Sometimes you have to take a few runs at a thing to get it right.
I've been wanting to do some tattoos that were more of a reflection of the kind of artwork I am into. My portfolio has been made up of what I would consider fairly common designs; hearts, stars, horseshoes (green clovers, blue diamonds, and purple balloons). I've done some designs that were "different", but not really emphasizing the kind of "different" that I am into.
To remedy this, about a year ago I offered to do some free tattoos. The catch being that while you could pick what you wanted, I would be the one designing it and the tattoo had to be LARGE. I figured I would do 2 tattoos a month of this type.
Funny thing about tattoo-people... they tend to be "spur-of-the-moment" types. Not many are into planning in advance for anything. While I got a lot of takers, initially, most had no clue what-so-ever as to what they wanted. Several knew what they wanted, but they were not the kind of design opportunities I was looking for. One guy stepped-up to get a Grim Reaper. He loved the design I came up with, but decided it was more important to go out of state and get baked in the woods than to keep his appointment.
They guy who got this design approached me about it at a party. It was a Walpurgisnacht Party, appropriate for this kind of request. He wanted a back-piece. He loved my demon girls. He had some ideas, but was down with me coming-up with a design. It was everything I wanted to hear.
Over the next couple of weeks, I received some design ideas from him; images he was offering as reference... just some things he found cool. The above design was the original based on those references, and neither of us were happy. It was a decent design and all, but not what I thought was at my fullest potential, and not quite what he had in mind. I want back literally to the drawing board.
As is typical in the life of a tattoo artist, shit happens. Summer is a little busy for me with tattoo appointments and hanging-out with my kids. 5 months pretty much flew by. I had sketched some ideas up, but had not really committed to anything. Most of the design happens in my head, and only gets to paper when I have a solid grasp of what I am going for. I decided to step away almost completely from the original design. I had this idea related to the Thulsa Doom icon from Conan the Barbarian. I wanted two snakes to replace the goats in the original. The client wanted the male demon to appear less as a shadow and more as a buff-monster in-line with his own philosophy. I decided to draw the girls from the ass up. This was the result.
This, I thought, was a vast improvement over the original. My client agreed. About a week or so after we finally got together about the design (there was some email issue initially), I did the tattoo.
This was a lot of tattoo. Although it is mostly line-work, a good chunk of it was right on his spine. The shading, which is normally a little easier to take than the line-work, just aggravated what was already an unhappy back. We went at it for about 4 and a half hours until I was satisfied.
Totally worth the effort. Below is a video showing some of the detail in the design.