so, you want a lot of words in your tattoo.

19505_10152948236462712_9141122821601630296_nTattoos of lettering are classic, of course. There’s nothing wrong with getting words tattooed on you. Sometimes, though, you can overdo it.

(This woman did not overdo it.)

 

For example, let’s say there’s a poem you really like. It’s four lines long. It goes like this:

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
(Emerson)

Or, another example:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(Frost)

20090929-tolkien

sometimes you really do want to dedicate a lot of skin to words. that’s ok, too, but only if it’s a flatter area where curving muscle won’t impede the reading of it.

These are lovely sentiments. On skin, however, with the limitations due to cellular changes over time, they wil end up being about ten inches across and six inches tall. That’s a HUGE area dedicated to text alone. Let’s say you want a tattoo of a hammer and some clouds, with that Emerson poem. Or you want some trees and a path, with that Frost quotation. What’s going to happen is the text is going to completely overwhelm the imagery, and dilute it.

Tattooing is a visual medium. The whole point of a symbolic tattoo is to take a concept (words) and use the tattoo (image) to express it. Adding lines and lines of text to an image….it’s a bit redundant. Like getting a tattoo of a bird with the word “BIRD” on it- unnecessary and really odd to look at, in the end.

 

You have choices here, of course.

  • You can opt to get just the lettering, the text itself, alone. Well-done, large-enough text by itself is just fine. It will be bigger than you think, but it can look great. This is a good choice if the writing is from a friend or family member, a case in which the meaning of the words matters less than the exact words themselves. Or if you don’t want any images associated with the meaning on you, at all. In the first tattoo posted above, the client didn’t actually want Peter Pan or anything on her; she simply liked the text itself. Same with the Hobbit poem.
  • You can get just an image that sums up and represents the text. For the Frost poem, a landscape of snowy woods, or a waiting horse next to some trees, would be pretty accurate to the poetry. Done in a bleak color scheme it would represent the sentiment of the poetry really well, too. This is really the best choice if the poem is well-known, or if it’s just the feeling and meaning of the poetry that you love so much.
  • A third option is to narrow down the words you’ll add. For the Emerson poem, you could do a hammer and clouds with the words “Work, Courage” or something similar. Or use only one line of the poem, “Dare while others fly” as part of the design. (In a banner, or similar.) This gives you a bit of the poetry without losing the impact of the imagery as much. “miles to go before I sleep”, done in pale text, below a line of trees…that would be a good solution to using the Frost poem as a tattoo inspiration.
cyuvjkhb

this poem, in full, would have taken up her entire side, leaving no room for the drawing of a woman representing her mother. (the poem in its entirety is on her mother’s headstone.)

I usually suggest to my wordy clients that they go with the third option- I love poetry and books, and think that a snippet of text in a tattoo can actually add to its impact. It also serves as a reminder to the person of the entire written piece. I usually limit the amount of text to about five words, maximum, if there’s any images being tattooed along with it.

If someone wants a very, very long quotation I will do it- but I usually suggest treating the text block as an abstract shape, making it curve to fit the body area being tattooed. It helps a little, and allows you to get neighboring tattoos later in life without too much fuss. Having a lot of straight lines on a floating block can really limit your future options.

If you want one word or short phrase, though, it’s easy. We can treat the text itself as an image, and make it fit. Simple lettering is really fun, playing with text forms is enjoyable and placement becomes a breeze. You can be selective in your quotation and still carry the meaning of the entire text pretty well.
484549_10150946470712712_918239467_n 10348177_10152755130172712_2294689037192137295_n 11951279_10153168436387712_1654153991962033826_n (1) 11193385_10152897009782712_6589332615625688878_n 10525604_10152519297487712_4587482466235956454_n

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can I get tattooed today?

1920333_10152487056127712_6697920045449669580_nThis depends on a lot of factors.

You want a tattoo! And you want a tattoo today, or tomorrow. Is it going to happen? Well, if your tattoo is small, simple, and in an easy area to work on, the chances are good that it will happen.

