Archive for March, 2012

This weekend is the Scottish tattoo convention, exciting for us as it’s in edinburgh and we don’t have far to travel, that makes it all a whole lot easier! Looking forward to seeing lots of Tribers out there showing off their ink, and saying hello to us at our booths!

After the convention we’ve got two guests working, As last year we’ve got Dan henk working in Tribe 3, chat to him at the convention if you are looking for work, although he’s bound to be pretty booked up (last i heard he still had space on friday 4th may)
and in Glasgow we’ve got heather gee working, she used to work at Tribe 2, but has been in Oz for a few years now, and has settled in norwich now that she’s back in the UK. If you’d like work by her, chat to her at the convention or speak to mark in Tribe 2, he is handling her bookings.

And oh yes, our Italina Sisters are in Tattoo Revolution! Raffi and Bru have an article written about them, out in this months’ edition, ready for sale at the convention- chuffed! Check it out

Onto what I’ve been up to, and i had a spell of japanese style pieces, no big surprise there  😆

Holly wanted a dragon to go from her shoulder blade onto her arm, so we had fun drawing it on to fit that part of her. It’s going to have colour, blue mostly, with black and grey background to set it off

and then a koi, Tony still needed his tattoo finished, and some nice bright yellows and oranges were called for

the next day in glasgow i had a short notice cancellation, too short notice to get it filled…..
John showed up, though, and we had big plans for this session, to get the rest of the design outlined. Well, the rest of the originally planned design, it’s now gong to be extended past what was first envisaged, as John  got more and more into the idea of lots of coverage. it’s a big tattoo as it is, specially as it’s his first!

I know it’s considered uncool to talk about the weather (in journalistic terms, does this blog count as journalism..?) but… how beautiful has it been??

Now i do get sent maps of the world from the nice people at wordpress, to show me where people are reading my blog, so i know that there are some who are not living in the UK (Uganda! Philippines! Paraguay! so strange  😀 )
so I will explain for your benefit: Winter in Scotland is cold and wet, and devoid of any colour. Just grey and browns, with the odd flash of blue sky, but that’s rare. So, when spring starts and flowers pop up and blossom, the effect is quite overwhelming, some years I wonder if all that greyness for a few months is worth it, just for that mad rush you get when you see sun and colours again for the first time.
Today was one of those days  😀

on friday I had Stewart in for some colour of his own, after having swithered for a while, he decided he needed that chrysanthemum coloured after all. Maybe it’s a side effect of spring!
Stewart had had some lasering to some maori style work done by another artist, but we’d decided to keep some of it and build up from there, in case you were wondering about the lower part of the tattoo. The windbars where there already, too, so we went with the japanese theme for the rest

And then David was in, he’d decided to do something about that old skin graft scar on his arm. He’d scolded himself as a youngster and skin had been grafted from his leg onto his arm, leaving a very bumpy and uneven texture.
I drew a koi piece onto him, where the skin of the graft is disguised with water and shading. It’s going to be black and grey, with flashes of colour in the maple leaves

the next day I was working in Glasgow, Ryan was in to get some more of his snow queen sleeve done. Now we’re filling in the gaps, the main story is told, the characters represented, so now we’re having fun with background detail. We have so much reference material from the illustration in the book, it’s a case of pick the best artwork for the job, today we decided we needed some pigeons  😀

and dave needed a volcano, as you do…
not finished with it yet, though

first tattoo of the week was adding some colour to gareth’s phoenix, it wasn’t a particularly long session, but we got most of one of the wings done

Justine got some flowers added to her backpiece, this has been tackled in stages, but we knew from the beginning that it was going to cover the whole back. Sometimes i design and outline the whole thing in the first session, specially if the flow of the piece is complex, but with this tattoo we were growing organically up the back, so we could complete the sections as we added them. that did mean that Justine didn’t have to walk about with lots of unfinished tattoo work on her.

after a long while Coco was in to get his flames finished, now we’ve just got to add some smoke winding up the sides of the poster and we’re getting there

the next day was a weegie wednesday, kicking off with Josh and his Viking boat piece.
It’s finished now, what started as a vague nordic kind of concept came together nicely in this, I’m really pleased how it turned out. It’s more of a mood than a narrative, Josh’s tattoo doesn’t really explain anything, but just has atmosphere. A bit bleak with an edge of destruction thrown in  😀

and then our Brunella got some more done to her green man/creature piece, there will be more leaves over the hips and a tree at the top

