knucklehead211

Thoughts on planning a backpiece?

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So I've been getting major backpiece envy from seeing all the sick work you guys collectively have. If mine were to happen, it is still a ways off, but I thought I'd ask - how should I prepare for this possibility?

One thing I worry about, is I seem to get bad acne on my back. I wouldn't want to ruin some amazing work by having a breakout on my back. Does anyone have experience with this?

I'm also curious about the extent I should cover. I'd like to do shoulders to bottom of thigh, but is it the norm to do a full suit going to your front side and wrapping around as well?

My last worry is cohesiveness. I have a half sleeve of four individual pieces capped at the shoulder. I also have an in progress calf sleeve, with plans to do the other and one realism piece on my knee. Would shoulder to bottom of the thigh look weird meshing with my arm, or cutting off halfway around my ribs?

I'm probably overthinking all of this, but I would really appreciate any advice at all on how you guys got through yours. Just want it to fit well on me.

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At the end of the day, all your tattoos will look like they belong there. It sort of takes care of itself, coverage wise!

Re back piece - really gonna depend on what kind you want (and you already know you wanna go to the thighs!) and the artist you work with. definitely don't stop considering how it will all look in the long run - your thoughts will matter when it comes down to it! - but it will also work itself out in general. IMHO w my own tattoos at least!

- - - Updated - - -

@knucklehead211 re acne - sometimes i have bad back breakouts too. None of my pieces have been ruined. Actually seems like I have fewer pimples in the areas of coverage.

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When it came to me planning my back piece my thoughts were quite simple. I want one and I want it to be big. The result is that I have a full Japanese back piece in progress. With this as an on going project I have been a little aware of the possibility of spots especially across the top of it as I can get some big spots on my shoulders. The way I have approached it has been the same as the healing process for a new tattoo... whatever happens don`t pick the spots... All that's gonna do is make any damage worse. So far this has served me well.

With regards to combining a back piece with existing tattoos I feel it is something that happens pretty frequently and a good artist will be able to balance and work with what is already there and make it look good. And certainly there is no necessity to expand a back piece in to a full suite. Mine stops half way across my ribs and doesn't look strange or unusual. In fact it is quite a traditional Japanese design to stop with an almost straight line running down either side of the body.

My advice would simply be find a subject matter you like and and an artist you want to work with and just go and speak to them. Simple as that.

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My advice on acne is like Mr Toby's, don't pick, let it run it's course. Like beez, I've also seen less acne pop up under tattooed skin so hopefully that all works out for the better.

For coverage and cohesiveness, you have a few options for Japanese style. You can just do the kame-no-koh, which is the shoulders to thighs, then call it a day. It's okay for a back piece to just be a back piece, you don't have to blend it into the shoulders.

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With respect to cohesiveness and advance planning, I did a reverse approach to my tattoo suit. I didn't get my first couple tattoos with the intent to do a bodysuit, I just got some tattoos and then continued to balance side-to-side to maintain my symmetry.

I had arms, legs, ribs, stomach, chest, neck/shoulders and thighs completed before I started my back, which is an opposite approach. That's just the way it worked out for me as my interest and excitement for tattooing grew. I got tattooed by 14 different guys over the years. I had one session in particular in 2009 (my chest, during my 100th hour) that the shop had a full house of heavyweights. Me working on full size chest piece and 3 other cats working on backs (waist up). Everyone hit the day rate, after 5 hours was no charge, and there was some magic in the shop that day. From that moment seeing backpieces in the flesh in progress, I knew that's where I was headed tattoo-wise but wasn't in a place in my life to commit to the time/money nor had I an idea for a subject I felt strongly enough that I could carry the weight of on my back. I was headed there all along in hindsight, just sometimes in life that direction you're headed does not reveal itself fully to you until you are ready to become aware of it.

