I am a fan of complicated.
Not as a way of life, of course! Sometimes you can’t help a bit of complication, things always tangle as lives and opinions entwine and clash. Aint it just the way?
I do however, tend to complicate things that I draw- my designs and ideas come laden with bits and pieces, ideas, morals and symbolism, and sometimes in the world of tattoo design, less is more.
It certainly is a good way to start, especially if you illustrate things that end up looking like an incomprehensible mess, toning down will only make things easier in the long run!
I’ve seen some illustrations and designs that grabbed my eyes and brought them in close for a loving hug, then invited them in for tea, but these may not last the test of time when it comes to ink on the skin…
(God machine tattoo, above)
God machine has done some stunning illustrations, not to mention my absolute favourite shown below, but the absolute level of black and teeny weeny lines means that it may morph into a bit of a blob later in life…
Grey wash could probably be used for the stunning work of Lauren Marx, but it would probably have to be a back piece to show the wonderful detail that she manages to fit into her designs.. to get them and smaller would be ab absolute waste, and if you’re as small as I am, you’d end up being swamped under a beautiful, but painful back piece.
I myself am guilty of adoring such work, filling my own with pointless minute details to prevent the eyes from becoming bored. Little did I know, none of this was necessary- It was detail that I would by no means be able to fit into any sensible tattoo design, nor would any of them be seen in the long run when the ink in the skin spreads over time! It’s also a good idea to start simply as an apprentice tattooer, and not overwhelm yourself with too many lines and such!
As a tattoo artist in training, we give ourselves little tasks to carry out, so that we might practice our common sense and our skills- this is the second stencil that me and my colleague gave each other, I was excited and had a mind swarming with ideas. Ideas that I unfortunately tried to cram into one single chest-piece tattoo!
There was so much in this one- I looked up the flowers I wanted, and included bits and pieces of the British countryside. It’s always been so charming and lovely, who wouldn’t want to be covered in it?
After hours of drawing and a sore hand, I was finished and had about everything I could possibly fit in.
I was proud, and knew it was detailed but was excited to show it to Karoline, and swap stencils.
Work is probably the most educational place I have been, and in general I learn more here each day than I did in school! I showed the design, and although it was appreciated I was advised to tone it down as much as I could, and pick the pieces that I liked the best, and bring them out.
Sometimes I can only cut away so much, before I can no longer see what needs to go but luckily I work in a place where asking for help is encouraged at all times (if needed), and I was helped to get rid of unnecessaries.
Snipping away at bits of the design was easier and less painful after it was explained that details would eventually be lost anyway, consumed in the background colours and others distracted from the way the tattoo really needed to be- simple and a little more bold!
Karoline explained that she liked the design, and appreciated the effort that had gone into it, but said that some of the sections that I had included were not quite ”her”.
The needle and thread and the pins for example, were things that she imagined that I would like in a tattoo rather than for her.
I explained the reference to taxidermy, but conceded and removed them anyway, It’s her stencil, and I want her to be happy!! I always go off on a little bit of a tangent to try to make each design unique and a little more different, but sometimes I worry that it takes away from who the person is and will cause me more work in the long run, editing out what it was I added to the design – It’s nice to include a little something for the person I am tattooing, but I need to try to remember to make it appropriately specific…
The above was the final design, but this is currently unfinished- The line work is a little off, and I need to go over it in fine liners, but it just goes to show, a little simplicity goes a long way! You can see all of the roses I wanted, the oak flowers too, and I got to include the acorns, symbolic of transformation, great change, wisdom and growth.
I’ll have to update when we make the stencils for this one, as we’ve yet to try them out- but it was a lesson in designing that won’t be fast forgotten!
Which do you prefer? The first one I made, or the way it turned out?