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Featured Tattoo

For the month of November 2018


Tessa - Lower leg tattoo

Tessa granted me absolute 'creative license' with this tattoo, which I am always grateful for. The following is my account of the process of how we come to create and tattoo this months 'featured tattoo' for Tessa.


Tessa had some ideas around what she wanted in her next tattoo; what she wanted it to represent and where it was going on her body. The rest was up to me.

As I sat with Tessa's request and her energy, about to sketch out some ideas for her tattoo, the following key words swirled around in my head.


Harakeke/flax,

raranga/weaving,

kete/bag, unfinished - to represent her future,

feathers - to represent loved ones


I thought about what this tattoo will mean and how it might look on the body area specified. I thought about how it will look with her other tattoo on the same area - It needed to fit and flow with that one.

Other considerations were,

  • What will the kete look like?

It will need to have a realistic look - so that the tattoo can be easily recognized


  • How can I make it look 'unfinished'?

Fade out (using gradient shading) in the weave which will also serve as a background to the feathers


  • How can I make the kete look like a kete if there's only part of it?

The top part including the handle needs to show all the details of a kete - and enough of it to be recognized instantly


  • How can I make the feathers look like part of the kete design?

Show chain links to indicate attachment


  • How can I make it look feminine?

Use fine line and detail, use the contours of the body area to help form the 'shape', design it with 'length' in mind rather that width, i.e. tapering at the top and bottom of the design and the widest part of the design 'fitting' on the widest part of the lower leg


  • How can I make it look recognizable from a distance taking into account the overall size I have to design it?

Make the top of the kete easy to recognize, allow enough negative space between handle and kete for legibility - allow the base of the feathers to have their own space


  • How much detail can I have in it, taking into consideration how it will 'age'?

Consider enough negative space to allow for the aging process of the tattoo and use minimal colour


  • What sort of feathers will suit given what they represent?

Owl feathers (representing wisdom, experience and knowledge) with contrasting angular patterns. Use shadow shading to indicate foreground position


  • Will I use colour, if so 'how'?

Minimal use of colour - green to create a focal point and interest


As you can see, there's a lot that goes into a tattoo design from idea/concept to the tattoo itself.

Once the design was sketched, I sent a draft to Tessa for initial approval. She loved it.

The end result, you can see in these images. Credit is given to Tessa for allow me artistic freedom in the design and tattoo stages. I wanted to give Tessa something unique, beautiful and meaningful. I was able to do this because of her trust and leaving me to create. The photos don't do this piece justice, it is easy to see that this tattoo was meant for Tessa and it tells a story.


Thank you Tessa.



Lower leg tattoo for Tessa

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