Convention. New machine.

The 10th Annual ETN Tattoo convention took place last weekend. Sic-un & I went and I finally got some live, close-up action on some magnum usage. I also saw some of the absolute finest line work I've ever seen going on. Single needle, very intricate fleur de lis design, painstakingly slow. Didn't buy anything, I really just went for information purposes. See, I watch shows like Tattoo Highway, LA & Miami Ink and things like that because I don't have the time to hang out in a tattoo studio all day long. Besides... My mother raised me better. I don't expect Joe Public to come watch me work (actually, Joe Public isn't allowed to come watch me work) and I extend the same courtesies... Except in a convention setting where it's taken pretty much for granted you're gonna watch and be watched.

Unfortunately, the idiot-box shows what the producers of the shows believe Joe Public wants to see. I don't give a shit if Ami is babysitting the kid. I don't care that Von D is bumping uglies with Nikki. I don't know the artists as people and I don't think I'll ever meet them, so it's a moot point to know what they have for breakfast. I think the people that come in for the work on these shows prove the adage that the most ordinary people have the most extraordinary lives, at least in a microcosm...But that doesn't mean I wanna hear about them, rude as that is. "This is a memorial tattoo to my Uncle John. He was in the Navy and I always remember exactly how he held his coffee cup because he was a really huge influence." Yeah. Whatever....so you're getting this coffee cup. Ok. You do get some good art ideas, which are just fermenting like mad in my head (and then you throw in some of my latest influences like steampunk and biomechanical and all the traditional with the japanese and you get some really, really fucked up ideas)... But what I really wanna see...

I wanna see how the artist is holding the machine, what strokes are used, how slow are they going really, what size needle is that, how far do YOU have it from the end of the tube, what grips do you like, why are you mixing this with that and what shading do you get from it, what does it do and how does it work?

Can't do that on the idiot-box, you wouldn't have a show. So I find myself watching the CableMonster's on demand programming and fast-forwarding past the boring parts to get to those few minutes you can actually watch the artist work. I've seen the vids on the 'net. They suffer from the same problem: It's not how I would have done it. Usually it's angle, the zoom (c'mon. You should be able to get a bit closer than 3 feet away. Really.), and nobody gives a thought to how the artist is holding their hands and stretching the skin, no matter if it's cameraman #3 making $75K a year working in South Beach or the guy with the little Sony HandyCam and some time to spare while his girlfriend gets an anklet done. Most artists I've seen stretch with the left, ink with the right. Most camera operators shoot from the left. Over the hand stretching the skin so you don't get a good look at how they're stretching, and besides.... to stretch the skin, you usually have to tent your hand. Interferes with what the needle is doing when it impacts the skin.

So we went to the convention and I saw someone working with a 7 magnum (hey! I have those!) doing some good shading on a snake on this guy's leg. I saw the movement. From the right. He was 18 inches away. I found myself peering intently. One of my big questions was 'Using the magnum, it looks like they're scrubbing the skin with it from a distance. Short, sharp, scrubby strokes. What is the movement the artist uses to impact the needle on the skin?' I now know the answer: Fill-in you do small circles overlapping--it looks kind of like the product of a spirograph. Horizontal, overlapping circles do not look like they're scrubbed into the skin. For shading, you do small circles overlapping vertically. Still circles, just vertically into and then out of the skin as opposed to horizontally over the surface. It looks like, but it is not in fact, scrubbed into the skin. The guy doing the lining... I was able to see the pressure he was using, how tight the skin was, how fast he went (so very slow and exact...single needle line as thick as my typical 3 needle strokes, almost to one of my 5's), how he held the machine and how he wiped. I go way way too fast with the needle.

Sic-un has shown me, but he goes a bit fast, too, especially since I have a pretty delicate touch. It hit home watching this guy exactly how much I need to slow down. So I'm looking forward to finishing the fan.

I'm going to be setting a flutterby onto someone I know Saturday. I needed to practice my shading, I know this. It's the whole reason for doing the fan, because it was a design I could live with and it gave me enough play-room (the sticks of the fan do, in fact, look wood-like! Yay!). But the liner, my original first machine, it ain't gonna fill in worth diddly, although I did fill in the sticks. Part of the reason it looks wood-like is that it's not meant to be used for fill-in, not really. Sic-un got a rebuild kit for his shading machine. He rebuilt his machine. His machine will not accept the tubes from the pre-sterilized combos I use. Tubes are too big for the machine. When we did manage (with a lot of twisting, cursing and growling) fit a tube into it, it spattered. No amount of tuning would correct it. We do have some separate pre-sterilized tubes/needles he can practice with to see if he can get rid of the spatter.


I'm not that patient. And the flutterby waits.

Meet the new member of the family.

I'll post pictures when I finish my fan (should be tomorrow evening sometime, or Thursday). And I should be posting pictures of a pretty flutterby soon too.

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