Here’s what I have learned from the tattoo process, so far. At least when it comes to a full suit, it isn’t important whether you have the whole tattoo project visualized in advance. With a full suit, it’s far, far, far more important to find an artist whose work you revere than it is to decide on a design or theme. I learned that, for me, finding the artist was the key to the entire project. I’m not an artist. I can barely draw a circle so I’m not the best judge of how to design a full suit. But I decided to stop waiting for a design inspiration to hit me and I started looking at artist’s portfolios.
Since I had some excellent Tahitian black work done in Hawaii which covered both of my legs from the knees, down, I thought it would be a good idea to stick with the tribal theme I started and keep that theme as the basis for the suit. I didn’t want solely a tribal suit, I wanted a dense design but one mixed with some colorful Japanese style snakes encircling each thigh with a bold dragon back piece. The sleeves and the abdomen should also have a touch of color. Mixing those two themes, tribal and Japanese, requires the skill of a talented artist. I found the right artist who also happened to be South African, so much of my tribal work has this African bushman thing going on. It combines well with the Tahitian tribal black work and both black styles complement the Japanese elements with snakes and dragon body parts all crawling in and out and over and under the tribal elements.
The artist worked with me to make sure that the designs complemented my physique by working the design to accommodate muscle and bone structures. This is why I believe it’s essential to find the right artist. Once I found him, we talked about the idea and he asked me if I had any specific designs in mind. I told him that I had no designs in mind, at all. He was to be in complete charge of the art with total freedom of design. By the way, the artist was totally cool with this! I do believe he actually looks forward to our sessions as much as I do.
So, my advice is to forget about trying to decide on a design. If you already have a design in mind, share it with the artist…then, turn him loose and give him the freedom to transform you. For me, it has been a great experience, so far, and I believe it will come to an excellent conclusion.