Working as an illustrator you need to be able to adapt to various scenarios and clients requests, and the idea of having a strong visual language/visual communication is very important in assisting their work. The process of building towards a final image requires time, thought and trial and error. Sketchbooks containing initial drawings, doodles, sketches, notes, and research are the very beginnings of a new project for an illustrator and can be done in whichever way you like. Not only can this be important for illustrators working on new projects, but it’s accessible to absolutely anyone who feels they have a creative streak. Many people today ranging from children to adults take up some form of creative outlet, whether it be professionally or unprofessionally, for example, doodles, sketch notes, colouring books, and drawing software for mobile phones. Doodling is something everyone does, on old letters lying around and on the corner of their notepads. It can be very therapeutic for some to release thoughts and feelings in this way rather than using words. Today it is encouraged from a young age, in schools and should also be done at home, to create and release thoughts in a way which derives from absolute self-expression. Following on from this, the idea of self-expression through creating initial images, sketches and line drawings, I felt really tied in with the idea of tattoos, and some tattoo culture that exists in 2017. In the following paragraphs, an exploration will take place into self-expression in sketches/doodles, the ways of mark making, tattoo culture at present, and how it is changing the way we think and create as individuals.
Children enjoy creating in many different ways and drawing is something that comes naturally to many, “I believe doodling can be applied from infancy to industry. When you put pen to paper, you open your heart to ideas, insight, and inspiration.” (Founder of the Doodle Institute, Diane Bleck). This in a way is the beginnings of an artist, discovering the love of drawing as a child, starting with the basics and creating images with simple lines and shapes. When a child creates, it is pure and free as there is much less thought that goes into it compared to that of an older person who may try to overwork an image at times. When a child is asked to listen and create, they are actively taking part in the exercise of drawing and thinking, together, benefiting the mind for the likes of visual, physical and kinesthetic learners. Many people are put off the idea of drawing and doodling as they claim that they, in fact, cannot draw. However, the argument against this would be that how you create is how you create. One’s visual representation of something may be different to another and this is the beauty of doodles and sketches. It allows for expansion in the art world as we see new styles and techniques emerging from an individual’s creative process, “break down drawing and doodling into basic shapes. Once you realize you can master those easily then we add more shapes to your visual vocabulary, and then you can draw anything.” (Founder of the Doodle Institute, Diane Bleck). Doodling increases the development of individual and creative thinking.
Having looked at the idea of self-expression concerning doodles, working with line and ink, this has a strong connect with tattoos, and many would say that tattoos would link back to self-expression in one of it’s truest forms. Tattooing is an ancient art form, in which the body is modified with ink and needle to leave a mark/design on the skin. Tattooing has grown and expanded dramatically to what it is today. Traditionally in some cultures, to have a tattoo was a great offence and would mean that you were gang affiliated, but in 2017 with the internet broadening our ideas about art and culture, tattoo artists have created social media accounts to promote their designs and it’s incredibly interesting to see how mark making in this way has changed over the years. “The impact of social media, especially Instagram, is a huge topic. It has influenced the way we look at tattoos, how we show them to the public. It influenced us in our way to tattoo. It influences our customers a lot.” (Schiesser Interview) For any artist, including tattoo artists, their way of creating images is almost therapeutic to them, and in many cases, for the client, it is just as therapeutic to feel that pressure on their skin. This links back to the idea of cognitive therapy while creating sketches and doodles. As a whole, the act of creating an image, for yourself, for someone else, or on someone else, is a therapeutic process and one which takes thought and care. Are some tattoos just well thought out doodles?
Tattoo designs have become more loose and free in recent years, the idea of the brain flowing, pen flowing, ink flowing, needle flowing. Having researched certain contemporary tattoo artists, there are a few that stand out in relation to freehand tattoos and tattoos with a sketch-like quality, including the likes of, David Schiesser, Laurie Franck, Paolo Bosson, and an apprentice tattooer named Albie, @albiemakestattoos, who is based in Valentine’s Tattoo Co. in Seattle. All of these artists may be considered to have broken boundaries within the tattoo industry. From strange drawings/doodles that many people would consider not worthy to be permanently on your body, to entirely freehand drawn images, straight from the needle onto the skin.
All artists have gained a respectable following mainly through self-promotion on social media, this is due to eye-catching designs which truly stand out. The passion for creating an image has been followed through from childhood and all are still dependent on the idea of doodles and how it leads to a complete image… refined doodles?
