Saturday, October 20, 2012

It's a process

Tattoos are a commitment.

     Obviously, with any tattoo, there is the factor of permanence but I'm talking about the sometimes long process of working on a full sleeve, backpiece, or some other large kind of tattoo that cannot typically be done all at once. These piece can take 20, 30+ hours to complete and that can be over the course of years depending on the budget and time of the collector.
     It's also not uncommon to NOT get to finish a sleeve design or other large piece because the collector moves out of state, or has trouble affording the sessions. I have also had clients come back after years of being locked up, knocked up, experience a tragic family event, significant life change, or a myriad of other reasons that affect the progress of a tattoo, sometimes even clients I never expected to see again.
But I have also had clients hellbent on getting the work done, and come in every other week for months to finish their arm or back or ribs.
     The process has been as different as the subject matter of the tattoo. I have also gotten faster, more efficient and am able to handle working a design for longer periods, and that has cut short on how many sessions a larger piece would normally take me.
     My point in all of this is that large piece take real time to complete and not many people understand that. In an age of "instant gratification" and the time distortion of tattoo reality shows, people not familiar with getting a large tattoo can be misled as to how long a large, good tattoo takes. It's a commitment, that if not followed through, will leave you with a reminder of things undone, which can often weigh on the mind as so many people with incomplete tattoos will tell you. "I just want it done"

     So having gone through all of that, here's a couple of large pieces I have been working on for a while now. Still Works In Progress (WIP) these show how large tattoos are broken up into sections and worked over time.

I love detail.
     This Tiki Island sleeve is a full sleeve, I don't have the forearm section shown here, we're still working on the upper half. The latest session, we added the sunset sky and finished the lava/waterfall the design wraps around the arm where the actual sunset element is placed, so it has the strange effect of casting light on both sides of the front aspect of the design. This kind of design element can only occur on a 3D cylindrical canvas. From this picture you can see however that there are flowers and a frog that still have to be colored, as well as other highlights in the leaves and even on the Tiki. We have about 8 hours in this piece so far, that includes grey outlines along the entire arm, so Jessica, the collector of this piece, has to walk around with pencil grey line work for months. but the wait will be worth it. I have pics of this complete design in an earlier blog post if you want to learn more about it.

The Collectors natural swelling really added to the effect here.
     This concept behind this piece, the "world on my back" is a collection of landmarks around the world, starting with American locations in the center, larger tears. all of the locations are set into skin tears with stitching. We're about 10 hours into this piece, with each location taking about 2 1/2 hours and then another pass to add the skin effects; shadows and swelling. From here, we'll move on to another "tear" and work out the locations there. We've been working on this piece for about two years now, real time. so 10 hours work over two years, and still lots and lots to go.

     So there it is. Big pieces are a lot of work, and these are two of my pieces where the Collectors are serious about getting the work done, no matter how much life slows the process down. Most of the work I do these days are larger pieces like this, I really enjoy working on them and resulting in some of the best work I have done in any medium of art. it's particularly rewarding that there is someone who will carry it and appreciate the work as intended for the rest of their days. as an artist, there isn't much better than that.

As always, thanks for reading!

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