If your favorite shop or artist takes walk-ins or has empty time that day (hint: they’ll usually post on one of their social media sites if they have a cancellation or free time) then it’s even more likely to happen. If all of these things are true, and you call the shop to ask about getting worked on and the counter staff say “come on in, Joe has a few hours open today” then YES, you’re gonna get a tattoo today.

But do you need an appointment?

Usually, yes. Even on that magical day when all those things come together, there will be some things that make an appointment a good idea.

Let me explain what an appointment is, and what it isn’t.

A tattoo appointment is a set time during which your tattoo artist will be doing nothing but tattooing YOU. They will mark that time as “taken” in their schedule.

You will be the priority and that is the time during which you’ll get tattooed. A tattoo appointment is held with a deposit- some artists will take a deposit over the phone, by credit card, or online by paypal or some other means. Others will want you to come in person to leave a cash deposit. Deposits are usually nonrefundable; they ensure that even if you get hit by a meteor on your way to the appointment, the artist doesn’t lose money by telling other people to go away because they’re going to be busy with you. (deposits normally pay for part of your tattoo cost; part of the total you pay at the end)

Without a deposit, you don’t have an appointment. You probably have a consultation. That’s ok, too.

A consultation is a short meeting with a tattoo artist, which culminates in setting an appointment or getting a tattoo done that day.

Setting up a consultation is a good idea, so that the artist can give you a price estimate and figure out the artwork with you. In our original, awesome, everything-goes-right scenario, you’d likely get a consult – jotted into the schedule in pencil, it would mean one of two things.

  1. You will meet up with the artist for 15-30 minutes and discuss artwork, placement, cost, and all the rest. Then they will set up an appointment to do the tattoo at a later time.
  2. You’re next in line to get tattooed, and can wait until your turn to get tattooed that day.

If you have a consult, your artist will meet with you to discuss the tattoo right at that time, but you may have to wait a while to actually get the tattoo. It may need to be drawn differently, or they may need time to figure out technical details to apply it. Someone may have gotten their tattoo started before you arrived, and the artist will finish with them before it’s your turn.

If you’re on a tight schedule, make an appointment, not a consult. If you aren’t sure whether the artist can draw the tattoo on the spot, if it’s a bigger piece or in an odd place (ribs, hands, etc), if it has complicated elements or meanings, or if you know you might have to come back another day, make a consult and bring along your calendar and ideas so you can plan your future appointment. Hope for the best (getting tattooed today!), prepare for the worst (waiting until another day to get the tattoo done).

Here is what I am left with after I have a consultation with someone:

I'll mark placement on a copy of this so I know where it'll be

I’ll mark placement on a copy of this so I know where it’ll be

A rough doodle I made of the art while we were talking. (actually this is a painting by Cy Twombly, but its what all my preliminary sketches tend to look like)

A rough doodle I made of the art while we were talking.
(actually this is a painting by Cy Twombly, but its what all my preliminary sketches tend to look like)

a brilliant idea for what the finished tattoo will look like. (this is Buckminster Fuller, though)

a brilliant idea for what the finished tattoo will look like.
(this is Buckminster Fuller, though)

a bunch of notes in my terrible handwriting that seem to have nothing to do with the tattoo but actually are notes about your tastes, aesthetic, ideas, hopes, dreams, and how awesome your glasses were

a bunch of notes in my terrible handwriting that seem to have nothing to do with the tattoo but actually are notes about your tastes, aesthetic, ideas, hopes, dreams, and how awesome your glasses were, including a deadline by which I want to get the art finished.

lots of coffee, and time

lots of coffee, and time

a sketch finished after the coffee and time

a sketch finished after the coffee and time

resonanteye geometric mandala back tattoo in progress

finally the appointment day arrives and it begins.

Now, let’s talk about just walking in.

A walk-in is simply going to the shop, getting in line, and waiting your turn to get your tattoo that day.

Some shops and artists encourage this and others don’t like it. Best way to find out if it’s going to work? Just call the shop and ask- “do you take walk-ins?” or “does anyone have time for a walk-in today?” They will let you know. If your art is something that needs lots of drawing time,or if a bunch of other people show up at the shop before you, they may not be able to tattoo it that day. They may not have time. BUT! If your tattoo is pretty simple, or if it’s the kind of thing that particular artist likes to draw and can draw easily, then yes you will be able to walk in and wait your turn and get a tattoo, all in one day.

