On flash, and picking it off the wall.

guns and hand and skulls tattoo flashThis is an original I’m selling- it’s part of my flash set from last year. Almost every sheet in that set (flash comes in sets of six or ten- this set had ten painted sheets) had a strong orange or yellow background.

Flash is one of my favorite things to work on. I’ve done a flash set every other year, since I started tattooing. Flash is meant to be tattooed- tattooers or shops buy the set, add it to their collection, and people can get any of it tattooed on them, can “pick it off the wall”.

Since so much of tattooing is online these days, I sell the print-ready files to tattoo shops as well as physical prints. Sometimes I sell the originals to collectors.

Tattoo flash is meant to be copied as tattoos.

The only real rule or issue with it is when people who didn’t buy the print/file/rights, try to take it into a shop to get it tattooed on them. It’s sort of frowned on. Usually people buy the print, buy the file and print it out to bring in- tattoo-getters, that is. Buy a print of a flash sheet you like, if you want something from it done on you. Give that print to your actual tattoo artist as a tip. Picking up the print from the original artist gets you the rights to get it tattooed on you, and your tattoo artist the rights to add it to their collection and tattoo it on anyone who wants something from it.

Kind of a win-win.

Flash is an old concept. It’s been around for maybe as long as tattooing has been. Before Internet came we used to mail each other prints of flash as a way to collaborate on stuff. The old timey guys had their shops plastered with flash, like wallpaper- painted by them, or traded or bought from friends.

I have a huge flash collection, I love the stuff. Not many people pick off the wall anymore, which is ok, but I still love having the stuff. I love seeing how different artists approach the typical technical issues in tattooing.

Flash is meant to be easily tattooed, tattoo artists draw it so that it can be copied easily, doesn’t need to be translated to work on skin. Unlike art you might buy from non-tattooers, it’s READY. It’s made to be put on just as it is. And that makes it a very niche sort of art.

(this original painted sheet is available at https://www.etsy.com/listing/156296306/illuminati-tattoo-flash-yellow-guns-hand, or prints can be found at http://www.redbubble.com/people/resonanteye/collections/191442-tattoo-flash along with the rest of this set – and the year before’s set too)

5 big mistakes people make when planning their tattoos (and how to avoid them)

Comments welcome!

1. Putting the cart before the horse (trying to get art together instead of finding an artist first)

owl tattooYour most important decision isn’t going to be the art itself, but the artist you choose to apply it. Before you even start putting together any images, you should start looking for an artist to do the tattoo. Most people assume they have to come in with some kind of finished piece and then hand that to just any artist, and they will get a good tattoo. This is pretty much backwards!

Look for a tattoo artist whose work you like, who works in a shop with a decent reputation, and who shows interest in your idea. The best way to do that is to simply search online, plugging in the name of your area or region and “tattoo artist”. Or, alternately, ask people you have met who have tattoos that you really like. Word of mouth is a good thing!

Choose the artist by their work. If they are doing tattoos that you think look awesome, it doesn’t matter if it’s the same subject you’re looking for. For example, if you want a bird on you, you don’t have to look for someone who can tattoo a bird. Every tattoo artist can and will tattoo a bird- it’s the WAY they will tattoo it, that you need to think about. Look at their STYLE. Do you like it? Not your mom, your partner, your friends. YOU. This will be your tattoo. So if you like their style, that’s what matters.

You can usually send an email to an artist or contact them online and present your subject matter to them, and see how interested they are. Sometimes your idea is fine but not exciting, and that’s ok…but sometimes you get lucky and the idea you have is one that THAT particular artist would really love to work on, and that’s always a good thing.

Once you’ve picked out a tattoo artist, go have a consult with them. They will make the art for you, as part of the tattoo process. Seriously. Finding an artist whose vision you trust means you don’t have to pay anyone else to draw for you.


6 basic ways to improve your tattoo compositions.

EPSON MFP imageEvery bit of information about art can be applied to tattooing- especially information about composition. Here are some basic ways to do this-

On "watercolor" tattoos

First of all, a quick look at watercolor as a medium.

floral watercolor original oregon landscape painting nude watercolor painting, naked smile


Granted, these are all paintings I’ve done. Maybe some other artist uses messy lines and colors outside them, splashing paint randomly everywhere?


