Female Heads & Portraits in Tattoo Designs

The seemingly-recent trend of female heads in tattoo designs, whether in a stand-alone tattoo or a sleeve, continues! Having a character in a tattoo design allows for the inclusion of elements (cultural, political, religious, etc) that may be difficult to tie together otherwise. Fashion and accessories allow for customization and endless combinations, helping to keep the tattoo design unique.

INKED AT VINTAGE TATTOO - Buenos Aires, Argentina. (via fyeahtattoos)

INKED AT VINTAGE TATTOO – Buenos Aires, Argentina. (via fyeahtattoos)

The rosary draped over this girl’s hands helps give depth to this tattoo. The colors are subdued and dark, echoing the blankness in her eyes, framed by her simple brown hair and red makeup. I find her wolf-headdress interesting because it doesn’t necessarily look dead, the eyes still have life in them.

Tattoo by Kurt Fagerland at Memorial Tattoo in Atlanta, GA

Tattoo by Kurt Fagerland at Memorial Tattoo in Atlanta, GA

This tattoo and the one above it feature characters that also have tattoos; I don’t know why this fascinates me, but it does! This old-school/sailor jerry style has really attracted me lately, with simplistic bright colors, exaggerated eyes and thick line work. The stormy seas behind her and orange in the sky lead me to believe that she’s part of a bigger piece, and that perhaps the piece isn’t done yet. You could easily continue on below the flower at her bust.

Amie Lee Sanders from Sacred Rose Tattoo in Mango Hill, Qld (via fyeahtattoos)

Amie Lee Sanders from Sacred Rose Tattoo in Mango Hill, Qld (via fyeahtattoos)

Purple is another one of my favorite colors, and the orange in the tiger’s head along with the gold earrings and eyes really makes it pop here. The combination of jewelry and fur make this gypsy really eye-catching.

valerie vargas (via decoratedskin.tumblr.com)

valerie vargas (via decoratedskin.tumblr.com)

I like how soft this girl’s lips are; rather than outline them in black, they’re softly shaded with pink giving a more realistic style to them. The shading here is very well done too, giving a lot of depth to her frame. Her wispy hair tangled in roses provides a beautiful crown and draws attention to her sultry eyes. The birds are a nice way to frame the bottom of this tattoo and again suggest that there’s more to it than what’s in this photo.

SARAH SCHOR (via ticopolotatuado.tumblr.com)

SARAH SCHOR (via ticopolotatuado.tumblr.com)

Her necklace is a snake! She looks unconcerned though in her stark makeup and beautifully constructed headdress. I really like the styling of the feathers, more geometric than conventional. One could easily add more nature to frame this girl, whether a simple rolling field of grass or a collection of brightly-colored flowers.

A word of caution on symbolism in tattoos: do your research! For the longest time I wanted a heart with barbed wire and flames for a tattoo, but upon further investigation learned that there were some strong christian meanings behind that symbol, and I didn’t want those displayed permanently on my body. If in doubt, talk to your tattoo artist about it.

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Heart Designs

Hearts and heart shapes appear in lots of tattoos and are probably one of the most popular tattoo symbols out there, right behind roses. Artists incorporate tattoos into design in many creative and interesting ways.

Sailor Moon Broach (via Happyun-Birthday on tumblr)

Sailor Moon Broach (artist unknown, via Happyun-Birthday on tumblr)

I was overjoyed to find this: a Sailor Moon tattoo! What devotion! I wish I knew the artist because this is incredibly well done and they deserve praise. Reflections in gold and in ruby textures are tricky to represent since they vary so much in different kinds of light, so inking them on skin would take a lot of skill. The artist clearly paid a lot of attention to what they were doing and got the anime-style of this piece down perfectly. Enough time has passed since Sailor Moon first aired that this isn’t cheesy; I think it’s very tastefully done. I could see this being developed into a bigger back piece quite easily.

(via Rachel Jamie Baldwin on tumblr)

(via Rachel Jamie Baldwin from Modern Body Art in Birmingham City Centre, UK on tumblr)

Here’s another heart-jewel type design, but this time it’s a bit more in the background to the subject. The blues in the jewel play nicely off the yellow in the flowers. At first glance the design may appear simple, but then your eye wanders around the edges of the design to pick up pearls and the layers of necklaces. The color and design of this tattoo are elegant and beautiful.

Tattoo by Paula Converse at Into You, Brighton, UK (via fyeahtattoos on tumblr)

Tattoo by Paula Converse at Into You, Brighton, UK (via fyeahtattoos on tumblr)

These matching wrist tattoos use heart-shaped locks to tie them together. The washes of blue around the edges of the locks add a nice glow. They’re simple but very beautiful. The flat colors draw attention to the flowing line-work, especially in the details of the locks, leaves, and fur of the animals.