How a tattoo artist makes their mark can be done in various ways, of course, the style of their art is a huge factor, but it was interesting to discover why Laurie Franck, girlfriend of Paolo Bosson, uses the hand poke method of tattooing and how it came to be that way. “You don’t have the noise of the machine and you just need ink and a needle. And time, but that’s a good thing because everything goes too quick nowadays. With handpoke, you put yourself in a strange mood, with another conception of time, because you have to be focused on every dot you do. It’s a kind of meditation.” (Knobbly Interview) This links back to the idea of drawing being incredibly therapeutic for some, whether you are creating a doodle, a sketch, a final drawing or a tattoo. Many find that when a line comes straight from pen to paper, without any real planning, then it is the rough images which carry instinctive lines and energy, which can often be lost if reworked and refined. Franck describes her designs when asked if the method of hand poke tattooing affects the final outcome of the tattoos, “yeah of course, and it’s a good thing I think, even if sometimes I’m like “oh my line is not perfect”… People are happy to have something with imperfections. It’s more interesting like this. And I think imperfections give it a kind of ‘soul’ “, the idea of doodles holding many imperfections yet still maintaining a strong presence of creativity, “all my work revolves around the body, especially women’s bodies, or the position the body can take. That’s why sometimes my drawings are really abstract: I try to deconstruct; to have really simple lines, and to make something more illustrative appear in something that’s abstract.” (Knobbly Interview)
With Franck’s work having an air of patience surrounding it, Bosson’s images capture a feeling of urgency but in the most beautiful way. Bosson completes all his tattoos completely freehand. This is the work of an extremely skilled artist, an artist who has been sketching, drawing and practicing for many years and is now at the point in his career as a tattoo artist in which he cannot only fully trust himself, but the client will also confidently place their full trust with him also. I have been lucky enough to witness the tattoo artist, Michele Servadio, complete a freehand tattoo design on a client, at the launch of the contemporary tattoo magazine, ‘TTTism’ at Sang Bleu Tattoo Studio in East London.
The performance by Servadio was called ‘Body of Reverbs,’ and would involve a male client willingly agree to Servadio, essentially let him use his body and chest as a canvas. The tattoo Servadio was to complete on the client was going to be done in response to a different piece that he had done on his stomach previously. It was also to be done completely freehand without any stencils or sketches, and the client had little to no idea what sort of tattoo he would end up with. It was incredible watching Servadio work in time with the music and making each mark very carefully. It was strange watching the needle drag deep across his chest and come back again, at points it almost looked it he was stabbing him and as a whole, the performance was incredibly dramatic and very effective. It was a purely abstract, contemporary piece of work which marked an interesting day in the Sang Bleu studios and what it meant for contemporary tattoo culture.
The magazine ‘TTTism’ which was being promoted at the event was the first release issue based on contemporary tattoos and the culture that has followed. It contains photographs of work by select tattoo artists, how they got to where they are today and why they enjoy the art of tattooing. “I guess I’m attracted to seeing the imprint it can have on some people; how they evolve and how it almost builds their character. I’ve seen people come in not too confident, a bit shy, and with each tattoo they get, you can tell the impact it has on their life. You see them grow as a person and that it something truly inspiring.” The artist assists the individual in growing as a person and being able to reach their full potential in the way that they want to express themselves. Expression is a strong theme within the world of doodles and tattoos, “expressing for those that it’s right for, what can only be said through tattoos, it is a continual process that mirrors life with moving art.”
‘Stick and poke’ tattooing has also seen a rise in popularity in recent years, due to the fact anyone can order a stick and poke kit online and do it on either themselves or a friend having had no previous experience with tattooing. This, of course, has led to many young people today getting tattoos which essentially look like doodles.
“My rise to popularity had a lot to do with the advancement of social media’s influence on tattoo culture, simultaneous with the rise of ‘stick and poke’ tattooing in mainstream western tattoo aesthetics.”
The future of doodling is growing every day, specifically within the digital world. Doodling and sketching apps for mobile phones have developed a lot, and now even the social media application Instagram gives you the option to draw freely over your photographs with a pen tool to enhance your images. This was a tool which David Hockney decided to develop his artwork with and created a series of images drawn on his iPad. Even in his later life, Hockney was still eager at 74 years of age, to learn new ways of creating sketches, images, and doodles, and so delved into the digital world. He bought his first iPhone in 2008 and started using the app, Brushes, an application which can be found on the Apple Store. As he went on he upscaled to an iPad to create his drawings.
“YOSEMITE I, OCTOBER 16TH 2011” IPAD DRAWING © DAVID HOCKNEY
Another fun way of creating images has just been released by the Google Creative Labs and is called Quick Draw. They featured this new application on It’s Nice That in which they explained how this new technology works. ‘Autodraw allows you to draw an image on your phone, tablet or desktop computer, and then recognises what you’re trying to draw and provides suggestions for a more refined version of your image.’ It is available and accessible to everyone and is there to create images in a new and interesting way, whether people wish to create images for themselves or picture messages for their friends. It assists the public with making creating a little bit simpler as many cannot get used to drawing on an iPhone screen.
A quite prominent link between doodling and the tattoo industry is that both are increasingly growing with the help of social media and the world wide web. They are growing together in the art world and creating new ways and ideas of self-expression for people to delve into. I have also always been interested in the flash sheets on which tattoo artists create their own designs. I have always thought they resembled pages from an artist’s sketchbook. This image below is a digitally produced image of a tattoo artist’s flash sheet. The image was created by Thomas Hedger.
Within this study of the link between tattoos and doodles, a lot has been explored. The paragraphs above contain content from many different sources which question how sketches and tattoos are moving forward together in the art world in many different ways. The majority of this progression has got a lot to do with social media, and how we as people are able to see the world in so many wonderful and various ways, which have indeed enhanced our creative individuality. Highlighted was the definite theme of self-expression and how important it is when it comes to creating those first drawings and doodles as a child, and how that can lead on to the self-expression in tattoos that people either create for others, or they take on themselves with tattoos which represent them as an individual. Not only this but the ways in which people are tattooing today has opened up doors for new techniques and styles of tattooing such as hand poke, stick and poke and freehand tattoos. Some tattoos which have come from these techniques have coincidentally ended up looking like doodles or having a ‘not so perfect line’, which adds another dimension of originality to the finished design and for some customers, this is what they want.
reference all images
credit tttism magazine