My Love…

With sincere apologies to the wearer, I really hate saying anything negative about someone’s body modification, but you know, when it comes to tattoo quality, I would never tackle a portrait until I was very confident as a tattoo artist, because the implications of getting it even a little off are so unpleasant. It’s really important to understand I think that doing a portrait is a very different set of skills, and someone can be a quite solid artist on other levels but have difficulty with them… It’s very, very important when you’re looking at someone’s portfolio that you see pieces in the style of what you want.


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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

85 thoughts on “My Love…

  1. it could be repaired. Just need some more black ink for the glasses ((:
    on the over hand improvisation could save our world. cheers

  2. I would imagine, based on the lettering, that the rest of the artist’s portfolio wasn’t that hot, either. The wearer hopefully knew what they were getting themselves into.

  3. It could be that it’s the style of tattooing the artist is used to but I wouldn’t accept that. ( Thought it’s a bit too late now) The line quality and anatomy is a bit shakey itself and as Shannon said, every detail counts. One mistake can throw the resemblance off. It takes massive skill to do portraits. Stencil or not.

  4. Oh man, that is really unfortunate :(
    As someone else said, the lettering in the “my love” etc is not even good….

    I suppose it depends on what style the portrait was to be done in, but seeing as they have a very realistic style sketch there for comparison, I am guessing that they were not going for a cartoonish look.

    God, I really feel for the wearer, and the subject! The eyes are just completely….well….wrong! *cringe*

  5. I really don´t know who that is supposed to be (some kind of hip-hop singer?), but if the drawing is also made by the artist I would assume the client knew what he was in for…

  6. Jebus that’s terribly done.. The person who did the original drawing on paper would of been better tattooing it…

  7. Your comment about portrait work being a horse of an entirely different color is something that i’ve been trying to impress upon people for a long, long time. I think you’re absolutely right that someone can be a great artist but not a great *portrait* artist. Fortunately, my artist is both :)

  8. Not going to knock it because for all I know this is how they wanted it to look… But did anyone notice how differnt the eyebrows are from the sketch?

  9. Even the original drawing isn’t very well-executed, as a realistic portrait… pretty cartoony in a lot of ways.

  10. Leanna – The interesting thing is conversely, I’ve seen artists that are terrible at just about everything, but can do an amazing portrait.

  11. ummm……… im sorry but i think its just BAD in every way shape and form….. If i was that tattoo artist I would hide my face in shame…. Ive been tattooing for a little wile but i dont think i would tackle somthing like this for YEARS and then maybe not even that…
    I hope the client is okay ’cause I would be freaking out if that was inked into my body

  12. This is really unfortunate, and I’d be heartbroken if my portrait of a loved one turned out this way. The eyes are so tiny, they remind me of the “Woll Smoth and Fronds” series of photoshops, if anyone’s familiar with them. Here’s the one of, um, “Woll Smoth” himself:

  13. maybe i’m crazy, but i really think the drawing was just something to go off of for a stylized “portrait”. the unrealistic proportions and positioning of the facial features look too off to be just a really bad portrait.

  14. i don’t get why portraits are always said to be so hard to do. is it the complexity of a human face or is it just a matter skills in shading or whatever? i’m not trying to say that it’s easy, but most of the portraits i’ve seen were quite awful. is it really this hard to tattoo/draw a nose?

  15. Ugh. This makes my artistic eyes go hay-wire. The eyes dont even look like real eyes, they arent the right size, pretty much every feature of the face is misplaced and mis-shapen, not to mention the fact that the shading doesn’t even make sense. Also, the drawing to begin with doesn’t seem all that great, and who as VeganZombie said, you dont tattoo a portrait from a drawing. You end up with an interpretation of the drawing, not the person. Did I mention the head itself is the wrong shape? Ok, I’ll stop with my “art student” critique, but this is awful.

  16. I think the biggest things are the eyes (including eyelashes) and cheek lines.

    To the people saying it was meant to be a cartoon sketch, usually “My Love” tattoos aren’t designed that way.

