This was this guy’s first tattoo and he wanted a full sleeve, not a bad start, nevertheless, he was confused about what he wanted and about what was actually feasible. He brought with him a USB flash drive full of tattoo pictures and various images downloaded from the internet, little or none of which turned out to be useful, and rather than being able to provide ideas they actually did nothing but add to the confusion.

The amount of information was definitely excessive and messy, as also were the elements he wanted to include, not to mention the combinations that I consider unusual: letterings, cars, clowns, playing cards, a portrait of his dog, his favourite sport, his son’s name, an eye, a portrait and plenty other elements having no connection whatsoever, that to be included in a single even if large tattoo would have meant making them small.

It definitely wasn’t a good idea, so I explained the limitations related to size and to the number of elements that could be used in order to obtain an harmonious and attractive piece.
I remember that each time an item was eliminated a new one was added. Therefore, during the first meeting we weren’t able to establish anything specific so we agreed to schedule a follow-up meeting. In the meantime, thanks to the information I had provided, he would have had the opportunity to clarify his ideas about the subjects that he liked the most.
Managing to slim down the list and finding the right elements was challenging, but after a long discussion we finally managed to focus on a number of subjects: the Joker, a clock, a film reel, a car, a woman’s face and a number of luck and game related elements: dice, cards and the eight-ball.

The Joker for madness, the game related elements for fate and fortune, the reel for his passion for movies, the woman for tenderness and sensuality, I don’t remember if the car and clock meant something to him.
Although I tend to be against written names, dates and the like, he insisted on adding his son’s name in the tattoo, I couldn’t see how it could be contextualized within the composition, then I had an idea, the name could be inserted inside the clock (borrowed yet again from the work of Eric Freitas) as if it were the brand of the clock. In this way he would have his name and I had found a way to insert the text in an elegant way, without it ruining the composition, on the contrary, this little trick made the piece even more personal and special.
If a written word finds the right context (or pretext) within a design I’m not 100% against it.

After having completed the design all that was left to do was start working, but on the occasion of the first meeting I realized that I had completely forgotten about an old small tattoo on his shoulder that needed to be covered. Never mind, I didn’t like the woman I had drawn and I was determined to redraw it.
I thought of replacing her face with that of Catwoman, her mask would have easily covered that small tattoo, moreover, being one of the main characters of the Batman saga, it looked good next to the Joker.
Initially, the client seemed to agree, but in the following days he changed his mind, even though he didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted. Also this time around he provided me with a long series of images, none of which was suitable for the purpose unfortunately.
So, unable to reach a decision, we decided to start with what we had and think about that part along the way.

GAMBLING 6 dettaglioDuring the first session I realized that the guy had a very low pain threshold, this meant constant interruptions, short but frequent. It was not the best way to work, when a client jumps up asking you to stop right in the middle of the outlining process where lines have to be drawn evenly or when you’re trying to apply a smooth shading, little does it matter if the client is able to sit in a chair for 3 or 4 hours, working with the right concentration and calm becomes impossible and extremely tiring. My efforts and his impatience unfortunately led to moments of mutual irritability.
I counted on finishing the Joker in the first sitting but I didn’t. Unfortunately, due to the client’s folliculitis caused by waxing a few days before, I wasn’t even able to finish it in the second sitting. There was however plenty to do so I worked on other elements instead.

To make up for his low pain threshold I suggested both anesthetic creams and more drastic solutions such as analgesics that the doctor could have prescribed him. But these solutions didn’t have a significant effect on him, sometimes the cream hadn’t been applied correctly, sometimes the effect faded too quickly and even the medication prescribed by his doctor, which perhaps was too mild, didn’t give the desired relief.

Black and grey is definitely faster to do than colour, so I was hoping I would be able to finish a subject and/or a little more in each sitting. A prediction that in this case turned out to be overly optimistic.
Obviously, this lengthened the entire process.

Meanwhile, not a single sitting went by without us trying to find the right element to cover the old scorpion on his shoulder. We evaluated different options, from Catwoman to Harley Quinn along with many others but none of them seemed to be suitable for the cover-up and the ones that were didn’t appeal to him. Then I remembered an image I had saved years ago in my picture folder, a woman wearing a top hat. I immediately suggested the idea to the client and he liked it, he only asked me to add a monocle to make her a sort of female version of Mister X, one of the characters of “Tiger Mask” 😀
Also this portrait took two sittings.

When I finally got to work on the grille of that beautiful Duesenberg Model J, I thought I would be able to complete it in a single sitting but once again I was overly optimistic. To finish the work I had to postpone everything to a later session, session during which I also applied the finishing touches.

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