Monday is my Sunday!

Monday is for drawing! Time to catch up with tattoo requests from friends and personal projects. First up is a flying robot for a client, it’s based off an existing tattoo, I have no idea how to modify it (yet) and make it my own. Then it’s time for a koi and sun forearm half-sleeve for a longtime friend. I’m trying to incorporate ornamental design into Japanese. I liked the mandalas so much I ended up doing 2 more designs. It was all in good fun.


I also did this 2 calling card designs – These are just drafts for now, spur of the moment ideas! I’d definitely print the “art director” one first, then the “tattooer” one later when I’m tattooing at a professional level. I like the “tattooer” design more, though. I hope my mom didn’t notice the subliminal Illuminati message when she sees this, she’d totally freak out.



2nd month of tattoo apprenticeship in pictures

So what’s up everyone. Since I last updated, I’ve started tattooing real humans and unfortunately that led to the lack of updates on this blog. My apologies. As much as I wanted to post “results” of the tattoos, I’d save that for later when I actually get better. For the last month or so, I’m limited to doing tribal work – simple designs using only solid black, with no shading whatsoever.

This is the stencil for my first tattoo on a human – ever. It’s about 18x 10 cm – awful huge for a newbie! How did it go? It went badly and I didn’t even finish! 3 hours into the tattoo, my client had to leave, and I’ve only managed to line everything and shade the outer part of the alien face  thing. Lesson learnt  – don’t bring your easily bored girlfriend to your tattoo session.

Here’s some of the other stencils I got to do this last month. They say doing tribals is like shoveling coal – it’s long hours and repetitive work pushing in the black stuff over and over again, but I believe in a learning process!  Through doing all these simple tribals, I’m figuring out to do clean crisp lines (it’s the hardest), solid colors, constant line quality, all the fundamentals before I could even handle more complicated work. As much as I’d love to do colorful Neo-Traditional or ornamental work, I don’t think I’m capable to do that type of work to an acceptable standard just yet. Like they say, everything in its own time.

How hard was tattooing? It was tough beyond expectation! I thought I’ve nailed it down pat on practice skin, but human skin is an entirely different medium. There were nights when I went home so frustrated, despite doing all my best, I felt that I failed terribly, and all I wanted was to give in and give up tattooing. Yes, it was that hard. On top of that I’ve always set high standards for myself and my work, so when my results didn’t meet with my expectations, the one who’s most upset was not my boss or my client, it was me! So I did the only thing I had to do – try harder on the next tattoo, and get better, and hope that one day I’d be pleased enough with my own work that I’m able to post it here!

So that’s that. Perhaps I’ll update you with some colored work next month – no more tribals! – all fingers crossed.

1st month of tattoo apprenticeship in pictures

15 April – Day 7 of apprenticeship. I conquered my fear of butterfly pictures. I traced some tribal flash from a book, to be used later for my temporary tattoos album.

2 April – Day 11. Learned about temporary ink. I got to do temporary tattoos on myself.

I got bored with the stock tribal designs so I freehanded this silly dotwork burning skull tatt.


24 April – Day 12. Done with the temporary tattoos, I did some custom artwork, then spent the rest of the day coloring some koi flash. I wish I had more time to draw like this.

25 April – Day 13. Practice skin arrived. It looked daunting, not to mention rubbery. Gnar!

6 April – Day 14. Trying to memorize things like this: The distance between the spring and contact screw when the armature bar is fully pressed. This is the correct distance for lining. Oh and BTW on the 2nd day of practice, I totally dropped my machine on the floor! Thank goodness I didn’t break it! Don’t try this at your shop!

1 May, Day 16. This is my practice skin after 3 days of “tattooing”. Still learning how to line and lay solid color using 5 rounds. Only 5 rounds. It’s hard work.

How the hell do you make straight lines? Why does the upper part look chewed up? Obviously, I still have a lot to learn…

And the story continues. I’ll keep you updated with more pictures, and less whining about how hard it is, because as they say, there’s absolutely no crying in tattooing. Hear, hear.

