.

So much work, and so little to show... yet.

I still have tattoo pics though! Don't think I'm holding out. not much of an Art blog if there isn't any art!

Here's a pic of some lettering I have done recently. still have more to do with it, filling some of the empty pace with more filigree and spirals I think. Still Pretty Cool I think...
The upper lettering is healed, while the lower pic is of fresh ink.




And a another piece I've been working on for a little while, some machinery behind exposed ribs and torn skin. This design is derived off of another tattoo the client brought me, but i changed it a good deal to keep it custom.. We still have a session or two in this one, but it's still turning out nicely.

The bronze look is to give the piece a steampunk feel. 


And Finally for today, this is an outline drawing for a custom request that never came back, too bad too, I had wicked plans for this piece. Not that I'm into pokemon, or skyrim, and regardless how well I think those work together I thought the design was pretty cool. again, based on the clients concepts.
Goes to show how well even odd elements can fit together.
Thanks for reading!
Maybe I'll post a comic page next time. that's what I would like to see.