Results tagged “skull tattoo”

09:02 AM
dots skull tattoo.jpg
Calypso Tattoo dotwork.jpg
It's been a while since I featured work from my own tattoo artist, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium; however, I'm also posting because it's a rare opportunity to grab the limited available appointments he has when working outside of his studio.

Next week, from September 23rd to the 26th, Dan will be working at London Tattoo, and has a couple of session times available. To make an appointment, email or call 02078335996 in the UK. There may also be a session free on Friday, September 27th during the London Tattoo Convention. Email him at for more info.

Check the Calypso Tattoo site for more of Dan's signature dotwork and blackwork. He is also featured in Black Tattoo Art 2: Modern Expressions of the Tribal.

dotwork tattoo dimattia.jpg
01:27 PM
hand poked tattoo.jpg
Hand-poked. Dotwork. Skull.

Three of my favorite words in the tattoo language, so naturally, I had to know more about this chest piece on musician Johnny Kowalski tattooed by Clare Deen, aka Goldilox.

The work was done all by hand over eight hours in a couple of sittings. Beyond the logistics, the stories behind the tattoo are what's really compelling. Johnny wanted a tattoo to celebrate his thirtieth birthday and here's the inspiration behind it, in his own words:

 "I've always appreciated the beauty of animal skulls, and it seemed an appropriate symbol of adulthood because of the obvious connection with hunting. I also liked the connection with the Norse rune Algiz, which I have tattooed in red ink on my left big toe.

Above all, I knew that the tattoo would look fucking cool. I think that the cliche about knowing when you are in love also applies to finding the right tattoo design--you just know when it's right.

I chose Clare because I have held her artistic abilities in extremely high esteem for a very long time now, since before she started tattooing. One of her great strengths as an artist, on skin or on canvas, is that she has an amazing gift for depicting natural forms, whether that be as a painted portrait or a tattooed butterfly. The stag skull was a departure from her normal style, but once we had discussed the idea and she'd done a few preliminary sketches, I knew we were on the right track.

We both agreed that hand poking would be the best way forward for the tattoo, both in terms of allowing Clare to get as much detail she thought the tattoo needed and would hurt less for me. Having both machine and hand poked tattoos, I can safely say I prefer hand poking--it feels less traumatic and spares you the incessant buzz of the machine. However, despite the relative ease of hand-poked tattoos, I still found the tattoo extremely painful in places, which was in a strange sense what I was looking for:  a big, bewildering experience that would push my limits beyond what my experiences had previously led me to believe I could handle and to be left with an amazing image on my skin at the end of it to mark my thirtieth birthday." 

I like these kind of stories. But I'm nosy and wanted more.

Considering the large work, I asked Goldilox about her process in hand-poked tattoos and surprisingly, she told me that she had only been tattooing by hand for about a year (she had been using a machine since her start in the art). Goldilox is a self-taught tattooist, originally from rural Wales and now working at Painted Lady Tatoo Parlour in Birmingham, UK. She's has worked in many artistic disciplines: pin-striping cars, sign-writing, airbrushing, sculpting, drawing, painting, and sewing (among others) and so working by hand in tattooing "feels right" to her.

Here's more on what Goldilox said about her hand worked tattoos:

"I started tattooing by hand initially on myself. It felt intuitive. The fine lines I could create using just a needle just inspired me. My artwork has always been intricate, and tattooing like this felt like an extension of this...a very natural progression, and within no time at all, all my clients wanted hand-poked work...

To me, another wanting my artwork on their skin is an immense honor, and I feel that tattooing by hand,adding every minute dot one by one in the same way it has been done for millenia makes the tattoo all the more adds a certain magic!

I like working with color. Many hand-artists avoid it because colored inks have less saturated pigment so it takes a lot longer than black to actually get the color in the skin--but I like challenges!

I draw lots of my inspiration from many sources-old Victorian botanical plates, mehendhi art,Islamic geometry to name a few.I really love reinterpreting ancient artwork into the modern day using what is essentially an even older technique."

It looks like I'll be seeing Goldilox at the Traditional Tattoo and World Culture Festival this weekend, and hopefully, will bring back more examples of her work.

Check more of her work here. And hear Johnny's music here.
01:06 PM
tattoos by Bill Canales.jpgLast month, I put out a call for skull and heart tattoos for a spread in my next tattoo book, and here's just a taste of what I received:  These Tibetan skulls above tattooed by Bill Canales of Full Circle Tattoo in Ocean Beach, Ca.

I know. Amazing, right?!!

See full size images of the tattoos on Flickr here and here. As an added bonus, the backpiece was documented by Michael Flores, director and cinematographer for Mad Media. Check his video montage below or watch it on Vimeo here. [The Kings of Leon song is an inside joke.]

Naturally, I had to find out more about these two pieces created on Bill's clients David and Denny. The images were submitted by Full Circle shop manager and Bill's apprentice James Tran -- who has a kick-ass blog -- so I asked James to tell me more about the tattoos. Here's what he said:

"Both David and Denny are good friends of mine, and after these tattoos, they became close with Bill. The pieces had started in late March of 2009, and both guys wanted to get their pieces done as soon as possible. Because we had planned this venture out a few months ago, Bill was able to schedule David and Denny to be tattooed two weeks between each session with a few sessions only a week a part. David originally wanted a Tibetan skull, while Denny requested a dragon back piece. Yet they also wanted a different element to be included in their work. After some thought and consideration, they had decided to get both a dragon and a Tibetan skull -- of course done differently.

Everyone in this project understood this was going to be a grueling venture. David was already heavily tattooed with his back and arms finished, while Denny only had his first tattoo on his lower leg by Bill, not even an entire year earlier. I was there for every session for both guys. There were no easy days; every session was a test for both David and Denny, and Bill as well.

David's tattoo was finished earlier than Denny's -- his entire chest and stomach took only 25 painful hours to complete -- while Denny's back lasted 35 hours. Interestingly enough, Denny had almost every session professionally recorded by our talented friend Mike Flores, for what was originally a small side project that is becoming a short documentary about the entire tattoo process.

Denny's back tattoo was actually finished at the Ink-N-Iron Long Beach Convention in June of 2009, a little over 2 months after the tattoo started. This is also where both gentlemen won their first tattoo convention awards:  Denny took home the Best Back Piece award and David claimed the Best Japanese Tattoo award.

For me, the best part about this story was that my close friends became close friends with each other. After so many hours of pain and laughter, blood and ink, a bond is often formed between tattooer and client. And this is true for both David and Denny, who are now great friends bonded by ink with my friend and mentor, Bill Canales. Things like this become a life long endeavor, and to me, the amazing people I meet through tattooing is what makes it all matter."

I'm grateful to James, Bill, David and Denny for sharing this work with us. More artist profiles from reader submissions to come.
02:47 PM
skull tattoo calypso.jpgHey y'all.

I'm working on a new tattoo book project, and in it, I'd like to show how artists interpret popular tattoo themes in their own style. That's where I could use your help.

If you have a skull, dagger or heart tattoo that you would like to share in my project (for a major American publisher), please email a high-res image (or send a link for me to download it) to along with information on the artist who tattooed you.

UPDATE: I should've clarified that tattooists can submit as well BUT the artist will need express permission from the client to use the image in the publication.

My eternal love,
Dotwork skull tattoo by Daniel DiMattia, Calypso Tattoo.

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