Updated: Dec 8, 2022
“To use fruit or fake skin? That is the question.” Well, I am finding that it’s important to use a little of both.
As the weeks’ progress, I have learned more and more about my machine and become exceedingly more comfortable loading and unloading it. Now I am discovering the wonderful world of skins, and how immensely different each one is from the other. Just like human skin, each surface is a little bit different and requires attention and care when etching into it. Skin can be thick or thin, soft and flexible, or even dry and wrinkled. Each skin surface can pose a different tattooing conundrum, changing the outcome of what may initially be an “easy tattoo”.
Fake skin is quite different from real skin, and takes a minute to get used to. The pros: it’s malleable, flexible, and able to be wrapped around a body part to simulate the curvature of human body parts. The cons: it’s rubbery, somewhat dense, and the ink doesn’t seem to want to hold on when making a pass over the surface. All and all, it is an important tool to help teach a new apprentice ways of dealing with skin that doesn’t want to take ink. I found that I had to learn to make pass after pass while trying not to mulch up the surface, causing what could be considered a disastrous scar.
Fruit acts almost the exact opposite as a tattooing surface. It behaves much closer to real human skin because it is delicate and easily marked into. Pros: it takes ink quickly, easily, and actually smells really nice as you are tattooing away. Cons: it takes the ink SO easily and quickly that it can be very unforgiving with the slightest little mistake from a shaky unbalanced hand. Also, grapefruits and oranges being a simple singular spear, can be awkward and difficult to handle while learning to balance and new tattoo machine. These challenges can mimic tattooing a jumpy twitchy foot, or the fragile side of a woman’s bosom.
Strangely, with each surface being tested, the pros become cons and the cons swap out to pros doing a bate and switch at every turn. I imagine, this enigma that is skin, is a living riddle where each puzzle gives the artist more information as they dive into the next skin perplexity. Every surface with all its imperfections will help teach you how to work on living breathing unpredictable human skin. Embracing each challenge, no matter how daunting it is, only produces a better artist!
“As with all my work, whether it’s a leaf on a rock or ice on a rock, I’m trying to get beneath the surface appearance of things. Working the surface of a stone is an attempt to understand the internal energy of the stone.” -Andy Goldsworthy-