I’ll be here today and tomorrow! Vegas people, desert people, now is your chance. xox
I’ll be tattooing at high priestess in Eugene, May 3-9. If you want time with me in Oregon, let me know soon.
I will be back at the end of June/beginning of July. I’ll possibly be in Vegas the first few days of May.
I will be at the Laughlin Tattoo Convention in late april.
I will be in Eugene at High Priestess – Downtown from May 2-8.
I will be back in Seattle at Laughing Buddha Tattoo and Body Piercing from May 11-16.
my books are open now and I’m already starting to schedule. Go HERE to get a time in the schedule!
All oils. I’m nearly ready to go on my march trip- finishing up the new seminar materials, making prints, and packing up books and equipment. You can find all the info over at the events page.
I updated some things at the portfolio site, and I’ve also been doing some writing.
This landscape series was really enjoyable; I think I’ll be doing more of these when I get back from the tattoo tour.
I really like foot tattoos. I think they can look great, and it’s a good place to get a smaller tattoo done. That said, there’s a few things you should think about when you decide to get tattooed on your feet. First of all, there’s not a whole lot of room, so you’ll have to pick one idea, and keep it pretty simple. Any more than that and the inevitable spreading and wear-and-tear on the ink will make it indecipherable very quickly.
So next, make sure the image has a good amount of contrast. Edges! Soft stuff won’t hold up as well in the long run, and while you can get away with that in other areas, the feet aren’t the place to gamble with.
The next thing to think about is healing. When you get your feet tattooed, you’ll have to go without socks, and wear only shoes that do not directly rub against the tattoo while it heals. So if that means you can’t work, wait until you have at least ten days off in a row, to allow for the skin to settle down. Also, feet can swell a lot, so be prepared to elevate your foot the next day, and maybe even ice it.
Placement is super important too. It’s pretty obvious where the skin changes from regular skin to that wrinkled, shiny kind of skin that you find on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The areas that are very shiny or wrinkled won’t hold ink very well at all, at all. So plan to get the tattoo on the top of your foot, not out onto the sides very far. While you CAN tattoo back near the achilles tendon or off to the side a bit, it simply won’t hold as well as the normal skin on top of the foot does.
To keep your foot tattoo looking good for a long while, after it’s healed (according to the aftercare your artist gives you) then be sure, in summer, to use plenty of sunscreen or wear closed/covered shoes over it. Feet get a lot of sun and you might not even think about it! Sun is the biggest destroyer of tattoos. So cover them up or give them a good layer of screening to protect them.
The internet has so much imagery in it, it’s understandable why you’d want to use it to find good ideas for your next tattoo. But there are a few things to watch out for, and a few things you definitely shouldn’t do.
When you have no idea what you might want, it’s really tempting to just start googling “tattoos” or “tattoos for girls” or something, and look around at what other people have. There’s nothing wrong with this; this is a great way to get ideas, seeds of ideas. You have to be careful though, because these tattoos belong to other people. Either they belong to the tattoo artist or the wearer, one or the other, no exceptions.
They own them.
So, yes, use the images online of other people’s work to get ideas for subject matter or placement- but not as an exact thing to get tattooed. There are reasons for this; ethically, it’s theft for the tattooer who ends up doing your tattoo. They don’t get to really do their best work, because you’ve instead asked them to steal art from someone else. Legally, it’s also theft. The original artist who drew and tattooed it owns the no-shit actual copyright to that tattoo. It’s plagiarism and is considered theft.
You can bring in these images as ideas, as things you like the style or subject of- but you shouldn’t try to get someone else’s tattoo exactly copied onto your own body. I think everyone is entitled to their very own tattoo, and I think artists are entitled to be paid for their work in drawing and designing the tattoos.