In the Southside in Tribe 1 today, continuing the piece on Sam we started a few months ago. Originally a cover up of a small chinese symbol, it has plans to grow all over her back  😀

and then another dragon was born/ hatched, on Andy’s back. We decided to pretty much just work around the older piece of tribal that was there, it’s nice and central and not really a problem, so we didn’t bother trying to cover it, which would have resulted in a rather heavy black bit in the design.
Instead I designed a relatively symmetrical, coiled dragon to occupy the top of the back, keeping the tribal piece  at the top of the piece.

and speaking of dragons, mark got some colour added to his  😀

the next day I was back working in my main haunt, tribe 3. Conversations sometimes flow freely in the back room at tribe3, when we’re not deep in thought and concentrating, and today was particularly chatty. saturdays can be pretty silly to be honest, with the boys gearing up for a weekend of fun and partying, and the customers joining in

My first customer wasn’t able to add to the silliness, as I was tattooing her chest and she had to remain silent to stay still. We are starting on a skull and roller derby skates piece, and as Tracy has become a mother to two girls in the last year, some cuteness was included. This will be colourful and fun, something a bit different for me   😀

and then more colourfulness, Ruaraidh is finally getting his flowers and belly scales coloured in! Still some colour to go, but what a transformation

foo dog! It’s been a while since i’ve done one, and i like doing them. this one is to look more like a statue, less japanese stylised, but we ran out of time before finishing it. There is some other stuff going on, we’re extending an existing dragon into a half sleeve, so he’ll be back

Another ongoing piece after that, Bryan had been in last year in summer I think, when we started a sleeve around his old tribal piece.
Bryan works offshore and it’s hard for him to get a booking to get tattooed, because he doesn’t know when he’s out in the Atlantic far enough in advance to get booked in with me. That’s why it’s been so long between sessions.
Never mind, we will get there in the end

the next day I was glasgow bound, first up was Bobby. We’re working on a music themed sleeve, all images are from bands that Bobby loves, and other music related designs. Today we started to head of his guitar, still some shading to go, but this is the bones of it

And John got his first bit of colour!

Decided to pop all three days this week into one blog instead of a piddly one day blog and a normal one. Since I’ve been doing two day blogs, doing a one day blog seems feeble  😆

wednesday in Glasgow was mostly taken up with Josh’s piece. If you’ve been following this blog you’ll have been watching it come together, it’s hard to explain what’s going on here, as it’s more of a mood than a narrative. I love it, a bit ‘northern goth’ (just made that one up), moody and stark, with some destruction thrown in. The rune we carved into the broken wood today is the rune for ‘destruction’. We’re discussing adding an owl on the chest, love it!

Paula got a lily on her waist, it’s just the lonely looking start of a bigger piece going up her side, and tying in with the tattoos on her stomach and hip. Eventually it will form a big sweep across her body, with grey shading in the background.

Friday I was back in Tribe 3, working on two arms, Alan’s and Simon’s.
Alan is getting to the end of his dragon sleeve, it’s taken it’s sweet time with all those wee scales, but we are getting the result we were after. We set out to do a pretty abstract and uncluttered design, with repetitive, chunky waves and a strongly patterned dragon. A modern twist on the traditional japanese.

another ongoing project, Simon’s cover up, is still going to take more time than we had at that sitting, it’s going to be black and grey mostly, with some hints of colour where we need to, because of left over colour from the lasering of his old pieces. We are working up to the final shade of the cover-up sections slowly, to avoid having to go any darker than we absolutely have to.

Back in Glasgow the next day, working on james’ cover up. There had also been some lasering going on here before we started, and you can still see bits of it in the photo. This is mainly due to the fact that the old tattoos were raised up and angry from having been tattooed over, this will settle down and the old tattoos will disappear into the new piece. I will have james in for a quick session to make sure we got the shading just right to get rid of the last of the old tattoos, if need be we can add some shading here and there. As with Simon’s piece, it’s better to ease your way up to how dark it really needs to be, rather than go darker than necessary.
Simon is now talking of taking this tattoo down to the wrist. Good man.

Last up was darren and his piper sleeve, and damn me, I’ve come away with another terrible set of pictures of it! I’m cursed with my photography on this one, I don’t think I’ve shown you a decent picture of this piece yet!

