This guy has won my respect for the maturity and determination with which he approached this project.
It is no coincidence that I often use him as an example with clients who worry about the time and economic management of a tattoo, especially when it comes to large pieces.

When he first contacted me he was 19 years old, with all the economic restrictions of his age and of his student status, but he had a very clear picture of what he wanted to get, he wanted a full sleeve and already knew what subjects he wanted to include.
He was thinking of getting one part done and then proceed at a later time evaluating and adding one piece at a time.
I was open to the creation of a “piece by piece” project, but I explained that it would be way better to develop the entire design from the very beginning and then take the necessary time to make it happen instead of having to develop a new subject every few months or years, having to find the best way to integrate new elements making them fit together harmoniously, therefore running the risk of finding himself with a collage of images probably less appealing of a piece that has been carefully conceived right from the start.

I’ve never been a fan of collages. An artist changes over time, he grows, evolves, and a project designed at different stages will hardly turn out to be organic like a project that has been carefully planned in advance.
Provided that the artist who plans the different phases of a project remains the same, let alone when the artists are more than one.

He listened to my advice and agreed with me, so we went right into the project and discussed all the necessary details.
The main subject is a Tuareg, a figure that has always fascinated him, as he is fascinated by Middle Eastern culture.
The skull is, needless to say, a memento mori. The scorpion on top of it represents his father, whose zodiac sign is precisely Scorpio. The desert roses are a tribute to his mother since they are her favourite flower. The woman in the background (on the inner arm) represents the need for love and tenderness shared by every man, young or old :P. The tray with the teapot and cups represent friendship, and the entire scene takes place at night because according to him it makes everything seem more fascinating and mysterious.

Once we had established the subjects all there was left to do was to draw them.
I elaborated the design in pencil. When working on a project I particularly like I prefer to study it on paper before moving on to digital colour, others I prefer to draw directly on the drawing tablet for convenience, especially when they are quite simple.
Coming from the analog world I still find it hard to elaborate complex projects completely digitally, although today my use of the tablet is becoming more and more intense.

At this point all there was left to do was to start tattooing.

Given his age and economic restrictions he scheduled the appointments so as to be able to face the expense. On a couple of occasions he had to cancel an appointment for economic reasons or other unexpected events, which I completely understand when sessions are scheduled so far apart, and even more so when you know that the client must come to terms with limited financial resources, but this guy is an example of determination that many adults can only dream of.
He had a mission and he took the time to achieve it, certainly making some sacrifices considering his age and his student status.
Before every session he told me what his daily budget was and we proceeded accordingly, calmly, to carry out the work in the best possible way.

It took three years to complete the entire sleeve. Needless to say, there are people who get a sleeve in the space of a couple of months, not to mention those who undergo three or four consecutive sessions.
Unfortunately there are also people who despite wanting something don’t have the necessary determination to achieve their goals.
This client has proven to be more mature than many adults.

He had a goal, a wish, assessed what were the necessary steps to achieve it, managed his time and money, he stood through the pain without flinching and can now proudly wear something that his peers, and probably even many adults, dream of.

Thank you for this example of maturity which we could all do with a little more often 😉