- Posted by Carl Hallowell
- On September 21, 2015
Every customer is just as important as the next one. “You are only as good as your last tattoo.” And yet, there is an added pressure when you know the tattoo will be seen more than others, or, when you know that you will see the tattoo more than others. But it is a pressure filled business. I like to fondly recall my first five years of tattooing as one continuous nervous breakdown.
But now as I sit in California on my future in-laws patio deck and write, I am far away from that anxiety. The breeze blowing in off the ocean is cool, I can see it down there, the great Pacific, shimmering at the bottom of the hill. I am thinking of my next project, a full sleeve for the guitarist for a prominent hardcore band. He wants to make the long journey to the land of irezumi. If I stare out at the horizon, past the ocean, I can almost see Japan.
Mr. N has given me a feel for what he wants, describing a couple two or three images he would like to see in his sleeve. But they are disparate images, how can i bring them into unity, make them a part of a story? This is only one beautiful part of japanese tattooing- the artist must bring clarity to the inspired vision of the client. He must know the legends, the meanings, the changes, the top, the bottom, the middle. Ignorance or forgetfulness regarding any of these matters could lead to pitfalls in the work, ruining the piece. Ruminating on this piece has been fun already- cruising route 66 I thought and thought on this project, through the desert of California I thought, at the beach in Carlsbad I wondered what would it be.
This in progress shot above of the determined young Mr. C came together in much the same way. The tattoo sprouts forth from a single idea, and connected images are married to the original. This unity of images comes together to tell a story to the initiated ones who can read these pictures like words. It must make sense. It must have something to say. I strive for this in all my works of irezumi. I pause, to look out at the Pacific, and think of Japan again.