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Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by High Priest, Apr 15, 2005.

  1. High Priest

    High Priest Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 1, 2002 Messages: 4,928 Likes Received: 4
    Before I chose Chris O'Donnell at New York Adorned to do my back work, I put together a written outline of what I wanted. It's hard to get across sometimes, but this guy had the vocabulary I was looking for. Here is what I wrote:

    "Neo-Traditional Japanese style. Bold outlines, deep colors. Very "readable." Large orange Koi. No pattern, just shades.Arching left. Whiskers. Serene look on face. Entire back and descending only onto left buttock. There should be very few “hard stops” between untattoo’d and tattoo’d skin. Effective use of negative space to “ease” the tattoo in.

    Traditional style blue water. Bamboo with some green leaves at upper left back. Maple leaves. Not too heavy on the isobars and spirals, but definitely some. There is a cover-up component of a tattoo on upper right shoulder blade. Entire piece needs to tie into pre-existing work on shoulders / upper sleeves."

    1.Pre-First Session. April 16 2003. 10:45AM.
    I'm about two hours away from starting my back piece. I'm both nervous and anxious. Nervous about the pain (I'm human.) Nervous about the way I'll need to dress till it's healed. What a pain. And I'm anxious because I have no patience. I want it on and done. I hope that we can at least get 100% of the outline done today.

    Post-First Session. April 16 2003. 6:00PM.
    Yeah! Right on! So, just got back from the first tattoo session. It. Looks. GREAT. HUUUUUGE! This tattoo is fugging huuuuuuge. Well, my back is pretty damn broad so it just goes to reason, huh?

    We got the Koi outline 100% done with a bit of the water that overlaps at the fins and tail . I highly suggest Chris O'Donnell at NY Adorned if you are looking for Asian influenced work. He's fast, concise and a nice guy.

    I go back on April 25th to do the outline of the background elements. Fire, bamboo, maple leaves, water, wind, some symbolic touches... All in all, I couldn't be happier.


    2. Pre-Second Session. April 25 2003. 10:00AM.
    When you do large scale work, all the days leading up to each session are annoyances. You just want the day to arrive, to get the work done and get the hell out of there and have a beer. I like the end result, not the process. Well, I like the planning and the layout and process things like that, but sitting still for three hours is not enjoyable. Sitting still for three hours getting drilled is even less enjoyable.

    I take delivery on a custom-made Taiko drum today, too. It's a small one, more suited to practice than performance, although it can be played in a group setting. The people over at World Sphere Taiko were kind enough to make it for me.

    Eight hours till tattoo time, 12 till that beer. And then about 336 hours till the next session.

    Post-Second Session. April 26 2003. 11:00AM.
    Color work, while less "pointedly" annoying than outline work has a worse post-tattoo feeling. Sleeping was rough. If you were to add up all the ink used in the outline, it'd probably be two thimbles worth, but when you start looking at the amount used in the color work, you get closer to ten or more. All that coverage equals one raw back. Heh.

    We got a good amount of color work done. About 1/3 of the Koi has been colored in. Chris picked some nice oranges, yellows and a touch of red. All blended to give the image some great depth and motion. It's interesting how the color changes over the course of a few days. When you first see the color, your skin is red. The color is also much darker due to the blood that mixes into the excess ink. As the swelling goes away and you wash off the ink that didn't "take," the colors become much more vibrant and alive.

    But hell, it's looking better than I could have hoped.


    3.Pre-Third Session. May 9 2003. 10:00AM.
    Finally friday. Thank God. The waiting is definitely the hardest part. And then, of course, I worry if Chris needs to cancel for whatever reason. That would suck. My body is still a bit sore from last weekends gardening extravaganza in my Mom's back yard. Weeding, painting, planting, pruning, digging...

    Post-Third Session. May 9 2003. 11:45PM.
    Some days, sitting under the machine are harder than others. This session was a little more aggravating than the last. I think that's because the area that we were working on was still a little sore from the last session. All that said, Chris has a great hand and a better eye. The work is really impressing me. The little details like the way he mixes the colors and how he ends the color right before the he hits the outline leaving an 1/8th of an inch of bare skin. Very cool.

    I had dropped off printouts of my back for Chris to sketch the background on. When I got to the shop, we started discussing where the other elements will be placed. We're moving the bamboo to the right upper back to use as the cover up on the preexisting work. We discussed making sure the maple leaves don't look like pot leaves. He also jazzed me up with how he plans on doing the "wind" swirls and other little (big) touches. I think we're pretty much agreed that there won't be an element of fire on this. Makes sense as it is an aquatic theme, but he does these really cool pieces I've been calling "Tibetan Fireballs" and I hope we can suss out a way to drop them in there somehow. It's interesting how I have given him complete control on this. If he thinks something isn't quite right, that's that. I don't push like I would normally. While I like 95% of the work I wear and respect the artists who did the work, Chris is undoubtedly the most accomplished artist I've ever worked with.

