Shockingly enough, a bad ass tattoo does not simply and magically appear on your skin. We know, you're blown away by this news. But in all seriousness, it does sometimes seem that way. Tattoo artists share tons of images of awesome ink that is just finished and at the height of its sparkly shiny newness...sometimes we get to see shots of healed tattoos, which is awesome...but rarely do we get to actually experience a tattoo from start to finish unless it's our own. We also, often, get questions that lead us to believe that some people truly don't know what it takes to get, or what the process is like, getting a really intricate or large tattoo. So, we thought we'd bring together a bunch of WIP tattoos, or Work in Progress tattoos, so you can see a little bit of how the magic happens!
For a smaller tattoo, it's rather easy to walk into the shop and then walk out a couple hours later with your brand new addition to your tattoo collection. For a back tattoo or a half sleeve, there is more of a commitment. The artist, and the collector, will hopefully collaborate on ideas and placement. Sometimes a tattooist may freehand parts of a design so that the design perfectly works with the unique curves of your body. This, and creating the stencil, can take awhile. This is part of the reason why flash days at tattoo studios usually only include limbs as areas to be tattooed: the torso, although a larger space, usually needs more spacial attention which means the artist has a bit more work to do if the piece wraps around the body. There's also the added fact that the person getting the tattoo has to get all undressed for the tattooist to be able to do their work, and that just takes added time. For a larger piece this is okay, but for a flash event...nah.
In some of these photos, like the work in progress tattoo image from Ana and Camille, you can see remnants of the larger design and the stencil. A larger tattoo not only takes more time and effort, but also a devotion of monetary funds. If you look at the chest tattoo, there is the added details of the hands, the lace of the gloves, the eyes poetically placed along the clavicle..all of these wonderful additions that haven't been permanently inked yet, but are still part of the final concept. That's the thing...you're paying for the artists intuition. Knowing placement and, either consciously or subconsciously, looking forward to pieces that may look good around your piece as well...these are important details that your tattooist works with as a creative constantly.
Perhaps now you see that each tattoo is always a work in progress...until it's not. Lol. But it still holds true. A larger tattoo, especially if it includes color, can take a long time. Sometimes it's a matter of style as well: Neo Traditional tattoos tend to have a lot more details. Reproducing pearls, jewels, and filigree takes concentration and patience! While sometimes big Traditional tattoos can actually be done in one shot. It's not just the design, the placement, or the process...sometimes it's just how the tattooist works. All artists have different ways that they produce their work. Of course, the end result is always an incredible tattoo...but some tattooist press heavy but work fast, while others may be light of hand but work slow. It's just like how some listen to Minor Threat, and others listen to Muddy Waters. To each their own! Hopefully, no matter what their process is, they create work that you'll love for a lifetime.