We started on a bit of colour, again, where the lasering left some residual colours it can’t deal with, this was factored in from the beginning and we decided to go quite strong with the colours, except we ran out of time. To be continued…

Neil from Tattoo Revolution magazine was putting on a tattoo convention this weekend, it was his first one and we wanted to show some support, so we booked a booth and went to work at it.
Alex and myself were tattooing, and laura and Roz came down to help us out on the stall.
I’ve been cutting down on working at conventions as it is really hard work and expensive in the long run, which is fine if the fun and excitement you get out of it outweighs the slog…but having worked so many over the years the excitement wore off a bit. Only doing 2 or 3 conventions a year helps keep it a bit special, so that’s my new way of doing it. This year it’s only going to be the tea party in manchester and the Edinburgh convention (of course  😀 ).

Having said that, this convention was a lot of fun, it was well organised and we had plenty of space in the booth for both of us to work. We didn’t actually get to see any of Manchester as we were quite a bit away from the city. The convention was next to the Trafford centre, and our hotel was close by, so we didn’t bother venturing too far from either. Pretty handy actually, work, bed, food, coffee and bar were all in walking distance, neat!

My first customer was Egad, my customer who lives in manchester, so it was a no brainer for her to book me for a whole day, saves her travelling up to edinburgh. We are working on a sci-fi ‘War of the Worlds’ kind of sleeve, which is a bit of an echo of her steampunky underwater sleeve on the other arm.
today’s challenge was to design a giant squid holding a rocket to mirror the octopus on the other sleeve in a similar position. Oh, and she wanted the squid to have some nasty little teeth for some reason
we made a start on it, basic lining and some shading.

Egad had warned me about the Trafford centre, a massive shopping centre which was right next to the convention centre. However, nothing could prepare me and roz for what we saw the next day as we made our was through it to get from the hotel to the convention. It is quite staggering, a temple of consumerism with the most entertainingly tacky interior. I have taken some photos to show you, otherwise you wouldn’t believe me.

The bit we got to first was like a giant victorian conservatory

with roman style frescos, but who were those portraits of above, football managers?

next we came to New orleans, complete with jazz band and street signs


from new orleans we took the cruise ship

to Italy

and on to China  😆

this was just a small selection of wacky corners of the shopping centre, every turn seemed to reveal a new level of ridiculousness, we were speechless    😆

We got to the convention, coffee in hand, ready for the second day.
Dawn was the first customer, I’ve been working on Dawn’s tattoo on and off for 3 years now, we bump into each other at conventions and I do a wee bit more and we catch up. Today we just had a poppy and some black to finish from the last session, plus I went over some very faded old chinese symbols for her to help blend them into the new bits a bit better.

All the photos for this convention were taken with my phone camera, in hindsight not such a good move, as all the colours have come out looking a bit strange, specially reds and pinks. The light in the hall probably didn’t help.

we also added a couple of curls to blend two separate sections together and make it flow nicer

after i finished Dawn’s tattoo, a guy from the stall opposite came over, it was a charity stall where they we collecting money for soldiers who had fallen on hard times. The guy said he had seen me drawing on my last customer, and was wondering if I could do the same for him. he was only 15 and had wound his mum up that he was going to get a tattoo at this convention, she was yelling at him that he’d better not come back with one etc etc, so this was going to be a surprise for her.
He didn’t really care what it was, so we settled on a grim reaper for effect, and I drew one on him with biro. We covered it with cling film for good measure, giggling all the time, nothing like a good old prank  😆

then i tattooed Holly, a tattoo artist herself, she is collecting roses from different artists for a sleeve, sorry about the photo, it’s the best of a bad  bunch unfortunately.

and the last tattoo of the day was kat, I’d started a tattoo for her at the last convention I worked at, the leamington Spa one, but seeing as I didn’t have a proper bench for her to lie on at that convention, we cut it short early.
Her giraffe and tree looked lonely and needed a savannah and some pals to keep them company  😀

Time to pack everything up again! As quick as that…we cleared up and said goodbye, another convention done and dusted.

