Da Vinci was once asked to demonstrate his ability as the elite artist his reputation colored him to be. What he did astounded his challengers. He didn’t recreate his most detailed portraits, nor produce another complex physical contraption he’d sketched so many of in the past.
He drew a perfect circle.
Simplicity is one of the marks of a practiced artist – it demonstrates both skill and the wisdom to just leave out all of the stuff that just doesn’t need to be there to get the point across. Drawing a perfect circle requires mastery of distance, a steady hand, and the ability to focus – three domains in which all artists struggle, and of which Da Vinci owned like it was already out of style.
In the world of tattoo art, however, artists do not have the luxury of working on a flat surface. Navigating the curves and angles of a human body requires an even deeper understanding of shape as it will ultimately live on a three-dimensional, moving figure. It is not uncommon for artists (at least the good, honest ones) to turn patrons away who request perfect geometric figures on parts of their body they claim “just can’t be done”. In fact, I myself had to shop around LA after being turned down by multiple shops upon requesting a circle for my shoulder bone. I was told that it was “impossible” and that the example images I provided were fake and photoshopped – that my perfect circle was just going to look like a weird little egg due to the curve of my shoulder. Thankfully, I stumbled upon The Todd at Velvet Grip who tackled it like a modern day Da Vinci.
Lesson: Anything is possible with the right artist. Don’t EVER settle or take someone at their word.
When you hunt for your own Da Vinci of the geometric tattoo, make sure their body of work shows their mastery of lines. Ask if they have ever done a simple straight line before and if you can inspect it. Are they wobbly? Blown out? Do they fade in and out or are they solid throughout? If you’re not sure what to look for, James+Samaniego provide excellent examples of good line work and bad line work.
Have you had any stellar or not so stellar line work done recently? We’re curious – please share with us in the comments below!