I've been to China to further my kung fu training 3 times since 2008, the last 2 times (2011 and 2014) to train at Shaolin. The first trip is when I finally knew I wanted a monk on my back, similar to the murals etched in the walls of the temple and the design on the back of the training vest the monks wear. I connected with the tattooer and the correspondence for the back began in 2012. In the meantime I worked on some other spots like the tiger in my belly, some thigh tattoos, collar/neck while I patiently waited for the green-go-light. Because of my existing tattoos though, there were certain spots I wanted to complete first in sequence to frame and layer my works the way I desired. There was some other life-shit that went down in the meantime, namely my Sifu - my kung fu master - passing away suddenly and one of his dying wishes was that we take the students again to Shaolin and continue our relationship with the temple. That's an intense story on it's own and it just heightened the desire, cemented the idea for my Shaolin tribute. It wasn't something I picked out of a comic book and was like yeah that's cool -there's nothing wrong with that!-but I wanted something ~heavy~, you know what I'm sayin? I know what I'm sayin!

So ffwd to my first back session. Seeing all the crazy stuff and bright colours I have going on all down the front and arms/legs, my tattooer designed my backpiece to be simple, bold and black (as fuck) to balance it out, align the horizon lines and gravity of the water in my tattoos, really attract the focus, make the tattoo powerful and tie everything together. Because I had my ribs done prior, it made my back canvas a bit narrower to work with, which is why I ended up with 1 monk in a kung fu pose instead of the original idea of 2 monks in combat. It all ties together, maybe not as clean as a bodysuit from japan, but nevertheless ties together my stories and experiences, 14 tattooers and 69(?) sessions. And whether you are tie-ing pieces from one artist or many, a full body tattoo has people mesmerized and going "what in the fuck" because it is not a common sight to see in public. It's going to look cohesive because it's YOU!

And I am very happy I waited. It has made the experience more exciting, I'm more tuned into what's going with the tattoo-process and most important of all it has made it all more meaningful to me.

so @knucklehead211 to answer your inquiries and add some other points:

1. how to prepare? MANIFEST the idea of tattooing your back. the subject/theme/motif will come to you in time.

2. acne? i can't comment on that, see a dermatologist and deal with your issue now in preparation.

3. Do from shoulders to at least below the belt and onto the bum. No biker backpieces (jokes)! You don't need to do your front either.

4. Don't sweat the cohesiveness, as I wrote about above.

5. Let the tattooer make it fit your body, an experienced tattooer will.

6. Don't rush! See #5, I know a lot of dumb-dumb friends who I pointed in the right direction and vouched for to get proper tattoo, but people these days get very impulsive and gratified, so they rush out and get some half-baked poor tattoo because they can't wait a month or a year.

7. Know what you want and be able to articulate it. Keep it simple. Manifest the idea until the idea is solid enough and you are 101% behind it.

8. Start saving now so when it's go time, you've got money in the bank to keep up with the progress i.e. weeks between sessions not months.

9. Get inspired! And I don't mean scrolling instagram every hour or even LST. I mean get inspired by the real world. Go to the library, research old wood block prints and illustrations, go to the museum when the samurai armour exhibit is in town. Spend time in the mountains and rivers, go to the gardens in your city. Travel. Go to the art gallery.

10. Try and get the piece started in the fall so it will be worked on/healing in the winter, done by summer.

11. Plan long-term, plan in advance and be patient.

12. Have fun and enjoy the whole process.

There is a reason why not everybody wears a backpiece and even fewer have finished backpieces. It is a big commitment.

It took 2 full years of correspondence to make mine happen. The most rewarding things in life are the things you work for and wait for.

cheers

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I haven't been getting tattooed for very long, but after my first one was completed I was all gung-ho to start working on my back. Then I realized that instead of rushing into it I should let everything marinate until the right idea came along. I've turned over several ideas in the intervening years, and am now (I think, yay!) settled upon something that feels right and true for me.

Great advice @bongsau!!!!

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With respect to cohesiveness and advance planning, I did a reverse approach to my tattoo suit. I didn't get my first couple tattoos with the intent to do a bodysuit, I just got some tattoos and then continued to balance side-to-side to maintain my symmetry.