The best way to use the internet for tattoo ideas is to follow the advice here, and use the internet to find the artist that did an awesome tattoo. That way you can go to them and tell them “I liked this piece you did and want something like it” and you will get exactly that, without any ethical problems. You find the artist you want first, then figure out the art with them, this is the very best way to get a very good tattoo done. (this applies to big or small, extensive or simple tattoos.)
If you bring in someone else’s tattoo and the artist is willing to steal it, they probably are not very skilled to begin with. Good artists won’t steal. Copying someone else’s tattoo is really, really a dick move. It makes you a thief, really and truly it does. I promise that if you find a tattoo artist whose work you love, they will do a MUCH better version of the idea for you, that will suit YOU and not some other random person you’ve never met. Find the tattoo artist you trust, whose work you love, and you won’t have to copy someone else’s tattoo to get something awesome.
Note that while this applies to other people’s tattoos online, it doesn’t work the same way for art in general. If you see a painting you love, and want tattooed, contact the artist who made it and tell them you want to get it tattooed on you. A large majority of artists will just say yes, go for it, or at most they will say “buy a print first please then go right ahead!”
There are very few artists in this world who object to people getting tattoos of their work- but you should always ASK first anyway, because the artist owns that art. They own it. They own the rights to it, and using without permission is stealing. This applies to paintings, photographs of flowers or wild animals, every image has an owner. There are exceptions (copyright-free websites, tattoo flash that your tattooer has paid for, etc) but things that you find on google are NOT NOT not free for the taking. Those images all belong to somebody. If you can’t figure out who the original artist is, ask your tattooer to help you out. A lot of the time we can find out for you.
If your tattoo artist has flash on the walls of their shop, or books of images for tattooing, it’s because they paid for the rights to tattoo those images. This means they’re not stolen, they’re totally fine to choose from.
For tattooers, take your photographs so that the tattoo is seen at an angle or so part of it is obscured. Use a strong watermark across the image to make theft more difficult. And rest assured that only assholes steal; your work being stolen is not any detriment to your reputation, but to theirs.
A real asshole can and will use your tattoo image to make a stencil of sorts:
Further advice for tattooers on retaining copyright is available in my seminar.
I know that the real wise advice I could give you would be; “Get it where you want to see it.” Because after all, the pain is temporary, right? The tattoo is what lasts. But I get asked this question a lot, so I’ll give you my honest, true answer.
Get it on your outside calf, shin, or on the front or outside of the thigh.
These are the easiest areas to get tattooed. They hurt the least, look the best, and last the longest with clarity to the original. Even if you gain and lose weight, these areas won’t change much. Even when you get ancient, the wrinkles on the rest of you won’t really effect these areas so much.
If you have to hide tattoos for work, high socks or knee-length skirts will cover one or the other of these. The areas are capable of being used in either a very soft, flowing and feminine way, or a blocked, solid masculine manner- so either way, the space can be used how YOU want it to turn out. It can emphasize the curves or obscure them. It can accent muscle or smooth it.
A design with a strong s-curve looks great in either place.
The skin structure is good and will be more solid and consistent than ANYWHERE AT ALL ON THE TORSO. Your torso twists, bends, and the skin changes all over it with every pound gained or lost, every gym day or potato chip, every pregnancy, every time you reach for a thing your torso skin gets stretched a tiny bit. Every wrinkle and sag is concentrated on your ribs, waist, and chest. It’s the worst possible area for a tattoo really.
Going back to the start of this whole thing- calves and thighs hurt less than any torso tattoo as well. AND they will last longer. It’s win-win.
So, if you want my real advice, and not just the thing I am supposed to say, then listen to me and get your calf or thigh tattooed. It’ll look amazing there. Promise. Big or small, get it there.
Small tattoos look great just above the ankle bone, or just below the hipbone on the thigh. Big tattoos look great all over the leg.
The only “bad” leg areas are the knee, the foot, and the groin. All of these areas have odd skin and won’t last as long or hurt as little as the calf and thigh. Plus the nice, flat areas of the calf and thigh make the design less likely to get distorted with movement, making them a good place for geometric work, or images with faces or human figures in them.
