Updated: Dec 8, 2022
Back to the basics…
As I meander my way through my apprenticeship at Speakeasy Tattoo in Los Angeles, I find myself checking back in with the fundamentals of art on a consistent basis. Even more so than when I was in college working towards a degree in art, today, the foundation is more important than ever. As artists taking lessons in fine art, we are taught to explore, be free, get messy, and embrace imperfect mistakes. That is almost the exact opposite to the way I am attacking the process of learning to tattoo. Proportion, value scale, perspective and precision are essentials for a tattoo artist to have in their bag of tricks. Art 101 is on a comeback for me in a big way, as I am now taking a trip “back to the drawing board”.
So, what does that look like for me? It looks old and new at the same time. I know that sounds like a ridiculous statement, but it is the only way I can express the reality of this current process. I am coming to some interesting revelations through this practice and confronting the way my artistic technique has evolved in comparison to my very first pursuits at basic art exercises. I am someone who has been drawing, in some form, my entire life. When I learned the art ABC’s in the beginning, I was the blank slate being formed. Now, when addressing those same first steps, I have an undeniable style that radiates through each study I attempt. I will admit, I have been apprehensive to go back to the beginning and relearn the backbone of art. But, I have found that it’s not so much relearning how to do something, but more so, honing a craft and perfecting an adeptness that is already ingrained. I am still learning something anew, always learning, but learning with experiences, and a personal style, that influence an evolved outcome. It looks a lot different now, in a good way.
Throughout this task, I have gained confidence in my abilities. And let me tell you, confidence is very important for a fumbling tattoo apprentice who is struggling with a new machine that mocks every trembling line you lay down. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the new things I am afraid I cannot do, I remind myself to focus on the simple things that I CAN do. And, how those simple things will create an infrastructure of artistry and skill for this daunting endeavor. To Scott Glazier, I am grateful for this lesson.
“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way” – Doris Lessing-