    This "piece" will be an awesome combination of bright oranges, blues and greens. Obviously a good deal of blacks and reds, too. And I still can't get over how huge this tattoo is. My entire back and tying into my sleeves. Once I finish my back, I'm going to complete the chest work. And then I'm done until I turn fifty and at that point I plan on seeing Trevor Marshall to do my legs. :)

    Back work is strange in the sense that you have no idea what is happening until it's done. I sat for about two hours straight today before we took a break for me to see. So you lay there and deal with the boredom and the annoying noise and little bit of pain and then when you take a look at what's been completed, your face lights up. "Hell yeah!"

    We got the dorsal fins and the "flipper fins" done today. This will probably take six more sessions to complete. My hope of being finished by July 4th will not come to pass. But that's fine, because this is going to be pretty rocking when it's done.


    (Healing A Tattoo
    You would think by now, after being tattoo'd for over 20 years, I'd be great at healing new work. But I'm not. I suck at it.

    Case in point: I was in Florida at a good friend's shop in
    Pompano Beach, Bruce Bart's Irezumi Ink. Bruce was kind enough to lay
    on an ankle band with the mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" done in Sanskrit.
    Looked great. But since I was on vacation, I was
    swimming all day, every day.
    The ink practically fell out of the tattoo by
    the time I got home. Not cool. I need to get that fixed.

    I was determined to not screw up this back piece, so I started asking
    for advice from people I know and searching the web.
    There is a lotta crap info out there, by the way.

    The best way seems to be: wash off the lymph, plasma and any blood for the first 48 hours using mild soap and cool water. Pat dry and apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment. After the 48 hours, switch to a
    light coat of Lubriderm© whenever the tattoo feels tight
    or excessively dry.
    And very important- keep the tattoo absolutely dry.
    Even in the shower.)

    4.Pre-Fourth Session. May 22 2003. 9:45AM.
    Lord, I am dying to finish this work. The irony is that one of the meanings behind the Koi as a symbol is patience and persistance. Another thing annoying me is that Chris is unavailable until 7/11. What's that, like 6 weeks away? Grrrrrrrrrr. Well, he's going to get his back done, so I can relate. But still...

    Post-Fourth Session. May 23 2003. 10:00PM.
    Not much to add to this running account after tonight's session. We finished the Koi except for the head and face and a bit at the fins. It's a damn big fish! As usual, it looks amazing. Some of the work on my side hurt like hell and some I didn't even feel. Weird.

    Anyway, I have to wait over a month 'till the next session. That sucks. I'm told that the rest of this piece will move along at a greater speed than everything up to this point due to the more "open" nature of the background elements. I'm really ready to start seeing the other colors. The bright greens of the bamboo and the blues of the water. Cool.

  2. High Priest

    High Priest Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 1, 2002 Messages: 4,928 Likes Received: 4
    I'll update this with the rest soon.
  3. gatita

    gatita Senior Member

    Joined: Feb 24, 2004 Messages: 1,319 Likes Received: 1
    Awesome! NY Adorned is a great shop. I really want to get some of my shit there.
  4. boogie hands

    boogie hands 12oz Legend

    Joined: Feb 15, 2001 Messages: 16,059 Likes Received: 13
    large scale tattoos are a major pain in the ass.....im in the midst of one myself and while it probably wont be the last, id like to think it will be.
  5. slave_one

    slave_one Elite Member

    Joined: Apr 4, 2003 Messages: 2,745 Likes Received: 2
    beautiful tattoo high priest...i love koi.
  6. willy.wonka

    willy.wonka Guest

  7. Dr. Dazzle

    Dr. Dazzle Veteran Member

    Joined: Nov 19, 2001 Messages: 8,147 Likes Received: 3
    Great story so far.....dope looking tattoo.
  8. saraday

    saraday Senior Member

    Joined: Nov 29, 2004 Messages: 2,054 Likes Received: 1
    so how long will this take from start to finish?

    its beautiful.
  9. gone gone forever

    gone gone forever Senior Member

    Joined: Apr 19, 2004 Messages: 1,250 Likes Received: 0
  10. Kr430n5_666

    Kr430n5_666 Banned

    Joined: Oct 6, 2004 Messages: 19,229 Likes Received: 30
  11. MrChupacabra

    MrChupacabra 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Oct 10, 2001 Messages: 10,940 Likes Received: 683
    am i mistaken in saying that isn't you? Either way, i'm not a huge fan of Koi fish, but it is done well.
  12. High Priest

    High Priest Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 1, 2002 Messages: 4,928 Likes Received: 4
    No, your correct - i wasnt able to finish - i will post my sleeve soon which is in the works, but that's not me - its keith.
  13. High Priest

    High Priest Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 1, 2002 Messages: 4,928 Likes Received: 4
    5. Pre-Fifth Session. July 11 2003. 8:45AM.
    All I can say is, about time. It's been five or six weeks since the last session and I am beyond itching to get cracking on this again.

    Pre-Fifth Session. July 11 2003. 12:00PM.
    Ah ha! The koi itself is now complete. Yes. Very, very cool. The head was the last bit left and now it's done. It's a pretty good feeling. 15 hours thus far and 15 or more to go. We added much more water and finally hit it with some different shades of blue and white. We'll darken the water up a little at a later date.