I had arms, legs, ribs, stomach, chest, neck/shoulders and thighs completed before I started my back, which is an opposite approach. That's just the way it worked out for me as my interest and excitement for tattooing grew. I got tattooed by 14 different guys over the years. I had one session in particular in 2009 (my chest, during my 100th hour) that the shop had a full house of heavyweights. Me working on full size chest piece and 3 other cats working on backs (waist up). Everyone hit the day rate, after 5 hours was no charge, and there was some magic in the shop that day. From that moment seeing backpieces in the flesh in progress, I knew that's where I was headed tattoo-wise but wasn't in a place in my life to commit to the time/money nor had I an idea for a subject I felt strongly enough that I could carry the weight of on my back. I was headed there all along in hindsight, just sometimes in life that direction you're headed does not reveal itself fully to you until you are ready to become aware of it.

I've been to China to further my kung fu training 3 times since 2008, the last 2 times (2011 and 2014) to train at Shaolin. The first trip is when I finally knew I wanted a monk on my back, similar to the murals etched in the walls of the temple and the design on the back of the training vest the monks wear. I connected with the tattooer and the correspondence for the back began in 2012. In the meantime I worked on some other spots like the tiger in my belly, some thigh tattoos, collar/neck while I patiently waited for the green-go-light. Because of my existing tattoos though, there were certain spots I wanted to complete first in sequence to frame and layer my works the way I desired. There was some other life-shit that went down in the meantime, namely my Sifu - my kung fu master - passing away suddenly and one of his dying wishes was that we take the students again to Shaolin and continue our relationship with the temple. That's an intense story on it's own and it just heightened the desire, cemented the idea for my Shaolin tribute. It wasn't something I picked out of a comic book and was like yeah that's cool -there's nothing wrong with that!-but I wanted something ~heavy~, you know what I'm sayin? I know what I'm sayin!

So ffwd to my first back session. Seeing all the crazy stuff and bright colours I have going on all down the front and arms/legs, my tattooer designed my backpiece to be simple, bold and black (as fuck) to balance it out, align the horizon lines and gravity of the water in my tattoos, really attract the focus, make the tattoo powerful and tie everything together. Because I had my ribs done prior, it made my back canvas a bit narrower to work with, which is why I ended up with 1 monk in a kung fu pose instead of the original idea of 2 monks in combat. It all ties together, maybe not as clean as a bodysuit from japan, but nevertheless ties together my stories and experiences, 14 tattooers and 69(?) sessions. And whether you are tie-ing pieces from one artist or many, a full body tattoo has people mesmerized and going "what in the fuck" because it is not a common sight to see in public. It's going to look cohesive because it's YOU!

And I am very happy I waited. It has made the experience more exciting, I'm more tuned into what's going with the tattoo-process and most important of all it has made it all more meaningful to me.

so @knucklehead211 to answer your inquiries and add some other points:

1. how to prepare? MANIFEST the idea of tattooing your back. the subject/theme/motif will come to you in time.

2. acne? i can't comment on that, see a dermatologist and deal with your issue now in preparation.

3. Do from shoulders to at least below the belt and onto the bum. No biker backpieces (jokes)! You don't need to do your front either.

4. Don't sweat the cohesiveness, as I wrote about above.

5. Let the tattooer make it fit your body, an experienced tattooer will.

6. Don't rush! See #5, I know a lot of dumb-dumb friends who I pointed in the right direction and vouched for to get proper tattoo, but people these days get very impulsive and gratified, so they rush out and get some half-baked poor tattoo because they can't wait a month or a year.

7. Know what you want and be able to articulate it. Keep it simple. Manifest the idea until the idea is solid enough and you are 101% behind it.

8. Start saving now so when it's go time, you've got money in the bank to keep up with the progress i.e. weeks between sessions not months.

9. Get inspired! And I don't mean scrolling instagram every hour or even LST. I mean get inspired by the real world. Go to the library, research old wood block prints and illustrations, go to the museum when the samurai armour exhibit is in town. Spend time in the mountains and rivers, go to the gardens in your city. Travel. Go to the art gallery.

10. Try and get the piece started in the fall so it will be worked on/healing in the winter, done by summer.

11. Plan long-term, plan in advance and be patient.

12. Have fun and enjoy the whole process.

There is a reason why not everybody wears a backpiece and even fewer have finished backpieces. It is a big commitment.

It took 2 full years of correspondence to make mine happen. The most rewarding things in life are the things you work for and wait for.

cheers

This my friend has probably been the best advice I've read on this board bro.

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