  17. It really kinda looks like a Simpson version of him, yeah? Don’t judge me! I tried! lol

  18. Goodness…that portrait is something else. I would be so utterly disappointed! I hope the person didn’t end up paying for it. I agree with the person above me, it does look very Simpsons-esque. I seem to recall a Simpsons episode with Darryl Strawberry in it that looked just like the tattoo! As an artist myself, the mistakes in the tattoo are overwhelming. Having taken classes on portraiture, I can agree that it is way harder than most other things. The proportions of the human face are extremely complex, and should not be attempted by a tattoo artist who is not aware of those proportions! The original drawing is not bad; I think it’s beautiful in its own way. Finding beauty in the tattoo, however, well…that’s a different story.

  19. i am much more interested in finding out the “who/what/where/when/why” in all of it before making any kind of comment…because then that would be waaay too easy…

  20. Noses are difficult because its shading not lines. At least that’s what I learned in wasted art lessons. But this is pretty tragic. Tattoo equipment is too accesible sometimes…

  21. #30 i agree 100%

    how on earth could someone go so wrong with such a good starting sketch? but then again, why didn’t the ARTIST do the original sketch. looks like the client was the idiot here, not checking out the skills of the tattooist enough. it would’ve been quite clear if they had’ve asked him to draw the dude on paper first…

  22. ok ok it’s a poor tattoo but!.
    if the dude with the tattoo is happy then whats the harm.
    im sure we’ve all seen far worse i know i have.
    im just saying if i was the guy who had this or sent it in for the gallery’s and a bunch of people are ripping into it and linking to other peoples tattoos that they regard as poor then i would not be impressed too say the leased.

    this is the last place i would think to find a “shit tattoo thread”

  23. #44- you took the words right out of my mouth. I meant to comment earlier and say the same thing but I didn’t have time to. This has to be one of the worst portraits I’ve seen. I mean I’ve seen portraits were the artist messed up some things & I didn’t really look like the person BUT the portrait still looked good. Now sorry this one just looks like crap.

  24. Apart from the difference between the eyebrows on skin and on paper, have you noticed how the tattooed ones are so different from each other?
    This makes me sad inside, I wouldn’t like it if it was mine, but if they’re happy with it so be it I guess.

  25. I have no idea what’s it like to do shading or realistic portraits with a tattoo machine, but when drawing with pencil you need to use more that dark lines, blank space and one shade for the shadows! The hardest thing when drawing people is the shading to make it look like 3d and not as if the features (eyes, nose..) are just floating on top of a head-shaped ball.

    The starting sketch is good but not great and the tattoo is just horrible in my opinion.
    #43 – I actually like that one because it doesn’t look like a bad attemt at realism (more like cartoonish/stylised). The only thing wrong are the shake lines :)

  26. *actually not a head-shaped BALL because then it would be 3d :D. I meant to say circle/ellipse.

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  28. The lettering could be the wearer’s own handwriting. What confuses me is why the, er, original is a drawing and not a photo…

  29. I just can’t stop laughing at the differences.. It reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite’s drawing.

  30. People are saying that they hope the customer didn’t end up paying, they should sue, etc, but if the customer had done any research she would have seen that this artist obviously can’t do portraits. I don’t feel sorry for her at all.

  31. this reminds me of when I was in grade 2 – the teacher had us pick a partner and face our desks towards each other so we could draw our partners portraits. I got stuck with this boy in my class who had really light colored hair, almost white. Since we had only crayons to use to do the pictures I made his hair pink, because come on who can see white crayon on white paper? He told me if I made his hair pink he would never talk to me again, I still think to this day he hates me for it. This portrait looks alot like the one I made that day – all it needs is pink hair haha

  32. has anyone perhaps thought that the point of the potrait was to make it stylized and cartoony?
    I personally would rather have something that looked cartoony like that on my body then a godawful B+W perfect potrait.

