The client’s initial idea was that of getting a full surreal horror sleeve, inspired by the monsters of Dylan Dog (a pretty famous Italian horror comic book), in particular by the ones found in the Golconda issue.
Those who know me well are aware that asking me for something inspired by comic art is like inviting me to a party. So after having scheduled the appointment I immediately started sketching and thinking about how to arrange the composition that I wanted to do freehand.
But from our first meeting to the date of the appointment the client changed his mind completely. He came up with a series of meanings and did a pretty accurate research on the elements and images he wanted to use for his tattoo.
The idea of working on predefined reference images didn’t excite me as much as working on something inspired by comics but what made me even less excited was his request to do it in Trash Polka style. I appreciate and admire the work of Volko and Simone but it’s not my style and besides preferring colour to black and grey, I think that imitating someone else’s style is quite limiting. But the client was unmovable, so I decided to accept this work as a challenge.

After a couple of hours researching and working on the composition, we found the ideal arrangement for almost the entire sleeve, except for the inner forearm that we agreed to work on later.

We also discussed about the meanings of his tattoo of course. In his vision the entire work represents the inexorability of fate, the fact that life (the clown girl) is making fun of us and decides who we are and what we are going to be (the mannequin on which the colour is dropped giving him life, the “living” part of which is taken from a portrait of the client). The coin, that by reflecting in the mirror is showing us that it has two identical sides, represents the impossibility to make real choices. The black and red blobs are random, he probably wanted them because in his mind they were very Trash Polka 😛
Personally I completely disagree with his vision, but this is what he likes.

With all the elements ready, or almost all of them, I started tracing lines and packing the first black areas.

In the second sitting I continued packing the black and I was also counting on finishing the face of the clown girl but an unexpected event forced my client to leave earlier. So I continued in the following brief sitting. I usually prefer to spend more time on projects this large but a compromise with the client’s schedule and priorities must be found of course.
Anyway, I managed to finish the face of the clown girl and most of the glass bottle even in a short amount of time.

For economical reasons, the fourth sitting was rescheduled 4 months later. For the reasons mentioned above, this sitting was also relatively short. I focused on retouching some areas and working on red ones. The upper part of the work was completed.

During our fifth meeting, before starting to work on the mannequin’s head, we needed to clarify how to fill the elbow area and the inner forearm. The client’s idea of an X in negative on the elbow, like if someone had placed two pieces of tape and then painted over them, was simple but effective. For the two coins on the inner forearm he decided to take some more time and take a decision for the next sitting.
On that occasion he showed up wit an image taken from Google: a gold coin with Isis’ head on it. After running some tests on the computer to make the coin and its reflection look realistic and credible, I decided that recreating the scene in real life and taking some pictures was the best idea. I took a small mirror, a lamp and I tried to balance a 1 Euro coin, without any luck, I tried again with a 2 Euro coin, but nothing. I would have liked to have a 100 Lire coin, those were able to stay balanced.
I eventually tried with some Norwegian coins I had from my last guest spot and, Ta-Dah! 😀 The 5 Kroner coins were perfectly balanced.

The client liked that coin so much that he asked me to get that tattooed. I asked him if he was sure he wanted a Norwegian coin on his arm, he replied that the coin wasn’t important, what was important was the meaning.
So, after a couple of hours building up the image, besides taking pictures, Photoshop and a few “balancing acts”, in about 3:30 hours the tattoo was finally finished.
One last sitting was left to make the red area more homogeneous. Setting up the work station took more time than the sitting itself.

Now that it’s finished I have to admit that for a work that I started almost unwillingly I like it and honestly I don’t consider it a Trash Polka. Unless we want to call Trash Polka any black and grey image with lettering and some red in it 😛
Look at the pictures of the working process below.
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