I wanted to show three separate dotwork designs this afternoon, each of them showing a slightly different approach to the medium. The first piece I want to show is by Kenji Alucky (blackinkpower.com), an incredibly complex strobing pattern with the bands flashing on and off in a series of overlaid reversals, all orbiting around a central sun.
Next, a gorgeous chestpiece by Argentina’s Nazareno Tubaro (nazareno-tubaro.com), heartshaped field of dotwork stripes with a pair of mirrored Maori curls in negative space, creating a simple, powerful design. This was done while doing a guest spot at Denmark’s amazing Skin & Bone (skinandbone.dk).
This last one doesn’t have remotely the technical precision or complexity of the first two, but I still like it a lot (and you know I’ve never felt that complexity is needed for a great tattoo). This spiral was created by Wayne Fredrickson of Zodiac Tattoo Studio in Moreno Valley, CA, machine-poked on the palm of his spiral. Wayne tells me that his apprentice couldn’t stay still, with his fingers curling and his arm lifting in reflex action beyond his control — I think the exact quote was “it was like tattooing on a rollercoaster”. It’s lucky this was a dotwork design, because if it had been anything else, it would have likely been scribble city, an impersonation of a John Callahan cartoon.
Cross-spectrum body modification artist Wayne Fredrickson of Zodiac Tattoo in Moreno Valley, CA — one of the few practitioners who’ve been featured here for tattoos (don’t miss that crazy link), piercing, and scarification — just posted a good example of how clean white tattoos often look, and how successfully they generally heal. It’s weird, even in these edumacaterd days, the urban myth persists that white ink tattoos are next-to-impossible to do, to keep from fading or changing color, or are even dangerous (someone emailed me just yesterday concerned because they’d been told that white ink is fundamentally toxic). In reality white ink is as non-toxic and inert as any modern tattoo pigment (that is, safe to tattoo with, but a carcinogen if you spend a decade snorting large quantities of the pure powder base), and appears to last better than most, resistant to fading and other discoloration. In addition, when you’re talking about white-only tattoos, I feel like there’s some trick-of-the-eye that makes them more “forgiving” — slight breaks and imperfections in the linework are less likely to be caught by the eye, which makes them ideal for work on the palm for example, a location where it can be difficult to get ink of any color to stay perfectly (something which the eye instantly picks up on in black ink).
In the example below, done on a palm (the location would have created more of a challenge than the choice of ink) you can see the tattoo progressing from fresh, to two weeks later, and finally to two months later. There’s no reason to believe that it will look nearly identical to that third shot two decades from now as well, although the lines may blur slightly due to the mechanics of skin. You may recall in November I actually posted a similar tattoo — click here to see a 13 year old white ink palm tattoo (that one is more yellow because of the pigmentation of the wearer’s skin, not because of its age). As usual, click the pic to zoom in.
I saw a great ear rim tattoo today by Delphine Noiztoy of Divine Canvas (divine-canvas.com) that seemed very reminiscent of the sweet triangular ear rim tattoo by Su at Buena Vista Tattoo Club. Besides the basic design, the other difference is that Delphine’s piece is done using dotwork technique rather than a normal flat tattoo fill. I have no idea which of these two pieces I prefer, but if I was the client on this piece, I think I might consider pulling the patter further along the top of the rim.
Speaking of the blackmasters at Divine Canvas I also wanted to quickly include this “NEKRO” text palm tattoo by Matt “One Hit” Black. Remarkably, this is a fully healed tattoo that has never been touched up. Not a simple achievement.