    (I think potraits of any kind make for awful tattoos, but that’s just me)

  33. the original drawing being held up next to it implies it’s supposed to be realistic (or at least as realistic as the drawing is), but I can’t help but like how cartoony the tattoo turned out. it’s so whimsical and happy-looking ^^

  34. I think a big part in things like this is that a lot of people don’t want to pay for quality work. We have a lot of people come in and ask to get portraits, then when they hear the price they turn right around and say another shop told them $100 so they’re going there instead.
    That, and I’d say about 90% of people out there can’t tell the difference between a good tattoo and a bad one, so they don’t know they have a bad one or what a bad one looks like in a portfolio.

  35. this reminds me of the artist who does the cartoons on the back page of bust magazine. as someone had mentioned, if it were a stylistic choice, it would be awesome. who knows, maybe it was? i still find it kind of amazing.

  36. And what if the original sketch is the one that’s wrong??? maybe the guy actually looks like the tattoo! You know, tiny eyes, 3-4 inches apart, and with 5 eyelashes on each! At least, the baseball cap is almost exactly the same…

  37. I’m… just confused. It’s bad enough that I almost imagine that it was MEANT to be that way, but then why put up against a drawing?

    …I do have to agree with some other people though. Thems some perty eyelashes.

  38. does anyone see something van-gogh-esque about this, i know it’s not a ‘good’ tattoo, but artistically, and unconsciously, this looks really good to me.

  39. Ouch.. It’s not the entire fault of the customer though. I really think if an artist knows they’re not skilled/enough or aren’t comfortable doing a tattoo then they should just be honest about it rather than do an awful attempt as that is going to be really bad for their business if word gets around.

  40. ouch…
    if i were the wearer of this tattoo, i would feel like getting a big solid black rectangle done over it immediately! (and not by the same artist!)

  41. Being an artist is like being a singer. You must have some talent and feel for it even before you perfect a technique and grow into it. You can learn to hold a pencil or tattoo machine but if you aren’t an artist then no book (or teacher) can make you one. It can improve what you’re doing, and you can learn theory which will help…but you will ALWAYS be able to tell the ones with inborn talent.

    Case in point, incredible Vincent Price portraiture by the artist Bob Tyrell:

  42. i dunno if anyones said this already because 71 comments are a lot to read through, but it looks kind of like common. that is if common were drawn by napolean dynamite. either way i don’t dislike it. i mean its definitely not what it’s supposed to be, but its taken on a life of its own

  43. portraits have to be felt not just done,if i didn’t feel comfortable doing a portrait i wouldn’t even consider doing one, i would recommend another artist. at this point it must be just money instead of thinking about their client, it’s a really poor judgment of skill on that tattooers position. it makes me really sad.

    p.s. where is the fucking stencil?

  44. Hmmm… maybe I’m just interpreting this differently, but I don’t think it’s that bad. My guess is the tattoo was supposed to look like the drawing, not be a photo-realistic portrait. Perhaps the drawing was either done by the wearer or her “love” and has special sentimental value? It’s very possible that she got this tattoo to commemorate that special drawing and wanted it to look like that. Otherwise surely working from a photo would have been better? Either way, I say if the wearer likes it, that’s all that matters.

  45. it should be noted too, that without decent reference PHOTOS that are WELL LIT and HIGH DETAIL and CONTRAST, the artist is pretty much working both blind and with his hands tied…

  46. #78…OMFG, thanks for the laugh! I should say, not a snobby laugh, but a sympathy one…

  47. it’s also important when looking at your artists portfolio to make sure that they aren’t fucking retarded

  48. the word “”since” is so poorly done it looks like “sirce” and i cant feel bad for the guy…the whole disaster could have been prevented by “can I see pictures of other portraits you have done”…

  49. people are saying that they think the drawing was used as a foundation to just create a stylistic piece and not an accurate portrait. I really doubt that, because if was purely just a base to go from and have free reigns, then why show it with the original drawing. Showing it with the source generally implies “look how similar it looks to the orginial, wow!”, bad BAD example here.

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