I have always believed, and still believe that a tattoo has a strong psychological impact. Imagine wearing a beautiful dress that makes you feel good and for which you are appreciated, it’s a nice feeling isn’t it?! Imagine instead of wearing an ugly dress in which you do not feel at ease and that everyone criticizes. Nasty feeling, don’t you think? Now imagine yourself in one of these situations but with something that is on your skin and that you cannot change. In many cases tattoos can be covered of course, but the sense of inadequacy and discomfort is there to bother you. This was this client’s situation. She put herself in the hands of the wrong person and she ended up with a bad tattoo. Everything about her old tattoo was questionable. The flower was very badly done, not to mention the two hummingbirds whose anatomy was wrong and colours were very improvised (where on earth do hummingbirds with a pink belly and purple wings exist?).

The cover-up would have required a considerable effort and a large drawing, but the client didn’t want to exceed in size. She wanted to re-elaborate the existing tattoo and stay true to her original idea as much as possible. She explained how and what the end result of the tattoo was meant to be like before realizing that she had ended up in the wrong hands and deciding to interrupt the work.

The lily was supposed to float on water and just behind it there had to be a woman with a trident in her hands (that’s why I chose to call this piece Amphitrite), the hummingbirds flying around are her favourite animals, and everything had to be done artfully of course. After a careful study and given the size, I accepted to resume the old tattoo and make it organic to the final piece. In order to enclose the design I thought of stretching the woman’s hair taking inspiration from Alfons Mucha. The client was delighted, Mucha is her favourite artist so we decided to add a circle in the typical style of the artist just above the female figure.

I did a first drawing that I initially found appropriate, but a few days later I didn’t like it already so I decided to re-elaborate the female figure completely.
Colouring the drawing went hand in hand with the tattoo. As it often happens with pieces that I think are going to take long, I prefer to finish the preliminary drawings at a slow pace, so as not to become disenchanted with the work and to better remember the colours and effects I want to use.

The client immediately informed me that she had a particularly low pain tolerance and being the back a pretty sensitive area she told me that she wouldn’t be able to undergo sittings longer than 3 hours.
A similar work pace, for a piece that was going to cover a large area of her back, would have lengthened the process enormously but I happily accepted. Everyone has his/her very own pain tolerance and an average of 3 hours per sitting didn’t seem that bad, I was convinced we would be able to spend more than that on some areas.
It didn’t turn out that way unfortunately.

The first sitting lasted only 1:30 hours that I used to re-elaborate the flower that fortunately had a nice shape.
In the following one I completely reworked one of the hummingbirds. Not only was its anatomy wrong, the perspective of the wings was too. The end result was very good but I needed to wait for it to heal to make sure that the colours, overlapping the absurd colours that had been previously used, didn’t produce any unwanted shades. For this purpose I used black to create shadows where once there were the pink belly and purple wings of this “alien” hummingbird.

In the following sitting I reworked the second hummingbird while in the fourth sitting I traced the lines of the goddess and trident. In the 3 hours of the fifth sitting I dedicated myself to colouring the water, I would have liked to add some details and increase some contrasts but the client had reached her breaking point so we postponed these minor touch-ups to the next sitting, during which I did these touch-ups and coloured the background.
So far, in spite of the short sittings, I was pretty confident. The work showed slow but steady progress and the time available in each sitting was enough to concentrate on one detail at a time.

Things didn’t go as well when I began working on the hair, definitely one of the largest details of the piece but, trusting that the wish to see it finished would be enough to motivate the client, I counted on finishing it in a single sitting.
It didn’t go exactly as planned, finishing the hair took 3 sittings. During the last sitting she had her period so she was even more averse to pain, I had to stop after not too long. Girls, remember to schedule the appointment for your tattoo days before or after your period 😉

The following sittings turned out to be the most difficult ones, her pain tolerance didn’t exceed 2 hours and I had to be satisfied with working on little details at a time.
Initially I didn’t think this would be a problem but considering the size of the piece, the time available was really too short and working like this is hard. The client made it clear right from the start so she can’t be blamed, but I felt like I had to stop working shortly after having started. Postponing details that would have required half an hour or an hour more to the following sittings meant lengthening the working process enormously. The risk is that of becoming disenchanted with one’s work.

Nevertheless, with calm and determination, after two years we managed to do a great job 😉

Look at the images of the working process below.
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