    Let me tell you, after the first hour or so of shading the head, the water outline was excruciating and it only lasted 10 minutes. After the outline, going back to shading felt damn good. Not to dwell too much on the pain because the end result is more than well worth it. I am very, very happy with this project.

    The koi on it's own is pretty damn well done but I get jazzed when I consider that we still have to add the background elements. The background will add to the story, scale and impact. One solid piece across my entire back.


    (One day, Chris asked me "how long have you been thinking about a Koi backpiece?" I responded "forever." Looking back, that was a mis-statement. While I have been thinking about a backpiece for many years, I never once nailed down what I wanted. I never even really thought about it. I just knew I needed something there.

    One day, seriously, I just woke up and knew the Koi was what I wanted. I guess it ties into the fact that I've immersed myself in Asian arts over the past 5 years. I spent some time at Zen Mountain Monastery doing a Buddhist retreat and that opened my eyes to all sorts of artistic endeavors. Ikebana, Budo, Taiko, Ukiyo-e, Japanese gardening and even Nawa Shibari. Well, the Shibari influence came from other quarters, but still.

    I've spent most of my adult life studying and appreciating Nordic culture and find many parallels between the two. Love of wood, love of the out-of-doors, the fishing industry...

    So there.)

    6.Pre-Sixth Session. July 25 2003. 4:00PM.
    Just back from the beach. God I love it. My skin is salt water tight, I'm tanned and feeling great. Looking forward to a nice cool shower and some sandalwood soap. Tea tree shampoo and I'm set. We'll see what we add to the tattoo tonight. Getting there. I can't wait to just be able to say "thank you" when someone compliments the piece instead of "wait 'till it's done."

    Post-Sixth Session. July 25 2003. 10:15PM.
    A quick two hour session tonight. Nothing new really, just fleshing out the water all around the koi. Did some cool touches with the water at the base of my spine. Added a lot of depth.That felt like it went on forever. We talked a little bit about where we'll place the maple leaves and the wind swirls. I'm looking forward to seeing the green of the bamboo.

    I don't think I've mentioned this before, but everything except the koi itself has been done freehand. There is a misconception about the word "freehand" in the tattoo world. Some people think it means the artist uses the machine and just wings it. That's not true. The artist uses a marker to draw the piece first and then inks it in. Tonight, as Chris was drawing the water on my back, it struck me how important it is that the artist can draw. Sounds obvious, I know. But I mean really draw.

    Watching the piece unfold is fascinating. It's a truly organic process. I think you really, really need to trust your artist because there is no final picture and no definite placements. You need to be comfortable with not only their ability to tattoo but their ability to conceive of the entire piece and make it happen.
    To bring it to life.

  14. High Priest

    High Priest Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 1, 2002 Messages: 4,928 Likes Received: 4

    7.Pre-Seventh Session. September 19 2003. 11:00AM.
    I've been thinking about work on my ribcage. A pair of blue Foo Dogs with red flames. One on the left side and one on the right side. And it kills me to say this, but I probably won't get them because I hear the pain is incredible. Well, it's partially that and partially the fact that my chest is one of the few parts of my body that I actually like. Then again, my ribcage isn't really my chest so I guess I'm just a b*tch!

    I "fought" getting asian-styled work when started my sleeves and now, while I can't say I regret anything, if I could do it all over, I just might. Ahhhh, if I only knew then what I know now. Did I just type that?

    Post-Seventh Session. September 19 2003. 8:02PM.
    Ahh. Finally a new color. Green, baby. This was a hella easy session to sit for. I started a new job this week and have spent so much time in my head. Thinking and working. This session was great in the sense that it forced me back into my body and as a consequence I feel very centered.

    It's also the end of an era in a sense. 24 years ago I got the Pink Panther tattoo'd on my back and tonight we covered up 95% of that tattoo. I took massive amounts of ribbing for that tattoo but I loved it. The Pink Panther cartoon was and still is one of the coolest. Anyway, below are pictures from this afternoon's session.


    8.Pre-Eighth Session. October 14 2003. 8:00AM.
    Are you as bored of this as I am? Jeez. I look back and yes, a lot has been done, but its a slow, slow process. Wonder what we'll add tonight.

    Post-Eighth Session. October 14 2003. 11:05PM.
    More bamboo and a bit of water. The bamboo patch is now done and it ties into the wind from the right sleeve very nicely. Underneath the bamboo, we're adding rocks. I knew something was going there, but wasn't sure what. I am interested in hearing what Chis plans on doing color-wise. Honestly, I hadn't considered rocks and I can't quite see it. We alway sketch new work on with a marker, and I'm confident in Chris' ability to make it work. And the bamboo obviously needs a bed from which to sprout...

    These pictures aren't doing the work justice. And the freshness makes it shine. Once it's done and healed I will definitely have a high quality photo taken.
  15. High Priest

    High Priest Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 1, 2002 Messages: 4,928 Likes Received: 4