I don’t want to overpost the work of Ferank Manseed, which I just covered yesterday, palm tattoos no less, but I just had to include this screaming hand tattoo because it’s got to be about the most perfect idea for a palm tattoo ever. For those that don’t recognize it, the “Screaming Hand” logo was designed in 1973 by Jim Phillips for the Santa Cruz Skateboards team, and is widely used as a symbol of skateboarding in general. I’ve seen the logo tattooed quite a few times, but this is even better — actually becoming the logo. Now to tattoo his hand all blue…
Both Rob and I have regularly covered the work of British tattoo artist Ferank Manseed (email@example.com) here on BME, enjoying his hand-poked machine-free tattooing. Today he touched up one of the geometric palm tattoos that we featured in the past that had less than perfect healing — even with the best technique, palm tattoos can be unpredictable. I’ve seen some people’s last perfectly on the first try, and other people’s skin never seems to be able to accept the ink. This is due to the fact that the palm has especially think and calloused temporary skin — the artist needs to punch through this layer to make it last and place the ink in the stable layer, without going so deep that the ink spreads, or is absorbed and removed by the body. Since going too deep can leave a permanent blown out tattoo, and not going deep enough just falls out, many artists choose to err on the side to too light. Next to the bottom of the foot, the inner surface of the hand — palm and fingers — is the most difficult anatomy to produce a good tattoo on. Anyway, Ferank shared with us photos of this palm tattoo. From left to right (and you can zoom in to this), these photos show the tattoo fresh, then how it healed after this first session, and finally mid-session on the touch-up.
EDIT/UPDATE: I should add two notes to this entry. First of all, the middle picture was taken eight weeks after the first one. Second, and this is perhaps most important, the client was a fellow tattoo artist, and thus has to both wear tight gloves and work with their hands every day, which greatly complicates healing.
A friend runs a “heavy blackwork” group on FB where I was introduced to the work of German tattooist Gerhard Wiesbeck (facebook.com/gerhard.wiesbeck) of Time Traveling Tattoo (timetravellingtattoo.com). Much of his ultra-dense blackwork borrows on traditional South Pacific “tribal” motifs, and I encourage you to explore his galleries to enjoy that aspect of his work, but I’m particularly taken by his blackwork that draws its inspiration by modern geometry, math, and graphic design. Unlike much of the geometric tattooing out there which is intricate and detailed, Gerhard’s work is often ultra-bold and very, very heavy in nature, giving it a unique appearance. Here are three pieces that particularly struck me.
The first one is my favorite by the way — isn’t that amazing?
Finally, I want to show a piece of his that’s in a completely different genre from most of the rest of Gerhard Wiesbeck’s pieces, and is one of those “obvious” ideas that somehow I’ve never seen before. This tattoo of little hands superimposed on the wearer’s hands is quite brilliant!
For the video game geek that has everything, a UV palm tattoo of our favorite space invader.
Palm tattoos are notoriously tricky to heal, and tend to fade faster than other tattoos. Let’s hope this one manages to stick around.
Tattoo by Rich Milne from Studio XIII in Edinburgh.
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With the swastika being a spiritual symbol for centuries, to see it depicted on the palms like this really reinforces that spiritual connection. While the diagonal swastika has gathered a negative stigma in the west, and justifiably so due to the perversion of the symbol, in this instance the diagonal symbol is needed to make the design complete when his hands are put together.
As you can see, if he had an upright swastika the center line would have disappeared in the crease between his hands.
1DeX6 sent in this photo to the hand tattoo gallery. According to the description it was done at Tattoo Мастерская Александра Ветрова, in Omsk, Russia.
When I was a kid, someone told me “God is watching you…..even when you masturbate.” Obviously, that was not enough to stop me from handling my own business, but I have to admit that phrase haunted me a bit when I saw this tattoo.
As far as palm tattoos go, this piece by Sean “Dirty” Sanchez at Planet Ink (Ottawa, Ontario) looks to have as good a chance as possible of healing up ok. His use of a bold design and simple shading (that looks solidly packed in there) is the proper recipe for a well healed palm tattoo, but only time will tell if it holds up.
Jess sent me this picture of her extremely subtle tattoo. This placement seems to be getting more and more common, even though it has an extremely low success rate. That being said, sometimes it does work and when it does, it can be quite awesome!
I got these beauties done on the 11th of may, it would appear that they have worked! i’m not letting myself get excited just yet, I think once I’ve past the 5 week mark i’ll start to relax about the ink falling out, and get to enjoy them!
For a totally different type of tattoo about love inside the hand, check back later this week!