Our stall was next to my friend Helen’s from Skulduggery tattoo in Belfast, it was great to have time to hang out, and also the italians Raffi and Bru came down from Glasgow on sunday, so we had a nice group of friends to go for a meal with after the convention closed. Here we are in the Trafford centre, from left to right, Bru, Roz, some tacky statue, Helen and Jenna from Skulduggery, and Raffi. Good times!

the good times continued at the bar of the hotel, where we had a good old chin wag and met up with the lads from Custom Ink in Glasgow for a few drinks, always a laugh and a great way to finish the weekend.

I was up at Tribe 1 in the sunny southside of edinburgh today, , up first was Lynne.
It was her first tattoo as she is only 18, and we did a rose and a wee pied wagtail bird on her arm. I think this will be extended at some point, so it’s a good start to what could be a very pretty collection.

the rest of the day I had Ruaraidh in for more shading, we might be moving onto the colour in the flowers next. It’s looking pretty dramatic now, lots of movement and drama, just the way I like my japanese  😀

as promised, the monster mega blog to make up for leaving my camera behind! So what follows is a whole week’s worth of work. Phew!

Jason had a dragon tattoo outlined a while ago, today we did some shading and some red

My next one was a bit unusual ( for me, it’s not does happen you know  😆 )
John wanted the figure of Icarus, who according to ancient greek legend tried to escape from prison by making wings out of feathers and wax. Unfortunately he flew to close to the sun and the wax melted, Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.
I have never seen an Icarus tattoo before, but it was a popular theme for paintings in days gone by, illustrating folly and failed ambition, and giving a mighty fine excuse to paint the male nude.

It makes a nice tattoo and a great excuse to tattoo the male nude, this piece is based in turn on a 16th-century painting ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus’, traditionally but perhaps erroneously attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

We are not finished with this yet, the water will have more detail and there will be more shading here and there, but you get the idea

my next two pieces, done in Glasgow, involved mostly colour.
Ryan is getting a snow queen sleeve, the story is the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale where the lonely Snow Queen abducts a young boy to her icy queendom, leaving the wee boy’s friend to roam the earth looking for him.
This particular version is illustrated by the incredibly talented artist Vladyslav Yerko, check out more of it here

we are working on Ryan’s upper part of the sleeve, leading down to the forearm, which is already tattooed with the bit where the two kids find each other again. (This was done by Lesley before she left Tribe and moved back to France). We are now looking at bridging the gap between the snowy top and the earthy bottom section, so we added a small village with snowy roofs from which we will introduce more earthy things the further down we go.

also in Tribe 2 for some colour was Hazel, what started as mainly a cover up of an old dagger piece, but has since spread like a beautiful garland down her back and onto her side  😀

Fast forward through the weekend and watch a sped up version of me drinking wine and listening to loud music at bannermans, sleeping, walking dogs with Didi in the park, watching crap tv, finishing the portrait of Roz and getting prepped for work for the week…..
then back at tribe 3 I worked on leigh’s waterfall sleeve some more.
We added a tree frog and a butterfly, elements chosen by her sons Josh and Zak, and some more water to the design. We just ran out of time, and there are a couple of leaves still to be finished off next to the peony. I’ll be doing that last wee bit at the Edinburgh tattoo convention, when it will be time for the shy leigh to show off her inner extrovert  😉

next i finished off Neil’s Titin inspired tattoo, the pocket watch with the shadowy spirit of the ancestors and the cobweb. neil knows what all this means, but if you want to know you’ll have to ask him, as I don’t know enough about the story unfortunately.
I’m not even sure if the spirit of the ancestors is a goody or a baddy, looks a bit nefarious to me, but I’ve been known to have been a bad judge of character.

and mark got some shading in his epic dragon, it’s starting to hang together now that it’s easier to read which bit is dragon and which background.
This always takes a while with big pieces like this

On this day we had a strange power cut to the lights in the front shop, just the lights, which was fine until it got dark, then laura had to resort to lighting candles, I suspect the goth in her quite enjoyed it!

back in Glasgow I had an exciting new project to start, Davie wanted a samurai and it was all pretty much up to me how I wanted to do it. I had the whole arm to play with, no cover up or anything, just virgin skin!
I went nice and big because i could
Plenty more to go on this of course, but we made a good start

Paula got a butterfly to go with her flowers (ignore the bits of purple stencil next to the butterfly, they will come off) and we added some colour to the dress type thing her cute fairy is wearing, it looked a bit unfinished next to all the colourful flowers