Get your legs tattooed. It’s awesome.
I wanted to show you what I use with my oils. in this photo you can see at the top left an expandable wash bucket. I use detergent in the water, this is for any washing I have to do with my brushes, but I usually don’t. if you paint every day and rinse the brushes with turp when you’re done they stay soft.
in front of that you can see a good example of modernization. in the left is a bottle of “copal”. this new product is not copal, which is made from amber/pine resin, instead it’s some citric junk. next to itf you can see a corked bottle of real copal, which I’ve got a jug of hidden away from many years ago and dole out to myself in small quantities. I’ve been using this small jar for about a year.
in front of that is a sealable jar I use for turp. I get the odorless but it still stinks. I use this while I’m working to wipe paint off the brushes. nothing else.
on the right
you can see my paints. they’re antique, I inherited them. the cadmium paints I use aren’t hues (substitution colors) but real cad reds and yellows. it’s poisonous so I can’t eat a sandwich while I work. I’ve got a smallish tube of real rose madder which I hoard. this and the ultramarine are also very old. I think maybe 40s-60s era based on what I was told. they’re heavy pigments, really rich compared to the newer brands I tried. I use lead white from the same batch as well, I’ve got a lot of that. more poison!
the brushes- that big one is hog bristle. the next biggest is synthetic sable and very soft, I use it to blend. there’s a stippler there I use for scrubbing color into or off of the canvas. a few filbert and bright firm synthetics, small chisels, and then a really nice long real sable rigger.
I use a mayo tray as a palette, I’ve bought a few over the years for tattooing but this one got dented while I was traveling so it’s a palette now. I cover it with clingwrap at the end of the day so my paint stays soft.
Here you can see everything set up for working. I use a mayo tray that unfortunately got dented as a palette. I’m working on two paintings, more about those in a minute. you can see I use a lot of paper towels too as well as a rough old rag. The not-paint-water mug makes its usual appearance, though when I work in oil it just holds the brushes. I don’t trust my brain. There is a bottle of Bob Ross gesso in this photograph. It is empty, I like having it there though. It reminds me not to eat paint.
This is an underpainting, I don’t do them every time but this time I did. I then screwed up the painting beyond repair with some bad composition choices so it’s going to get scrubbed and I’ll reuse the canvas for another thing.
Here is a terrible blurry photo of the little seascape, which I think will turn out just fine.
This is a thin first layer just to lay in shape and tone. It’ll get a second layer, some detail and smoothing, and a glaze.
I don’t use a lot of medium, I have liquin if I’m impatient and a stand oil too just in case but mostly I work fat, just paint, and heavy and thick. it takes a long time to dry but I like the look. the copal is my glaze at the end.
I use liquin early on, I like the early layers to dry fast. I keep two or three pieces going at once in oil, so something is always ready to be worked on. Going back and forth from watercolor is like stepping onto the ground from a carousel, though. Takes me a minute to get my sea legs back.
You have seen my watercolor setup, which is a lot simpler.
I trust myself more when it’s water and not turp in the mug. All these things have been put away for a few weeks so I can work with oil for a bit. Then the oils will get packed into the box and these things will come back out. I used to have a few dining room tables, each with a different medium set up on it, so I didn’t have to pack things away like this. Right now my space is very limited so it’s one thing at a time. We are supposed to be putting in a shed studio though, so maybe that will change.
I also want to mention the fantastic magazine Brut Force, which recently interviewed me. The whole magazine is great and I feel a little out of my depth being in there among so many beautiful creative artists and their work. You can read about that here. I usually do not use the telephone but the interviewer had a good bedside manner and he got me through it with aplomb.
As a last thought, I’m planning to start scheduling posts by topic; I think mondays will be tech/materials day, tues will be tattoo advice or informaion, weds will be process shots, thrs or fri will be tattoo or other photos.
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