The Norse Sagas

Hail and well met!  :)   How was everybody’s weekend?  I spent most of mine down at Angry Moon getting this done:


This design in one form or another is something that I’ve been planning to do for a few years. I always knew that I wanted a Viking-themed tat, history dweeb that I am. There is one idea that I have set aside specifically for if I ever get to go to the Orkney Islands…but since that’s not likely to happen, the design you see above was my more ‘all-purpose’ Viking concept.

The core of the design was the ship.  I can’t remember where or why, but I found that image (the black part) on Google ages ago and I just instantly fell in love with the simplicity, the abstraction, the gestalt, the designy-ness of it.  I liked how it IS a Viking ship as seen from the front, but it could also just be a line pattern, or a leaf, or a manta ray, or many things.

So I squirreled the image away and when I started to seriously think of having it done, I wanted to make it a more complicated piece.  Basically almost all my tattoos are simple black iconic things just sitting there in space.  And that’s fine, but for once I wanted to give it more context, and do something bigger.  I wanted to suggest water around the ship, but to keep it abstracted and to not end up with a very literal ‘picture of a Viking ship sailing on water’.   I was at a loss on how to achieve that for a very long time until I did the smart thing:  I went to the source.

I started leafing through my Medieval and Viking books, looking for how they depicted water.  That lead me to the curly wave shape.  I sketched out what became the blue portion of the design and only THEN (because I’m really slow) did it hit me:

The curliques don’t just look like water…they ALSO look like what the prow of a fancy Viking ship looks like from the side!!!

That sealed the deal.  I knew I had hit on the right thing.  But just for the heck of it, I also sent the design to Cantu to see if he could come up with any tweaks or other concepts.  And although he did draw up a nice variation on it, in the end I preferred my own because mine looked more Medieval, less literal, and had the whole double-meaning of ship/water going on.

So Saturday we went down and Cantu did some adjustments (we made the blue part wider than my original sketch had been) and then he went to town.

OMG.  Did that ever freaking HURT.  I used my trusty Emla cream but for such a big design I didn’t want to waste the whole expensive tube on one piece, so I just applied it over my spine.  That helped for about 20 minutes but Cantu and I both underestimated the time it would take.  3 hours!  At about hour 2.25, I was in tears.  If, as the Marines say, “Pain is weakness leaving the body”, then I am one strong-ass bitch today.  :)   Anybody out there considering a large back piece take my advice:  reconsider!! Heh.  And I can’t imagine how itchy this fucker is gonna be while it heals.

But I love it.  I love it.  It is so beautiful, and I didn’t even realize how beautiful until I got home and BW took photos.  In the shop, we had talked about doing some shading with the blues, fading from dark to light etc.  But my notion of that was far more simplistic (and not a fraction as nice) as what Cantu actually did.  Look at this detail pic!  Look at how subtle…the lowlights, the delicate sea foam highlights on the tips of the ‘waves’, the modeling of the colors that gives it a touch of volume and so much richness.  This is so beyond was I was thinking, I am just thrilled with it.  But like I said, at the shop I couldn’t even see any of that because the light was bad and their mirrors are dirty.  :)   So when I did see it, I my jaw dropped.

Sorry that was so long-winded, but you know I like to carry on about the ‘design process’ and whathaveyou.  What’s the point of tats without context and what they mean to the bearer, right?  Anyway, after this I believe that I am pretty much done for a long while.  I only have one more small one planned for the future.  (Unless I get to the Orkneys!)  From now on whenever I get the jones for ink, I plan to just have some of myolder ones touched up and/or improved.  Or go with other people and live vicariously.

You can see all the pictures in high-resolution here.

3 Responses to “The Norse Sagas”

  1. Wendy Says:

    Absolutely beautiful work! The preciseness of the ship against the blue waves is incredible.

  2. whistler Says:

    very purdy.. the blue looks good on you.. THAT’s the color of blue I wanted.

  3. LOUP Says:

    That is just amazing!!!! Love love love it!! You are catching up .. I had better get more work done. = )

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