Some of what we do is stuff that most artists in the city won't do. Saying that we do the impossible is close, but if we can do it how can it be impossible? It's skill level that makes it possible! Sometimes, an artist will say "it can't be done that small" and sometimes it's true, there are pieces that can be too small, like some high detailed fonts, but most of the time what these are really saying "I can't do it that small." Professionally, it would be better to tell it like it is to a client because the client will then decide wether to search for an artist who CAN and not have to compromise their original decision on size or settle. Some clients are open minded enough to let an artist "try" or go with it and accept the tattoo in a larger size. John Day's angel (above) took 4 hours... no outlines...just shades of color. No compromising here.
This is Yolanda's cover up... a mediocre under water scene is replaced by a high detailed realistic coral scene.
It boils down to skill level. Some artists will even say "in 10 years the lines will be fuzzy and the details gone"... another excuse. That is something that is impossible to predict! Exposure to sun, their pre disposed aging due to genetics, elasticity of the skin... after care, weight gain, muscle gain... all these things are factors!! But, let's just say, if that were true, that "in 10 years, the detailed, fine line tattoo will look like a turd", then so will the thick bold black lines they prefer to do! May be even worse!!! I don't know which would be worse a faded single needle line which could turn a light grey with shading that will disappear, or a dark bold line which will only get thicker with a grey fuzz around it.
Portraits and realistic work are standards used to measure an artist's general skill by. It takes eye-hand coordination to do these. First a stencil is placed on the skin, marking every subtle shade or wrinkle, the eyelashes, the highlights... and then it's up to the artist to translate the shade or value for that particular area wether it's by mixing the color or thinning down the black ink with water, BY EYE. Some artists excel in "traditional" style tattooing, which today is recognized as trendy, just like the tribal armband of the 90's. It does take some skill to draw a tattoo to match the style of tattooing's early pioneers (skulls with square eyes..), but the technique used to actually tattoo this style of work is rudimentary. Lining with a 7 - 9 needle liner and doing solid color is what most artists learn in their first few months of holding a machine.
This portrait was small, the guy's arm was skinny so he didn't have much room to work with, the face alone was approximately just over an inch wide so imagine the size of the eyes. This is single needle stuff!! The shades making the muscle tones, and facial details wasn't all done in blacks or greys... I won't let the cat out of the bag but any GOOD artist will be able to look at an image and instinctively know what to mix to get there.
Some areas are hard to work on. Just look at the surface of the skin! There are dips and valleys, occasionally there are creases, moles... going from soft areas to hard bony areas!! It's not an easy job... a professional can make it look easy but it can be the most frustrating thing ever.
Some clients have great skin to work on! Even the subtle-est greys show up on them. This portrait was a pleasure to do!! This was freshly done so there is a little redness but you can see on the hat and the collar that Seio's skin was great for portraits. Don't mean to toot our own horn... TOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! But this is what WE CAN do. We are doers. As Wentzle Ruml would say, "I can do it, I'm doin' it." He's the guy 27 seconds in... you must see this movie, even if you don't skate...
SO, after work, do you know what time it is? Hungry?
how bout now?
Work all day... eat in the evening... digest all night... sweat all night digesting meat... wake up, put out a bi- product that looks like the baked beans in the picture.. with a side of what looks like the lemonade in the picture... clean up and do it again.