my latest session

Posted by Alex the Odd at 13:51

Monday, 4 February 2008

Well, up almost two weeks late but better late than never right?


Is it wrong to be completely entranced by something on your own skin?

This was taken when the work was freshly done - it looks a ton better now that it's pretty much healed, my next session isn't for another month I'm giving my poor back a chance to heal itself as it appears my body is utterly shot. I'm not managing more than an hour or so at a time at the moment. Aside from hating tp wase Kamil's time I do kind of want to get this finished in the next millenium!

more photos!

Posted by Alex the Odd at 15:04

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Just a quick hit posting today as I'm absolutely exhausted and have to get up early to buy supplies for our house Christmas dinner tomorrow (insanity) and my apologies for the fragmented incoherence but a mixture of sugar and incredibly strong painkillers isn't realy a winning combination for me, thought process wise. But as promised/asked for:

Healed work from my session way back when (ie. 29th October):


And this is the fresh work from today's session (I'll post more on a non skewed angle when it's healed up):


Both were only two hour sittings as I'm a wuss and can't take much more pain than that. There is more detail on the right side too it's a pretty awesome fur effect but alas, is not visible in the picture.

Today's music: Johnny Cash

I started a mini discussion with Kamil concerning my sleeves (I know! At the rate of progress my back is going at I won't be starting until this time in 2009), and damn it if I don't have the best plan ever. He also reassured me that despite guesting at Last Rites, he's not going anywhere any time soon so if I have to take a year off before I can afford my sleeves then so be it.


And yes, my next session is on the 26th, that's one whole week away. Guh-yikes. Looks like we're concentrating on my ice queen for now and saving the background for when she's finished.

Comments? questions? Fire away.

PS. Go look at Boo's new tattoo. It's purty and I covet it.

PPS: I have a couple of future sessions booked too, apparently I don't need the money to eat so having two £200 sessions in the span of one paycheck is absolutely fine. Honest.

a quick update

Posted by Alex the Odd at 04:38

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

I'm now five hours down on my backpiece, I only managed two hours on the last sitting. Mostly due to me being a complete wuss. I'm really, really glad nobody told me how painful this was going to be (or how awkward - turns out that having your entire spine stabbed repeatedly leads to a few days of restricted movement and very little sleep - shocking I know) because there's a chance I might have chickened out, now there's no chance of me doing that because the "half finished" look doesn't really suit me. There no photos as of yet as my camera died shortly before my session but I will pester someone into taking some for me the second I'm fully healed, there are a few stubborn spots that are resolutely remaining scabbed over.

The datailling from the last session is gorgeous, Kamil did a lot of work on her face as well as shading in her chest and shoulders and starting work on her dress. The face in particular blows me away, her lips look absolutely phenomenal - kind of weird to focus on such a small detail but they're beautiful!

I've got over a month now until my next session, which is at the end of December hopefully that'll get me past the memory of how horrifying it was and back into bouncing excitement (and give me some time to save up!)

Next time will also involve stencilling the background for the top half of the piece so hopefully I'll have all the linework finished by the new year. Here's hoping!

Custom Work: Part III

Posted by Alex the Odd at 14:10

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Hey, guess what? It turns out that having a blog post to write is the perfect antidote to procrastination - I've got so much work that isn't writing my blog done today it's unreal!

Anyway, belated but nevertheless...

Chapter III - The First Session

I had my first three hour session four days ago and I've only just re-developed the ability to lean against things. Oh yes folks, it fucking hurt. I really should have figured that having my entire back stabbed with teeny tiny needles would be ever so slightly debilitating, oh well willfull ignorance I guess.

So I arrive at the studio just a little bit early and Kamil is messing around with six pointed geometric designs and a photocopier trying to figure out the background for the top half of my back, it's not going to get outlined today so it's more of a question of concept at this point. The first twenty minutes or so of my appointment is spent re-sizing his sketch so that we can make the stencil and discussing how the final design is going to work.

And yes, my already fairly large back piece just got a whole lot bigger.

It turns out that at twice the size it was originally going to be the shape of my body is such that it actually works with the design to give it a completely new dimension of perspective. It actually looks like it was drawn directly onto my skin it fits me so well. Anyway, I have about fifteen minutes so sit in the reception and contemplate the fact that I'm going to spend my afternoon essentially naked in a room full of heavily tattooed men before Kamil is back downstairs to tell me that the stencil is ready and we can get started.

