Tuesday, 6 October 2009

My first attempts

Well I have now tattooed my own leg and tattooed someone else. These are the pics of my first ever two attempts at this art:

Friday, 2 October 2009

This Is Hard!!

So since my last blog I have managed the following things:
  • I have done more pencil work
  • I have bought my first tattoo machines
  • I have watched MANY tattoo instruction videos via the interweb & DVD's
It has been an intensive couple of weeks. With it resulting in my first attempt at tattooing today. 

I bought a high end starter set up. I now own a line gun. A shader gun. A full spectrum of inks plus a sample set of the Silverback grey ink range. I also own every tattoo accessory such as the machine to run the guns, a ultrasonic cleaning machine, 150 sterile high needles in 3 different sizes, all my soaps, gloves, in caps, carbon hecto paper, tubes, rubber bands... the list goes on and on but you get the picture.

I learnt to set up my machines following a book and video instruction. I then followed the same book and dvd to learn how to be CLEAN, prepare skin, set up ink caps, apply ink using machine and explanations on line and shading techniques. Also included was a lot on health and safety and different skin types and possible reactions to ink. 

So after doing the above I decided I was ready to power up my machines and give some fake skin a blast. FIRST LESSON: FAKE SKIN IS SHIIIIIIIIIT. I drew a coi carp by hand onto the fake skin. I then took my line gun, dipped it in the black ink and went for my first line. As expected there was a small build up of residue ink after the first line went in. I then used a kitchen towel to wipe it. This is when I learnt that the ink just stains the fake rubber skin. So what I was left with was a grey rubber mess... not a good start. It was clear to me now that this fake skin would be impossible to use. I quickly realised that I was not going to be able to use fake skin. I would only get a feel for tattooing, by actually tattooing real skin. So the answer was my leg :S

I am still waiting for my Hecto carbon paper fluid to turn up in the post. So I am currently unable to transfer a stencil to skin. So I decided that if I was to draw something free hand on my leg it would have to be small but not a solid color so I could use both the line gun and shader. I chose a cherry blossom as these are small and simple to draw. The next 30 minutes was a struggle. First it took me a while to get use to the depth the needle had to penetrate the skin so an even line of ink could be applied. I then had to get use to the weight and the swing of the gun. But eventually I managed the outline. But phew I did struggle. I then picked up my shader gun, knocked it slightly and went to start it and it was vibrating at an extremely low speed. I knew by now that shaders do work at a slower speed but this was so slow it was snagging the skin when I attempted to apply the ink. So I then had to work out how to re-adjust the machine until it was working at a good speed. I know this is all good experience, but phew it stressed me out!! One more thing I kept having to remind myself to do was make sure I firmly stretched the skin so the application of ink would be smooth. But I got there eventually and my first attempt was finished. I found it really difficult to tattoo my own leg. It is hard to see what you are doing and I think it would be easier being able to get closer to what you are tattooing. Once my hecto paper comes through I will be trying something on a larger scale again on my leg. Probably a coi.

So first attempt out of the way. But I am daunted with how much I have to learn. But I'll get there in the end (I hope).

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

So where to begin?

I have decided that I want to tattooist. But where do I start? I have so many things to learn and many options that I need to explore. There is no real set plan for becoming a tattooist out there other then get an apprenticeship or go it alone, the second option being the harder of the two in my eyes. But before I even begin to explore these two avenues I think the next logical step is to START DRAWING! So this is what I have done.

I know that quite a few tattoo artists have not formally trained in art. I know that it would be easy for me to visit a website and buy a starter kit and ruin someones skin for life with an awful uneducated attempt at a first tattoo. I know that I will eventually have to pick up a machine and make my first attempt, but I plan on being as prepared as I possibly can for that first 'live' go. So first I need to make sure my drawing skills are good and I am comfortable with creating lines, shapes and shades. Because without this knowledge I can not even begin to think about picking up a tattoo machine.

Pencil & Paper

Over the last month I have bought myself a sketch book and a set of pencils and pens. What I have done next is to choose subjects that I think will challenge my abilities. Bearing in mind my influences such as Bob Tyrell's portraits and Jason Butcher's black and grey work.

So here are 3 examples of pieces I have completed. These 3 pieces explore my sense of grey scale, Light to dark and physical light source. I have also concentrated on object form using directional shading. I hoped to create a sense of natural realism.

Example 1: Johnny Cash (Pencil)

Example 2: Skull & Rose (Pencil)

Example 3: A demonisation portrait of Jason Butcher

A long road ahead...

Well this is where it all begins for me. I am 30 years old. I currently work as web operations manager for a very well known stock exchange. I have spent the last 8 years working to get where I am, but finding out that achieving my goal has not fulfilled me. I first completed an honours degree in mathematics and computer science, then spent 5 years working my way up the career ladder in the world of web development and design. I am now lucky enough to be at the top of my game but in an industry I have no passion for anymore.

I have always had a passion for fine art. Before I decided that computers were the way forward for me, I actually spent my early years obsessed with art, design and music. I always intended to work in some sort of art and design role. I even completed A-levels, B-Tech and HND(Two year degree) in art, design and graphic communication. It wasn't until that I found myself in a dead end job working for a gas company that I decided to learn programing and web design in the hope that it would it would open new doors for me... which it did.

But what now?
I got my first tattoo when I was 16 years old. I picked the design from the flash on the wall of the grotty studio which was built just outside a local football ground. 30 mins later I had a very tatty craply applied tattoo on my upper arm that would be with me for the rest of my life. But from that day forth I grew an obsession with body art. Although I could not afford much work to be done to myself in the early years, I would regularly buy magazines, books and anything else I could get my hands on to fulfill my obsession with tattoo's and tattooists.

I quickly learnt what studios where worth visiting and what studios to avoid. I developed a knowledge of artists in the uk and abroad that I admired and hoped that one day I would be able to afford to get them to tattoo me. Over the last few years I grew to respect and appreciate the work of many artists but particularly the following four... Paul Booth, Bob Tyrell, Jason Butcher and I have a love/ hate relationship with the work of Bugs. Luckily one of the artists, Jason Butcher, who I admired for his black and grey work, worked locally to where I live. It has only been the last couple of years that I have been able to afford work to be done by him, but he has now tattooed my chest and has almost completed a full sleeve on my right arm covering that awful first tattoo I mentioned earlier. Actually being tattooed by Jason started a new buzz in me which I can't ignor and know that I need to act upon it.

I suppose that deep down I have always wanted to be the tattooist, but never had the confidence to go out and do it. I suppose because the artists I admire are at such a high standard I have never had the guts to try it for myself and see where it takes me. It has taken until now to build up the confidence to actually give this a shot. You maybe thinking that I am only doing this now because I am bored with the carrer I am in now and am just looking for an escape of sorts. Well the answer would be yes it has taken to this point in my life to make this decision, but it has only been a kick up the arse for me, not phase that I have jumped on.

What are my reasons then?
This is simple. I want to create tattoo's that I am proud of and hope that they make the owner of the tattoo proud also.
I am not doing this for the following reasons... money (I earn good money in the job I am in now. Money is always an advantage but ultimately does not make you happy. I hope to earn a living from tattoo's but am not expecting fortunes because this is very unlikely), an easy way out of my current job (well I know full well that I have got a very long road and harsh leaning curve ahead of me), fame (I am not doing this because I think it would be cool to appear in magazines or tattoo shows like Miami ink). I am not doing this for any other reason other then what I first mentioned above... I want to create tattoo's that I am proud of.

So here is my blog of my journey to achieving my goal of becoming a tattooist. Let the journey begin...