A Tattoo For a Traveler: Digital Black and White


This one was rough. This really interesting guy who traveled abroad alot asked for a black and white tribal-sort of tattoo that included elements from his favorite places: Russia, Mongolia, China, and Australia. I was really interested in the project! But it was so hard to come up with this concept without looking forced.

He insisted that the Mongolian flag symbol be part of it, so I started with that. He also eluded to wanting a badass dragon, so I got that down, too. The dragon in particular was difficult simply because I had never drawn one before, but the research I had to do for it was well worth the result. For inspiration, instead of looking at dragon images, I looked at snake images for a better foundation to build upon. Then there was the Russian component…

He mentioned as an idea to maybe use the word for freedom or something powerful to that effect. At first I thought it would be cool to include those gorgeous tops of St. Basil's Cathedral since they would lend themselves so well to the straight-black color scheme:

The trouble is there was quite a bit of the dragon to have to get around and as you can see, some of these tops have quite a bit of detail that would compete with the dragon's scales. Instead, I decided to incorporate the Russian word for “freedom” as suggested. I took it a step further and incorporated the word into the dragon itself.

Finally, there was the Australian component. My client included a reference image of a tribal kangaroo tattoo for inspiration, but I wanted to research other possible representations of the country. The Sydney Opera House just wasn't going to work with the design as I had it…so again, I went back to the kangaroo and had it standing face forward instead of running like in the reference picture. Overall I like how it turned out.

What I don't like is that this was a struggle for me to complete. I was so late delivering it, not only because I was having trouble coming up with something, but also because we were getting crazy amounts of snow and ice this winter. This caused a power outage for a few days. The client was as understanding as could be, but still I felt terrible.

I always make an effort to be professional and timely, but it seems to me that these artistic services I offer for at least $5 are way more time-consuming than I want to admit…and perhaps the low compensation isn't helping my motivation either. While I justify it with the need for me to gain experience, $5 is still way too low for the amount of time and work I put into every gig ordered. Even $20 doesn't cut it.

Just goes to show: it always takes an unpleasant experience to teach you an important lesson about yourself.



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