Mangdu Ink – Prelude

Let’s just say I’ve been super busy with my apprenticeship and all my freelance jobs. Life is going well. No, I’m not tattooing just yet. I’ve only gotten as far as the theory stage, that, and getting the hang of running the shop. So it’s basically manning the front desk, cleaning, drawing, and more drawing, and even more basics of drawing, like these 2″x2″ squares of lines, curves and squiggles, all done in tattooing hand position. Sounds weird? Sounds too easy to do? Wait until you try it yourself.

I can’t wait to tell you the progress of my apprenticeship, but let’s save that for a later post…


Pre-Tattoo Apprenticeship diary thing, AKA my week in limbo.

(Originally written on Monday 26 March, 2012)
Monday. I have a week off, It’s my first day off work, and I finally have time to do some flash. I’ve drawn this flash sheet over the weekend and I can’t wait to color it in with my watercolor pencils. One day if I’m good enough I’ll use real watercolor, but not now. Baby steps.

Quite pleased with the overall result. I had to put white gouache over some highlights because I accidentally painted over them. Boo. Mistakes in watercolor are hard to fix. I hope later on my human canvasses won’t kill me if I screw up and color something wrong.

By the way, this flash painting is dedicated to my friend Jen. Get well soon!

 (Originally written on Tuesday 27 March, 2012)
I texted Eddy in the morning and he said we’re set to start on Tuesday, April 3. It’s only a week from now! Why Tuesday? The shop is closed on Mondays.

I spend the afternoon drawing this Taylor Swift flash painting. Here’s an insight to my sorry-ass process.  First, I traced a rough outline. This is how I trace. Somebody buy me a lightbox!

The sketch in progress. The rose is nice but it ended up too huge…

That rose, I traced it off and plan to do it as a separate painting.

Alas, just before I’m about to continue with the original drawing, Dayan called and asked me out for a movie night. Alright. That’s enough drawings for today!

 (Originally written on Wednesday 28 March, 2012)
Not much progress on drawings, but I went to Binus area to a friend’s friend house and almost bought this Chinese machine secondhand. He’s selling it real cheap, wanted to upgrade to a better machine. Almost. I ultimately decided not to buy it because as cheap as it is, it would be better if I buy my first machine first-hand. Also here’s all the advice I got from my tattooer friends when I told them I’m shopping around for a machine:

“Nothing good will come out of buying Chinese machines”, “Don’t make the same mistake I’ve done, get a good first machine!”

“I used to have a Chinese machine. I only use it to take it apart and to learn about setting up, then after I got my first proper machine, I threw it away. ” – to that I instinctively replied “Nooo, give it to me instead!”, haha.

The thought of buying a cheap machine just to practice setting up and taking it apart is interesting, but ultimately I decided it’s worth the wait to buy a better machine, and learn using the machines in the shop instead.

(Originally written on Thursday 29 March, 2012)
No progress on drawings either for today, too busy with visiting Nana’s newborn baby (yay, congrats!), getting my taxes done (finally!), and going to H2000 for the first time. Such an obscure but very interesting place where you can get just about anything tattoo and piercing related.

I didn’t go home with a new machine – I got some 14mm stainless steel tunnels instead. Happy ears.

Friday, 30 March, to Sunday, 1 April 2012:
I didn’t do any drawings because I’m busy with a lot of freelance work. Ha. My bad. I did collect some awesome inspirations from European folk art, though. Until today I’ve never even heard of Kurbits (Swedish folk painting style) or Suzani (textiles from Uzbekistan). Now I can’t stop imagining how awesome those styles will look in tattoo art.

Monday, 2 April 2012.
I went to work for my farewell day. Actually it’s farewell day for 5 of us, as there’s a lot of my co-workers who happened to be resigning from the office at the same time. It’s a great farewell day filled with lots of laughter and no parting tears – just the way I like it!

