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Dan Martin

Tattoo time vs. Drawing time.

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I was just curious as to how much time other tattooers spend drawing for tattoos outside the shop. On average for me, I can spend an hour or two doing research and/ or looking at reference before I actually start drawing. And an additional 2 to 4 hours ( depending on subject matter ) on drawing something about the size of a foot ball or say half sleeve.

Part 2 of this thread: I was also curious about how much time tattooers spend painting or creating additional art not directly for a tattoo, IE: prints, flash,tshirt designs,etc. And how important is that aspect of being a tattooer? Thanks everyone - Dan Martin

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Really it depends on what it is. There are certain images that I can draw up pretty quickly. Others that take me a shitload of research and drawing and redrawing. I probably draw about an hour and a half to to hours a night. But if I have time in between appts., I draw then too. I'd rather draw at work than at home when it robs me of family time.

I can say that from the time a person makes an appt., I'm visualizing and drawing layouts in my head. By the time I actually sit down to work, I usually have a pretty good idea where I want stuff to be.

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totally depends on the image. most of what i'm asked for, i can draw pretty quickly, 20-40 minutes. a lot of my "custom" pieces are done as walk-ins, so i actually draw a lot of my stuff pretty quick and hardly ever draw at home. i actually spend more time on drawings for regular customers (meaning not seeking me out specifically) since those tattoos tend to be more outside my comfort zone, so it takes me a little longer to visualize it, then work it out on paper.

i prefer drawing at the shop, since there's a copier and a ton of reference, and i do reference EVERYTHING. but i do like painting at home, after the woman and child have gone to bed.

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i draw most of my stuff at home, if its not dead at the shop, then ill use my time there to do my 'fieldwork'.

i mostly spend alot of time on a drawing to get it to where i feel its got what we are looking for.(meaning i like it and feel the customer will be stoked)

if we are talking bigger stuff, sometimes ill do up to 6 sketches on top of each other. i have also begun to use sharpies for

the simple reason it makes my sketching feel 'looser'. ill go back to finer pen or pencil on the final drawing. sharpies in different colors are great.

as for walk ins, i love it and wish there would be more. as for hours, that one is kinda hard to answer, but i think i spend just as much if not more time drawing as tattooing.

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Fortunately or unfortunately I draw for every single tattoo that I do--- whether it's just redrawing a photo of someone elses tattoo that a customer brings in or designing the tattoo for someone based on their concept.

I used to devote at least a full day a week, gathering reference and drawing.

It's so hard to say but I agree with nico , I spend just as much time drawing as tattooing

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Thanks everyone. Id agree that I spend as much time drawing as I do tattooing also but hardly ever find the time to create art for prints, flash, etc. With my family life I have to work on most of my stuff when everyone has gone to bed so it leads to some pretty late hours even now that I try and get out of the shop earlier. I sometimes wonder if I'm stretching myself to far ( trying things, maybe I shouldn't ) because I have to draw things over and over. Maybe my dedication is a good thing but sometimes I feel I kill a piece that way also.

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I think another problem I have is instead of picturing it in my head, then sketching it, then referencing and refining. I go straight to the reference and my idea or vision kind of takes a back seat.

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hey mario, funny thing i often realise though, is that the first rendering often is the ONE. so i go back to it if ever so often.

and no its never a waste of time anyways. learn learn learn

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I have thought long and hard about this and have changed my approach from time to time. I tend to be a workaholic, and I have made a general rule to keep work at work and spend my days off doing things other then tattoo related drawing. I try and clear the visual tattoo clutter out of my head by spending time with family, going to a museum, seeing a movie or show, or just going for a walk/hike or getting out on my bike. I feel like this approach has recharged my intentions and inspiration more then when i use to spend every waking moment searching for reference and thinking about my clients for the upcoming week.

I try and have one day out of a work week (Wednesday for me, which is my Monday) where i sit down and knock out as many drawings for clients as I can. If that means coming in to the shop at 9am I'll do that. No music, no clients, no one else there yet. I just get out my references and start knocking out appointment drawings in order of priority. I find my brain and hand really respond to that kind of intention to just sit down and draw rather then trying to cram drawing time in between appointments and walk ins. And for those kind of appointments I try and have it all work out and ok'd so when appointment time comes i can just sit down and tattoo.

I also got a really good tip from one of my other tattoo buddies to draw tiny. Like with a mechanical pencil to start with. Really little...like 1" x 2" no matter how big the tattoo is. Just to rough out a thumbnail of how i want everything to fit compositionally. and then once i like it in mini form I'll blow up that thumbnail and start working that way. It saves me so much time and energy. I'm not fully rendering things out that the client wants me to completely change. I show them the little guy and explain it to them and if they are into the idea i render it out.

Also I started having a day once a week were me and 4 other tattooers meet up and draw and paint for ourselves. No talking about tattoos, or work and the images can be whatever we want. We all just bring a bunch of supplies and see what happens. It's been great for inspiration and productivity.

Mario I think redrawing is okay if you don't drive it into the ground. I think artists need to tap into their intuition and go with what feels natural. I can always see it in my head and just try and get it down on paper. But i also always ask the imput of my co-workers "what looks weird? what doesn't work? how would you approach this?"

okay i feel like i'm rambling now........

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Yeah one of the most inspiring influences in my tattoo life is Henry Lewis. He reintroduced the idea to me ( I had learned this in art school but let it fall by the wayside) after starting at Skull and Sword. Those guys are on some tattoo warrior shit. Henry has been open to starting over and taking instruction to better his tattooing and the tiny drawing thing is big over there. Seeing a wall sized cork board full of tiny drawings of back pieces and sleeves was pretty mindblowing.

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I find i mostly oversize when trying something first, then after doing a few drawings on the same subject the lines get familiar and i can downsize the piece, since i'm still in the early phases of tattooing i spend like half the time drawing, and the rest divides tween tattooing and checking references

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I tried to be the guy who can draw shit a week in advance, but I just can't. When I do that, I still end up re-drawing it right before the appointment because there's shit I want to improve. Like Julio, I think about it a lot starting when the appointment is made. A lot of time, I'm actually tattooing it in my head. When I do sit down to draw, I usually rough the idea out at night, then finalize it in the morning that way I have the night and the early morning to contemplate what I roughed out. I may change things at the last minute, or after seeing it with a fresh pair of eyes, but it's usually pretty close to what the final ends up being.

It all depends on the subject though. Outside the comfort zone takes more reference time, not necessarily more drawing time, although it may do that too.

When people ask me for stuff I do often, that usually ends up with the most actuall drawing time, because I'm trying to not make it look like the last one I did.

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i find it best to start with thumbnail sketches and gradually get bigger while adding more detail eachtime. some times it can cause an overkill, but atleast u get to see the full potential of ur idea. dan, i love the way ur work used to be so graphic and packed full of light and shadows to now being refined and alot more simple but still full of technique that can only be achieved through alotta sketching. good ass thread.

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