Q & A: PART 1
Of those whom find conversation to be helpful while being tattooed there's a repetition of questions asked while spending quality time with these clients during a tattoo procedure. I enjoy engaging on this level as it allows me to better formulate and articulate the message I am ultimately trying to convey with my body of work. Like tattooing itself, these articulations are continually evolving based on the constant intake of new information, but there are also consistent themes that are often touched on in every conversation. I'd like to begin using this platform to occasionally address some of these often asked questions as best as I can. I'm hoping to offer something more to my clients after the conversations have ended as well as give a glimpse into my thoughts, desires, experiences, etc., to new and potential clients.
“What kind of tattoos do you like to do?”
While I just simply like tattooing and will do just about any tattoo, I certainly have preferences. Some tattoo ideas speak to me on a personal level, they are the type of tattoos I would wear, the ones I would see in public and admire, the ones I can't wait to draw and am excited to tattoo. Nature themed tattoos are among my favorite. This includes, but is certainly not limited to; Plants, animals, fungi, landscapes, skulls, etc. I especially love plants, particularly flowers. I feel these sorts of elements lend themselves extremely well to the organic nature of the body. Their ability to be manipulated and designed to fit the form and flow of ones body is very appealing to me.
My preferences are not just limited to subject matter or themes though, I also have preferences as to the overall design, including composition, palette, style, and placement. In developing my abilities to look at the body as a whole I prefer to design and compose tattoos with this in mind. The tattoos which I feel best allow this course of creative freedom are the ones where an idea is proposed in which little more than subject matter or a loose concept is presented.
Composition and placement are both important as our bodies have an organic flow to them and I prefer to design tattoos to work with and compliment this flow. I find that often times borders, lettering, obvious start and stop points, and any sort of contained idea disallows or interrupts organic flow and I prefer to avoid these when possible. A design which allows future designs to tie into it organically and with ease is most preferred. If an idea goes so far as to dictate how the individual components of a tattoo are to be placed together, the creative process becomes stifled and the potential for the tattoo to compliment ones body is often decreased. A tattoo can look forced and appear as a sticker floating on a random space of one's skin, or it can look like a custom fit design appearing to flow seamlessly throughout the natural curves and contours of one's unique figure. The latter is always my preference.
Palette choices are also important to a tattoo's overall design both for aesthetic appeal and longevity. Tattoos degrade as they age, colors fade (some more than others), lines blur, touch ups have accumulative limitations and a tattoo not designed well to begin with will age far worse than a well designed tattoo using informed palette choices. A tattoo will age, but it can age with grace. For this purpose I prefer to incorporate either black outlines, the use of black in backgrounds and black for my darkest value in shading as a fully saturated black allows lighter value colors to appear brighter over the long haul. I also prefer to use my knowledge of color theory to play with value, contrast, and complimentary palette choices in a design.
Last, but not least, is style, form, and appearance. While my own style is continuously evolving and maturing there are certain qualities I prefer a design to exhibit. Most commonly these are readability, a realistic approach to shape, shadow and light, movement, and an illustrative attribute. Readability comes in the form of size, placement and contrast, but I'd like to focus on size. Generally, less equals more, bigger equals better. The less subject matter in a space will allow each component to be bigger which will be more readable. Adding too much into a tattoo will likely decrease the size, detail and readability of each part decreasing the aesthetic appeal of the whole to the viewer. Tattoos already have limitations, why further limit a tattoo by hindering its potential for readability?
While these are the tattoos I prefer and generally try to guide clients towards, I simultaneously hesitate to limit myself and will certainly take on projects that don't necessarily parallel these preferences. What makes a tattoo appeal to me may not be what makes a tattoo appeal to you. These parameters are my current perspective on creating an appealing tattoo, ultimately though, your body belongs to you and your own self determined choices and subjective aesthetic appeal belongs to you. If, however, what you've read speaks to you and we share an aesthetic affinity, please do get in touch as I would love to collaborate with you on your next tattoo idea.