Mythical linework.

“You are not born of man. It was the Moon that bore you”.

I think one of the most fun things about designs is being inspired by everything around you, books, people or in this case, films. 

Although probably  not tattooable unless done as a back piece, I can’t deny my love for the faun from Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth”. He has such an interesting shape, and is so beautifully designed… he DESERVES to be seen! 

So.. here you are. My old linework sketch! Enjoy!

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Doing the first Tattoo, the milestone!

My bloody good good, it’s been SOME time. I do have my reasons- absolutely NO excuses for having been away for so long!
Looking back, the last time I posted was in Summer! Oh my, oh my!
So very much has happened since I last spoke to all of you, and I think I can say it was because I jut didn’t have the heart- the news seemed so much like bad news.
We were informed one morning that it was the last few months that our other apprentice would be working with us, and that I was to be the only one training. This was a heartbreaking turn of events and my first thought was- what good was I alone..? A clumsy, quiet, self doubting, ever pondeting Brit! Unfortunately this situation was one that was necessary, but it left me in a daunting place. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but we had spent the past months envisioning what our training would hold, and more than anything else, as whimsical as it seems, it held each other..
Still, we had three months to train together and learn all that we could, and I was also informed that my own training would soon intensify and I was iminently to do my first tattoo. Exciting stuff, and all moving so fast! It doesn’t leave you time to fear though, I  can say that much for it!

I spent a long time thinking on what my first tattoo would be, and I was certain that it should at least be based on something that I had drawn myself. I had been told that it is important  to be familiar with the designs that you are tattooing so I promptly dedicated myself to the creation of flash sheets..

The more I look at these now, the more I see fault in them- more and more small bits and pieces to be improved, but I don’t  think this is a bad thing. I love improving my designs, and at the time I was happy with these. They were where I thought that my designs should stylistically venture, and they were small enough to not take TOO long, should I tattoo them on someone..

I posted them on the page for our shop and implored kind souls to let me tattoo them. In days previously my friends had asked about the prospect of using fake hands or pig skin, but there was to be no pissing about with that sort of thing! It was to be straight onto a moving, breathing, bleeding person! As scary as this may seem, i’m more confused as to the way a fake hand would work.. With tattoos, the ink sits under a certain layer  of skin, but what happens with a hand made of latex..? It doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t move or even heal.. I can understand painting on them to display a design, but actually tattooing them is an alien concept to me.. Still, I was determined  to do a good job and after a few tiny hitches with arranging customers it progressed that my first tattoo was to be chosen from my flash and done on a volunteer.

They say that there is a different dynamic to tattooing a stranger to someone you know. With a loved one you agonize needlessly over every line and pain over each movement, rather than just getting the job done well and without picking. My first tattoo was on a stranger, but they may as well have been my soul mate for the amount of care I took! The first design I did was meant to be a rose, something with lines easy to hide and disguise in case  of shaking or slipping, but what was picked frofwasm my flash was certainly not a rose! 

It was so so exciting! Also very scary, but while I was doing it all I could think was that I had finally made it! 

I’d worked my whole  life to be ready for that event and being there after everything.. college, university, all the hardship, wavering hope, jobs I was unhappy in, the thousands  of hours spent drawing and how much I missed it when I had no time to pick up a pencil.. it was wonderful! I remember thinking, “I will do my absolute  best, but even if I do not succeed, this has been amazing!”

Considering it was my first ever time with a needle, I was proud of how it turned out- not very shaky, clear lines and a design I was happy with! There was some bleeding but it didn’t put me off as some were worried it might, and the entire process gave  me a wonderful focus and concentration. Colouring this will  be fun, but for another time! I’m still slow with my lines, even now, and we’d have been there forever if we’d coloured. My teacher and Boss was so very supportive, and I couldn’t have asked for more! The fact that he was there to lean on throughout made it a calm and straightforward experience, I couldn’t thank him enough.

