If you weren’t at this year’s Scottish Tattoo convention, you missed out! A beautifully sunny weekend and the corn exchange in Edinburgh was buzzing with tattooists from all over Europe and beyond, trade stalls, stage shows and a great aftershow party. My old friend Laura Buss (Tex) was over from San Francisco, and working alongside me and Raffi, she is an amazing artist and it was great to have time to spend together.
The good thing about working a tattoo convention in your home town is that you can bring all your own comfy seats and benches with you, I even brought my trolley and lamp, so it was just like working in the studio- apart from the huge amount of people strolling past of course!
I also brought along some drawings and a painting to decorate my booth, I was going for the kind of arty, bohemian look 🙂
But in earnest, I do feel that it’s important to show that as tattooists, we are artists who operate in other mediums, too. Specially with my style, which is big, flowing and mostly freehand, I need to give potential customers a reason to trust me artistically. I know lots of tattooists work closely from detailled reference material and have everything laid out before the first line is tattooed. I take my inspiration from the customer’s body, be it arm, leg, back or wherever, and get to work from there- this required quite a level of trust from the client, specially when there are no detailled drawings, if anything just a very rough compositional sketch.
I am forever grateful for the trust my customers have in me.
Two of my clients at the convention allowed me to show off my Japanese inspired freehand work, first was Emma, a seasoned convention veteran. She had two existing pieces on her arm, one a portrait of her wee son we did a number of years ago at a convention in Manchester. The other is a lady jumping, (I forget who the artist is), and my job was to construct a full sleeve working around these two pieces, including foo dogs and some ginko leaves. Got a good bit done, great fun!
also getting some freehand is Luc, we started a mahoosive snake on his leg and for this session I concentrated on some background shading. It was Luc’s first time getting tattooed at a convention, and I think he quite liked the distraction of all the weird and wonderful people walking past and stopping to look and chat- it is a real buzz. The only downside of getting tattooed in from of a curious audience is that you probably don’t want to start gurning if it gets painful 🙂
The real convention veteran was of course Brad, a favourite with the photographers…we added some clouds to the top of his shoulder and as usual, the paps drawn to him like moths to the light.
I had hung a painting of Brad up in my booth, so that added to the fun. I painted Brad as the uncompromising political activist I know him to be, and had the luxury of knowing what all of his tattoos mean to him and his views. I’m glad he liked it!
Back in the studio, I’m working on a long term project on Clair’s back. There was a long break where Clair was busy and anyway we were waiting for the lasered section -an old tribal piece that ran across the top of her back, right across the geisha’s face- to lighten up more. The geisha is based on a photograph of Clair taken in Japan, where they dressed her up as a geisha in all the traditional kimonos.
I also did a purple lily on Lorna’s foot, we had done one similar on the other foot 10 years or so ago, and now another mile stone had occurred in her life that needed celebrating with a tattoo 🙂
Kiaran needed a wee robin on her hand, so cute!
And then for something completely different, Karen wanted a colourful, abstract piece including a drawing her daughter had done of a lady’s face. We added Esher style butterflies, too, for a completely different texture. Not my usual style, but I love it, and I had a lot of freedom to create flow and shapes.
Dave’s sleeve is getting there, sorry about the shiny pictures
Alexis is getting a vintage inspired floral leg piece, we are starting to include some more random elements like this tea cup. The decoration on the cup is based on the crest of Glasgow, which has been worked into some of the more ornate lamp posts in the city, a nice local reference.
another session on Paddy’s japanese acid trip 🙂
The start of a pretty geisha for Tiffany
and some additions to Laura’s water colour sketch style piece on her shoulder. Today we added some sweet peas, and took the opportunity to darken some of the original sketchy lines on her back
some colour for Jason’s sleeve, only little bits in the flowers
another robin! I’ve never done any robins, and then two. They are very special wee things, and look sweet in Jo’s vintage flower illustration type of work
I’m working on a traditional, heavy black windbars kind of japanese sleeve for Liam. Unfortunately the last session will need to wait a bit until the lasering has worked a bit more, then we will add a peony to the inner forearm.
More flowers, Alan got a nice simple, illustrative piece on his forearm
We added a section to link Tony’s thigh pieces with his chest, upper back and arm designs. We wanted them to be a bit more subdued and softer than the other pieces, we will see how that settles in and how it looks. We can always add more depth if we think it needs it
Nothing subtle about Laurenne’s pink flower! It’s a doreen flower, in memory of her mum. Laurenne’s work started out as a delicate scar cover up after she survived breast cancer, but now we are getting bolder and bolder, and the subtle wee cherry blossoms needed a facelift to keep up 🙂
Another session on Michael’s half sleeve, that’s us finished his koi and shishi piece
after a long absence, Tom was booked in to bring his half sleeve down onto his forearm, with a snake and a skull. However when he got there, he said he would prefer a phoenix if that was alright 🙂
course it was…