Tattoo Commissions

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  • Amongst the various mediums in illustration, one of the connections that occurs quite naturally is between ink drawing, and tattoo illustration. In the case of black and grey tattooing the similarities are especially clear to see. For this reason people wanting tattoos have often asked me to design them. One recent commission of this sort was this Japanese demon, or Oni, drawn at A2 to become a full back-piece.
  • Unlike the flowing brush style of traditional japanese art, the line-work has been handled with a dip pen for a
    more angular look. This adds tension to the atmosphere, and gives the demon a threatening edge.
  • Shading has been cast by intermixing different inking techniques, to show
    features that recede and protrude with sculptural rather than directional light.
  • Another interesting commission was undertaken shortly after completing the back-piece. The next was to design a half sleeve tattoo. It was inspired by an exhibition on the subject of death, and specifically based on one picture that had been seen. The image turned out to be a famous work by the Northern Renaissance artist and printmaker, Albrecht Drurer.
  • Drurer’s copper engraving depicts death as hairy man, whispering into the ear of a maiden who is surprised
    that he has come for her. Also present is a winged Helm, with distinctive ‘frog-mouthed’ shape for jousting.
    This is another symbol of death. A human skull upon a shield is also seen in the image, propped up by
    a thumb-stick which was used for walking. This is perhaps symbolic of the journey one must take
    when life is at an end. Acanthus flowers also sprawl across the image, which were
    a popular motif throughout the Renaissance period.
  • The artwork drawn from this engraving strives to incorporate these elements into a coherent tattoo design for the
    upper right arm. The parts were plotted accordingly, and the image inked almost entirely with dip pens.
  • Placement of the helm is upon the deltoid, with death and maiden landing on the outer tricep. The rear tricep
    carries the shield and thumbstick, with acanthus leaves enveloping the bicep and below the arm pit.
  • Finally, the lettering in the scroll closes the composition. And is written in a ‘Fraktur’ style which was also
    developed by Albrecht Drurer. It reads ‘Memento Mei’, which in latin means remember me.