 

Here are some examples of things that I have done as walk-ins:
wpid-wp-1437889848161.jpegflower tattoo11951279_10153168436387712_1654153991962033826_nIMG_20150509_162856tattoo over stretchmarksjalapeno tattooIMG_20150621_165854DSC_0056

You’ll notice that some are very simple, and some are more complex. The complex stuff? It’s all stuff I like to draw, and can draw very quickly and easily right then and there. If you wanted something I wasn’t proficient with, I’d have to make a date for later and really take time with the drawing. Some of these, I had drawn beforehand- in my sketchbook- and people walked in and chose them from my drawings, or asked for something similar and I could use that drawing to work from. So it really depends on the artist, your flexibility, and other factors.

Personally, I always leave free time on the weekends to take walk-ins. I love spontaneity, and I have a big collection of drawings of “stuff I wanna tattoo on people” for folks to look at and pick from. I also like to draw some subjects so much, that drawing  then tattooing them is easy for me (flowers, trees, plants). Usually my walk-in days get filled up by about halfway through, so anyone who runs in to the shop late hoping for time is SOL, though.

Now, I know that a lot of people think things are small and simple- and they’re not. I mean to you it may seem a simple design, but to us it may be a nightmare. There’s reasons for this- difficult placement, redrawing time, drawing time, planning out geometry or something. I can’t go into it too much because there are a million and one reasons why what seems a simple tattoo may in fact be a complex one to actually apply. In a lot of cases, people walk in wanting a thing that looks simple on paper, but then have to make an appointment to get it done later just so I have time to figure out that translation work and prepare the art correctly. Here are a few like that:

DSC_0054wpid-1375149_10151755002212712_1453620961_n.jpg

DSC_0008
DSC_0064megaman tattoo

 

they may look simple enough, but they took planning and redrawing to get right.
So to sum up:
  • Yes, some people take walk-ins. Call the shop and ask. Be prepared to wait in line for your turn.
  • Yes, consults are a good thing. You might get tattooed that day,or you might have to make an appointment. Nothing is guaranteed. You don’t need a deposit to talk to an artist and the consultation itself costs nothing.
  • Yes, appointments are the only way to be sure you will get tattooed at a specific time and day. Many times you’ll need to make one anyway, just because the artist needs to work on the concept to make it right. You’ll always leave a deposit to hold an appointment.

Good luck, and don’t be afraid to email or call the shop or the artist to find out how they handle each of these things. We have counter staff to handle that- we pay them to be nice to you and find a way for you to get tattooed. I like emails a lot, and I do a lot of online consultations too- some artists don’t, this is purely a matter of personal taste. If you have an artist who is responsive about emails, you can always email directly. Don’t be shy, though. We want you to get tattooed, today, or as soon as possible, because we love tattooing you.

bonus: a few tattoos that took consults AND appointments to get done.

IMG_20150509_085325

IMG_20150509_142836

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anji-marth-tattoos-and-art-74wpid-cam01022-1.jpg

wpid-cam01024-1.jpg

 

why that tattoo pain chart is meaningless.

I’m sure most of you have seen this image, or a similar one,  floating around the internet by now:
10557382_10152123344372126_495203462800773378_n

I’d like to point out that these images aren’t really telling you the whole story. As I’ve posted about before, several times, placement is only one of many variables that will make a tattoo hurt more or less. I’ll begin here just by saying- your frame of mind, your health, and your general attitude about the tattoo matter more than anything. Tattoos, generally speaking, don’t hurt very much. If you have had waxing done, if you’ve ever broken a bone, if you’ve ever had road rash or a bad cut…you’ve been through worse than a tattoo. You can do this. It’s on the level of…a beesting, a cat scratch, an annoyance.

But let’s take this chart for a minute, at face value- and just talk about areas where tattoos may hurt more or less.

The first thing to think about is your own personal sensitivities. Are you ticklish? Do you have previous injuries (even long-healed ones) in an area? Do feet freak you out? If you have any kind of area-specific thing going on in your mind or body, that’s going to affect how you feel while getting tattooed.

