Elephant + Anchor: Designing Tattoos

A bubbly and enthusiastic girl I met through work was chatting about her desire for a tattoo and enlisted my help.  She loves elephants and anchors because of their grounding and strength. Combining such things is what is fun about meaning making in tattoo's. I think this is why I find it obvious if someone gets a tattoo without much thought?

Certain symbols will always be associated with Fads or popular things but thats why consideration into how its used is so important.  Any visual, especially tattoos, give you clues of whether this was considered because of the discrete ways they are designed.  These challenges are part of why I find it so fun to do. Alas, I am not a tattoo artist (yet) but maybe I should try sometime. Like any business and art form it is full of its own politics so I take it's joy with a grain of salt.

It is curious how often I am asked to design tattoos.  I suppose anyone considering ink to skin wants to be able to chat openly about it's meaning and importance with their artist.  That is not always given because that can take more time than a commercial business can give so perhaps that is why I am asked.

However, I will give you these warnings when asking an art friend to help design your vision.  I often go over these basics with someone knowing that the tattoo artist actually doing it will have concerns.

1. Anything Drawn must be converted into bold and strong enough lines/shapes to create concise art for tattoos. Remind the artist, no sketchy scratch shit on the final product. That will fuck up your skin.  Dots and other complicated surfaces/shading can be done but must be clean.

2. Consider carefully where the art will lay and how large.  A unique challenge and beauty to tattooing is that it must enhance un-even, round or complicated surfaces.  Art design that has considered this is noticeably better and less distorted once put on skin.

3.Lastly, remember that every artist and tattoo artists has a style.  If you want the best work make sure your okay with catering to their personal style.  This also means if your art friend or I make you a drawing it can be copied by experienced tattooists but you wont get their best. Most of the time they will redraw whatever you give them to suit the application and process anyway.  If your letting your tattoo artist give his/her flare or style you will get something a bit different but likely more beautiful.

This means the real advantage form talking with someone like me to design a Tattoo is we get to discuss its meaning and look.  If where it goes has been considered enough the overall shape won't change much when the tattooist looks at it.

Thats my piece of advice. Hope she likes this design.