When this client walked into my studio asking me for a fantasy themed tattoo on his back it aroused my interest. The back, being the largest almost flat part of the body, offers more artistic freedom than others. Moreover, in this particular case, being a 1.92 m tall and strongly built person, there was plenty of space to be covered.
His initial request was an epic image: a knight, a castle in the background and a couple more elements. As inspiration and to make me understand what the piece had to convey, the client mentioned Manowar’s album covers. Having been a metalhead in the past, even though I’ve never been particularly fond of this band, I had their album covers well in mind, but before he had even mentioned Manowar the first images that came to my mind were the beautiful works of Frank Frazetta. Who better than him could serve as inspiration for such a piece?! Knowing his work, the first thing that came to mind was the famous Death Dealer, but intense as it may be that work is fairly static. For this work I wanted to create something more dynamic. I wanted a knight wielding his sword on a rearing horse and I was thinking of adding some monsters dragging a couple of scantily dressed damsels in chains.
I later decided to reduce the number of monsters and ladies down to one, in order to work better in detail and to be sure of having a piece that could stand the test of time. The idea of the woman in chains and of the monster with a snake-like body was completely unconscious. A few days later, a client of mine pointed out the similarity between the story told in my drawing and the myth of Andromeda. It’s unbelievable how the collective imaginary or school memories had been re-elaborated by my unconscious. What emerged was the obvious title of this piece, the size of which is about 50×70 cm on paper.
In the first sitting I was hoping I could draw all the lines but after placing the design and measuring it, it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to complete the outlines all at once.
The lines of the monster and woman were all I was able to draw. Outlining the rest of the design required a further sitting.
While waiting for the following sittings I dedicated myself to colouring the design.
Sometimes, for time reasons or not to become disaffected to a job that I know will take a long time, I complete the next preliminary drawing hand in hand with the work on skin. Drawing on paper or on the computer often makes me overly optimistic, I was convinced that he could do only one sitting to complete the monster that I had decided to start colouring, but looking at the picture on the computer screen and seeing its size in real life are two entirely different things.
It took 3 sittings just to complete the monster.
I at least counted on finishing the woman in a single sitting but the client asked me to continue at a later moment.
When working on projects of this size even the most resistant people can rightly have days where he/she is less fit than usual, also the desire to see a finished piece can be a great motivation to endure a long session “under the needle”, but when one realizes that the sittings to endure are going to be many people tend to take things with more calm.
So the completion of the woman and the colouring of the rock to which she was chained were postponed to the following sitting the same time required for the completion of the lower part of the work.
Before each sitting I prepared myself continuing to colour the design and printing it out to use it as reference, and regularly, looking at the A3 paper sheet, I convinced myself of being able to work faster than it was actually possible on the work, the actual size of which was significantly larger.
It took two sittings for the bottom part and another two for the horse. The timing of each sitting was stable at around 3 hours per sitting. The customer rightly didn’t see the need of having to suffer uselessly for something that still required several sittings anyway.
The castle and knight required a couple of short sittings.
What’s missing are only a few touch-ups here and there and some lines and contrasts to be enhanced, things we’ll do in a few months along with the routine pictures.
The determination of this guy has been admirable, he showed commitment for a year and a half, and after several sittings and tons of cream spread during the healing process it’s understandable that he doesn’t want to see needles and creams for some time before taking the very last step 🙂
The working process began at the end of October 2012 and ended (for now) in February 2014.
Look at the images of the working process below.
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