In fine art, the artist is constantly using techniques to ensure that the viewer is continually moving their eye around the canvas, taking in each and every detail of the artwork by using shading, the golden ratio, and various ocular tricks. Tattooing is no different, the same general tricks of the trade are applied, but one might even argue that capturing your audience’s attention and forcing their eye to take in the entire picture is a much larger undertaking when your canvas is a stomach, an arm, or perhaps even a leg. Greg Nicholson is one of the few artists around that can take an entire back, turn it into a hyper-realistic version of a soldier riding a stallion in the midst of battle, and capture and maintain your attention throughout.
Based out of British Columbia, Nicholson tattoos primarily in black and grey realism, often focusing on fantasy scenarios or religious iconography. Using the golden ratio — a technique that creates a triangle out of the subjects, that forces the viewer’s eye to travel around the entire piece of art — Nicholson captures the viewer’s attention, and maintains its hold with beautiful imagery. So regardless of whether or not the work wraps or twists in ways that might normally deter a viewer from looking any closer, Nicholson’s delicate yet strong, realistic yet somehow slightly surreal motifs keep you searching for another detail you might have missed, inching a little closer trying to take it all in.
Tattooing really isn’t that far removed from fine art. It employs the same techniques, the same visuals, and draws inspiration from many of the same sources, and Nicholson’s work just proves that point further. Lined up side by side, we bet money that you’d have trouble finding the difference between Nicholson’s work and that of any realism work in a museum, you know, besides the whole skin as canvas thing.