Then, there’s the idea that joints and areas with thin skin will hurt more. This isn’t necessarily the case. A tattoo on the side of the neck seems like it should be the worst thing ever, by these rules. Hell, in the image it’s a red zone! But in the image the center of the neck, the throat, is the red zone too- and those two areas feel very different. See, the only areas where you really have a big cluster of extra nerves are the

  • hands
  • face
  • genitals
  • solar plexus
  • throat
  • nipples

Everywhere else on your body is pretty much the same, as far as the sensitivity of the skin itself. Now some areas also have bone or underlying structures without much padding of muscle or fat. For some people, these areas are EASIER, for others, HARDER to get tattooed. It all depends on what kind of pain you dislike the most. If a deep throbbing or any kind f pressure just slays you, then areas without bony structures are going to hurt more- areas like

  • stomach
  • sides (below the ribs)
  • side of the neck
  • inner arm and armpit
  • inner thigh

if, for you, a stingy sensation is the worst thing, but you don’t mind pressure very much, you’re going to have a hard time with areas that have muscle right under the skin. Areas such as

  • lower back
  • top of shoulder
  • deltoid/front of arm
  • tops of thighs
  • calves
  • buttocks

Now if you don’t mind stingy feelings, and throbbing and pressure are no big deal, but you don’t like the feeling of papercuts or slices or the like, you may dislike bony areas the most. It seems to me that most people feel this way. This means that to at least some degree, the image has a few areas properly labeled for someone like that. The areas that would hurt would be:

  • ankles
  • hands/wrists
  • feet
  • collarbones
  • center of chest
  • shoulderblades
  • spine near center of back
  • ribs
  • kneecaps/elbows

Your body’s size and shape and composition matters too. If you have a lot of fat deposits, your hips may not be such a bad spot. But areas underneath rolls might hurt more, as they’re less exposed to sensation and touch in general. If you’re big and muscular, areas with tightly-stretched skin might hurt more- meaning a calf, one of the places the chart says is EASY, would be more painful to you. If you are scrawny and bony, areas with visible tendons may be the worst.

All of this talk of pain is so variable that you almost can’t pin it down and make any sort of universal chart.

Now let’s talk about where this dumb and inaccurate chart actually came from.

 

Something you can do, though, is make a chart showing areas that are the hardest for the artist to work on. This chart looks almost exactly like that “pain” chart, and versions of it used to be used in shops to show which areas would cost more than others for the same design. I have a sneaking suspicion that some client, at some point, saw this pricing chart and assumed we charged more for “hurty stuff”. This is not the case.

In fact, in some shops, the pricing system was worked out by square inch and placement, not by time. In the Before Times many shops would have all the available designs and flash up on the walls with prices attached. Nearby would be a chart exactly like the “pain” chart, saying, “areas in red cost $20 more, areas in blue $50 more” or something to that effect. This was not done because of how much those areas hurt the client- it was done because those areas are harder for us to tattoo.

acetate with square inches marked off.

acetate with square inches marked off.

So you lay that clear sheet with the inches marked on it, over the tattoo design. Any square containing ANYTHING counts. You have your minimum price, then you add however much per inch. So a shop with a $50 minimum, 20 per inch, a tattoo that is 2″ costs 90 bucks, base price for the easy-to-tattoo zones. Now you go to the chart. You want it on your wrist? Price goes up by ten bucks. You want it on your ribs? Price goes up by thirty bucks. And so on…This is one of the old ways of pricing tattoos, and strangely enough it often works out almost exactly what a tattoo would cost hourly. Those expensive areas just take longer so the time is extended anyway. Also, some areas are risky to us so they cost more.

If I am working on an area that is difficult to reach, my chance of a needle stick goes up. Slippery, sweaty areas are especially scary this way. If I’m working on an area where the skin shifts in response to ANY movement by the client (like ribs and center chest, for example) then I’m going to have to work harder to pull a straight line, to get things even and perfect. This extra work translated to extra pay, based on a chart like this one.

