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April 19, 2010

Guy Aitchison and Don McDonald's back tattoo, and proton press website launch!

 Sunday, April 18, 2010

This past week has been chock full of creative fun here at Hyperspace Studios. Twice a year, Pittsburgh tattooer Don McDonald comes by to swap work and collaborate on various projects- you can find a lot of these pieces in the Hyperspace Collab Gallery. This week we started a backpiece on Baltimore tattooist Markuss Decker. Although Don and I have done some large collab tattoo projects, we had yet to tackle a back and were curious to see how it would go. We normally work with both of us tattooing at the same time when we collaborate, so we had some small concerns about Markuss being able to cope with what would certainly be a worse pain situation than a collab sleeve.

We started out the process by getting a clear photo of Markuss' back and doing a number of pencil drawings. Although there is some coverup involved, there had already been a very effective laser session, so we could proceed more or less normally. Once we had a handful of pencil drawings that we liked, we then used Photoshop to composite together our favorite parts of each drawing into one design, then use the Photoshop paint tools to clean it up and hammer it into a cohesive overall design:

Guy Aitchison Don McDonald

After that, I had the design printed life-size on canvas, stretched it on canvas stretchers and sent it to Don's studio, where he did a thorough pass with oil paints. Then, last Wednesday, he and I spent a day tweaking the painting with Markuss and his boss John hanging out providing entertainment. Eventually we got it to a point where we felt ready to proceed with the tattoo:

Guy Aitchison Don McDonald collaborative tattoo

The following day we stenciled on the top two-thirds of the piece and got a good long session in, with both of us working. Markuss hated it but could cope. You know how, when you're getting tattooed, it sucks but you have this sense of it being worth it because progress is happening? One great thing about getting double-teamed like this is that although the pain is nowhere near double the normal amount, the progress definitely is doubled. After a good night's sleep we stenciled the lower part and drew in the back of the neck, which ties in with the awesome throat sleeve that Don had already done on him. After a few more hours, we got the whole thing to this point:

Guy Aitchison Don McDonald collaborative tattoo

I don't like sending clients home with just an outline... usually I work magnum first, so that generally wouldn't be an option in any case. What we have here is not only a solid and built-up set of linework but also a good shaded and colored foundation for the whole thing. We'll be doing a couple more sessions on this in November and two more again a year from now- by then it should look pretty cool.

As always, if you and another artist are interested in collaborating on skin, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have your design thoroughly hashed out ahead of time before you take it to skin. If you are both on the same page, great things can happen at an amazingly fast rate. Without a plan, though, you can get mud.
proton press

On a totally different note, we just launched a new music website at www.protonpress.com. For starters we are featuring 5 musical projects, 3 of them by tattooists but all of them from within the tattoo community. Proton Press Music is focusing on instrumental music in a variety of styles including dark ambient, punchy electro, experimental psychedelic, heavy crunchy dub step and some gorgeous atmospheric guitar soundscapes. We have a free music player there, so drop by and give it a listen... if you like anything there is a download link and a place to order hard copy CDs. On May 22 at Hell City, we'll be hosting a live performance of all 5 of these acts on Saturday night after the contests... if you have any interest at all in music, try not to take any late appointments that night!

Last but not least, I just posted several new questions and answers at the Ask Guy page including information on stencil longevity, disposable tubes and issues related to copying other people's tattoos. As always, I encourage you to send me your own questions- the tougher, the better... and I'll do my best with them.

I'll post more cool stuff soon!