Thursday, October 15, 2009

Time Away

I've been drawing a lot, working on sketching with a light gray blue, then fleshing out more details with a sky blue, and then really firming everything else out with my black pencil. I've been pretty pleased with the results since I don't have to start off so cautiously and I can play around with shapes and contours more from the beginning.

I also have been posting because I have been super busy at work lately and also got engaged! So with all the planning going on, designing our invitations, and doing a fair amount of DIY stuff I'm not sure how much time I will have but I'm going to try and make a more conscious effort to keep up on this.

Oh I got out the machines again and was tattooing a honeydew melon, but I think I prefer the grapefruit more...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Now is as good a time as ever!

I finally have gotten a cohesive body of art work and tattoo related designs put together in a portfolio. My girlfriend really helped me weed through all of the work that didn't fit and helped me create a flow/"story" you could follow through the work. I'm pretty proud of it, actually really proud, when I stand back I think that I have a lot of talent and if I dedicate myself to tattooing like I want to, I could be pretty damn good at it someday.

I've been researching tattoo schools in the area and my top to are Icon, and Adorn, the work of the artists there is a pretty high caliber, it doesn't mean they are great teachers, but are people I would want to learn from nonetheless. I'm also going to look into Star Tattoo (where I got my first two tattoos) and Captain Jacks.

It sounds like Icon isn't taking any more apprentices at the moment so I'm really hoping Adorn is an option, but who knows what their time commitment is, I know Captain Jacks is flexible and my schedule would work there. We will see where the wind blows me in the very near future...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Guns Kills Machines Create

So I spent a majority of the last week working on a tat for this guy starting an apprenticeship and he wanted a pistol with the barrel being a tattoo machine grip, with a snake as the handle, and a banner saying Guns Kill Machines Create, if you haven't heard old schoolers bitch at kids picking up the art form about their language they disdain the term "gun" it's not a tattoo gun, it's a machine.

My first thought was I need to draw for other people...and then I read his description and thought that sounds like 60 pounds of shit in a 5 pound box. The idea in and of itself wasn't bad, but I didn't understand the snake part and it just seemed daunting. I finished it and just looking at it I wasn't totally stoked, the banner seemed off, the snakes head was off but I showed him anyways and he loved it. So here it is:

So it is what it is, it has a pretty old school feel which is cool, and taking a second look at it now, it's pretty good, but I wouldn't want it tattooed on me, especially since I drew another version that is what I think the design should have looked like. The dude loves it, that's the end of the argument, but I still think to myself I would want to tattoo something on someone that I wouldn't be damn proud sporting myself.

Anyways getting on to my design, I'm in love with the zombie hands and I wanted the banner to be connected to the hand as if they were a tattered old bandage, I made a more tattoo machine/handgun hybrid because I think some of that idea got lost in the last design, and I like how the kill part of the banner is grungy, the create part is clean and nice, this is what this should look like and I think after I finish tattoo school, I want to get this done on my forearm because everything is a homage back to the guys who started this and I also would never want to be tattooed by someone who doesn't have their ink showing, check out my version:

If I wanted to be overly critical I would call myself a douchebag for making myself a tattoo that is great not my client, but the truth of the matter is I was so inspired by the idea I knew I could churn out something that made more aesthetic sense, more design sense, and was more cohesive, it's just not what the client wanted, and I think people who sort of design their own ink are much more attached it, and that's the way it should be.

Good night Forest Grove.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pathogens for Disease and Safety Precautions

I have purchased a few tattooing materials just for me to help get my base and understanding, not in order to substitute what I will learn but in school and my apprenticeship, but to supplement early knowledge. I bolded each section and my personal comments or anecdotes are italicized...not that anyone cares.

Handwashing: Washing up to the wrist is important, obviously washing ever part of your hands like your cuticles, the back of the hand, the creases in between your fingers, and each digit on each hand in warm water for 20 seconds. The part that I think is interesting is that they tell you to gently pat your hands dry because rubbing them roughly can remove the outer-most dermis, your first line of protection. You pretty much have to wash your hands after you do everything...sneeze, cough, answer phone, touching anything contaminated so after you wash your hands, don't fucking do anything but put on your gloves.

Gloves & Coverings: Obviously this dvd goes above and beyond the health standards required in Oregon because they have arm shields, respirators, and eye shields...and although it does look absolutely retarded, the practice makes sense because they want you to cover mucus membranes such as the nose and eyes and mouth, because transmission in those areas is far easier. Regardless of the coverings, you remove them inside out basically so that you are never touching the area that could be contaminated disposed of in the area you were working in to avoid cross contamination. Also the point obviously is to never touch your skin with contaminated material that might be on your gloves so no touching your face or scratching your arms, otherwise you have to reglove. It is also a given that gloves are single use only and immediately after finishing you must wash your hands again.