It had and has nothing to do with how you, the client, feel during the tattoo. The original of this color body chart is simply a  pricing guide for tattooers, not anything to do with what you will feel during a tattoo.

 

handy pricing chart used in some older studios.

handy pricing chart used in some older studios.

If I were to make a chart about the actual pain? I’d simply put a blank body form and have people print it out and color it in.
Put red any place where you are sensitive to tickling or have any kind of weird feeling about being touched. Also any place that folds over, where the skin touches itself and is rarely exposed to air or touch.
Put blue on your genitals, hands, and face- AND on any area that has a previous injury, even a healed one.
Put yellow on any place that is often exposed to touch and friction, that has a lot of exposure to air and sun.
Put green everywhere else.

This is your personal, very own pain chart. Everyone will have a different one. Unlike the tattoo artist’s perspective, where all armpits are pretty much the same to work on, the perspective as a client will be totally individual and unique.

Here’s a few stock images you can color in.

fat-slim-woman-white-background-30620793 Posture Template 1woman

 

 

Oh yeah- you’ve probably seen this garbage floating around as well. It’s crap, and it’s demeaning to you guys who are my clients, and I hate this kind of shit. Strangely enough I don’t have too many clients who pay no taxes or go to prison. There’s some slut-shaming in there too. What a load of crap.

tattoo-locations

 

(for a great article about pain and tattooing in general, my friend Deb wrote a great one here)
(for a chart to figure out how much of yourself is tattooed, you can look at matt gone’s awesome post about this here.)

the trouble with white.

in the process of setting up for a white ink tattoo.

in the process of setting up for a white ink tattoo.

White ink on the hands.
Plenty of tattooers won’t even do this. For good reason, too! White ink does not heal white. It heals slightly lighter than the skin tone, and often unevenly. It ends up looking a bit like a pale scar, nearly invisible.

Most tattoo artists who will do tattoos in white-ink-only, will not guarantee it, do a free touchup, after it heals. It’s acknowledged that it will not look right when it heals. There’s a very, very rare person for whom it heals and looks ok- but that person is truly rare. I’ve only ever met one, in 16 years of using white alone in tattoos.

All that said, I will do white-ink-only tattoos. And I’ll even do one free touchup, just like with any other tattoo. BUT, I try to make it really clear that it’ll never heal just right, never look perfect. That it’s going to fade into a pale hint of a tattoo, like a scar. Barely there, and that this is likely to happen unevenly, too.

Here are two matching tattoos, freshly tattooed with white-ink-only.

(more…)

somewhere there’s a feather

Warning to people using this as an informational resource: I am not a lawyer. I curse a lot. Follow the links in the text to find official sources and research, rather than relying on my say-so.
he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he's a flycatcher.

he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he’s a flycatcher. I didn’t keep any pieces of him, except the poops he left behind on my counter.

There’s this law, see. Every time I bring it up, people get salty about it. Hell, sometimes I get salty about it when people bring it up. But I’m bringing it up anyway.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.

The MBTA does not apply to: (1) Nonnative species introduced into the United States or its territories by means of intentional or unintentional human assistance…, or nonnative, human-introduced species that belong to families or groups not covered by the Canadian, Mexican, or Russian Conventions.

(If you have found a feather, there are resources at the very end of this post to help you figure out what bird it’s from, and if you can keep it or not. Click ‘read more’ then scroll down.)

song thrush

seriously, these guys kept coming in. that place had big windows, they really liked shitting all over my house and refusing to fly back out. this is a female, maybe the special friend of the other bird. she also left some potentially-illegal feces behind.

Definitely-legal feathers come from European Starlings, House Sparrows, Rock Pigeons, Eurasian Collared Doves, AND basically any bird you are legally allowed to hunt (meaning, YOU have a hunting license for it) or farm/have as a pet legally- these game and domestic birds include non-native parrots, wild turkey, pheasant, some geese, peacocks, some grouse, domestic chickens, domestic ducks, domestic geese, domestic quail, and domestic turkey.

