“The creation of light with darkness, and enforcing an already present power though ink”.
*Please note – This project has already been continued, we simply just do not have pictures of it yet.
This has been a long journey indeed, and it is not yet done. Soon, we will add patterns to the inner arms and details in the largest of the black surfaces, but that is not going to stop me from featuring this tattoo here.
When i first met Brad, he just wanted me to tattoo his upper back while i was in NYC. He was already a client of a great colleague there, a most amazing man named Gunny, who had done his Neo-Tribal on one arm.
I do not think Brad had ever envisioned himself as this heavily tattooed, and it has been interesting to see his self-image grow in this manner.
On our last sessions, the goal went from a 1-2 day project to “Let us create a set of sleeves in a week”. Not really doable, but the ambitions were definitely there, and we both pushed some limits to get as far as we aimed for. In the end, i recruited some assistance from my colleague Paketh, who helpfully blacked out a part of Brad´s arm when I myself had run out of time.
Every once in a while i would hear from Brad, asking for another session, another project, could i do his chest, can we add a bit here and there, and without having realised it, he had gone from client to friend and family. Now, our sessions are almost equal parts tattoo and ink, combined with days of talking and evenings of cooking, and every bit of caution he had with designs and process seems washed away, there is now a perfect trust and i get to decorate this amazing canvas to my best of skills.
There is an amazing power and peace in someone who has lived well throughout a life, who has clearly cared for their body, who then, at a proper age chooses to throw themselves wholeheartedly into something as committed as this.
I think it is fair to mention that while i felt strange covering up the work of a friend, it is amazing how the old tribal done by Gunny actually dominated how i created every shape that has followed since on the body. There is a permanent echo of that tattoo, even though it is now buried under new ink.
Photography by Heywood Similon