Tattoo Geeks | Geek Tattoos

The design consultation

Triceratops skeleton, by Louis Psihoyos, from Getty ImagesI promised I would post this next, but I got excited about dinosaur tattoos on the web, so this had to wait.

The consultation was really great; Mike and I really seemed to be on the same page in regards to most aspects of the tattoo design, such as overall style, size and placement on my arm, angle of the triceratops skull, etc.

Flower from Paleobotany of Angiosperm OriginsI brought in a bunch of reference material, too, including this photo of a triceratops fossil skeleton from Getty Images (photograph by Louie Psihoyos), and a bunch of photos of exotic-looking flowers like this one from a research website about the Paleobotany of Angiosperm Origins.

A full recap of the consultation in gory detail after the jump…

It was much less scary the second time I ventured into Red Rocket. In fact, I felt like a regular. I headed up the red, black, and brass staircase on my lunch break last Monday, and it was a totally different scene from the Friday before. No loud foreign tourists crowded the lobby, and the tattoo/piercing area was quiet when I walked in. Mike and Budda were having a quiet conversation by the big front windows.

Mike recognized me, and came over to greet me at once. We headed over to his desk by the window, and he told me he was excited about my tattoo idea. In fact, he had talked about it with Adam Hays over the weekend, who was jealous that HE didn’t get to do it; evidently it’s right up his alley. I was happy that this tattoo was a thing to be coveted, but I felt bad because I had been considering Adam for this piece, and I’ve been admiring his work for a long time. I hemmed and hawed and tried to explain why I chose Mike instead, but he just dismissed it with a smile and a simple “we’ll show him how it’s done.”

We sat down to talk about the design. I brought in a crapload of reference, including:

  • The New Dinosaurs, by William Stout
  • Alphonse Mucha, by Sarah Mucha (the shop has their own Mucha book, as I expected)
  • A back issue of Tattoo magazine (September ’07, I think), bookmarked at a page featuring some work by Dan Gilsdorf of Atlas Tattoo in Portland Oregon. Dan’s pieces included a really cool-looking octopus, an ornate pair of scissors with a ribbon, and a beautiful chest-piece of traditional-styled vines and flowers.
  • 15 4×6” color photographs of triceratops fossil skeletons and exotic looking flowers and plants, mostly found on flickr and Google Images.
  • 5 pages of contact sheet-style printouts of thumbnails of photos and illustrations of triceratops skulls and skeletons from different angles, more exotic flowers, and illustrations of prehistoric plants and flowers (created with iPhoto).

Mike told me which of the trike photos stuck out at him most, the dramatically lit fossil skeleton pictured above. I agreed that this was the best angle, and the shading/lighting was beautiful, but that I liked some of the features of the other photos. He told me that he’d pick and choose the best elements from each photo, and put them together to make a more dramatic, stylized image.

Mike showed me a book he had brought in for another client all about antique carousel design, with the thought that he might use some of the swirly floral patterns on my design. It looked pretty cool to me, in an old-school/traditional tattoo style. Once we started looking through the Stout and Mucha books, he said that he might go with more of a Nouveau thing, but might be able to work a little of the carousel stuff in there.

I told him I wanted the tattoo on the outside of my right upper arm. I want this tattoo to be visible to the world, but I’m not the type to go around shirtless, so I didn’t really want to put it on my shoulder. I also told him that I might want to add to the piece later to fill out the rest of my upper arm (thinking ahead!), so he might want to take that into account.

Mike pointed out that the triceratops skull had a lot of great curves in it, and that would flow nicely along with the natural lines of my arm. I was thrilled, because the placement he came up with was exactly what I had been thinking: the neck frill at the top towards my triceps, the beak pointing down at an angle toward the front of my bicep, and the horns cutting across my toward my chest.

He tore off a piece of tracing paper from a roll, and wrapped it around my arm. He took a sharpie, and sketched out a rough box, where he thought the boundaries of the tattoo should be. He drew a line to show the general direction the skull should follow, and an arrow showing which side should be the front. He wrote my name on the paper, and put it in the pile with all the reference material. Mike wanted to write down the info about The New Dinosaurs so he could go buy it, but I offered to leave my copy with him.

We scheduled a date for the session, which Mike estimated would take about 4 hours or a little less. He gave me a price estimate, and I put down a deposit to hold my time slot. We shook hands, and he told me that I should “show up ready to get tattooed.”

I’m so ready.


8 responses

  1. sashmash

    I didn’t know you are into fossils!? Very cool. Can’t wait to see.

    March 29, 2008 at 6:19 pm

  2. Dave Rutledge

    Sounds really cool, I like the angle of the triceratops in that shot.
    Much more active than I’d pictured. Would it be too awkward to try to
    take in-progress shots every hour or so during the tattooing?

    March 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm

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