The Tattoo Process

Design     |    May 9th, 2016

The process of designing, choosing and obtaining a new tattoo is an exciting and often time consuming one, for both the artist and the tattoo recipient.

Today, I thought it would be fun to share the process I underwent in visualizing and obtaining one of my favorite tattoos.

This tattoo is based entirely off of a wood carving by Bryn Perrott. I’m a huge fan of valentines, kitsch cuteness and furry woodland creatures and her woodcut had them all.

The original woodcarving on the artist's instagram

The original woodcarving on the artist’s Instagram

After some thought, I approached my tattoo artist (Mary Joy Dalrymple at Tattoo City in San Francisco) about turning Bryn’s piece into a tattoo.

Out of respect for the original artist’s work, it is always a good idea to get his or her approval before having their original artwork tattooed. More often than not the artist takes it as a huge compliment, especially when a reputable tattoo artist is doing the work. How you choose to approach the artist is your personal choice, but if you have the ability to contact the him or her, it’s never a bad idea.

After a quick email exchange, I got Bryn’s blessing to have the piece tattooed and the appointment was made.

The tattoo itself was created in the following process:

First, Mary created a sketch based off the woodcut. That sketch was then copied and the size adjusted to better fit onto my thigh. Bigger is often better and I followed that “rule” for this piece.

Next, Mary created a stencil of the sketch and applied it to my thigh, making certain the size and placement of the piece was perfectly centered and straight.

The initial sketch

The initial sketch

Then she outlined the piece in black, using a bolder needle for the heavy exterior lines and a finer needle for more detail inside the piece.

Completed Black Outline

Completed Black Outline

After that, she applied black shading to give the piece depth and contrast.

Black shading and angry pink skin

Black shading and angry skin

And finally, Mary added the color, as well as a bit of white ink to highlight certain areas of the piece.

The finished piece moments after it was completed

The finished piece moments after it was completed

With a few modifications to make it more “tattooable” and the addition of color, my dream of having Bryn’s artwork turned into a tattoo was realized. Now several weeks later, the woodcut lives on as a permanent art piece and my leg has a bright new addition just in time for summer.

Healed tattoo approx. five weeks later

Fully Healed Tattooo


This post originally appeared on a previous version of the FS blog in June of 2013. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Join the Mailing List

Get the latest posts delivered directly to your inbox. Subscribers also receive exclusive monthly content, and we'll never spam or share your info. Now there’s something to get sentimental about.