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Not sure about placement/size for first tattoo

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Sorry in advance for the long-winded post, it's just sort of how I write. So, I'm a 32 year old guy, and when I was younger, I actually didn't like the idea of getting inked. I had a lot of friends who had poorly done tattoos (ones that they often rushed to get on their 18th birthday) and I never thought myself as the type of person to get tattoos... I still think a lot of people would see me that way. I've come to realize later that a tattoo is only as good as the artist who does it, and if it's well planned and researched (and you get something that is meaningful to you), you can get something that actually looks good. Once I realized that, I told myself that if I come up with a tattoo idea that I like and has some meaning to me, I'll get it... provided that I think about it for at least a year or two and still like the idea once that time period is over. Well, I came up with an idea that I like and is meaningful about five years ago, and today, I still like it and want it, so I think I'm ready to take that next step on figuring out the details and finding the right artist.

What I want to get is a tattoo (in some form) that represents the M.C. Escher print "Reptiles." You can see a copy of it here. It was something that I first discovered in middle school and it really got me curious about the connections between mathematics and art, so much that I went on to get a master's degree in math. I actually did my own recreation of the 2D part in a middle school art class, and unbelievably, I still keep it in my bedroom (it's hanging on the inside of my closet door now, so it's not that weird) to this day as a reminder of something that means something to me. So it seems like a very logical tattoo to get.

I'm not necessarily looking to completely recreate it in extravagant detail, and mostly looking to do the planar part of it (like this) and I kind of prefer sticking to black ink instead of going color, but I'm not necessarily opposed to going into a little more details. So here is what I'm wanting advice on: where would be a good place to put this? I know I want it somewhere around my chest or back, maybe on my arm near my shoulder. I want it in a place where I can still wear a short sleeve shirt and cover it up. I do workout a lot in tank tops, and I also run (shirtless when it's warm enough), so obviously people will see it then. I was thinking, perhaps, having sort of a larger pattern on the back and having it somehow come around to the front on my chest (maybe with the reptiles "walking" from my chest into the pattern on the back), either under my arm or over my shoulder, but that seems pretty big for a first tattoo. I don't know, just generally looking for ideas, I'm in no rush to get this but I'm definitely doing it as soon as I've got the details nailed down.Any advice is appreciated!

Edited by SquareUp

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@SquareUp Awesome if insanely difficult-sounding idea.

In terms of placement I'm thinking a gobu hikae, which is a Japanese chest panel that goes from the chest to the arm above the elbow.

Mind you, I'm talking placement not style.

Good luck.

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Yes, I think you nailed it on the placement. Something like that. Does that seem like something that might be a little excessive for a first (maybe only, though I've heard they become "addictive") tattoo? I've always heard people say you shouldn't start out with something big, but then again, I've carefully considered and been thinking it out for years, so there's no question that it is something that I want. 

I've also considered just doing the tesselation design (without anything else like the walking reptiles or other details) on the back at first, then adding on to it later, though I also think it might be best if I've got the whole thing planned out before getting started to make sure everything fits together. 

Edited by SquareUp

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I mean, it's big for a first/perhaps only tattoo, but there's a saying: go big or go home. I definitely think you shouldn't start small, especially for something you're so committed to. And yes, tattoos can be/are addicting.

The abstract tessellation would be awesome: I really like, and I think there are tons of examples, of abstract patterns in tattooing.

Unless you're talking an entire backpiece, like in traditional Japanese tattooing, then I can't see the need to start on the back or think in terms of the entire body. American tattooing is usually not conceived in those terms, but certainly, if you're thinking about adding to it, better to think big.

I'm no expert (though I am 1/3 into a backpiece)!

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After searching more extensively than I have before, I found this on Tumblr of somebody who got a different Escher tattoo in the same way I want mine, though I think I want mine to have a bit more back coverage, though not anything close to a full backpiece.

I'm not really planning to "add" to it, it is just that it can conceivably be done in pieces (because really all I'm wanting is the tessellation with a few additional details, and for the tessellation part you could conceivably put one of the reptiles on and call that a complete tattoo or keep adding them all day until they are head to toe) and I thought that might be the "safer" option so that I can start out slow. But honestly, if it's something that I know I want, I'd might as well go for the whole thing at once.

I'm not exactly rushing to get this done in the next week (or even next few months), but I'm pretty confident it's gonna happen sometime, and I'll probably do the whole thing at once.

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@SquareUp Great! I'm surprised others haven't commented on here yet. But at a certain point finding the right artist will be crucial, especially for something requiring so much precision. Then you can consult with them about details, etc.

Good luck!

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The great thing about that "pattern" is that you and the artist could build, start and stop it to fit any body part and shape. The key is going to be finding the right artist, and there are plenty who already specialize in geometric pattern work. 

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I've been trying to get a good feeling for artists for a few months now, there are lots of artists in my area who seem like they do quality work (though I'm only basing it on what they post online and I realize a lot will most post their best work), and there are two of them at two different studios in my area who seem to do a lot of high quality and customized geometric work. The funny thing about one of them is that I discovered him from him "liking" several mathematical related things that I posted on Instagram, and it turns out that he has a deep interest in mathematics himself. Normally that wouldn't seem to be relevant at all for a tattoo artist, but for something like this, I think it's not necessarily a bad thing to have somebody who understands it a little more beyond just the shapes.

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