I won’t leave it so long between posts anymore, now that I  can update on my phone! Yes!! I have finally joined the realm of the 21st century! I hope  you all enjoy this little story! I’ll update more on other tattoos I have done since, even with colour! 

Until next  time! 

Should you talk to Strangers?

My mother always reminds me that I was a strange child. I’d wander off with anybody and speak to anyone, disappear in the shopping centre and be found talking to some poor random shopper- a trait that I’ve kept with me in life. People make up the beautiful quilt of the world, without trying to sound too sentimental!
People have wonderful lives and wonderful stories, and can teach you with their experience. I LOVE stories, and will always stop to listen- so it was when i heard a guy idly playing slide guitar outside a cafe near where I work.I was on the way home from work on a Friday afternoon, and having time I stood to listen, admiring the raw sound and talent he had (He was bloody amazing!).
There was another man listening, and we exchanged impressed smiles and introduced ourselves, the evening evolving into friendly chatter and dinner.
Jay was a lovely person, from South Africa- an engineer, pilot and kayaking enthusiast with many stories to tell. He asked if I was free to show him around the city the next day.
Most people, wary of those that they don’t really know, would have said no. Upon telling the story to others after all of this happened I was told the same thing, and reminded that the world can be a deceptive place! As a young girl, i DO have to be careful, but you can be too careful, can’t you?

I asked Jay if he had decided where he wanted to go when we met up the next day, and he said that I had mentioned that I had not seen the outside of Bergen too much. He offered me the chance to see some of the towns outside the city, so we hopped in the car and off we went.

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I have NO idea exactly where we went.. this map is marked with arrows based on SOME of the signs I managed to see while we were away- It was magical!
We saw waterfalls, glaciers, mountains in the mist, Fjords, ponies, deer, owls.. We got lost and had to ask for directions from suspicious looking strangers, and had a picnic at midnight with tea from a camping stove while we waited for the ferry. We wandered the souvenir shops, and while lost somehow ended up in a pub with live music for Irish coffee.
We saw the engine rooms of the last ferry, and ended the evening after arriving back in the city at half past two in the morning.

It’s true- perhaps i should be more suspicious, but I made a good friend that weekend and may one day visit south Africa where we can spend another weekend exploring. What would I have done this weekend if i had been a cautious person? I was planning on spending it alone with my sketch book, and seeing few things or people.
What would you have done? I’d love to know!

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waterfall-blog

river-blog

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mountains-mist-blog

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I enjoyed our time, Jay!

An angel in our midst.

Inspiration can be the hardest thing to come across, and dry spells can last for months! While I worked in care I drew very little, almost never, and it depressed me to be so far from an activity that my existence used to revolve around.
The sheer amount of doodles that I had confiscated in school could fill a small library, and I have countless treasured sketchbooks at home, full to the brim from the very start of my love affair with the pencil.
Every time I sat down to draw nothing would come, it was like the very ink in my soul was dry, excusing the artistic expression!
If there’s one thing that can always heal you, It is inspiring people and being surrounded by art. I look forward to becoming as talented as them and improving every single day.
This is just a small post to let you know that I’m still alive, and drawing as much as I can!
I adore the morbid and classical things in life, and somehow came across this angel who guards the graves of a family in Spain (I believe).
It was the piercing eyes that stole my heart, the graceful hands and sense of timelessness.

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Who couldn’t love that face? I heard that women in the Victorian era used to pay a high sum to be immortalised as an angel, but you’d think that this lady was paid just to pose, wouldn’t you?

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It was in this drawing that I learned a good amount about the importance of shading and the difference between light and dark areas- it took multiple attempts, and patience, and even now I look at it and think that it needs to be darker- there should be MORE shading, but this will do. There’s so much more to draw… I hope you like her.
I’m still alive, very busy, and working as hard as I can..
My best wishes and love to you all!!

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A life Interlude.

