The first proper stencil! It begins.

Making good flash designs is a process that is still so alien and mysterious to me- I want so desperately to be good at it! It is the foundation to being a good tattoo artist, after being a good artist in general of course, so achieving this cornerstone is essential!
I am surrounded by people who are so infinitely talented with everything they do, and every design that they make seems perfect for the purpose, person and position of the tattoo (The three P’s(I just made those up)!!).
Me and my fellow trainee, Karoline decided that the best way to gain some sort of idea on stencil and tattoo design was to create some of our own and stick them on each other, therefore proving our stencil prowess, and learn stuff at the same time!
We chose a space on each other to pop the stencil, so that we would be able to shape the design to the designated spot, and chose the best motif.
We’d been told to practice roses as though our lives depended on it, so it seemed like the most common sense to choose these as our stencil/ potential tattoo design.
The spot that I chose for Karoline to tattoo was my upper arm, and she did two full and beautiful roses to fill the space. The space that she chose for me was her lower under arm, an area with a long triangular shape, prone to a changing design based on how you hold or flex the arm..
I had been spending the last few days I’d been peering at thousands of tattoos on the internet and trying to decide on the sort of thing that I would like to do, what style and what things inspire me, and I had (have) decided that life long habits will die hard, as well as good taste and will stick to all things dark, morbid and Victorian, a good example being the work of Jurgen Eckel. (Instagram link below, please see his stuff!)

Such stunning work!! So dark and moody… everything I love-
This was the first tattoo epiphany that I had- I was awestruck with the ultimate realisation that this was the kind of tattoo artist that I wanted to be. All of these designs were stylistically very suited to the kinds of things I have spent my life enamoured with, the clothes I coveted and the books I hid myself inside!
Over the weeks, I’d also been peeking at some old Victorian illustrations, loving the meanings that they were used to portray-
Different hand positions meant different things- Friendship, romance, protection, connection, loyalty, faith, remembrance and mourning. Different finger positions meant different things, perhaps most famously, the ”devils horns” which were actually an early 18th century symbol ‘mano cornuto’, meant to ward away evil spirits!
I’m a sucker for a bit of symbolism or hidden meaning so this was getting personal!

I’ve always assumed that the kind of colours that I would most likely design in a tattoo would be dark ones, but looking at the ones above, they’re just so charming, almost to the point of being naive! Sweet pinks and hopeful creams, despite the possibly grim idea that these could be flowers of remembrance for a lost loved one. It’s such a sweet juxtaposition! Awhh ❤

hand stencil first

The final design of the first draft… I was very happy with this design initially, the rose pointed the right way and opened up the movement of the hand, and the bones sticking out of the wrist mimicked the ragged leaves at the top. It seemed like a nice enough design.

I always like to ask about a design before I declare it finished, and it was the same with this one.
I was happy with what I had done, and was ready to say it was finished, but was still anxious to check. The feedback was that the petals int he rose were very close and tight, making colouring a little more difficult, and maybe making it so that the tattoo would age less well.

As we’d been drawing roses, this was an easy thing to fix, and I trawled through my previous designs to find one that I hoped matched the classic style, redrew it, and then traced the overall design.


hand stencil

I always love getting feedback on my drawings, even when the advice is that the design is wrong or needs changing because I always learn a little something. In the end, even though the design strayed a little from what would be considered ”Victorian style”, it gained something with a more classic tattoo feel, and allowed room for much bolder colour.

Luckily colour wasn’t something I needed to worry about too much with this merely being a stencil design, but I resolve to colour it one day…

It’s such a shame that I don’t have a picture of the stencils after they were done, none were taken!! I apologise, but I can give you a photo where I look awful after some other stencils we did!



What do you think? Good enough designs? xxx



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