Ram-Fish Tattoo design for Patricia......

A good friend and extremely talented artist friend of mine, Patricia, asked me to come up with something for a tattoo design she's been working on for herself. Here is the design she sent me, a very stylized B & W hard edged design, and my first rough drawing as well as a more detailed, shaded version. I haven't even shown it to her yet, I have NO idea if she'll like it....

Elemental Tiger Tattoo design

I just created this Tiger tattoo design. I went with the pure Japanese styling for the Tiger, but the water, fire and smoke is not in the Japanese style, but rather in my own 'special effects' style. This is something I hope to be able to do more and more as I actually become a professional tattooist...

My Mexican Tattoo

Back in May of 2009 when I was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, I got this tattoo down at Baja Tattoo in Cabo. I'm not sure that I've ever posted it here, so here it is....The artist's name is Carlos, and he is the owner of Baja Tattoos. It is in the same mall as Sammy Hagar's Bar, Cabo Wabo. They stay opened late and I think they get a lot of business staggering in from the bar! They do some really fine work at Baja Tattoos. Although I've heard "Don't ever get a tattoo in Mexico!", I can vouch for Baja tattoos being extremely clean, talented and professional! A great bunch of artists work there.....I had this work done before the extensive sleeve work got started on my right arm...

The tattoo is an interpretation of a classic
Aztec sun God design

Carlos and his crew run a really tight ship
down at Baja Tattoos

Burning Man tattoos

This year's Burning Man was an incredible journey for me, and an amazing burn for all who attended. We experienced almost three full days without any dust storms, which has to be some kind of record for Burning Man. The weather was amazing, the art was amazing, the music was amazing, and the TATTOOS are always amazing.

First of all in the tattoo department, let me tell you the most wonderful story. On day two of the event, I wandered deep into the playa with my good friend Aaron Steiner. We were on our bicycles, looking at art installations way out in the deep playa. At one point I noticed what looked like an art installation that had fallen over or something. It was still quite far away, but I could see that something was up, and there was a pickup truck parked near it and some people milling about...I snapped a couple of pictures, and then headed towards the apparent wreckage of an art installation gone bad.

When I got close, a handsome fellow wearing a brown leather vest and a yellow skirt, came bounding up to me. "Hey man, our wall fell over, we need some help putting it back up!" he said. I immediately noticed that this guy had a beautiful Burning Man tattoo on his left upper arm. It was a gorgeous tattoo, and I asked him if I could take a photo of it. Sure he said, and as I readied my camera I asked him where he had it done. "Vancouver" he said, and as I asked him who did it, a strange wave of familiarity and certainty came over me. "A guy named Dave Nicholson at the Dutchman Tattoo shop" he said, and it hit me. Dave is the artist who did MY right arm sleeve, and he had been telling me about another guy he was doing a Burning Man tattoo for! As I started telling my new friend the story, he exploded in exclamation "Holy shit! You're the guy Dave's been telling me about, the guy who worked on the Heavy Metal movie?"

Well, it was an incredible meeting to say the least. Our mutual tattoo artist had been telling us about each other for the last year, and here we were, meeting in the middle of absolutely nowhere in the deep playa at Burning Man! At this point in my life, I don't really believe in coincidence. Think what you will, but this meeting was in my mind, a destined and very special occasion, orchestrated by mischievous elves from the 6th dimension!

Me and T-Bone posing with our Dave Nicholson tats

While I was at Burning Man, I took photos of tattoos that caught my eye, always asking the individual's if I could photograph them. People love showing off their tats. Here are some of my favorites.

My second self administered tattoo.....

After I did my 'molecule' tattoo on my calf, I tried something a little bit more ambitious on my leg, above the knee. It's a 'Calavera' (Spanish for 'skull') in the Mexican 'Day of the Dead' style. I had an interesting time doing it, my stencil smudged and I ended up doing almost half of it by eye, so it turned out quite asymmetrical and wonky, but over all not TOO bad for an absolute beginner. I am going to continue working on it, and hopefully improve a great deal by the time it is done. Here is the initial tattoo and a couple of designs of where it might ultimately go...

My very first attempt at tattooing on real flesh (my own)

This evening I set up and tattooed this molecule on my own leg. It is symbolic of the molecules released into our brains by our pineal gland when we dream.....The tattoo is a little bit shaky, it's hard for the very first time, and a little bit awkward tattooing your own leg, as you can not change the angle of your body relative to your leg to get a better drawing angle. But I am quite pleased with the results, I didn't make any big ugly mistakes and it's all uphill from here!

Damaged Goods

A wicked tattoo design for my dear friend Wilson......Apparently people are trying to talk her out of it, but I think it rocks. Damn, we could tattoo this on the entire human race! But it's Wilson's idea and she's earned the right to tattoo this on her flesh for sure!

Another look at my Buddha tattoo design

I designed this as a tattoo for my chest. One thing I like to be able to do is use photoshop to get an idea of how a tattoo will look before it is even done. Of course, many tattoos take shape directly on the body, so this technique would not always work, but in some cases it works beautifully.