It isn't just a case of applying the stencil and starting the ink work though, within half an hour I'm completely covered in marker pen, a walking, talking concept sketch. And yes, before you ask I have photos:


As I was standing with my back to the door for the duration of this exercise every person coming up to the studio had full view of what was going on with my back. Far from being embarrassing this was actually pretty cool as the other artists would give their input into the design, commenting on the placement of a certain element or adding another concept into the background - occasionally grabbing a marker pen to demonstrate what it was that they meant. It was really interesting to hear their comments, kind of like being a work of art receiving critiques. It was all positive though, lots of remarks regarding the composition and how phenomenal it's going to look when finished (those may be my words).

Then followed an hour of outlining followed by an hour of shading. Kamil doesn't really do that much line work so the parts that will be in sharp focus were outlined strongly with more guidelines added in. Although you can't see from the photos I also have some outlines in yellow and a very pale red that will act as guides for the negative shading that's to come. The shading was horrifyingly painful and I was already shaking from the outline, we stopped when I was pretty much on the verge of not being able to take any more.

Kamil was a really reassuring artist, he warned me beforehand that he's normally quiet while actually tattooing so he can seem quite cold at times but it's purely due to concentration. He did chat to me a bit though, saying how he appreciated people who wanted big pieces because it gave him a chance to be an actual artist rather than just "giving someone a tattoo". Every now and then he would comment on how well I was doing and offered to take breaks when I started to get twitchy.

Here's what we managed to get done (apologies in advance for the crappy quality):


It doesn't look like much but my inability to move my back this week begs to differ.

Eventually it will extend down onto the backs of my legs a little way, blending out into the skin.

At the end of the session Kamil thanked me saying again how excited he was to be working on the design for me and told me to book two appointments in December. He's going back and forth to New York at the moment as he's now working with Paul Booth over at Last Rites, and wanted to be sure that he could fit me in for as many sessions as possible.

As it turns out I'll actually be going back a little sooner as I got a phonecall yesterday asking me to come in again at the end of the month. So, October 29th is my next session. Of course I'm very, very excited.

So come on then, you pestered for the photos - tell me what you think!

T minus 12 hours

Posted by Alex the Odd at 14:48

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Well, it's 12 hours exactly (by my watch) until I sit in that chair again and change myself forever. I've never had an appointment booked for this long, or put this much thought into a piece of work before (as you can probably tell) so I'm spending half my time in quiet contemplation and the other half rather vocally freaking out.

In that spirit I'd like to share with you the tattoos I have already the follies of youth if you will... (And I must say, after my little trip to the London Tattoo Convention this weekend (click here for the few photos I actually managed to take before my camera up and died on me), I now feel decidedly unadventurous up until this point.) Sorry about the crappy image quality by the way, it's almost midnight and sheer laziness prevented me from making them purdy. But here we are, a whistle stop tour around my skin on the last evening it will ever look as it does now:

My Gecko (tattoo number 1)


My first tattoo and still my favourite, I intend to have him added to at some point, possibly by giving him a friend and some form of background to sit on. In other news: no it isn't creepy to assign personalities to my tattoos. Leave me alone.

He lives on my left hip.

My Snowflake (tattoo number 2) and my Swirly Flower Thing (tattoo number 4)


Every now and then I catch myself thinking "Hmmm, well maybe my snowflake's OK after all" and then I get someone to take a photo and I remember just how much I hate it. I hated it on paper, I have no clue why on Earth I thought I'd like it any more on my skin. The idiocy of youth I guess. This one is getting re worked as part of my back piece.

I love my most recent tattoo, the beautiful clean lines are a testament to Kanae's skill, I'm continually amazed at how much soul she managed to put into a tiny piece of flash. There is a part of me that thinks that maybe I shouldn't have got it done as it does hinder my ability to get a fully done back piece. But then I remember why I got it and I realise that there really was no other option. We'll see how Kamil manages to work around it as it's still fairly low down on my back. If it has to be covered or worked in then so be it. I still have the flash, I may find myself getting it done elsewhere afterwards.

My Rose (tattoo number 3)


This one has the most meaning to me and is the one that most people see as it lies on my stomach just above the waistband of most pairs of my jeans. Incidentally it isn't just crappy picture quality - it was a bad tattoo in the first place and then I picked at it. Considering where I was in my life there was no way I wasn't going to subconsciously ruin it so I only partly blame myself. I do like the placing though and I intend to expand on it gradually, adding more flowers and some ivy leaves, in between getting my bigger pieces done

I'll get into the symbolism of these images at some point (hint: there really isn't any, shocking I know - I'm more of a "time and place" girl rather than a "picture" one) but here they are for the curious (and pestery) among you.

the attitudes of others - a Friday afternoon rant

Posted by Alex the Odd at 07:40

Friday, 28 September 2007

I'm a little late in posting this because it's taken me over a week to stop frothing at the mouth. Remember how I told you that attitudes and the opinions of the people around me are an integral part of getting a tattoo for me? Yeah, well I got to spend last weekend understanding the full extent of that statement.