(via Anthony on tumblr)

(via Anthony on tumblr)

Even just looking at the line-work I’m already impressed with the intricacy of this tattoo. I also feel for the sitter since I know how painful tattoos are in the chest area. The heart here is a much smaller part of a bigger design, bringing everything together through the birds on each side. Many chest tattoos will center the heart (even though the human heart is off to the side) and it makes sense in this design. Because of all the details around the outside, our eyes are drawn to the birds and to the heart in the center. Would love to see this colored in, though I imagine she’s probably looking at another 2-3 sessions, anyway.

Had to scrounge a little bit for content today, I think the internet is on vacation (or just busy watching the Olympics). Fortunately I have tonnes for art and interior design content, so see you all on Wednesday! 😀

Female Portrait Tattoos

The female portrait/gypsy tattoo trend is still running strong! There are lots of different takes on this tattoo style floating around the internet. Tumblr is an excellent resource for this type of thing, but instagram is quickly catching up.

by matt_gtp (instagram)

by matt_gtp (instagram)

The traditional style of this line work in the hair brings out the multicolored leaves in the rose. I like that she has tattoos (tattoos within tattoos)! The blending for the simple makeup on her face is well done and really draws your eye to her thoughtful expression.

by Rachel Jamie Baldwin at Modern Body Art Birmingham England.  (via fyeahtattoos on tumblr)

by Rachel Jamie Baldwin at Modern Body Art Birmingham England. (via fyeahtattoos on tumblr)

Loving the colors and style of this tattoo, very different from what I’ve been seeing so far. The wide-eyes and bright pinks and purples make this tattoo really pop. Very fun, like the composition with the blue clouds surrounding her. Her expression and the details draw your eyes up the piece.

by dansmithism (instagram)

by dansmithism (instagram)

Medusa tattoos are becoming more popular, and each artist has a different version of what she should look like. The greyscale version above is more severe, with a barbed wire necklace and live snakes writhing from her head. With black and white tattoos, it’s all about the shading; thanks to the expert job on this one, each snack and accessory is easy visible, from scales to the third eye earring to the rose.

by Chris Bailey

by Chris Bailey

At first I thought this was a Medusa tattoo as well, but I think it’s a gypsy of the sea. The pearls and tentacles entwine with her flowing hair, each with colors that complement the other. Most tattoos that I’ve seen use solid colors for the hair, but in this one they’re varied a bit and shaded more carefully. I like how her lips match her eyes.

by Alex Lazarini

by Alex Lazarini

The style of the gypsy above is more realistic. Even though this tattoo isn’t finished yet it’s looking great so far! The jewels and feathers in particular are very pretty. The soft fade of the blue in the feathers is very nice, makes them look bright. I can’t wait to see how the snack is colored! This design is another that is very well composed, balancing a lot of different elements in the piece.

by J.D. Kittell at Ocala Tattoo in Ocala, Florida (via fyeahtattoos on tumblr)

by J.D. Kittell at Ocala Tattoo in Ocala, Florida (via fyeahtattoos on tumblr)

Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple; the above tattoo does just that. The rose and feather frame this girl’s head and show off her makeup and hair. The blush is echoed in the rose and background, while the feather color is echoed in her eye makeup. This design is very unified and lovely.

With so many options and styles for portrait tattoos, I can’t see their popularity dying out any time soon. If you want one but are unsure of what to get, research your local shops and talk to an artist! They’ll help you come up with something awesome and unique that fits you perfectly.

Roses in Tattoos

Roses are one of the most popular subjects in tattooing and have been around almost forever. They make for great tattoos by themselves, or could be added to a piece to fill it out. They work great almost anywhere on the body including arms, legs, shoulders and even the chest.

The piece below has a dagger going through a rose, done in a more traditional style, a contrast of sharp and soft with excellent shading.

by Reardon (tumblr)

by Reardon (tumblr)

This dagger is similar but adds color and a snake to the mix. Here we see the rose with yellow added to the petals instead of a simple red or pink, which I find myself preferring over a monotone palette. Shading my Life Owl’s petals with blue gave them a mysterious-vibe. I really like the reflections on the blade of the dagger, reflective of the brights colors in this tattoo.

 by Gregor from gurutattoo.pl

by Gregor from gurutattoo.pl

At one point I contemplated getting a vocal-related tattoo, so the tattoo below speaks to me (no pun intended). The red roses frame the chrome microphone nicely and are accented by some cloud-blue shading. This piece sits well on it’s own but would also be a great starter to a full sleeve design.

by Mike Johnston at Sin Alley Tattoo in Pawtucket, RI (tumblr)

by Mike Johnston at Sin Alley Tattoo in Pawtucket, RI (tumblr)

Black and white may make things simpler in terms of color-choices, but greyscale tattoos can be every bit as detailed as a full color version. These are shaded so smoothly that they appear life-like. The dark leaves and thick outlines give the realistic flowers an art-deco feeling, reminiscent of Mucha’s works.