(side note: all the feathers used in my work are from legal species and sources; I paint and stain legal feathers to resemble rare/illegal ones, and you can too, and if you do I will keep liking you and your art)

There’s a damn good reason for these laws. I know that you’re thinking, “but I’m not out harvesting cormorants, smashing baby sparrows, and yanking the tails of owls! I found it on the ground, how could it possibly harm anyone for me to just have it in my own house?”

fox skull mount

chicken feathers behind a fox skull. these look rad and they’re legal and easy to obtain.

It’s harmful because people actually do kill these birds to get their feathers, and they can and do say the same fucking thing when they get caught. In order to keep poachers from saying they “found” feathers that they actually killed to get, the law simply won’t allow anyone to have them at all. This includes you, and me, and includes ‘private collections’ and ‘I won’t sell it I just want it for my shrine’. I won’t even get started on people who are selling protected birds’ feathers (online or off) because it makes me too frothy and I want this article to make sense.It used to be that poachers could claim they had ‘found feathers’, and didn’t actually kill the birds. This law ensures that this doesn’t happen. There are exceptions and loopholes, of course, but you’ll need paperwork to fit into them.

I understand that it feels like the Fun Police have arrived when someone brings up the fact that you’re endangering birds by keeping those crow feathers in your hat. Hell, I know that before I got super involved in this kind of art I pretty much felt the same way. It wasn’t until I did a lot more reading and a lot more thinking that I really got it. I don’t mean to prevent you from making cool stuff. I truly understand, and I also dislike the arrival of the Fun Police in general. But.

BUT. But there’s this law, see. And if you’re breaking it, you’re not being an Ethical Shaman-type Person. So if you wish to represent yourself as a Magical Unicorn Dancer of Good Intentions and The Like, read on. (Evil Bastards of Doom, feel free to skip ahead to the “crow” or “canada goose” sections, or just go squash a european starling.)

 

somewhere there's a feather

Warning to people using this as an informational resource: I am not a lawyer. I curse a lot. Follow the links in the text to find official sources and research, rather than relying on my say-so.
he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he's a flycatcher.

he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he’s a flycatcher. I didn’t keep any pieces of him, except the poops he left behind on my counter.

There’s this law, see. Every time I bring it up, people get salty about it. Hell, sometimes I get salty about it when people bring it up. But I’m bringing it up anyway.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.

The MBTA does not apply to: (1) Nonnative species introduced into the United States or its territories by means of intentional or unintentional human assistance…, or nonnative, human-introduced species that belong to families or groups not covered by the Canadian, Mexican, or Russian Conventions.

(If you have found a feather, there are resources at the very end of this post to help you figure out what bird it’s from, and if you can keep it or not. Click ‘read more’ then scroll down.)

song thrush

seriously, these guys kept coming in. that place had big windows, they really liked shitting all over my house and refusing to fly back out. this is a female, maybe the special friend of the other bird. she also left some potentially-illegal feces behind.

Definitely-legal feathers come from European Starlings, House Sparrows, Rock Pigeons, Eurasian Collared Doves, AND basically any bird you are legally allowed to hunt (meaning, YOU have a hunting license for it) or farm/have as a pet legally- these game and domestic birds include non-native parrots, wild turkey, pheasant, some geese, peacocks, some grouse, domestic chickens, domestic ducks, domestic geese, domestic quail, and domestic turkey.

(side note: all the feathers used in my work are from legal species and sources; I paint and stain legal feathers to resemble rare/illegal ones, and you can too, and if you do I will keep liking you and your art)

There’s a damn good reason for these laws. I know that you’re thinking, “but I’m not out harvesting cormorants, smashing baby sparrows, and yanking the tails of owls! I found it on the ground, how could it possibly harm anyone for me to just have it in my own house?”

fox skull mount

chicken feathers behind a fox skull. these look rad and they’re legal and easy to obtain.

It’s harmful because people actually do kill these birds to get their feathers, and they can and do say the same fucking thing when they get caught. In order to keep poachers from saying they “found” feathers that they actually killed to get, the law simply won’t allow anyone to have them at all. This includes you, and me, and includes ‘private collections’ and ‘I won’t sell it I just want it for my shrine’. I won’t even get started on people who are selling protected birds’ feathers (online or off) because it makes me too frothy and I want this article to make sense.It used to be that poachers could claim they had ‘found feathers’, and didn’t actually kill the birds. This law ensures that this doesn’t happen. There are exceptions and loopholes, of course, but you’ll need paperwork to fit into them.