This photo has the photoshopped version of part of my right arm sleeve tattoo, and then the actual tattoo, and the actual tat doesn't look all that far off from the mock-up I created. I hope the chest tattoo works out, I think it looks wicked cool.....

Viking Water Compass Tattoo Design

A friend who has some 'Norse' or 'Viking' roots, asked me recently to design a tattoo for her back. Something with some iconic Viking symbolism in it, but also some of my most flowing water work, to reflect her affinity with water and her Aquarian astrological sign. I should note here that although Aquarius is 'The Water Bearer' it is actually an 'Air Sign' oddly enough. Go figure.....anyhoo, this is what I came up with and she seems to like it so far. I would add alot of shading in the background, flowing shaded areas to fit it to her physique better.

Rose Tattoo Design

I am starting to try and think in terms of "What if someone walked into my tattoo shop and asked me for a.......". So I thought of one of the most common requests, a rose. I am trying to draw from the various tattoo disciplines I see, in this case, I went with a traditional 'old school' approach, except that my lines are heavier and smoother than typical old school designs. And the drawing is also a little bit more realistic and less stylized than the old school look.

The Magic Mouth

What started as an illustration for my second volume of my 'Elemental Magic' Book (and still is) turned out to be what I think is a pretty darned cool design for a tattoo! What do you think?

My Tattoo equipment has arrived!!

My first shipment of quality tattoo equipment arrived today from Eikon Tattoo! So the dream is becoming a reality.....This is my very first machine, a 'Green Monster' made by Eikon, a relatively inexpensive yet really solid, robust little tattoo machine. This is a shader machine. I got another Green Monster 'liner' machine that has to be assembled, so I can learn more about them while building it and setting it up to run properly. I am immensely excited. My new friend Shawn of Vancouver Island Tattoo in Cumberland is helping me get set up and may even go so far as to do a formal 'apprenticeship'. We are working out the details as we go, but he has already been an incredible helpful resource....

Liquid Skull Tattoo Design

A fresh design that I did today. Since my foray into painting with acrylics the other day, this design has been showing up in my imagination. It is definitely something I'd like to paint, and hopefully something I'll get a chance to tattoo on some lucky soul.

It is made up of three separate levels of artwork. Many tattoo artists work with tracing paper this way, but I use a light table, as it is something I've done for my animation for so long, and I always have my light table everywhere I go.

I like the second version best as a tattoo design, but for my painting I will probably go with all the details and little fishies like in the third design.

Some new tattoo designs, and NEWS!

Well, it looks like it is finally happening. I am waiting for a shipment of tattoo equipment, machines and all the gizmos that go along with them. I will be starting to practice very soon, and hopefully before long I'll be able to get down to the business of tattooing my friends and more.....

Here are a few designs I've done recently.....

Flowing into Hyperspace and back.....

Some day, when I learn how to work a tattoo machine with a degree of proficiency, I hope to reproduce art like this on the flesh of willing human canvases....

A Free-form study

This is an attempt at adopting somewhat of a Japanese style into my tattoo designs. Somewhat 'lame' so far. I find one of the most difficult things to do, is to draw in a style that is so uniquely 'iconified' as that of the Japanese tattoo style. In my book 'Elemental Magic' I emphasize the importance of NOT iconifying our elemental designs, but with the art of tattooing, the styles are made entirely of 'icons', that is, highly stylized interpretations of certain elements, with a long history of specific design principles behind them. This I see as one of my greatest challenges getting into tattooing. Although eventually I may be able to set off in my own direction, and create a unique tattoing style of my own, I realize that at the 'apprentice' stage of learning to tattoo, showing a reasonable proficiency in some of the classic tattoo styles, is expected and required. I am just starting, so I will give my self time and space to grow into this....

Skull Study

I have been exploring the various possibilities of different skull designs. Tattoo designs are frequently populated with skulls, and I am really intrigued and impressed with some of the Mexican style 'Day of the Dead' skull tattoo designs that I see. I am trying to combine a more traditional 'biker' kind of a skull motif with some Day of the Dead motifs that I have seen here and there.

Day of the Dead Buddha design

This is a work in progress for possible chest piece that I may actually go for one of these days. In keeping with the advice I got as far as what I should do if I want to get into tattooing...the answer? "Get lots of tattoos!"

I am definitely learning a lot this way. Spending time in a tattoo shop, watching other people getting tattoos, and watching carefully as mine get done, I am really learning a lot!

New work on my right arm sleeve tattoo for Brother John

I just got back from another session with Dave at The Dutchman Tattoos in Vancouver. He did about 3.5 hours of intense deep shading on the already existing line work that he did last time. I expected him to get farther along, but he is really digging in to the shading, adding a LOT of amazing details, really working it.

The newer work really blends beautifully with the piece Dave did last year on the top of my forearm.

The area around the spinal cord has an amazing amount of detail, the black areas behind the boney bits have another whole level of subtle designs working in the black areas....

This session left my arm very, very red with inflammation. Interestingly, a lot of people have said they really like the red colour, and I am considering asking Dave to add some red after the black shading has healed.