When a long-term collector of my work emailed to say she'd like a portrait of me as a tattoo, I surprised both of us by offering to draw it.
As I've written before, I'm having my small collection of ink removed by laser. But I was intrigued by R.'s suggestion. I was also open to the idea because I have known her for a number of years. She's collected my art in a diverse range of styles and media. Adding a tattoo to her existing collection of my work made sense.
After I read the rest of her email I was in for sure – I'm partial to smart, articulate women. She wrote, "...I’ve always loved how personal (and often autobiographical) your work is, even as it is situated in a much broader social, cultural and feminist context."
R. chose one of my self-portraits from Pola Auto-Erotica as a reference. I drew the design after I got back from hospital, between other projects.
I emailed R. a minimalist line drawing and she suggested having her tattooist ink a little shade for the cheek bone. So I added soft shading to the face, blackened the lips and emailed it back. I told R. I don't mind if her tattooist adapts the image so it makes a better tattoo. I've seen the tattooist's work and she's a talented woman, skilled in both inking and placement of images on the body.
I have never drawn a design for a tattoo before. I didn't expect to and I don't plan on making it a habit. Yet it's been a fun experience. Besides, it's always good to break my own rules.
Above: Tattoo design for R., lead pencil on A4 copy paper.