HOW TO ART DIRECT YOUR
Our members' work is so good, it's no surprise that many of them choose to ink it permanently onto their bodies. Case in point: Jen Mussari has a tattoo of a drawing by friend and fellow WNW Member Julianna Brion.
We've always been curious if our members get tattoos of their own work to be a walking portfolio, or if, as creatives, they art direct their tattoo artists. WNW Member #6102 Samuel Viani, a Brazilian Art Director and Designer based in London, kicks off our new series about members, their tattoos, and the stories behind them. He knows what it's like to get a tattoo or three. And they're not hiding behind his ear.
Let us state the obvious: you have a shit ton of tattoos. Tell us about them.
Since I was a child I’ve always been into fantasy, comics, card and role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Around the age of 15 I started to be really interested in various mythologies, particularly the Norse Mythology. Growing up with Heavy Metal music was one of the crucial factors which contributed to this passion. So at the age of 20 (I think) I decided to get my first tattoo on the Viking subject. My first tattoo wasn’t very well planned but I was very sure about the meaning I wanted it to convey. The tattoos that came after the first were planned with precision – going through a creative process until I had a strong and solid concept to make the final decision on the subject matter in order to start working with the tattoo artist to define the design.
I spent a good time thinking about the concept and style of these tattoos to make sure I wanted to stick to the Norse Mythology subject from my first tattoo. The concept is based on the Ragnarök (The Twilight of the Gods). Its meaning is a cyclical end of the world, after which follows a new creation, which will in turn be followed by another Ragnarök, and so on throughout eternity. I was interested in the idea of the cleansing before a new beginning, creation and destruction as ends of a circle. However, I never wanted to portray the Norse Gods with the classic Viking visual style, so I took another step to wrap the concept up on an abstract level. In the final battle all the Gods fight and some die. As a horror fan I also wanted to have some skulls and zombie-like tattoos, from which came the idea to design the Gods using this style to represent their death in the battle. There are symbols and details within the tattoos which indicate the identity of the Gods. It was very important to me to keep a strong concept behind the tattoos.
At the moment I only have a half sleeve on my right arm, a full sleeve on my left arm and a back piece in progress.
What was the process like?
The tattoo process can be quite painful depending on a few factors such as the body part, tattoo design, the tattoo artist and your own pain threshold. For me, most of my tattoos were quite painful but I could say it was a ‘positive’ pain. It is hard to describe, but sometimes I look forward to the next session. It can be fun and you can see it as a meditation ritual or something like that, seeing an amazing transformation taking shape as a result of pain and hard work.
There was this one time after finishing a session I noticed a couple of ‘mistakes’ in the tattoo and my OCD for perfection made me point them out to the artist…“Hey, there’s a line out of place here”. He said “Leave the line there, it’s ok. That line isn’t going anywhere”. Tattoo art can’t be so precise and that’s one of the beauties of the process… you might end up with something out of place in your tattoo but hey, that’s ok.
Who's the tattoo artist to whom you entrust the task? Do you give a lot of direction?
Apart from the first one, all my tattoos have been created by my good Brazilian friend and very talented London-based tattoo artist named Joao Bosco. His dark fantasy style has everything I was looking for in my tattoos. He has an amazing talent to create large complex pieces while keeping it minimal, focusing on the idea and subject of the tattoo. His line work, ability to add motion with a strong contrast and details which bring the tattoo to life, inviting the viewer to discover more couldn’t fit any better conceptually with my subject matter.
As a designer, I spent quite a while thinking about the concept, gathering references, sketching out and everything else through a creative process. I even created a presentation deck for Joao, which he just looked at and said “Dude, wtf is this???” Obviously he ignored mostly everything and followed his own process! It was good though, having a strong definition of the concept helped us to work together on the design and come up with something pretty amazing. I can’t really draw so I’d just give him a few directions of what I was thinking, he would make a sketch and we would go from there. It was a very collaborative process. If the tattoo artist is good, you have to trust him/her because they will know what works best aesthetically in your skin.
Do you have any new ones planned or in the works?
I’m still doing my back piece which might take a few more sessions to finish up but I already have plans for new ones…I actually planned these a long time ago when I was starting the other tattoos. One is for my legs but I might do another piece on the other arm first. For now I’ll stick to the same subject as it’s something I had planned before and am still happy about it. You know what they say about tattoos, once you start, it’s hard to stop on the first one!
What do your parents think? Or are we outing you on the Internet right now?
Like most parents of people on my age, they didn’t quite appreciate my tattoos. They say a small tattoo is ok but what I’ve done is too big!
They don’t know about my back tattoo yet. It’s gonna be a tough one to show them as it’s much much bigger than the sleeve. Hopefully it will be alright and they will come to terms with the fact that there will be more to come…
What would you say to someone who is on the fence about getting a tattoo?
I always say think about what you really like conceptually and from a visual point of view. Getting a tattoo just for the sake of having one is not the best way to go. You should have a better reason to get a tattoo rather than “It’s cool” because you might regret it. I decided to go through with my first tattoo because there was a meaning for me behind it. As the design was using symbols, it wasn’t really the most visually striking tattoo. I did it because of what the idea and its meaning represent for me. If you’re on the fence about getting a tattoo, spend a good time thinking about what really attracts you and then speak to the tattoo artist about the design, don’t just go with something you took from the internet.
Anything else you'd like to add that we haven't asked?
Don’t be afraid to get a tattoo if you want one, but only get a big piece if you really know what you want. If it’s a small one, then just go for it!