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.