Five reasons some tattoos hurt more than others.

4e5e78bb33d5f17bc32071ea1be508d7-d3gtw12I hurt everyone the same. I’ve heard I have a heavy hand, a light hand, I’ve had people fall asleep, giggle, cry, complain, pass out, sit still and do nothing…all shades of response. But my machines are set one way and my hand is set one way and that doesn’t change unless you have leathery elbows and knuckles you want worked on and I have to pry the cells apart to get the ink in there at all…hurting people more takes more work than not hurting them. Think about it.

The reason I’ve heard all these things, when I’m doing the same thing every time?



a (relatively) thorough guide to getting a tattoo


we get socially awkward too!

A long list of things that will help you get through your tattoo session, and have great work to wear afterward:

The night before:

  • Don’t drink heavily. If it will make you hungover, it will thin your blood the next day.
  • Get to bed on time. It may feel like christmas eve and be hard to sleep, but the rest will make you less fidgety the following day.
  • Check your funds. Make sure you have enough to cover the cost and a tip. Make sure you’ll have enough left over to eat something or buy bottled water or any incidental snack you might want while you get tattooed.
  • if you have an appointment, call the shop and verify the time. Artists are human and can make mistakes, so make sure you know exactly when you are supposed to be there and how much it will cost.
  • For a spontaneous tattoo, all these are true. Don’t decide to get tattooed after a night drinking; if you’ve been up all night; if you are using drugs; or if you aren’t sure you have enough money. Call the shop the night before and ask if anyone can take walk-ins the following day. They may even make room for you.
  • Make sure you have any art reference or doctor’s notes you will need. Also, check your ID or driver’s license and make sure it’s not expired! If so, some studios allow you to use your passport, but it’s better to know ahead of time!


watermarking is a pain in the ass.

You need to watermark all of your art, all your tattoo pictures. Everything you post online. I need to remember to do this, too. I’m going through and watermarking some pictures, and just realized…well, if I already posted them someplace, then I’d have to go back through and replace them all, and then the links would no longer work or whatever, plus people have already saved them and now have no idea where they came from… I mean, watermarking isn’t HARD to do, it’s just hard to REMEMBER to do, every time I post something. I get too excited and I throw stuff up into the internet before I do it pretty often.

no watermark

no watermark

I also have a habit of losing original downsized images (for submissions online to magazines or whatever) and then I have to go back to the original scan and re-size it. I’ve had quite a few images or pieces of art get a ton of exposure, but most of those weren’t watermarked. I wish I could say I’ve learned from that and that I watermark everything now, but I still forget.

easy to cover or crop out, also ugly

easy to cover or crop out, also ugly

I try to put my watermark in a place where it’s difficult to crop out of the image, but doesn’t interfere with it. Some people or sites will still cover up this kind of watermark wit their own (THE ABSOLUTE BASTARDS) but for the most part it works. All I really care about is that if someone sees my art someplace they can then find me if they want to buy it.

hard to crop out without destroying the image subject, not too intrusive, readable. that's the right one.

hard to crop out without destroying the image subject, not too intrusive, readable. that’s the right one.

I use photoshop for watermarks, because I like them to be a bit transparent. But if I am truly lazy that day I just use paint. Either works. I love it when people share my work, no doubt. It just frustrates me that the work doesn’t always lead back to me. I get sad when I see art posted, someone asking “man that’s awesome who did that?” and the answer is “I dunno, I found it someplace and I don’t remember where” Watermarks are so that people remember where. Once you have a good watermark on a picture, you can relax a little. You can start getting happy and open about where people share the image, even about whether they download it and print a small picture of it. Because it’s got a recognizable name on it, it will lead anyone that sees it right back to you. And that’s the important thing when it comes to posting stuff online- that your art gets seen by lots of people. I mean, otherwise why post it? You want to share your work; you want people who would like your work to get to enjoy it and maybe talk to you about it or even buy some. So watermark everything! Now if only I can remember to follow my own advice.