Needlestick Procedure: If you poke yourself through the glove there are 7 steps to take immediately: the first is to secure the needle, remove the glove, was for at least one minute using an anti-microbial soap and warm water, dry the area and bandage the wound, see medical attention immediately, after you must report the incident and fill out the appropriate paperwork, and lastly review the incident and evaluate what went wrong. This is definitely a major concern in this field so the handling of needles is not to be taken lightly, I almost wish it was mandatory to do a blood test like they do when you donate blood, it's easy and almost painless, probably not cheap or cost effective though.

Cleaning the Studio: Sink, toilet, mirror, door, handles, all containers: sharps, biohazards,trashcan, work station, ink bottles, honestly anything that has a surface that you touch you should be cleaning just for good practice, and really you should be doing it when the shop opens and when it closes, yes cleaning sucks, yes it is time consuming, but ultimately worth it for your health and the health of your clients.

Barriers: One of, if not the single most important line of protection afforded to body modifiers, table paper, dental bibs, bottle bags, clip cord covers, machine covers. You should absolutely be covering arm/leg rests, your chair if a person is on it without a shirt, put the bags on your clip cord, squirt bottles, power supply & it's knob, lay out the needles, grip, machine, purge the tip of your ointment, fill the rinse cup with distilled water and only distilled water, I had never heard of securing your ink cups to the cart with petroleum jelly or even seen anyone do that, but it makes a heck of a lot of sense...I have a stand for my caps but that is just one more thing to sterilize I guess so for the sake of time this is probably easier. After the set up of the machine you place the barrier but if for any reason you remove it, you must clean all parts of the machine before applying a new one...they don't say this specifically but that probably means going back through the whole sterilization process again so you need to have a shit load of machines it sounds like...or just not ever fuck up which probably isn't likely when you start.

Tattoo Procedure: Skin prep can save your business! The "Green Soap" everyone loves, and even isopropyl alcohol are not adequate skin preps because they don't have the bacteria reduction capabilities required for skin puncturing procedures, techni-care is what they recommend, but everyone probably has their own preference, the neat thing about this is that is works for shaving, and also stencil application. After the tattoo is finished you should place the ointment over the tattoo before covering. Something interesting that I just experienced with my last tattoo is the use of Dri-lock pads, or more commonly seen as the blood pads under the meat you get at the grocery store, pretty smart because they pull fluids away from the skin to inhibit bacteria growth, never use plastic wrap because it traps fluids and heats them near the skin which promotes bacteria growth.

Post-Procedure: Remove all covers and disassemble machines disposing of needles to their sharps container. Place ink cups into the rinse cup as long as it's not going to overflow but do not dump down the drain! Place your paper towels in the cup to soak up the liquid and dispose of the last materials in your other biohazard containers. Obviously you should clean and disinfect your machine and also disinfect your work station.

Tattoo Equipment Processing: For this part you should be using nitrile gloves. They first talk about scrubbing down the tube, but to be honest I plan on using the disposable needle/tube combo probably because of the time/cost efficiency. For arguments sake, they disinfect the hell out of everything inside bio-haz containers for as long as the disinfectant says is necessary but then rinse this stuff off down the drain...I think that is poor practice, but it doesn't give any alternatives. They then use an ultrasonic clean for 30 mins to sterilize the equipment and then rinse all equipment again. If you go this route everything must be dry before you can package it otherwise you will have a bacteria growth problem and you must use the single use-sealable sterilized bags, not ziplocks for the retards who think that could work. Then labeling these packages with dates of sterilization, what it is, and the last spore test number, making sure they are all fully sealed and covered with a piece of sterilization tape, and then after all of this insert the pouches into your autoclave, secure the door and follow it's instructions.

That's not to hard to follow, or remember, but it does seem almost excessive. I am glad for the practice, because you can almost 100% be assured you aren't going to catch something from your artist. Good stuff though overall, a lot of it I knew from watching as I got my tattoos but I also wonder since this is generalized how it differs from what I will have to learn for the state of Oregon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sketches Update

This was done as a commission for someone, ultimately they wanted the hands closer, and the typography on top but figured they would just let their artist redraw it. I have to say I really enjoy working on something for other people especially when they like it and it is something a little different and more creative and a playboy bunny tattoo. I might do a rework of this for fun with zombie hands and a bite out of the heart or something, or maybe the blue flowers from Resident Evil.

