SOUNDS OF SILENCEThe guy who asked me to do this piece had a very important story to tell.
Victim of a physically and psychologically devastating motorcycle accident, he saw his life on the brink of disaster. He lived in fear of not being able to walk again or even properly. Luckily, thanks to medical treatment and to his strong willpower, he started walking again but those days of hospitals, operations, physical pain, fear, and finally the immense sorrow for his loved ones whom he saw suffer around him marked him deeply, giving him however an even greater desire to live and he wanted to tell/remember this story with a unique tattoo.

Initially he outlined a number of ideas but, as it often happens, the “graphic/symbolic vocabulary” available to a person who is not used to drawing professionally is limited. So, after reading his long email in which he described the events, what he had experienced during those awful days and how he felt after his “rebirth”, I began to imagine a series of elements, symbols, and finally an image that could summarize in a positive way and as poetically as possible that ocean of ​​information, leaving however room for some elements that he absolutely didn’t want to leave out.

The image I thought of and eventually ended up doing, following some ​​changes occurred after an exchange of emails, is full of meaning and colourful, exactly like the client wanted.

The woman, the key element of the piece, encompasses several meanings: the goddess of fortune is blindfolded and in this guy’s story luck has definitely played a key role. The bandage also represents the fact of being blind to danger, an attitude that motorcyclists are pretty familiar with, the excitement and adrenaline that takes over when riding on two wheels, especially at a young age, can sometimes make us forget about the possible dangers. Furthermore, the client told me that there is a “blank” in his memory of the day of the accident, so the bandage became a symbol of the inability to have a clear view of things. Only one eye is covered because after the accident, as he told me, it was as if he was able to see life differently, better and more positively than he was able to see before. A bandage that falls showing us the beauty of life around us.
The teardrop represents his suffering and that of his loved ones during those awful days in hospital, but the tear is also a symbol of purification, it is also through pain that we learn to give proper value to the world around us. In addition to that, the eye is a symbol of spiritual manifestation.
The right eye is associated with activity, the future and the sun, the left eye with passivity, the past and the moon. Again, a symbol of inner vision and omniscience; it confers invulnerability and fertility. So, in addition to being a symbol suitable for this particular purpose it also becomes a sort of lucky charm.

The butterflies coming out of the mouth represent silence, the silence with which he dealt with his pain, both for the pride of not showing his pain and fear during those days and for not wanting to give his loved ones further cause for concern.
The image of butterflies coming out of the mouth came by chance one night when talking about this work with my girlfriend. I didn’t exactly know why I liked it so much so I decided to do a thorough research and I found out that the butterfly is a symbol with many meanings, meanings that seemed to fit his story perfectly: it’s a symbol of rebirth and resurrection, the caterpillar who thinks it’s going to die and is reborn as a butterfly instead; it’s also a symbol of the soul that doesn’t dissolve with physical death, of the joy of living and in the West it also symbolizes freedom.
From a psychoanalytic dream interpretation perspective, dreaming of butterflies represents self-sacrifice for the good of others (him suffering in silence), it can also be a symbol of ignorance (in his case not having been aware of his good fortune before that dramatic event).
The mouth represents speech and is a symbol of good or bad luck, depending on what is entering or coming out of the mouth in the dream.
So butterflies coming out of the mouth not only did they perfectly represent silence but also a good omen for the future and the certainty that better times will definitely come, his “resurrection.”

The piston and valves in the combustion phase represent his passion for motorcycles that has not died, in fact, he has already bought a new bike. I made part of the valve system rusty to represent the old bike and the other normal to represent the new one, but according to my vision, besides this materialistic meaning there was also the intent to represent new ideas that cannot manifest themselves without pushing aside the old ones.
The desmodromic system required plenty of work. He didn’t just want any old engine, he specifically wanted that of his own bike (a Ducati). After plenty of research we finally managed to find a cross-section of the engine that helped me with that part of the design; element that he wanted at all costs, not only as a representation of his love for motors but also as a symbol of the driving force that makes us carry on despite all the difficulties.

Finally the tree and cherry blossoms: nowadays cherry blossoms are a universally recognized symbol of the evanescence of life, a kind of memento mori but less macabre than a skull. I would have avoided the tree but for him it was an essential element, a symbol of strength and stability.
Eventually we found the right balance, the cliff on which the tree is standing was the perfect element to blend that part of the design with the engine.

The entire work was spread over a period of almost a year. The guy had to fly all the way here from Sicily, moreover, in addition to having to meet the cost of the flight and accommodation he also had to organize himself timewise. I’d love to take some pictures of the tattoo once it’s completely healed but given the distance I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon.

 
Look at the pictures of the working process below.
Click on images to enlarge then navigate using arrow keys or swipe on mobile.