Turtle Tattoo – Czech Republic

Jan's Turtle TattooIn November 2009 a young man from the Czech Republic emailed me regarding one of the turtle’s I had done for Simon’s painting. Initially he was asking for permission to use that image for a tattoo for himself.

“I found your web site today by searching for man in maze symbols. I was very absorbed by the turtle with man in maze. In this time, I am going through a hard time in my life and I am searching for what I wanna really do – job, be happy with that and doing good things to other people. As a reflection for this I would like to get a tattoo with man in maze – symbol for my life path, for good and bad times, and searching for higher spirit. So my question is if you will give me please the allowance to use the painting of turtle with man in maze as a base for my tattoo.”

I thought that showed great integrity and class that he emailed me for my permission to use it. As an artist, all my work is copywritten, however that does not necessarily stop anyone from using it without my permission. I was grateful that Jan took the time to send me an email, explaining his desire and understanding of the symbol, and the reason it was so important to him.

I replied stating that he could indeed use the symbol, but he must allow me to change it slightly for him. As I’ve stated before, all of my work is one of a kind, and the original symbol he saw was for Simon, and Simon alone. So, I suggested I could alter the image for him slightly to better fit his personality. Jan replied,”I would be very happy about the changed painting, it would be a honor to wear for the rest of my life symbol from person like you.”

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Michael’s Tattoo

Sun tattooI originally desigend this tattoo for Michael back in August 2005. Michael, who resides in San Francisco, wanted a design of the sun, a symbol he has always had a strong connection to. Over the span of a few weeks we went through several different designs and colours styles before we came up with the perfect image for him.

However, he didn’t actually get the tattoo until July 2009, while visiting Fargo, North Dakota. The tattoo artist did a phenomenal job, and I was extremely impressed with how well it came out.

For his design, the symbol, like Michael himself, is one that radiates creative emergence. The essence is the centre of the sun, which contains the symbol for the origins of the universe, depicting the seed of the universe rotating clockwise in the spiral of potential energy. I’ve met Michael a few times, and the amount of positive and creative energy emerging from him was also what I wanted to capture in the symbol.

(Photo courtesy Michael’s charming husband Jase Wells)

Turtle Tattoo

My client Jennifer and I had been talking on and off for a few months about her getting a tattoo done. Although she wasn’t quite ready to get a tattoo yet, she wanted me to keep some ideas in mind for when she was. She knew she wanted a turtle, but she also wanted something that embodied her 2 young children, Ashton (8) and McKenna (7). Although they are only 10 months apart, personality wise they are complete opposites. We wanted to find something that both accentuated and harmonized their differences. What better than Yin and Yang? But that seemed a bit too prosaic. I wanted more than that, and suggested we use the Sun and Moon and their favourite colours to represent each child. McKenna is the sun with vibrant reds and energetic yellows, and Ashton the moon with deep and soulfully reflective blues. Jenn’s favourite colour was green, so we made the outline of the turtle green.

Jennifer had this permanently embedded upon her person on August 3, 2006.

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Seahorse tattoo 2

This design went to Karen, who has always felt a kinship to the Seahorse. As her last stab at youth before she quit her job in Calgary and retired to Vancouver Island with her husband in their newly built dream house… she requested I draw her a seahorse. A week later, she had it tattooed on the inside of her ankle. Of course… she didn’t tell her husband she did this, and as far as anyone knows… I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Other than draw it… and help her find a good tattoo artist, and pester her every day to get it done… but aside from that, I had nothing to do with it. Honest Dale!

Karen wanted this one a little more life like and less abstract than the one I designed for Rhonda last winter.

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Rhonda’s Seahorse

About 2 months before Rhonda and I ventured down to see U2 in San Francisco, she started to contemplate the idea of getting a tattoo on our trip. She said if I designed something for her, she’d definitely get a tattoo. Great, it was decided. Then I promptly drew a blank… for a month. Calling up memory banks….. wrrrrrrr….. nuthin.

The dragonfly had recently come to me, but I wasn’t sure if that was meant for Rhonda or for Ralph’s hanging (see Follow Your Bliss for more info) which I was also doing at
the same time. I thought the dragonfly would work as it reminded me of the R.E.M. lyric “the dragonflies are busy buzzing me,” and Rhonda is the biggest R.E.M. fan on the planet (she has traveled all over the world to party personally with the band). But the deeper I got into Ralph’s painting, the more I knew that symbol was meant solely for him. Rhonda is an architectural technologist, so I wanted something representative of angled design that also incorporated swirled refinement. The days were ticking down and I was feeling the pressure of finding a symbol. But nothing was coming to me.

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Rafe’s Symbol

When Fiona was pregnant, she asked if I would create a symbol for the baby once it was born. But of course! Young Sir Rafe sprang forth from her loins in May 2004, but I didn’t come up with a symbol right away. I wanted to get to know him a bit first. Then while doodling in a meeting about 6 months later (I get a lot of my ideas from doodling in meetings – believe it or not it helps me concentrate) I looked down on my note pad to see this symbol suddenly staring back at me. I knew it was Rafe. I scanned and coloured it on the computer and emailed it off to Fiona that night. She was in total agreement. It was perfect!

I then framed the print and wrapped it up and presented it to Rafe on his first birthday. I didn’t take offence to the fact he was much more interested in the wrapping paper than the significance of the gift.

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