When someone wants to permanently etch a piece of your artwork onto their body, for me it's the highest compliment I can receive as a visual artist. While I certainly have no issue with anyone tattooing my artwork on themselves, I've had several people ask about the same pieces over and over again, so be advised that you may not be the only person sporting a particular design. I especially get lots of random requests from Instagramers wanting to get a tattoo of my "Mother Octopus" illustration from 2010, and I always have to respond with the standard "Sorry, I'm just a nerd with a pencil and can't be trusted with the ritualistic blood letting services you've requested of me." >>>>
Since I am not a tattooist, I literally have no control over which and how often any of my pieces may get used. However, I do know a reputable tattoo artist would never ink someone else's artwork onto one of their clients, and these are the people you ultimately want to work with. Someday, I may get lucky enough to land a proper tattoo apprenticeship and be able to offer said services to those of you who've expressed interest, but it’s going to be a couple of years at a minimum, so don’t hold your breath kids.
Until then however, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts that should be a helpful resource for those of you who are pondering a commitment to ink sooner rather than later. Today’s post specifically addresses those of you who connect with a piece of artwork that was created by someone other than the tattoo artist you’re currently working with. For example, I’ve had several “tattoo design” inquiries from folks wanting me to draw something they can then take to their tattooist for permanent inking.
From my perspective it’s an honor to be commissioned for such a personal expression of creativity, but from the perspective of a highly skilled tattoo artist that’s spent an absurd amount of time learning the craft and developing their own portfolio, this could come across as insulting. I know I certainly don’t appreciate it when someone approaches me with a different artist’s work and essentially asks me to "make a copy that will better match the color scheme" of their P.O.S American Warehouse sofa.....ew, so gross.
However, at the very least I’d like to think it’s okay for me as an illustrator to provide a general “concept sketch” like the one I did here for a friend of mine who wanted to commemorate his daughter’s date of birth...
It’s by no means a finished piece that any respectable tattoo artist would directly ink from, but rather a way for the client to present a rough idea of what they want so the tattooist can re-work it using their own unique style.
Since I have a tremendous respect for the art & craft of tattooing- wait “respect” is too weak of a word...let’s face it, I’m a rabid cult member with no hope of reformation -I'm especially interested in gathering high quality tattoo artist referrals and learning the proper etiquette when walking into a shop with a piece of art pre-designed by you or someone else. I'm very curious to know your thoughts and experiences on this subject, so please hit me up with questions*, helpful tips, and amazing tattoo artist referrals using the comments section below.
*Yes, there are such things as stupid questions, so please don’t ask them unless of course you want stupid answers...of which I have plenty :)