Monday, July 9, 2012


I have no tattoos myself - I’m too visually persnickity about a permanent image afixed to my epidermis even if it was applied somewhere that I wouldn’t see it every single day.  But I find really good, well considered, and thoughtful tattoos (on someone else) to be very cool and intriguing.  I’ve been approached many times to design or draw a tattoo for someone - only a handful of times have I felt the inspiration spark and had the room on my schedule to do so.  

The few tattoos that I have designed in the past couple years were quite difficult.  Interesting and challenging yes, but difficult in that they took me out of my comfort zone thus  the progress was slow.  None of the ones I have taken on have been simply “a dragon” or  “a rhinocerous” or something that is strictly a cool drawing.  They have all been very much “custom” according to the person’s idea or character and somewhat graphic in nature.  Mixed with the pressure to make sure the person getting the tat is 100% satisfied with the image, it makes for a bit of bumpy road.  Never-the-less, I have always welcomed projects interspersed in my usual schedule that are a break from the norm.

The back-tat at the top is on a good friend of mine.  He has two older tattoos done some 16 years ago of a pair of stylized, birthday-suited people getting run through gears (most of the original is his own design/drawing).  You can kinda see those in the middle - a horizontal and a vertical one.  He also has two gear tattoos on his shoulders (not pictured).  The idea to be puzzled out  was to connect everything into one big gear-grinding tattoo.  My buddy’s back not being drywall flat made laying it out quite a bit more of a project than I thought.  Connecting everything in a similar motiff and using a similar style was the next challenge.  Below is the complete inked drawing before painful application to my buddy’s dorsus. 

Another friend of mine wanted a very designy tattoo incorporating her two kids’ initials.  My first idea was a single bird wing to go on the scapula area.  After further discussion with her, the design veered more into a pseudo-Victorian wrought iron look.  If you looks closely at both images, you can see not only the initials but the zodiac symbols for each kid, too!  At this time, skin has yet to be bloodied for this piece - for which I’m kinda glad because, looking at it again, I want to make a few more little tweaks on it.

These last two tattoos are previously existing artworks of mine that people liked enough to get them turned to tattoos.  The first is from a sketch I did of an ancient Columbian goddess named Bachu.  The young lady that got this tattoo lives in South America and has an afinity for Bachu.

This last one is of ShriekMaw, one of the more popular cards I have illustrated for Magic: the Gathering.  Speaking of South America, this tattoo was shown to me when I was at a Magic event in Santiago just last year.  And yes, he had me sign his leg!

If you’re interested in having me draw/design a tattoo, it helps if you’re idea is very very simple - that is, lacking in specifics of detail, style, and difficult placement.  The more involved it is, the less likely I’ll have the time, energy, or enthusiasm to take it on. Tattoo designs just aren’t really my thing so the more it can be worked in as a simple drawing (and less of a “tattoo”, the better).  But I’m always open to hearing your pitch.  Contact me at if you’re interested.

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