Tattoo by Kim Saigh at Memoir Tattoo in Los Angeles, CA (via TattooSnob)

Tattoo by Kim Saigh at Memoir Tattoo in Los Angeles, CA (via TattooSnob)

Whether highly detailed, or simple and pretty, roses are a great choice for a tattoo design. They will age well (provided they’re well done in a clean/professional manner) and always be a classic.

by @sinister_apples (via HighVoltageTattoo)

by @sinister_apples (via HighVoltageTattoo)

Gypsy Tattoos

Gypsy Tattoos are currently very popular! I even started a watercolor project of an original, but it will need some major re-vamping, or I’ll have to start from scratch and get a clearer idea of where I want to go with it. There are so many things to consider with a gypsy tattoo.

One of the challenges with tattooing that a lot of people overlook is flow and placement. Even if you have a beautiful piece of work ready to go, where on the body is it going to sit? It’s quite a challenge to design a piece to flow correctly on the body, especially since everyone’s shapes are different.

What makes the gypsy/animal head such a great tattoo? Perhaps it’s the combination of textures: smooth skin versus fur or shiny hair versus sharp teeth. I like how the two faces are close together, human and animal. As an artist, drawing the face is one of the best parts. I love drawing eyes and creating expression from them.

Tattoo artist Herb Auerbach @ California Electric Tattoo Parlour

Tattoo artist Herb Auerbach @ California Electric Tattoo Parlour (via FuckYeahTattoos)

In this the gypsy and wolf are almost seamless. The artwork flows beautifully from the eyes of the wolf through the fur, through her hair, down the dagger into the heart. The bright blush and long lower lashes draw attention to the gypsy’s half-closed, sorrowful eyes.

Tattoo by: Eric Kuiken at Guru Tattoo in San Diego, CA

Tattoo by: Eric Kuiken at Guru Tattoo in San Diego, CA (via TattooSnob)

I love Eric’s inclusion of other popular symbols in tattooing, mainly the roses and the hourglass. Though the gypsy may seem simple enough, every artist has a different idea of how she should look. There looks to be some inspiration from Native American culture here with the face paint and feathers.

Gypsies by Kim-Anh Nguyen

Gypsies by Kim-Anh Nguyen (via her blog on blogspot)

I’m a huge fan of Kim-Ahn’s work from her thick purposeful lines to her rich color work. She draws a lot of old-school and sailor style tattoos. She puts so much effort into every piece she does that it doesn’t really matter what she draws, I love it all. She also sells paintings and prints. Awesome and inspiring!

"A Whore in Wolf's Clothing" by Amy Victoria Savage, at Jayne Doe, Hornchurch, Essex, UK

"A Whore in Wolf's Clothing" by Amy Victoria Savage, at Jayne Doe, Hornchurch, Essex, UK (via Reddit)

This is a bit of a twist on the wolf-head trend that I really dig. It’s great to see artists draw inspiration from a trend and really make it their own.

Happy Halloween! Enjoy some Sugar Skulls!

It’s that time of year again! Yes, the one where everyone chows down on half-priced candy (or maybe that’s just me)… Halloween! I haven’t really celebrated the holiday for the last few years and mostly just enjoyed said-cheap-candy while watching various halloween specials on TV (Simpsons, Family Guy, The Office, etc). While this is a perfectly fine way to spend the night, I actually got the chance to dress up a bit this year. I didn’t go all out, but focused a bit more on the makeup. I really enjoy doing makeup; My face is just another canvas for me to play on.

Kitty Costume

(photo taken by Tim Lingley)

I saw those ears at the mall and couldn’t resist. I’ve always wanted to try do the leopard-print over the eye and actually found it quite easy to do! Thanks to Tim for the awesome photo. The reason I got dressed up was to help him take some halloween photos of his own on campus. Take a look at his flickr account for the results!

