Are there things you shouldn’t tattoo?

Just a quick post this time, dear readers!
We’ve all seen hilarious and terrible tattoos on the internet and nearly peed ourselves laughing at them. I’ve cried laughing at someof them (Sorry folks!) Some are downright awful, and we simply chuckle and thank our lucky stars that they weren’t inflicted on us!
While doing my apprenticeship I still laugh at them (tee hee!) but I also look at them with a bit more of a critical eye.
Mixed with the hilarity of another’s misfortune is the bitter fear of ever creating such a tattoo myself.
Now, of course I will never tattoo sunglasses on someone’s face or cats instead of eyebrows, but I never want to give someone something they might one day be unhappy with.

When I started tattooing I perhaps naively worked away under the open-minded (Or ignorant) opinion that everyone has a different sense of humour, everyone likes different things, and that one day I’ll probably be asked to design or work on something I won’t enjoy as much as other projects or maybe a design that I disagree with. It’s a given! We all have days at work that aren’t great, and as we’ve seen on the internet some people have terrible ideas.
This issue was introduced to me in an odd way- it was a design that I liked and not something I thought would offend or upset.
(For privacy I won’t post the actual image but ones that are similar!)

It was me and some colleagues who designed the tattoo after looking to make a flash sheet on word play- It was perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek, even dark but that’s the sort of humor I love! It’s maybe for this reason that I didn’t think much more about it.

Soon a lovely lady popped in to get that specific tattoo and I was all too happy for someone with the same sense of humor as me to get it! Hooray! We got on swimmingly, of course!
It was after I’d done the tattoo that I was asked about the thought behind it. I had simply liked the design and thought it was fun, but It was put to me that others might find it offensive or not appreciate the sentiment behind it. This specific tattoo was not very offensive or a bad design, It suited the lady and matched her other tattoos extremely well, seamlessly really, but it was right that this was something I think about in future-

We’ve all suffered loss in our time, and know someone who no longer wanted to live, which is of course what this tattoo was evocative of- I hadn’t thought about the prospect of it hurting people or even being a reflection of the person themselves on wanting to get a design that could be seen as both sad or simply dark.
Maybe you could say that what we have on our bodies is much like our clothes and of absolutely no business to anyone else? But is it not the job of the tattoo artist to steer and guide people to a better design, or something that will look good, promote happiness and age well? I think so- so it would stand to reason that it is also our job to encourage people to get positive tattoos and not encourage negative designs that will stay with people for the rest of their lives… no?
I have always preferred sad stories, morals, darkness in a story, the idea of learning from my mistakes and gothic literature, so i don’t see issue with someone wanting something tragic on their bodies as long as it offends nobody and they’ve thought the design through- It’s my bread and butter! It’s what i do! I’ve seen a million gore tattoos, and even explicitly sexual ones, so who am I to decide for someone? That being said it was something that really made me reflect on my designs, and what I draw for people, especially what I agree to tattooing, and there have been incidences since where i refuse people or encourage them to change the design entirely for what I believed was better.

What do you think? Is it none of the tattoo artist’s business or do you think more of a stand should be taken everywhere in this sort of issue?
Just some softcore examples below, enjoy!

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Should you tattoo family? Or, what to do when your mother insists you should!

This is a little something that has popped up a lot in my apprenticeship.
Ethics!
I’ve read many articles since starting my apprenticeship about WHAT you should tattoo, WHERE you should tattoo it and even WHO you should tattoo, many artists have opposing ideas-
One conundrum that was reitterated to me was that which concerned tattooing your family.

 

Tattoing someone you know is something akin to not being allowed to operate on a relative, the tension is much higher, you scrutinate every move you make.

My boss has tattooed thousands of people, and it was calculated in an interview with him that it was in excess of 25,000. Aside from so many wonderful strangers, he’s also inked his wife, his children, in-laws, friends and goodness how many other nearests and dearests!
It all first popped up when it came to the subject of my first tattoo, and the issue of who my first victim should be. (Victim is right!) Many wonderful friends and relatives volunteered, so I felt quite safe and assured that it would be someone I was familiar with and the whole process might not be so horrifying, right?
Wrong! My house was built on sand! Sand, I tell you!
Drama aside for a second, I was happy that my first client was a stranger.
Although you feel safe with someone you know a little more intimately, the idea of inflicting pain on them and designing something for them to wear forever and ever is an entirely different story!

We’ve all experienced the blind panic of trying to choose a present for someone we love, and never being able to find something PERFECT enough to reflect the affection we feel for them. Nothing is good enough andĀ Nothing can reflect the depth of what you feel! Tattooing someone you care for is a million times worse! It’s not like you can return the tattoo with the receipt and ask for another, exchange it or take it back- It’s not that you don’t trust your family members decision to go ahead with things, and it’s not that ”if you make a mistake you’ll have to look at it forever”! Of course you try your best with absolutely every customer you have- It’s the extreme added pressure and immense guilt of perhaps not doing something you’re a million percent proud of, and that feeling is crippling. It’s not that you will do something wrong, it’s that you MIGHT. The possibility is always there! Looming!

Artists are their own worst critics, and the whole life of an artist is spent learning, in my mind the greatest fear was ”yes, it will be the best I can do now, but what will I think after five, ten or fifteen years worth of tattooing when I will have of course improved.?”.

It was this exact argument that I put to my mother when she visited me in Norway, and more besides.. ethics, doubts about my skill and just the pressure it would be, but of course no reasoning would suffice. (She is a nurse, and therefore forbidden to operate on or treat anyone related her, but apparently this doesn’t apply to me! Tough luck, Kitty!)

”It would be from you, my daughter, and I would be honored to have something that you made for me, in years to come you can touch it up if you need to.”

The issue was put to rest with the statement ”I’m not leaving without a tattoo from you.” She stayed with me for five weeks– So, to the drawing board I wandered. Reluctantly. I dragged my feet and sulked a bit.

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Since she was fourteen my mother has read ”To Kill a Mockingbird” every year, and has at least a dozen copies of it, some of which I bought her myself.
It has always been a book very close to her heart so I wasn’t surprised when she wanted a design based around this subject.
This was the easy part. As the princess of symbolism I went to work picking trees I knew to beĀ indigenous to the area the book was set in, picking and scrawling the most beautiful mocking bird I could, and trying to reflect the love I felt for my mother with what I felt were limited skills, but I digress

I had free reign with what I was drawing as as far as my mum was concerned, anything that I drew for her was from the heart and good enough, so she’ll never know how much I scrutinized each line!

When she was happy with what we had on paper we set to work on the next canvas!

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A god awful picture that I’m sure neither of us appreciate, but it was a surprising experience.
One of the nicer things about tattooing someone you know very well, is the fact that you can tell them to stop wiggling, stop leaning away or stop being a baby about things with no guilt! (My mother was sure to return the favor when I added to my own tattoo collection later on) but it made the long process easier to get through, and more satisfying that the time could be spent with someone I loved dearly.

This is not to say that the whole thing was a breeze! I almost had nervous sweats when doing the lines and when it began to get sore towards the final stages of the tattoo I did feel great guilt at the pain I was inflicting. You don’t feel bad about taking time on a family member though, and you can have all the lunch and tea breaks you think they need without worrying about their schedule as you would with any other client. You know they’re stuck having dinner with you later on!

I’m not sure how others feel about this issue, and I would be awesome to hear- have you ever had to serve your family at work, inflict necessary pain on them or even tattoo them? How did you react?

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She loved the end result, and we have another planned when she visits in a few weeks!

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!

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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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?