While waiting at the office, I drew this trio of dotwork animals. It’s obvious I was inspired by paisley art, henna, and folk art styles. I can’t help it!

They’re unfinished, but I love how they look already. I can’t wait to learn dotwork tattooing, but as always, first things first!

So excited for tomorrow, when I officially become an apprentice. Anything could happen now, all I can do is try my best and learn all I can.

Update on life and thoughts

I’m at home, chillin, listening to reggae and finally updating this blog just for the sake of updating. I have one more week of fulltime work ahead of me before I go onto doing something new with my life. (Hint hint)

During the last few months, great things has been happening, and all the signs and omens have been pointing to that certain direction, and I can’t help but feeling so blessed. These are exciting times – so exciting that sometimes I find it hard to stay asleep at night, wondering where life will take me a month – two months, four months, a year from now? I have so much ahead of me, so many things to do, work to catch up, that my head begins to spin. I mean I’m not that young compared to most people just starting in the industry, most of them start in their early 20s. But we’ll see about that once I start.

Oh the insomnia. Those nights when I can’t sleep, I turn to Youtube, cos I don’t have cable and local TV sucks, we all know that. I turn to Youtube and I download TV series. Lately I’ve been watching NBC The Voice and actually I quite enjoyed it, being different than the Idol shows. But there is a glaring similarity between those two: The dramatic backstories. That, they can definitely do without. Nearly every contestant’s got a past to tell. Drug addiction, disease, poverty, death of a loved one… You put that on Indonesian television and the drama portion will increase tenfolds. More crying and other irrelevant emotional stuff than singing. Now I don’t know how ratings work – but I’m tired of watching this all the time, in all of my favorite reality shows, (don’t get me started on the Ink series) and I’m sure most viewers are.

It was then I had a look at my life.

I’m just me. I don’t have a dramatic past. I don’t have cancer or HIV. I’ve never been homeless, in jail, in rehab, or so heartbroken that I couldn’t live. My parents are healthy and they’re still together.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a story to tell. (I hate using double negations in a sentence, WTF!) I don’t have drama, and I have as much to tell as you!

It’s sad that people often focus on their past and can’t let go. I mean, the past is there for us to learn, but our time is in the now. We live for the future. Why do I even want to talk about this? I’m about to close another chapter in my life, and this is why I’m getting all sentimental and philosophical and shit, so excuse me for speaking my mind out. I hope that some of it makes some sense.  Night, everyone!

Make mistakes and run with it

So after browsing a lot of tattoo art portfolios, I noticed that most artists and apprentices do their artwork on paper and color them manually, as compared to scanning them and coloring them in Photoshop. Most of the time, the latter is always the easy way out for me . For years I’ve been doing this digital coloring thing. I’m so accustomed to color my work in Photoshop that I almost forgot how fun it is to paint and color your artwork manually. How fun it is to make mistakes. There’s the factor of uncertainty in the process of coloring the artwork that draws me in, the factor of expecting the unexpected. The resulting artwork might not be perfect, it might not be 100% to what you have in mind, but I think it has more soul compared to digitally-colored artwork.

Here’s some comparison. First picture is a design I did recently for a tattoo design contest. It took me 3 hours to sketch, scan in and color  in Photoshop. The result is OK but predictable. I kinda liked it for being so neat, smooth and perfect, but where’s the fun?

This be the second drawing. It’s like a sketchbook rough for a flash sheet I wanna do in the future. I did  the initial linework on my usual sketchbook, then colored it in with some cheap-ass watercolors and some cheap ass colored pencils. It took me an hour. It’s so imperfect but it looks cool because it’s got more soul. Do you agree with me here?

I need to get proper watercolor paper, btw. And good quality watercolor cakes. This kiddy-grade stuff, they’re ain’t cutting it for the kind of practice I need to do before I start my apprenticeship proper. Yes. If all goes well, I will start apprenticing within a month’s time, but we’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.