In celebration of the holiday that brings out so many colors I’d like to look at Sugar Skulls. Dia De Los Muertos (Day Of The Dead) has been getting more popular over the last few years and has sparked some trends in tattooing, in particular a rise in popularity of sugar skulls. Maybe it’s the contrasting subject matter that draws me to these designs, jewellery and flowers mixed with the macabre and shadows of the skull. The little details in these certainly draw my attention, the way color is applied around the empty eyes, the flowers hidden throughout, the spider webs on the forehead and all the bright colors used to bring these designs to “life”. These are great on their own or as part of a larger piece.

(by Nate Beavers)

(by Nate Beavers)

Skull with Flowers by Benjamin Fluxxx

Skull with Flowers by Benjamin Fluxxx

Sugar skulls and their style are even creeping into other areas of tattooing, like portraits and even Hello Kitty:

Day of the Dead tattoo

(by Carl Grace)

Dia De Los Hello Kitty Muertos by Jeffrey Page

Dia De Los Hello Kitty Muertos by Jeffrey Page

In Mexico it seems to be common to paint your face like a skull in celebration of Dia De Los Muertos, but more and more I’m seeing people put more effort into their sugar skull makeup. I was thinking of trying it this year but left it too long and couldn’t find any good white face makeup. Maybe next year.

Day of the Dead

(photo by Natasha Epperson)

Day of the Dead Makeup

(found on Tumblr)

Day of the Dead Makeup

(makeup done by Brianna_Perezcassar)

Happy Halloween everyone!

Progress 24-10-11

The weekend was fairly quiet. I spent Saturday being lazy (though I did paint the box canvas edges on the plant still life) and Sunday stacking wood for Tim’s father. On Friday, however, I went to see the gallery opening at the UNB Art Centre for Paula Keppie. It was a fabulous exhibit and I managed to snag a beautiful catalogue with some of her works in it. I’d like to discuss it more but will give it a special post later this week.

Here are some decent photos of the foo dog/shi shi lion illustrations I finished a few weeks ago:

Male Shi Shi Lion

Male Shi Shi Lion

Female Shi Shi Lion

Female Shi Shi Lion

The end tables are coming along nicely! The first one is awaiting varnish and I’m well into the second one. I’m finding it easier this time around knowing how the paint will act on the gesso surface. Since I’ve taken classes and have more experience with paint now, mixing colors is a lot easier as well.

Foo Dog End Table 1

Foo Dog End Table 1


Foo Dog End Table 2, in progress

Foo Dog End Table 2, in progress

I really enjoyed watercolor class last week! We experimented with different effects in the paint using salt and plastic wrap. Salt, when sprinkled over watercolors that are still wet, soaks up the water and gives the area a spotty-look, while crinkling plastic wrap into wet paint, letting it dry and peeling it off gives a really cool frost effect. I didn’t get a chance to do anything with plastic wrap, but I did enjoy using salt. Rock salt would create a different effect than small-grained salt and I look forward to playing around with both kinds. We also used a substance that would resist the paint. After applying the putty-like liquid and letting it dry, we painted freely over top of it without worrying about paint seeping through. This works well when painting a large area, like a sky, and wanting to skip over areas like clouds or air planes. To remove the putty you can use fingernails or an eraser.

After our teacher demo’d those effects and left us to do our own thing, I was struggling to come up with an idea for where to use that kind of effect. Staring at a blank page is one of the toughest parts of art. So much potential, such a wide open expanse and you can do anything with it. For me, starting a project is the worst part. Once I get a good amount of line work down I start to gain a bit of confidence, but until then I really have to push myself.

I’ve been looking at a lot of tattoo art lately and have noticed a trend in gypsies & traditional style work, lots of reference to animals and nature. In paricular with gypsies I keep seeing them wearing animal heads:

tattoo by Paul Dobleman

by Paul Dobleman

tattoo by Stewart, Frith Street, London

tattoo by Stewart, Frith Street, London

Being autmumn, having all the color in the trees and the night sneaking in earlier and earlier, I felt like starting a painting full of these elements. Combined with the theme of a gypsy and pelt, I was inspired to start work on this:

Watercolor Effects

Watercolor Effects

Watercolor Effects Details

Watercolor Effects Details

I only had time to do the sky since I did several washes over it but I’m super impressed with the effect the salt gives. Really excited about giving this background an awesome subject! Once I stopped worrying about what to draw and just went with what I felt like, it was easy going.

It’s surprising how fast time goes when I have two art classes a week! I love it though, knowing that even if I don’t feel like doing anything during the week there will be two nights where I will end up having something to show for my efforts. Things are sure to be busy but I’ll try and line up a few more posts in the coming days.