Just a quick post this time, to let you know that I’m still working as hard as I can, but thinking of you all!
I try to draw every hour god sends, and when I’m not drawing, I’m sewing or documenting my journey on here, but I still can’t do as much as I’d like! I want to be able to write more often, there’s so much to write about!
It would be a lie if I said that my journey these past three months has been easy, although people have been wonderfully supportive and kind. Moving country has been tiring, stressful and emotionally exhausting. I left with nothing but a suitcase (albeit a large one) of belongings, and have been living with only bits that I can buy here and what I brought with me. I forgot some important art materials but probably wouldn’t have been able to fit more in my suitcase if I’d tried. I had to jump up and down on it to close it anyway!
I still miss my (now) Fiance, and the home that we had, our cats, our books, films, odds and ends, extreme clutter and our quiet little lives together! He recently told me that it’s only to be a month before he moves over here, and we have the flat ready and waiting, I will wait with baited breath! We’ve been saving what we can for the move.

In the meantime I have been living with my Father. I’ve never lived with him before so I think it has been quite the change for the two of us- the poor man!
I’m very much a nesting girl, and have moved things around in his flat, dusted everything, bought scented candles and put tablecloths and pillows everywhere.
There’s always a teapot somewhere about, and since I’m from the countryside I sometimes forget to lock the door when I leave, but all in all, I’m very happy here, grateful, and I think my father is glad of the company!
I will soon need to buy a desk for all of the drawing that I have been doing, but I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with the process of honing my abilities, and trying to work faster and study harder!
Things here in Norway are paced differently, you see people much more often but life has a slower speed. I still have a long way to go when It comes to settling in, but here’s a small photographic glance at what I’ve been up to, and what my life here is like so far….

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I hope you liked these- I’m always taking pictures whenever I can. The city of Bergen is so beautiful and I sometimes can’t believe that I am lucky enough to live here. This is my home now!
There’s still so much to do, lots to think about and worries galore, but I always try to see a little beauty in everything.
I’ll see you all again soon!
What do you think of the city? Have you ever been to Bergen?

The first Tattoo, a day of Reckoning.

It’s only natural to want a tattoo, surrounded by such beautiful ones on other people, daily seeing the excitement of others as they get theirs, first or not.
Not only this, I had wanted one so badly for so long, and it made me sad seeing people scan my arms when they come in to book an appointment, and if they were feeling daring, they’d ask where my tattoos are, and laugh at my blank skin and area of work.
It was about time, and after booking the appointment, I could hardly breathe for excitement!
I was scheduled to get a tattoo on my 18th birthday but I’m glad now that I didn’t. I’ve grown so much as a person since then, and I’m much more the person I want to be, and think I will be for many years to come. I’ve very much grown into myself so anything I’d have had then wouldn’t be ”me” now.
But now- I feel entirely prepared to make permanent decisions, hence my recent engagement to my perfect man! ❤

I wanted my first tattoo to be something entirely ME. It seemed important to get something symbolic at the start of this very important journey, something that I feel defines me and I am known for. The answer is simple as far as I’m concerned- cats and tea.
I have a whole leg’s worth of cats planned, and I didn’t want to start with something so big or serious. Tea it is!
There was no choice as to who was to design and tattoo this piece for me- Tomas (my boss) has been tattooing for 25 years or so, and makes some of the most beautiful designs and tattoos I’ve ever seen. I met him when I was only 13 years old, and have admired his artwork and toiled towards working for him since.
It was a symbolic decision to ask that he do my first one, and I knew that if he designed and drew it, it would always be dear to me as opposed to me drawing one. Nobody particularly loves their own work.. Do they?

I collected some of the images that inspired me the most- are you surprised that I chose the darkest ones, with thunder and rolling clouds, stormy seas and shading in abundance?

I chose a storm in a teacup based on many things- It had been a saying that I’ve always loved, it being particularly, quintessentially English. They have the same saying here in Norway only it’s directly translated to ”don’t make a storm in a water glass”.