I'm very used to the people around me knowing about my tattoos. The industry is something that absolutely fascinates me and so if a conversation pops up on the subject it's pretty much a given that I'm going to chime in. Mostly I don't discuss my tattoos with my friends, a couple are really supportive and it's them that I turn to when I need to babble away excitedly at someone - other than that it's pretty much the internet, my journal or newly, this nifty little thing I like to call a blog. I'm aware that the whole "tattoo thing" freaks a lot of people out and I don't really have any good friends who are into the culture and while occasionally I will show people photos of artwork or start nattering away about this sleeve or that piece I saw completely absent mindedly but once the eyes glaze over I try my very hardest to stop.

There are some people that I make every effort to actually avoid discussing my plans for upcoming work with unless I absolutely have to. I speak of my friends from high school and my Mother.

I have to tell my Mother about my tattoo plans, I get crushed with guilt if I don't but I only ever tell her about them at the final stages - ergo she thinks that I don't actually put any thought into them. So much so that she actually offered me a grand not to get this one done for another two years. I can't even consider it and I can't explain to her why, I know why, but I just can't put it into a form that she'd understand. The essence of the argument (not for getting it done, we've been over those ad nauseum but for not taking the money) is this: Yes, I may regret this in five years time but if I don't have it done then I'll always wonder and if I do get it done a few years down the line I'll feel like an opportunity was missed, if I want to get it done but can't because my artist moves away or I've worked myself into a position where it's impossible (I'm just the kind of girl to get into a destructive and co-dependent relationship with someone who forbids me from doing something) then I'd be devastated. And no matter what I'd always know that I was bought. Not only that but that the only reason I didn't do something for myself, that I really wanted, was that she asked me not to. And I'd resent her for that. I already hate one parent for the choices he made I'd rather have a life time of regret for the image on my skin than spend even a day resenting my Mother for the choices she took from me.

She says she's given up now, that she never wants to see it or hear another word said about tattoos ever again. I give her a month before she caves.

Then come my high school friends. The thing that gets me most about this is that I didn't actually intend to tell them anything about it, it just slipped out because I wasn't thinking straight. Now I know that I only see these girls (yes, girls for a I am a posh private schoolgirl - most of the stuff you've heard about us is entirely true) from time to time, and our lives are so far divergent from what they were once going to be that it's untrue, but they've known me longer than anyone else and so their opinions kind of matter. I'm used to hearing people tell me what a bad idea covering myself in ink is. Case in point, the male kind-of friend who once sat me down to say the following:

"Now I know that you have some tattoos Alex, and that's fine, but really if you get any more then you're deliberately making yourself unattractive to a large portion of society. Like, 90% of people are going to refuse to date you."
But physical appearance has never really been what I'm about, and it's not like getting a picture etched into my skin is going to change the essential make-up of my character, right?

Wrong. Apparently. I'm ruining my life, literally one of them told me that. Arguments, of course, included the old gem "What about when you get old?" (well then I'll be wrinkly and saggy anyway and probably not baring that much flesh to begin with) but also the rather vapid "But what if you have to go to a formal event?" Well, frankly I'll, oh I don't know, cover it the fuck up? Seriously? I'm supposed to let the fact that one day I might be invited to a fancy party affect my life decisions? What. The fuck. Ever.

I was also informed that tattoo inks fade at different speeds depending on the colours. This was from a friend who had in fact had a tattoo done just after receiving our GCSE results. At sixteen. If you don't know why that would immediately set my teeth on edge then get the hell off my blog. I felt like screaming something along the lines of:
"I'm sorry but in what fucking universe do you think that you know more about this subject than me, at what point in time did you decide that you can educate me on the subject? You, who walked into a tattoo parlour that was willing to tattoo a sixteen year old having done no research whatsoever on a whim, are telling me that I'm jeopardising my future by getting a safe, clean and well thought out tattoo? Come back to me once you've been tested for hepatitis and we'll talk.
But as I'm not really in the market to lose my oldest and best friend (and also she was being obnoxious in large part due to vast quantities of intoxicating liquids) I settled for politely informing her that most tattoos need to be touched up every five to ten years anyway so it really wasn't a big deal.

