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per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

designing my tattoos
This was sparked by a question from keshwyn:

I generally go through 4 stages getting a tattoo:

1. Concept: Sometimes I will get a clear image, sometimes it's just a general idea. My tats always have intention behind them (sometimes simply to commemorate or honor something/one, sometimes a more active ritual purpose, sometimes a combination). There's been a number of times where I had a design I liked but held it in reserve until I came up with an intention.

2. Design: I'm not good enough at drawing to create my own designs by hand, so I usually use my google-fu to come up with something to work with. Clip art is my friend. Sometimes I will find an image in a book or other paper format and scan it in. Then, I manipulate it- I most often use an old program called Adobe Photo Editor. I may not do very much to the image, but I try to add my own touches. This is also the time when I decide on size and location. monsteralice provides invaluable aesthetic reality-checking.

3. Reflection: I think about the image for several days or longer. I keep a printout of it around and look at it every once in a while. Sometimes I make changes. But what I always do is make damn sure I want it on my body for life. Usually, this is no problem- by the end of step 2 I'm usually at least certain, if I haven't fallen in love with the design already.

4. Execution: I get together with the artist (most often in the past few years this has been at an event of some kind and not at a shop). Some discussion occurs on placement and size; the artist may suggest shading, or tweaks needed because some lines are too close together, etc. Sometimes things get changed a little more substantially than that. Then comes the actual process of getting the tat.

Now, my most recent ink is kind of a nonesuch, as was my other background piece. Not really much more intention than "this part is finished". I had a basic concept and a few examples, but the Captain took those, showed me a bunch of other stuff, and then free-handed the design on me with a Sharpie. I don't recommend doing it this way without an artist you trust and friends to do a reality check.

Example of a more typical process- the Mesoamerican dog that I got last year:

1. Concept: I wanted to get a tat to represent Judy-dog; i_scribble had also retrieved a dog spirit for me as a shamanic ally at a retreat earlier that year. I liked the idea of a Mesoamerican design because of our trip to Guatemala that year.

2. Design: There was Mesoamerican dog on the cover of a notebook I bought in Guatemala. I scanned the design in, then went to work in Photo Editor- I had to make the dog a bit more realistic (it was partially anthropomorphic), remove stripes, make the ears and tail look more like Judy's, etc. I also wanted to make it look like she was making noise, so I found a good clip-art source for "speech scrolls" (used in Mesoamerican art to indicate sound) and added them in. I decided on my upper left chest near the other Maya designs as a location.

3. Reflection: I was pretty much in love with the design already, but I had plenty of time- I was getting it at a Body Transformation Weekend, and the designs had to be in early.

4. Execution: the Captain loved the idea, and only tweaked it a little- some of the lines were a little close together, that sort of thing.