Don’t make a storm in a teacup.
noun: storm in a teacup

  1. 1.
    BRITISH
    great outrage or excitement about a trivial matter.

It’s a saying that alludes to those with a propensity to overthink, much like myself. Depression and anxiety can be extremely hard things to carry, even if you’re not under one of its darker clouds. What is so cruel about it is that it stays with you always, haunting each thought and situation, making you feel unworthy of love, praise, friendship and joy- you constantly doubt yourself and second guess every choice you make, and once you do make one it eats away inside as to whether it was the right choice, and whether people will dislike you for it.
It’s a battle that rages on the inside, ridiculous but one that you simply cannot help or switch off, and it can make social things very hard. I know many many people with anxiety, depression, bipolar.. etc, all of whom have told me of their similar daily struggles- so here’s to our small wars everyone! ❤
Overthinking things is natural now, and is a hard habit to break, so the essence of my first tattoo would be to remember that this doesn’t have to happen. I can fight NOT to think on things too hard, not to take things personally or to worry, and to have a more relaxed life where I don’t always doubt or second guess myself..

The meaning in the tattoo had been able to develop while I had been looking for elements to add to it. I love the rain and thunder, it’s my favourite weather- my entire social life in England, and even Norway so far, is built around the making and drinking of tea- people will invite themselves over with the message ”cup of tea?”, and who can refuse?
My fascination with teacups came from an early age- My grandfather on my mother’s side had a deep love of antiques and he shared this with me in our weekly appointments with the British TV programme ”The Antiques Roadshow”. This love was enhanced by my Nanny, my grandmother on my stepfather’s side.
I was the only grandchild careful enough to play with the teacups that she had inherited from her mother, so I’d often have tea parties on the living room floor with 20 teddy bears, each with a teacup and saucer of their own. It was wonderful, and i adored the beautiful flowers and birds that decorated the outside of the dainty china cups. It wasn’t wasted on me, the level of trust that was involved in me handling them, and I always felt so privileged to be able to play with the beautiful things..
All in all, a design that pulls from every corner of my life and reminds me of those that I hold dear!

On the day of the Tattoo, I have to admit, I was a little terrified. Not because i didn’t want the tattoo, I was so excited!
A colleague of mine described it as ”The day of reckoning”, and it sure felt like it.
I had a kind of nervousness that you get (That I get!!) before going to the dentist or somewhere equally unpleasant! I knew it was going to hurt, and as I hadn’t had a tattoo, I had no idea what I was in for, how it would feel, or how I would cope- what if I was a wimp?!
Luckily, my lovely friend Sigrid came to the rescue with cookies, iced tea and a hand to hold- just in case! I was so happy to see her, and it helped a lot to know that if it was going to hurt I’d have somebody there to talk to me and distract me from the situation.

It was a little more than just fun that I wanted to get a tattoo- I had been impatient for one for many years but it was also nice to know what other people were feeling when they got theirs. I had already seen countless clients in the tattoo chair and watched the tattooing process, everyone reacting differently to the pain-  as the saying goes ”never trust a skinny chef!”. Would you have a tattoo from someone without any tattoos? It was to be a huge learning curve in my tattoo education, so was entirely necessary.
Tomas was wonderful with me, understanding with the design and would change it according to what I wanted, he was gentle with the stencil and made sure I was ready before the tattoo began- even testing to see how I felt about the line work when we started the tattoo. He was lovely! I couldn’t have been more supported- not to mention all of my colleagues coming in to check on me too!
Some places hurt more than others, the under arm section closest to my elbow being an absolute sod! It even hurt more than the areas closest to my wrist, which was unexpected.
I’m happy to say that I surprised myself, and everyone else apparently, when it came to my pain threshold. I’ve been through some rough scrapes in my time, so I should have had more faith in my ability to weather a storm (In a teacup! Tee hee!).
Here it is!