I was just drawing the other night with nothing in mind and it just progressed into this. I do have to say this would make a pretty kick ass sleeve I think, and it's unisex though it would look better on a girl probably. I might go back and add thorns to the vines, and throw some color down if I get a chance.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shades of Grey

So I found a bunch of drawings that I had misplaced and before I scanned them in I thought I would step out of my comfort zone and tattoo something with a fair amount of detail as well as try my hand at shading tonight. The design is a civil war era revolver, they are probably the coolest old pistols and the flash one I drew is amazing, but I didn't include all of the filigree in tonight's practice, maybe another day?

The first step was making my carbon copy stencil, I thought I would get some more practice with that because I am having such a hard time since I lack a good transfer paper. Since I used normal printer paper you have to make a lot of passes to get solid lines, and you can only use it on something flat like this.

Obviously that sucks, big time, I cleaned up a couple lines but since I had the picture next to me I know what it's supposed to look like so the lines were more like guides.

Next I did all of my outlines working right to left so I'm not smudging away the stencil. I was working with a 3 round and even when my hand is super steady and fluid the lines have a little wiggle to them still, less than they use to, but more than I really like. I also noticed when looking at the picture I have forgotten a few little details and put them in after the photo.

One thing I was thinking about is that the shading will hide some of the lines or blend into them so the lines on the interior were less of a problem if they weren't completely smooth, but the outer edge of the whole gun would be an issue so with the three round I made tiny circular motions over the existing outermost outlines to thicken it up and it helps make it pop a little too.

I didn't take enough photos of the shading process because I was just in the zone and getting tired which is a shame because I think that progression would have been nice to see. Basically I switched to my nine round and used a flick of the wrist from the needle being down to forward and out decreasing the pressure as it flicks away. The initial shading is lighter than I wanted to I continued to make passes over it and build them up until the were more like I wanted. In certain areas I make a thick black pass with no flicking motion to make the shadow deeper. I forgot that this tattoo skin doesn't take color well, but I tried to do a wooden handle, it's not bad, not great though.

Recapping the even I have to say I'm pretty proud of how this came out, it was the first time I tried shading and it turned out pretty good, a convincing gun metal finish for the most part. I'm not satisfied with it because there are shadows that need darkened, and it definitely needs the filigree so I think I will have to revisit it. I also have to get some better transfer paper or just because awesome at free handing everything onto people. When I have some extra money I really need to purchase some of the shading magnums because I think I'm going to get a much better and smoother gradation with them. Time to scan in some art, post it and the typography tomorrow, good night Forest Grove.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Something Citrus

So I finally got my ass back in gear and decided I should practice some more. I have been busy with work, prepping for hunting season, and remodeling the bathroom but needed to do some art and have been pissed at myself for watching television (Iron Chef, The Ultimate Fighter, Mythbusters, you know stuff that really matters).

Anyways I thought I would do my initials from the typography set that I just completed since I really like them. I will look at past blogs to see if I posted them, if not I will do it tomorrow. Since I'm lacking good transfer paper and suck I free handed the letters onto the grapefruit which wasn't so difficult in that I can't draw but my permanent markers kept drying up on me, there must have been a wax coating on the grapefruit, so that took longer than I was really planning.

I had an unexpected surprise working because one of my three machines went out, I used the chrome one that I thought was really chintzy and cheap looking. Even though it is heavier it turns out this thing kicks some major ass, love it in fact. I also need to send my other machine back and see if they will send me one that doesn't heat up to the point of burning my hand within 15 minutes.

First I outlined my shapes with a 9 round because the outlines are meant to be thicker, then I filled the solid black.

Then I changed my grip and needle to a 3 round and added the little diamond flourish insides the letters followed by adding the beveled edge. I really could decide if I wanted to stick to my type sets I made or not but decided to switch back to the 9 round and just started filling them with red, it looked better than I hoped but it still didn't quite feel finished so I added white pigment to the beveled edge to highlight it and make it stick out more.

I didn't use the photomerge in Photoshop so the letters don't exactly match up but they aren't different in size they all fit and flow like they should. I suppose the next thing I really need to start working on is nailing down this shading thing because flat filling ink is pretty easy.

Anyways since there is no beer or scotch in the house I'm going to have a healthy glass of water and ice my ankle, good night Forest Grove.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Practice Tattoo Skin

I have a lot of mixed feelings about how this turned out, I think trying a design this complicated rather than just a simple shape to fill in was a dumb idea, not because I got frustrated with the tools, but being overambitious to start can sometimes lead to immense failure and worse yet can be so disheartening you give up.

