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.

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.

Tattoos: Flowers, Wolves and an Octopus Hat

I spent the week nursing my poor back after the painting marathon I put it through last week. I was sore for a few days, from my lower back to my neck. Note to self: look at ergonomic alternatives for the studio! Later in the week, I carefully continued working away on the models painting as well as a new watercolor project inspired by music and color wheels. Really looking forward to showing that one off, soon!

I couldn’t make up my mind about an artist to write about today, so instead we’ll look at some really nice tattoos that have made their way to my news feeds. Which reminds me, I never did a proper post about my new tattoo. I’ll have to remedy that soon…

by Steffan at black shamrock tattoo parlor in Bakersfield, CA

by Steffan at black shamrock tattoo parlor in Bakersfield, CA

Lotus tattoos always catch my attention; before February I looked to other lotus tattoos for inspiration on creating my own.  It’s great seeing different artist’s take on them. They come in a huge variety of colors and have many different meanings. I really like the way the petals unfold in the flower above; the colors are very selective and minimal, giving it an airy presence. The glowing blue really makes the pinks pop.

by Tim Senecal at Off the Map in Easthampton, MA

by Tim Senecal at Off the Map in Easthampton, MA

Quite a detailed cover-up! Rich colors always attract me to a tattoo design regardless of the subject matter. The solid block colors in the flowers on her feet are balanced out by the swirling blue/yellow clouds in the background. I’d like to see if this foot-sleeve goes any further up. This would be fun to show off in the nice weather (with plenty of sunscreen, of course).

by Dane smith of artistic skin design in Indianapolis

by Dane smith of artistic skin design in Indianapolis

The double-eye motif is one I see frequently in tattoos, in both animals and people, but have yet to understand. It can be  jarring to look at; your brain sees the two sets of eyes and becomes confused because they’re not what your brain expected. The fur is flowing, textured and colored carefully. There are several other repeating bits of fur that mimic the eyes and cause a weird effect, almost like the tattoo is moving on the skin. This looks like it would be a great arm piece and would work well in a sleeve.

by Ivan Rivas, Art & Soul Tattoo, El Paso TX

by Ivan Rivas, Art & Soul Tattoo, El Paso TX

Foo dogs!  Thick outlines and bold colors really bring this character to life. The combination of blues and purples give a mythical feeling to this design, the varying line-weight giving it depth. Folklore and legend provide amazing subjects for art, illustration and tattoos. Painting my foo dog tables was so much fun that I’m starting to consider repeating it.

by Sean Rhodes at Right Coast Tattoo Parlor in Fenwick Island, Delaware

by Sean Rhodes at Right Coast Tattoo Parlor in Fenwick Island, Delaware

This is a great twist on the gypsy-style of tattooing that has been so popular lately. Not only is the girl’s hair rendered beautifully in sea-green, but the octopus is fantastic! All the tentacles and their shadows would’ve taken forever to do; I would find myself easily getting lost in a design like this, so I’d really have to take my time with it. She looks like a mistress of the ocean. The selective color palette of oranges, greens, and pinks really unifies the design. Bravo to the artist here, very impressive work! I wonder how many sittings this one took?

Going to try not painting myself onto the couch this weekend. Cheers, and happy father’s day to all the dads out there! My father has been a huge inspiration to me, both through music and art. He’s played acoustic guitar ever since I can remember and took up oil painting while I was in middle school. Having so much creativity around has had an obvious influence on me, shaping me into what I am today, a lover of both music and art of all kinds. Thanks Dad! 😀

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.

Owls Everywhere

A lot got accomplished over the weekend; I hashed out two more rough sketches, completed pencils for one piece and got ~75% of its inks down! It feels so good to pencil and ink again. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes after I finish inking a piece. When I first started experimenting with markers, it was a long time before I even felt comfortable coloring originals (I would scan or photocopy them and color that instead).

Tim was gone for the weekend so I was able to crank up the music and get stuff done. Even the kitties were getting a bit lonesome by the end of it.

Mocha on my lap, helping me draw.

Mocha on my lap, helping me draw.

Java perched on top of my chair, supervising.

Java perched on top of my chair, supervising.

When I was doing research for this project I found that owls were referenced in a lot of different lore concerning both life and death. Because of this, I decided to do a series of three drawings to explore the different takes on owls so I could include everything I’d found. In order, my drawings represent life, guidance and death. I’ve snuck in more references to mythology than I can name and it’s been lots of fun! Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Redraw & Inks for Life Owl

Redraw & Inks for Life Owl

Guidance Owl Sketch

Guidance Owl Sketch

Death Owl Sketch

Death Owl Sketch

As I get further into each piece I’ve been starting to think about what kinds of colors I’m going to use. I’m looking at really bright colors for “life” and subdued darker colors for “death”, but I’m not sure how to tackle the “guidance” one.

Alongside this project I’m going to try and continue working on the Chuck Close self-portrait study. It stares at me every time I sit down and I won’t be satisfied until it’s done.

Can’t wait to bust out my new copics!