my first tattoo

my first tattoo closeup

It turned out beautifully, didn’t it?
Tomas said that when he drew that tattoo, he imagined it with brighter colours, something that I had initially been a little against. He kept the colour palette dark, but added some beautiful colours to the decorations on the teacup, also keeping the tea ‘tea coloured’ with the argument that the reference would be wasted if the liquid in the cup was blue. He was as usual, absolutely right and I was left with a complete beauty!
I’m overjoyed with the way my tattoo looks and couldn’t be happier if I tried. It’s more and more beautiful the more often I look at it, and there’s so much personal meaning tucked into that ink!
It means the world to me, and I’ve learned a lot from it, not only about the process of doing a tattoo, but also about myself.
It’s healed quite well now, so maybe I’ll start planning my next one..?

Flash! (Aa-aaahhh, Saviour of the universe!)

When you think of a tattoo shop, you more than likely think of walls and walls of framed images, all examples of things that you could display on your skin, foreverrrr.
This is what comes to mind when I imagine a tattoo shop, so it’s entirely natural! Flash tattoos were at one time, the most popular thing to have tattooed! My mother has a small one that she chose from the wall of a tattoo shop, as do thousands of other people! Panthers, skulls, roses, swallows, butterflies, knives, suns…. the list is endless, but many artists have a folder of their own original flash tattoos at their disposal, either for future reference, or as an example of what they can do!

flash tattoos
I’ve trawled every flash design we have at the shop, looking at the exmples we have- some of them are absolutely beautiful, complicated and bright, others are much more simple, smaller designs that can be done quickly and without much fuss.
I love these (above)- such classic designs, solid- even block colours, but very old school- these are usually the ones that stand the test of time and are still recognisable after say.. 20- 30 years.

I ADORE the weird flash designs above! So original, with odd line work- but such cute designs! I’d absolutely have the bat with the little skull, or the beetle with the eyes on his wings! I have just the right space for them…
These might not be the most viable to have, with such fiddly detail, but I suppose these best show the nature of flash tattoos- either line or colour, preferably both, work that shows your style and ability. You get the point!
This was our second task in our training- we spent the past few weeks drawing roses, and now was our chance to show how much we had learned. We were to design our own flash pages with the roses that we were the most proud of, so making the beginning of a portfolio that we could use in the future to show the style of our work.

I had HUNDREDS of roses to choose from, but have to say that I wasn’t DELIGHTED with too many of them. They just didn’t seem to reflect the things that I wanted to do with my designs, or they seemed too boring and unimpressive to display on a flash page..
After narrowing my choices down to around eight roses, I pulled out around four and decided that it was best to draw one or two from scratch..

The two top roses are ones from previous drawings, and the outer bottom two are ones designed from scratch- you’ll recognise the same vague design in the centre from my stencil practice!

my first flash

Tattoos are just as much about spacing and positioning as they are about design work, and the way that you space your flash on the page can have some indication of how you will space and design things in future.
I was advised that it was best to space things openly, but to leave a border around the edge of the paper.
After a whole day of cutting and sticking, repositioning, and sighing, I had something I was happy with..

my first flash, section

Doing line drawings to a good standard is one thing, but when it came to the colour, I stalled a little.
Colour is something that  have not really held too much stock in my abilities to execute, and I was terrified that at this late stage, I would let myself down and find that I had no skill with colour pencils at all! As well as ”every cloud has a silver lining” and  ”love is always the answer”, it’s a good motto in life to have the idea that you’ll ”always muddle through”, so jumping in at the deep end is sometimes the best thing to do.
Sometimes I can be timid with the colours I use, and use too many highlights, creating insubstantial designs without enough contrast, and was advised to get rid of so much damn back lighting!
I coloured over the work I had already done, in harder more saturated colours, muted the leaves to bring my roses forward, darkened the black shades to almost solid black- for a first flash, i’m satisfied..
What do you think? Would have one of these as a tattoo?!
first flash colour