Sean Rakos

Tips on tattoo composition.

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I've struggled with this and when I saw the interview with mr. Robson h, him and mr. Sylvia commented on how they had learned about tattoo composition from people they looked up to . To be completely honest they touched on it for a second and I was completely lost during most of it. I've studied up on art composition and have more books on the subject on the way but a lot of the ideas that apply for a canvas don't really apply to making a tattoo fit the body and have good composition. Dies anyone have any advice or book recommendations to help me learn more on the subject?

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While maybe not my place to comment on this as I am not a tattooer, but I have a feeling it might not be responded to due to the subject matter. I know threads in the past that relate to the actual craft of tattooing are forbidden here. Maybe a mod more qualified to answer can throw their $0.02 in, but I thought I would throw that out there.

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In my opinion there are no books that can teach these things with regard to tattooing.

Most of what I learned is from some of the concepts from Art History (capitals intended) but throwing yourself into art history school won't help.

For me the keys to learning anything in tattooing are getting tattooed by, or working with people who can do what you can't, or don't understand.

Studying (not just looking at) tattoos and tattoo photos helps too.

Many concepts that apply to music help with visual composition too, such as flow, dynamics, contrast, rhythm etc.

Also alchemy: solve et coagula. Take apart what exists, understand it, then assemble it once more. In Japanese there is a similar concept: "Shu Ha Ri"

Its a long-ass road.

If your'e in Austin, see how Steve Byrne or Tony Hundahl lay out a tattoo. It can be a masterclass in composition for clarity and readability.

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Thank you for the good advice. My left sleeve is mostly Tony. I have spent many hours studying him and jason brooks work when they worked together. It just seems so natural to them and I feel I really have to work at it. I also believe the more I study the work of people like them I will improve with time. I think mr. Sylvia spoke of using a grid to help with his layouts. At five years I really don't have any business doing full sleeves or body suits but I'd like to make my layouts on medium sized tattoos more dynamic like Tony, Jason, Steve, and Grez. I'll start practicing the dissecting and rebuilding idea . Thank you again for the advice as well as a great interview.

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Great reference and ideas, thanks! I have a few of theses so I'll take mr. Robson's advice and dissect and rebuild to understand their composition better. Thank you everyone for the great ideas.

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...Many concepts that apply to music help with visual composition too, such as flow, dynamics, contrast, rhythm etc...

Thanks Stewart, I enjoyed your interview.

I am not a tattooer, but am a serious, studied collector. Also I am a creative artist having been formally educated in music theory, composition, and spontaneous improvisation. So I think I see the similarities in concept that you suggest here. I even once used the analogy and was told by a tattooer to basically jump off a bridge and that I didn't know what the hell I was talking about because I was not a tattooer.

Anyway, I get it.

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