I understand that it feels like the Fun Police have arrived when someone brings up the fact that you’re endangering birds by keeping those crow feathers in your hat. Hell, I know that before I got super involved in this kind of art I pretty much felt the same way. It wasn’t until I did a lot more reading and a lot more thinking that I really got it. I don’t mean to prevent you from making cool stuff. I truly understand, and I also dislike the arrival of the Fun Police in general. But.

BUT. But there’s this law, see. And if you’re breaking it, you’re not being an Ethical Shaman-type Person. So if you wish to represent yourself as a Magical Unicorn Dancer of Good Intentions and The Like, read on. (Evil Bastards of Doom, feel free to skip ahead to the “crow” or “canada goose” sections, or just go squash a european starling.)

 

weird ways people have found this site, and their quick questions.

2008, work gear.

2008, work gear.

It’s time for the yearly list of weird searches that have brought people here, and questions that I can answer in a few words.
I can see search terms that people have used to find my site so every year I trawl through them and find the ones that make me giggle- or the ones that are simple questions I can answer. This year was a good year for this.

Dying is easy, life is hard

if you don’t like spoilers or are too fragile don’t read any further and avoid the comments.

ethel the actress

this dog was not harmed in the making of this death scene

I usually only watch horror films, spiced with the occasional psychological thriller,sci-fi indy film, or action flick. So recently when someone asked me what my favorite death scene was, from a movie, I first piped up with an obvious one from one of my favorite horror movies.

“No,” she said. “I mean for the impact it had on you. Not for the plot to advance.”
I had to think hard. I mean, very hard. There are so many deaths in the movies I watch, you see, and yet most of them are plot devices, not seriously meaningful beyond that. Not the kind of thing that affects me, really. I mean, even when I watch emotional movies, I don’t get very emotional, and I’ve never cried during a movie (books, yes. movies? no.)

So after a few days of deep thought, I’ve made a list. There are a lot of spoilers in it, and if you don’t like spoilers or are too fragile to handle knowing the end of something don’t read any further and avoid the comments. I’m serious, I’ll just delete comments complaining about spoilers. 

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15 books that will change the way you tattoo (for the better)

owlbooksThere are a lot of great books on art out there, and I’m bound to miss a lot in my list. These are just books I have found incredibly helpful in my work, and which I refer to often.

These are not books of reference images (although I did come up in the time before google images took over, and every shop had its own reference library on site…I still can’t part with all those books!)

These are, instead, books about art in general, about art techniques, or about being an artist that I think apply very well to tattooing. If you have favorites that I do not list, please add a comment and link me to them! I read voraciously and love to find new sources of knowledge.

At least a few of these are free on kindle/ebooks, most are cheap, one or two are pricey, all are available and not rare.

 

An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.
To say to the painter that Nature is to be taken as she is, is to say to the player that he may sit on the piano.
~J. M. Whistler

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tattooing on darker, or uneven, skin tones

henna style
I’ve been tattooing for a long time and I’ve worked on every conceivable shade of human skin. I’ve noticed that the most important thing isn’t usually how dark or light someone is (although that matters when you discuss tonal value and contrast) but the hue of a person, the underlying warmth or coolness of their skin.

Skin color is created by melanin, a pigment found in the upper layer of the epidermis. Tattoos lie beneath this layer, in the area between the epidermis and dermis. This placement of the ink prevents it from being shed with dead cells, by the top layer, and by being dispersed into the capillaries, in the bottom layer.

Since the ink itself lies beneath the epidermal melanin, looking at a tattoo is like looking through a tinted window. Except for albinos, everyone on earth has melanin in this skin layer. Some will have a ruddy skin tone, some a cold tone to their skin. Some will be dark, some light. Some freckled, and some smoothly pigmented.

Taking all of this into account when designing a tattoo is important. Tattoo ink is not opaque, but translucent, so you see through one tinted window, then through the ink itself. More than one factor has to be taken into account to make a great tattoo on uneven or darker skin tones.

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