I guess it turned out ok for the first time with me using a machine, obviously there is a lot of trial and error, even more so since you have to run the machine at a higher then you would on real skin. I was using a loose three round, and a tight 7 round, didn't really like the 7, but I think that also has to do with the machine because it got super hot in under 30 mins which probably means the capacitor is shot.

One problem I ran into over and over again is just reinforcing best practices, like keeping your hand at the propper 45 degree angle, to move the machine front to back so the needle is coming out of its groove, but the worst was that tattoo skin, or at least the MOM's brand sucks. Beyond running the machine higher, because it's so smooth and slick the stencil transfer was a bitch, it smudged every time I did it so I basically freehanded it all on there. Another huge thing that bothered me was that is didn't take the color worth a damn, what you are seeing of the yellow is more of a stain than the ink sitting in material, which probably means the black is doing the same thing it just is a stronger pigment.

That was pretty dissapointing just because I was excited to start working in color and shading, even though I don't have any magnums for shading there is no reason you shouldn't be able to do it with a round, and after reading the Guy Aitchison manual I believe that even more, needles are like brushs, they can do any job they just do it very differently. I'm fighting off a cold so I haven't had a chance to draw much this week, blog much, or get my portfolio completely together, so maybe I can get to all that stuff this week...oh and go buy some grapefruit.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tattoo Practice Skin vs. Grapefruit

Sounds like an epic battle...or not but I can now offer a little perspective on both, pros, cons, and personal preference. There are substantial differences between the two and I went into my testing thinking that practice skin would be far superior because it was supposes to mimic skin, but after testing both "products" I have come to a different conclusion.

Practice skin is manufactured by a few companies and mine came from MOM. Upon opening the package I found it to be a little rubbery but not nearly as flexible as I had hoped. The one cool thing about this is that you can rubber band it to sections of your body if they aren't too curvy so that you can simulate tattooing on a specific area which is a huge plus. As I started using it I noticed something right off the bat, the ink didn't seem to take very well (this could be my lack of experience and being a total newb), this bothered my greatly because I was having to overwork areas. One of my problems I think was after reading the Guy Aitchison manual he talked about running his machine at as low an ampage as possible so that he can make lots of passes over it. I had been working it at 6-8 but when I cranked it to the 10-12 range I found it going into the practice skin far easier.

Now for the grapefruit I didn't make a stencil to transfer, just freehanded a nautical star. One of the more inherant problems with grapefruit are their shape which makes stencil transferring pretty I suck at it still. I personally don't like the shape of the grapefruit because even for small designs it obscures your lines from your vision, it makes the process a little slower because you have to readjust so often. Despite these flaws, the ink goes into the grapefruit effortlessly... and even more so when you clean up your work you don't lose the ink as much.

The problem that I now face is which is more accurate? You can't practice your stretch on grapfruit but I'm pretty sure it's a more skin realistic surface, I'm going to continue working with both because I need to build up handstrength, and practice is practice but this is one of many reasons I am discovering I need to get into an internship fast, I have too many questions that my materials don't answer, and that other people won't help me with.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Don't Label Me a Scratcher

So it is probably inevitable, but someone at some point is going to call me a scratcher until I get into an apprenticeship. A scratcher is someone who does crappy work out of their house elsewhere who is unlicensed, unsanitary, and probably an idiot in general.

I don't plan to tattoo anyone, or even myself until I am in an apprenticeship and know what I'm doing, I have bought some tattoo machines and everything I need to do a tattoo, I have read the basics about machine operation, maintenance, and construction from the Huck Spaulding Tattoo Bible and also the basics of performing a tattoo, however I don't feel qualified at all.

I hate steep learning curves and feeling inadequate which is pretty easy when you take on something new and so I have been trying to learn as much about the art and the craft involved with tattooing ahead of time, another resource I purchased and have been studing is the Guy Aitchison Binder and while a lot more of what he presents is theory and less instructional I have found that to be just as useful because of it's artistic principles.

Over the last week I have set up my machines to be running like I think they should, but who knows if they are running correctly. All I have to base this on is the information I have read and the experience of hearing a machine run while I have been getting work done. It is painfully obvious I need an apprenticeship after playing around with ink on the practice skin which only does a semi adequate job of simulating the real thing I've heard, the ink does take as well as it does to skin, it doesn't allow you to work your stretch, and even if you rubberband it to yourself it is kind of rigid.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Ink Blot

The purpose of this blog is to talk about tattooing, tattooing related things, sharing tattoos of mine, of others, of sketches, of anything interesting and worthwhile. It is also going to be an online catalog of my learning and journey to find an apprenticeship and become a professional tattoo artist.

First I need to make a template because this thing is ugly and I can't stand it.