Are tattoo artists rich?

2a62883f6a5facde8cd4ba3b8f98258b-d4d2ojnI love it when people assume I’m rich. “I just gave her $500!!! and she’s doing another tattoo right after me!”
The sad truth is that I am not the top of my field. My prices are average for the cities I work in. I’m not a superstar, and I make less than a plumber. In fact, I earn, yearly, a bit less than a good schoolteacher.

Of course some tattoo artists make bank. They might work seven days a week, or have a supernatural talent; they could be working in an area with only one or two shops competing with them. They might simply be a hell of a lot better than me at talking to people, promoting themselves, or making tattoos. But even those guys aren’t millionaires. They’re earning what a plumber might earn…unless they own a shop. Some shop owners ascend into the millions, for sure. But that takes decades of hard work, and putting most of the money back into the business. They’re not taking home millions and rolling around in it like Scrooge McDuck.

There’s a reason we love tips from our clients, and that’s because we don’t have to share those with anybody.

Before you read on, be aware: ALL of this information will vary by region, city, skill level. There is no standard rate of pay for a tattoo artist. That’s the risk you take in any creative profession, and we’re no different. Also I’m only writing about professional tattoo artists. Amateurs can go shit in a ditch, for all I care.

(originally published on: Feb 2, 2008, with revisions for this post)


talk to strangers.

bride portrait

Originally published 12/5/2011

I was looking at the viewing statistics for the site here and noticed that one person among the couple hundred went through every post just about in the space of a day or two. OMG ARCHIVE BINGE! It made me extremely happy and I felt warm, and loved.

Whenever I find a site or an artist I like online I just read EVERYTHING from them, I will binge until I am reading their diary from ten years ago, if it’s posted. Like when I found crimelibrary the first time, or when I started looking at explodingdog. I just went nuts, spent all my internet time following the trail back to the start. I suddenly realized that you guys read my stuff and look at my site the same exact way I look at yours and that made me feel really good. So thank you, anonymous archive binge person, for making me both happy and more educated about what I am trying to do, and how people feel about it.

THEN- I have gotten a slew of emails from total strangers, asking questions, tattoo and art process stuff, and general sort of things. I LOVE talking to you guys. Man, if you’re reading my stuff someplace and suddenly have a question, and you email me that you like my things and want to know the answer, I get sweaty excited about it. It makes me feel good- I love sharing information, and while I am not the most educated or the most knowledgeable about everything the things I DO know I love to share. And sometimes even if I don’t know, I can send the question to someone who does. And that feels great too.


And also- I spent the last few days interviewing a series of artists for a longer article I’m putting together. I’m working hard to write something useful about it. It’s taking me some time to assemble but I think it’ll be good. Talking to new people who get it, and who are working in smaller ways to affect the world- people who put their hands on the work and make things that have deeper meaning as well as visual aesthetics- that’s been really eye-opening and inspiring to me too.

Oh, and, last of all, I spent a day making paper. That was fun as all fuck, too.

I love talking to people about art. I don’t know how approachable I seem but really, I like talking to new people and I really feel great when I can help someone, give information, or just even see that people are interested in what I’m doing. So thanks guys for reading along.

If you have questions for me to answer, let me know in the comments. Or email me!

(you can find more of me by googling resonanteye, I am literally everywhere online. I talk to all the strangers!)

How risky is it to get tattooed?



Tattoos done in a home, in prison, or in an unlicensed facility carry grave health risks. This article is about the health risks associated with being tattooed in a clean, licensed, and proper tattoo facility- NOT about home tattoos or jail tattoos. Those are TOO DAMN RISKY FOR ME TO EVEN TALK ABOUT.

In some states, tattoo artists and studios are regulated by the state and have to meet health requirements. In some states this goes so far as to test artists for various communicable diseases. In others, it merely requires training in the control of bloodborne pathogens and sterile, disposable equipment. Studios will usually not tattoo anyone who is intoxicated on any substance, or who is under the age of 18. Most states have laws pertaining to this, and most studios will turn away anyone who is incapable of legally signing a consent form.

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