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As my apprenticeship continues so too does my anticipation for the day when I can tattoo something other than pig skin. Nevertheless, there is more to tattooing than simply applying ink to someone or something. Todd has given me the opportunity to set up and take down his tattoo station for him. This includes but is not limited to sterilizing the area with antiseptic cleaners, preparing his tattoo machines, setting up the equipment that goes with the latter such as the appropriate needle sizes and all the other goodies that inevitably start to add up the overall cost of getting a tattoo. Stenciling and drawing, let alone actually tattooing inevitably is only two out of several parts of the job when you consider how much work goes into the hygienic and preparatory practices of tattooing. That being said, however, I wish I was learning to master the art of tattooing itself as quickly as I have learned how to actually set up a tattoo station.
The above video is one of many helpful tutorials for anyone learning how to tattoo. Whilst Todd is my main go to person, there's also no harm in seeking more knowledge on your chosen profession. Compared to my first few attempts at tattooing I have learned to relax more with the tattoo machine itself. There is such a thing as overthinking the process and inevitably I found that I was trying too hard to get my lines right the first time. By 'right' I don't necessarily mean straight either. Making a wavy line should be fluid. If you're not relaxed it just doesn't look right. Once I took a step back and thought of the tattoo machine, specifically, the liner as nothing more than a heavy pencil, per se, I found myself tattooing much smoother. Shading is still an annoying challenge for me. Nevertheless, below are my most recent attempts and are numbered accordingly. Attempts No. 1 to 3 can be viewed via The Highs and Lows of Becoming A Tattoo Artist!
Attempt No. 4
I wanted to try something simple and straightforward. There was no attempt to perfect the design here but rather I just wanted to get my head around making lines as fluidly as possible. I didn't go over the lines here a second time, as the purpose was to get used to the machine itself and see if I could manipulate it without getting caught up in being a perfectionist. Also, I have to confess that this particular piece of pig skin had started to go off and the smell was rather nauseating. Word of advice, if you're going to defrost your piece of pig skin make sure to use it within 24 hours. Even if I wanted to do more with this particular piece, I couldn't stick being around it for much longer.
Attempt No. 5
Shading is where I still have the most difficulty. I tried diluting my ink the way I have seen Todd and other Tattoo Artists do but I seem to still be doing something wrong. My solution was two drops of purple ink for one little ink cup of water and one drop of purple ink for the second little ink cup of water. The end result is the above and suffice it to say I wish I had stopped whilst I was ahead. I made the television rather quickly as I have a bad habit of rushing through my lines. It's less to do with an interest in the art itself but rather my disgust with pig skin at times. Before I ruined the piece with the purple shading I did manage to make it look somewhat Ok as I enjoyed making the flowers and LOVE sign.
Attempt No. 6
I made this piece at Todd's studio last week. I had observed him earlier that morning tattoo a young man who was having some writing done on the lower half of his left arm. I can't even begin by stating how much I learn from observing him do his thing. I have always been the kind of learner that needs to see something done and than doing it myself. So LEGO and IKEA instructions are my kind of workbooks. 😉 The above is an image I found on the internet. It's far from perfect but a lot of it, like the previous attempts were done freehand with my tattoo machine. After completing this particular piece Todd stated that he wanted me to tattoo his leg next week. I bursted out laughing thinking he was joking. He wasn't. So I laughed even louder out of nervousness and politely refused. Whilst he claims to have his left leg filled with practice tattoos from previous artists that he has worked with, I can't help but think that if I am going to put him, or anyone for that matter, through physical pain, the end result needs to be better than what I can do just yet.
Attempt No. 7
This is my most recent attempt and thus far the most fun that I have had tattooing an image to pig skin. I tried using carbon paper but alas, pig skin is a stubborn fekker and despite both Todd's and my efforts the designs refuse to stick to the pig skin very well. I managed to obtain a faint impression but inevitably I took a sharpie and tried making as much of the outline as I could. The latter hardly works as well. The use of the carbon paper didn't work so well either with attempt No. 5 and No. 6. In any case, out of all my attempts to date I think that this is the best one yet. I only shaded the tires and only lined the rest of the little bug twice, even three times in certain places. It's not perfect but at least there is no mistaking that this is a Volkswagen Beetle. Some of it is wonky but that's more to do with my difficulty in making certain shapes without a template to follow. In any case, I love Beetles and this one was fun! In the end fun is the operative word. At 40 years old I am fortunate enough to be able to say that I have travelled the world and lived in some amazing countries. Whilst my adventures are far from over, it's exciting to know that old dogs like me can still be taught a new trick or two. 😁