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A Tattoo

Designing with a client in mind and his mum!

A quick note before starting this learning log.
An important lesson was learnt during this exercise, that you need to be careful within illustrations, I had a direction I was going within Norse and Viking mythology, runes and mother symbols. While I did a lot of research and started designing, I will not be showing this as I came to a conclusion that while the design direction was its own, it had serious and close links to hate / banned symbolism and I wasn’t comfortable continuing with the design and its area after I made the connection. It could be used today in the manner the design really wasn’t intended, more so that could be tattooed on a persons body with ill intentions!

AND I had started this exercise on another very serious mistake, I was forgetting the visual side of this design, I was very intent on creating something different and something with strong symbolic purpose to “mother” that I was blinded by it a little.
Reality I would ask more questions from the client so I would be able to create something special that relates to them.

I still need to work on the balance between objectives / visuals and client.

I thought about designing a tattoo based on an ancient Egypt design based on the mother goddess Mut or the goddess Iris.
I wasn’t pulling together any designs that really inspired me.

Then I had found a tattooist when I was creating my mood page in my sketchbook called Marta Lipinski of dead Romanoff (Leipzig, Germany.) first I had was drawn her images as felt was inspiring, later realizing her interview in “skin Deep” was titled “A mother’s eyes” how mother hood has changed her designs, this was fate!
She had done a couple of designs with birds, so I thought may be able to link mothers/love/family with some kind of birds, while I researching this direction I turned to the thoughts of bears. Not only is the animal symbolism for motherhood, I often myself say I will go into mother bear mode.
I was still inspired by Lipinski designs so will try to link bears to this style as well as my own little thing.

A moodboard / inspiration page in my sketchbook

Background into animal spirits

I discovered the origins of animal spirits come form both ancient Animistic and Totemistic beliefs.

Totemistic belief is our spirits are connected to the an animal.
Such belief is held Native Americans – Animal guides (Totemic)

Bear guide meaning – Industrious, instinctive, healing, power, sovereignty, guardian of the world, watcher, courage, will power, self-preservation, introspection, and great strength.

Animistic is that all animals and plants have spirits.
Animal Spirit – Pagan (Animistic)

I finally found my creative inspiration with this piece!


As I’ve picked Native American as my main source of inspiration and research, My research based heavily within the warrior culture and how native Americas tattoos influenced the world of tattoos today.
I found the subject very interesting as not only given insight and inspiration for this exercise for my own personal projects such as my webtoon.


It was important to get the colours right as my plan to use wisely. I wanted meaning in the colours (plan 2/3 max)
Wanted the colours feel like “mother” without the overload of pink tones, so I looked into the meanings to help me come up with a palette.
Steel grey – Reliability, Dependability, fair-mindedness
Power blue – Ethereal, Serenity, Peacefulness
Rainforest Green – Stability, fertility, healing, caring
Juniper (Blue-green) – Protection, powerful, listening, compassion, understanding, kindness, peace, insight, knowledge.
Elephant grey – calming, security, balance, gentle
Peacock Blue – beauty, pride, renewal, rebirth, protection, insight,
Vermilion – life, loyalty, life-giving, strength
Delft Blue – inviting, peaceful, loving, trust, serenity
Moss green – stability, safety, life

I checked colour palette for tattoo ink to see what could match up and work a colour, I found out that skin tone and undertone was important for making colours pop/last.
I think I’m going down the green/blue hue as it is also the middle ground for mid tones along with white/black. Also like any ink pigment a tattoo artist can mix so I would not really be limited by colours in the design.

Inked copy of the “final design”

After sketching out in pencil I inked one of my designs, I had planned to scan / colour / fix digitally however I realized that the line weight need more flow for this to feel right.


With a brush I recreated the design so have more weight, more dynamic within the lines.
Any mistakes and I can fix via photoshop so I let myself just paint with flow and feelings.

I also changed my mind on colour, now wanting to link better to native American colour tone and making the design work for a mothers day card. I added elements of native American designs into the lines, even the bottom of the design is a play on a “dream catcher”.

I was relaxed with the colour in the end as I know the client can always change mind and ask the tattooist for a different colour, I feel the design can be flexible with colour and growth, such the tattoo can grow bigger if the client wants and easily add design that work together around the design.

OCA Tattoo design

Final design
Ink & cleaned / adjustment in photoshop

Mock ups below to see how designs work on the human body.

tattoo design mock up

Photo by Lucas Ribeiro from Pexels

OCA - Tattoo mock up

Photo by Scorpio Creative on Unsplash front
Photo by Cihan Soysakal on Unsplash (beach back)

OCA - Mothersday card

Next I worked on the card, the greeting card while the tattoo was designed in mind of working as a card as well, the card is secondary as the tattoo is permanent.

OCA motherdays card mockup

I love the tattoo design, it is something I would have. I would have liked to have an idea of the client taste in the objectives as they may not align with my own. However I think it works very well as a tattoo and quite proud of myself.

I’m not sure about the card design, the idea is there but I feel it needs something more or different as it’s not 100% working for me.
Maybe experiment with different feelings/vibes – such as a vintage/soft or even a wood carving, like the design has been carved/burnt into wood !


Another thing you can do with this design, is that you can design a series around the spirit animals.
Such as these quickly done in my personal sketchbook of a wolf and eagle.

Credit, references and research

History of Tattoos

One thought on “A Tattoo

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