Capturing a mood, a story, and a feeling in a single image is an illustrator's dream. Being able to convey meaning without words, without multiple images to explain sequence — it really is the basis for the best works of art. While Gabri Pais, a tattooist based in Cagliari, Italia, has a broad range of tattoos under his belt, we've gathered a series of his work that's entirely images inside of anatomical hearts that manage to capture a single poignant moment in a story.
Pais' scenes are multi-faceted, noir-esque stories. Most of the figures are in silhouette, while a moon or single light source gives a sense of time and space. He manages to pack a ton of detail into his heart shapes: individuals gaze into full cityscapes, couples hold hands by reflective oceans. And all of this is done in a soft, layered black and grey style.
The level of anatomical detail varies from tattoo to tattoo, client to client, and adds to whatever's occurring in the scene within. Ventricles become trees or chimneys or windows, and veins become roots or sidewalk. Pais manages to use his heart shape as both a boundary for his storytelling as well as an element in the scene itself.
Pais' scenes also have a voyeuristic aspect to them. We feel like we're looking into people's actual hearts — the frame of the heart, coupled with objects maybe obscuring the scene itself, and the use of silhouettes, all aids in making the subjects of the scenes feel distant. The hearts become windows, and we're peeking inside.
Pais has an Instagram full of hearts and sundry other designs. His black and grey style is gorgeous and worth a follow.