By Hunter Spanks
So after a rainy drive down from Baltimore we are back at Jinx Proof for Elizabeth's (Lizzy) second session on her back. Lizzy seems a bit anxious as we get here but that's understandable, tattoos hurt. Based on the little I have started on my own back it is quite uncomfortable…
Dave is already in what seems to be quite the joking mood, questioning if she even had an appointment today. So now that Lizzy has made an adjustment to the music in the shop, something a bit louder and angrier. "No love songs," she said. Dave is setting up and it seems like the session is soon to begin.
Dave informs Lizzy that he will be starting on the lower left side of the back and moving across to the right. Dave starts laying out pigment, black, brown, greens, yellow, and some flesh tone. (A must when coloring in naked girls.) Now, finally the sound of the machine and Dave joked, "Great we are almost done" and the second session is off and running.
Dave starts with some black shading in the hair and some of the foliage in the background. Dave once again wastes no time and already has a section of the foliage on the lower left and the hair about completely shaded. He works in such a way that is incredibly patient and an efficiency that almost makes the work seem effortless.
Now with a bit of the shading on the left side done Dave moves on to some brown for the hair. Making her a brunette as requested by Lizzy. This might be something for me to keep in mind when working on larger pieces. Trying to complete certain areas of the tattoo while the client is comfortable with that area of the body being worked on. This seems to be more productive in making progress on such a large piece.
Truth be told, one of my reasons for wanting to write this is because it is a way to observe and hopefully take some tips home to help me better my tattooing. Selfish maybe? I've always felt though one of the best ways to learn is to have close access to observe.
Although the music in the shop is quite aggressive today the mood is high and cheerful. Rounding the 30-minute mark with some black shading in the background and the brown in the hair is near complete. Iron Maiden now plays in the shop and the conversation is about Lizzy's dog Foxy’s near death experience the other day and surgery. [Note folks: dogs apparently eat everything. A lot of which is not good for them. In this instance, chicken bones.]
We are now on to some flesh tone on the face in the girl and the brown in the hair seems to be complete. Now it seems that Dave is starting with some dark green and working on the foliage in the background around the hair. The tone of green looks like a nice rich forest-green. Now mixing the forest with some yellow and lightening it up to a nice lime green to accent the forest-green and the foliage around the hair seems to be almost complete. So rounding hour one the foliage, hair and flesh tones in the girls face are all done and now time for a brief break.
Now moving on to the middle area of the back Dave is back to doing some black shading in the background in the grass around the girls waste. So, as I said last time, the conversations that go on always make me giggle and sometimes astound me. Last time I think it was anal herpes, and today there is some extensive talk about fecal matter.
For all parties involved we will leave out the details of this particular conversation. During all the fecal talk Dave makes quick work of the grass around the torso area laying in the forest and lime greens moving onto flesh tones in the arm of the girl. Now moving on to shading in the torso area of the girl, it seems Dave is basing the flesh tone with a medium brown for darker tones and smoothing them out with a lighter flesh tone. Torso area from the waste up now seems to be almost complete.
The banter quiets down a bit as the sounds of what my best guess is some doom metal band rings through the shop, complete with guttural screams and the ever-present drop-D tuning and broken up riffs. As Dave said, "This is the perfect soundtrack for this." Much like most doom metal, the song seems to drag and drag… and drag. Dave might be finished with this session before the song is over. We are updated and told the song may have about twelve more minutes. (Lucky for us this turned out not to be true.)
Dave starts to move into the flesh tones around the hip and groin area of the girl. Still basing it with a brown and smoothing it out with a lighter flesh tone. Now back to working on some of the foliage around the ass area of the girl and it looks like it is close to time for a second break and a stretch. At this point almost a quarter of the lower back area is now beaming with beautiful green foliage and a quite striking brunette laying in it… –quite a bit of progress for going on the two-hour mark. Let's face it, Dave is a machine!
So after a short break Lizzy hops back up in the chair and it seems that Dave is going to tackle some of the finer details in the girls face; lips, earrings, eyes and moving on to detail the nipples. So Dave starts of by beefing up some of the outlining on the girl. Only hitting a good bit of the very outer lining making the girl stand out a bit more against the background foliage. The sounds of The Sword play through the shop as Dave was detailing the eyes and lips and continues to refine smaller details of the face.
Now done with strengthening some of the line work and doing smaller details, in the face, lips, eye-shadow, and as already mentioned the ever important nipples. Dave moves back to working again with flesh tones to work on the legs in hopes of finishing up the girl in this session, which slowly seems to be coming to a close. Lizzy is hanging in there like a trooper and the music seems to be getting on Dave's nerves as it drifts back into another droning doom metal song. Lizzy seems to be loosing stamina getting fidgety as she claims, “I don't like the right kidney area.”
At almost three hours we all know, getting tattooed starts to feel pretty shitty. She continues to hang in there and the progress continues as well. Finishing the flesh tones in the leg Dave moves on to coloring the background on the right side and is now back to strengthening the lines on the legs now that all green is in the background on the right side. Dave announces there is only a few more seconds and they are done. The continual doom metal seems to be wearing on Dave as much as the tattooing is starting to wear on Lizzy. "Boom, boom, boom, mmm, boom," as Dave said.
So after a very aggressive session in more ways than one, session two is now done and time to relax. Until session three that's it for today. Thanks again to Dave and Lizzy for letting me document this experience and what is turning out to be quite the epic back piece. Session three in about a month…
(Hunter Spanks is a contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine and was previously in TAM Issue #11. He currently works in Baltimore, MD at Have Fun Be Lucky Tattoo.)
Digital version of TAM #11
Hunter Spanks TAM #11 video download
(Dave Waugh can be found at Jinx Proof Tattoo in Washington, DC)