I love trees.
Most of the tattoo trees I do are drawn on the skin, in marker, right before being tattooed. That way the person getting the tattoo can control the size and scale better, and I get a better feeling for the flow the tree needs to have to fit on three dimensions. I go outside and look at trees. That’s what I use for reference-I take a lot of photographs of trees as well. I love drawing them.
I used to climb trees all the time. Actually I still do when I see a decent climbing tree. Climbing a tree was always a way for me to get some time alone in a house full of extroverts- a way to escape.
I learned a lot about what each tree was like. They not only have a personality because of their species, but individually too.
Willows are always friendly and mellow, but can be risky to climb- they like to slip their bark once you’re high enough to get hurt by falling. Oaks are big and old and kindly, but their twigs are crackled and dry. Birches are my favorite trees- spry, springy, and easy to take a nap in.
When I tattoo a tree, I try to imagine how a real tree would grow, if the muscles were wind and weather. This means each tree is form-fitted to the wearer, their own. It would only fit that person, in that space of the body. I feel like trees adapt to any place where they grow, they adapt so completely, twisting to fit- they’re the perfect subject for tattoos.
(Originally Published on: Oct 20, 2011)