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How to Use Aesthetics In Tattooing.
Aesthetics is the principles associated with knowing, understanding and appreciating beauty.
Why is it important to understand aesthetics when designing a large scale tattoo (or any tattoo, for that matter)? The answer is simple -Your client wants something and, as we have come to know from our experience in the industry, they never know how to explain it well enough. Bringing in drawings, Pinterest photos, bulleted lists, or just an intuition about what is needing to be drawn is a good step in the direction of lasting art.
It is the goal of every artist to understand a bit more about their client to make it tangible.
This is where aesthetics come into play.
Aesthetics are a type of of philosophical inquiry. Yes, you are learning a bit about philosophy in this article – and why people choose the images to adorn their body is unique unto themselves. Artists will never know what brought them to the idea that a bird silhouette, a sleeve of tribal, or a portrait. We must always assume that the idea is a good representation of.. well whatever they are feeling belongs on their skin.
Our job as tattooers is to pull apart the feelings and ideas clients have to create a truly unique image. One that we insert into their skin.
More on this subject can be found by following the link below.
Before the Design Consultation
Step one in this process is asking good questions when you have the client’s attention.
When attempting to understand what it is that they “like”, you should avoid scrolling through the massive book of images they bring into you. First and foremost, you need to ask the client, “Why are you doing this tattoo?” By taking the time to see where there head is at at the start of the process, you are better prepared to harden yourself to the possibilities of your client dealing with pain or grief.
If your client is dealing with a deeper emotion be prepared. Your efforts to pull out a dynamic image that fits their emotional status may be hindered. There will need to be extra time devoted to the client to ensure you are comfortable locking this time of pain in their life permanently onto their body.
The further you dig into the reasons behind your clients decision the better equipped you will be when designing their tattoo (large scale or otherwise). Your goal is to find aspects of the client that are timeless as their motivation for the tattoo may change constantly – before during or after the tattoo.
Remember that your diligence at the start of the tattoo could ensure your client finishing the tattoo.
Other questions that should be asked should include aspects of what makes the client unique. You should also try and find aspects of their aesthetic that are solid – things that they know they will enjoy their entire lives.
More About Aesthetics
The philosophy of aesthetics covers all aspects of experience, whether it is natural or artificial, and how the individual or group judges their experience. Aesthetics consider the emotional and physical consequence of of interaction. As an example, when a person views a piece of art, a photograph, listens to music or goes for a walk in a park; aesthetics show us, and explain to others, how you view the beauty around you.</i>
Modern aesthetics are defined as, and some examples are explained with the following buttons.
How many times have you been amazed by another artists tattoo work? This experience is a type of aesthetics and focuses on the judgement of your experience.
Does experiencing art, nature or life keep you warm? Does it feed you? Unless the art is you digesting food it simply cannot accomplish a form of personal utility (value) apart from the experience. We look at art, tattoos or photos just because they make us feel something
The Rules Of Style
Most any composition has rules that create a foundation of appreciation. As an example, in another article – Tattoo Design And The Rule Of Thirds – we will be talking about the “rule of thirds” which dictate a minimum compositional approach to ensure depth, longevity and balance in a large scale tattoo.
Have you ever looked at a tattoo and just hated it? Everyone has an opinion and the vocalization of that opinion is what we call judgement in aesthetics.
Imitation of Real Life
Portraits and landscapes mimic life in a way that can be supernatural to some. The mimicry of life in the arts is unique and we must wonder, why? Why would we want to imitate life when life is outside our door?
Focusing on the Extreme
In art we see hyper realistic representations that are not found anywhere else. This idea of the extremes of reality are unique in the application of aesthetics.
How Much Space Are They Willing To Give Up?
Is the client open to you using half their body or only half of their forearm?
“Custom tattoos are when a design is custom created to fit a client’s body.”
Most artwork published online, via social media or other connected apps, are created to fit the artist’s aesthetic. Apps like Facebook and Instagram have created a marketplace for clients to scroll endlessly until they find a design that they identify with.
This shift in aesthetic application of design has separated the modern tattoo artist from their clientele and, in the worst case, create a network of artists who refuse to ask questions.
In large scale design, even if you have already created a design, the artist is forced to adapt aspects of the design to fit the body. There is no pick-n-stick approach that creates a truly unique, well fit tattoo.
Find Out What They Like
Find common themes that a client associates as something they like. Be sure to let your client know the design is going to take as long as it takes to design (funny phrase eh!) Never be rushed to put out artwork or do a tattoo. If you know you can do better, take the time to do better.