She also told me that in some countries having a tattoo is seen as a bad thing and people stare at you. Yes, in some countries walking around flashing cleavage is seen as a bad thing and so you don't wander around in a bikini. I repeat my previous plan of covering it the fuck up and leave it at that.

The thing that pisses me off most about this entire thing is that I can't even be properly mad about the whole thing because I know it's all only because they care. If they didn't give a shit about me then they'd just smile and move on rather than trapping me in a corner for two hours. So I guess it's sweet. Kinda.

I don't know, maybe I'm odd but I've never really seen getting a tattoo as a particularly big deal. I mean sure, if you're getting one tattoo and one tattoo only then yeah, make sure it's packed with enough symbolism to last a lifetime, place it perfectly, design it yourself, make sure it really means something and be prepared to tell a story. But if you collect tattoos and appreciate them as an art form then what does it matter other than the fact that you think it's a good design? Do art collectors care about the significance of the painting they just bought? No. They got it because they liked it, or wanted something created by a particular person, or because it matched their sofa. This is the biggest sticking point for me - that people just can't appreciate that a tattoo isn't just a "rebellious statement" or a "permanent brand" but that it can also be a work of art for art's sake and nothing deeper or more meaningful than that.

As I've already said, the attitudes of strangers don't bother me - personal choice and all that jazz - but these people are supposed to know me. The only bright spot came from a girl I've never really known too well, certainly never been close to (emotionally speaking), who sat down next to me and quietly told me that she understands they don't know me as well as they used to but that my judgement is good enough to do whatever I think is best regardless of whether or not they understand it. And I thank her for that.

So that's it. Rant over. Although, this is before work even starts on my back. I dread to think what's going to happen once it's done.

Maybe I should refrain from mentioning my plans for sleeves?

Custom Work: Part II

Posted by Alex the Odd at 06:44

Monday, 17 September 2007

Apologies for my slackerness in posting this update - I'm working for two people at the moment and considering I usually barely work for one this is taking its toll somewhat, plus no internet access at home due to a shiny new flat and the crappiness of Virgin Media. Anyhoo, last week I went for my art consult with Kamil, and so without further ado may I present...

Chapter II - On the Subject of Art Consultations.

I managed (with every neurotic nerve in my body literally screaming at me to get a move on) to only be 5 minutes early for my art consultation and as soon as I arrived Kamil went bounding upstairs to get my sketch. Let me say this now: it was pretty much completely different from the design we had discussed. This is mainly due to me saying "no, seriously - do whatever" the last time I saw him. Because the design had to include a re work of my hideous snowflake tattoo that currently resides on my shoulder, (Note to self: I should really get a photo of it before I have it covered) he took the whole "winter" theme and ran with it. We'd discussed having a character, a woman with a frozen face, as the main element of my design and the sketch that Kamil showed me was an expansion of that. In short I will have a tattoo of a highly stylised comicbook ice queen stretching down the length of my back. Anyone who reads Circular Logic (or is a regular visitor to the Pajiba comments threads) will know exactly how incredibly thrilled this makes me. Like, it's a week later and the thought of it still makes me squee. He showed me how he was going to use the blank space of my skin for some incredibly nifty looking negative shading and gave me a general idea of the colour scheme he was going to use, explaining how he'd be mixing some warm tones into the background to keep the whole thing from being too harsh. We chatted about how he was planning on using pink and yellow highlights and about the way that ice fractures light and how he was going to be recreating that using ink. The final colour scheme still isn't decided yet and I'm glad about that because I'd never realised what an incredibly fluid process this whole thing is - I'm actually almost more excited about seeing the design evolve than I actually am about getting the finished tattoo.


I was completely happy with the design, although it was different than what I'd originally pictured I could certainly tell that this was better. It has exactly the feel that I was going for when I first got my snowflake done and I'm glad that I'll be getting a design that incorporates it rather than just obliterating it - it's important to me symbolically that my big blue mistake remains on my skin. And so... I put down the rest of my deposit for my first session (more than I was asked to - I always do this with tattoos, piercings, anything - the more money I part with up front and can never get back the less likely I am to have a complete freak out and not do it) and I start work on October the 10th. I am so very, very excited. We decided on a three hour session at first which I'm a little nervous as I've never sat for more than two hours and most of that was shading which, for me at least, hurts a hell of a lot less than outline. Still, three hours is enough to get the line work finished and maybe start some of the shading so I guess this is a case of grin and bear it.

Also: three hours alone in a room with someone who's essentially hurting you? Yet another reason you have to get on with your tattoo artist.

In between now and then is the London Tattoo convention which, provided I actually get myself into gear and buy tickets for, I will be blogging about soon afterwards.