Unique Artwork Requires Unique Understanding
Be sure to let your client know the design is going to take as long as it takes to design (funny phrase eh!) Never be rushed to put out artwork or do a tattoo. If you know you can do better, take the time to do better.
When In Doubt, Find Out What They Don’t Like
Are you having a hard time finding out what a client wants? Slow your approach and figure out what it is that they dislike or even hate. This is a useful technique when dealing with people who have a hard time explaining what they want, those who are afraid of hurting your feelings and clients who use emotional words to describe an image.
Know When To Walk Away
If you are finding it impossible to understand a person’s aesthetic, let them go. It is better to not do a tattoo and have someone mad at your indifference rather than do the tattoo, not finish it and have a clan of people think you’re less than capable.
Go With Your Gut
You are going to be around this person for a while, sometimes as long as hundreds of hours. Make sure you can be in their bubble before accepting the project. Lay out in detail what roles each of you have, what you expect for payment and have a detailed schedule built before starting any design.
And get that art deposit.
How Aesthetics Influence Tattoo Design.
Your notes are everything when drafting a design. If you know that your client wants something traditional you won’t spend time doing realistic work ( This may seem ignorant to post, but sometimes we all need a reminder.)
Choose what you want the viewer to focus on before starting the design. Use the body to help dictate what areas work best. Pay attention to where the focal points are best viewed – from the front, back or side.
Check out the article on body mapping to get a better idea of how to work with the body.
Love The Finished Piece
Tell every client that you refuse to make any changes once the final design is completed and accepted. There is nothing worse than getting halfway through a tattoo and trying to fit something else in. The design is what it is and there should be enough time to discuss the artwork before the procedure begins.
Try To Figure Out How To Utilize Aesthetics .By Practicing A Consult
Get out some paper and give it a try!
Choosing The Most Important Elements –
To practice pulling out the aesthetic of a client, let’s take a practice scenario (and this is the most likely scenario you will run into while tattooing):
- First Note Taken From Client – “The client wishes to have a sleeve completed. The images they want to include in the design are – An angel, a rosary, clouds, 3 roses and 3 doves. They wish for the design to be open at the should to ensure they can tie into a chest piece they want in the future. The angel represents the client’s mother, the 3 doves represent friends they lost in the field and the 3 roses are for siblings.”
- Second Note Taken From Client – “This tattoo represents family and lost love ones. They wish for the tattoo to be very dynamic – high contrast value – with special significance given on the angel’s face. The angel should be located on the lower forearm of the tattoo, if possible”
- Third Not Taken From Client – “Client’s skin is mid toned, rougher complexion with bluish undertones. Mid 30’s, factory worker, ex-military”
How should we approach this design now that we have all the notes we need to start?
First, make a list of what is important and necessary to a client. Rank their input nd see who it can influence the design process.
With each of the elements – we are forced to find where they best fit on the client’s body part. For fluid or organic shapes, like the rosary, we would best assume they would fit into high distortion areas or spaces on the arm that connect one section to another.
Large, static images like faces and plants require less distortion to look good, regardless of how the person moves. using flowing elements like the rosary an artists can focus placement in a space that works with the movement. The result of placing a fluid, organic shape on a high distortion part of the body is that you can make it move.
Large images require large areas of skin to make sense. You would not put a 1″ square design in the middle of the back and expect it to stand out from a distance. In the same vein, we wouldn’t take a back piece and shrink it down to fit on an ankle.
Things that are round or straight will distort like crazy on high mobility areas (like the area below the elbow on a sleeve). Avoiding use of non-organic designs in these areas and stick to things that want to move.
We are always looking to make things a little darker. While this may work well on large sections of the body that are hidden from the elements (like the back, torso, upper arms and legs) those that are exposed to the elements require a darker tone. The sun bleaches out tattoos so making them darker in these sections leads to a more even design years into the future. If you cannot make the design darker in sections and keep it looking good, find the darker focal point elements and place them in these places.
How much does the client want to see certain aspects of the design? When placing things on less than easily accessible viewpoints (like you need a mirror to see them) you deny the client from enjoying things you worked so hard on to perfect. This accompanies the fact that some people want aspects of large scale designs visible – the aspects of the tattoo that mean the most to them. Building a design that keeps certain things in view while hiding the less than (or more personal) aspects of the tattoo makes sense.