Fresh Ink for the Birthday Boy

Last week, I drew up and adapted a tattoo design for my good friend Wes in Atlanta. He came in to Charlotte on his birthday and got it done at Alternative Arts Tattoo by the talented Thomas Harkness. Most of my tattooed friends have some (or all) of their work done by Thomas. See the evolution of Wes's design here:

This was the starting point. It's a Simurgh from Conference of the Birds, a Persian book that Wes has. The book is about a group of birds who want to know the Simurgh, a mystical divine bird, and make a journey to meet the creature. Many drop out, and only a handful of birds complete the journey. When they reach the end, they are surprised by what they find. You'll have to read the book to find out why!

I drew strongly from the image in the book, but increased the size and simplified the fine details. My original contribution was the group of three smaller paisley tail feathers. I got the idea from a tiny feather that was already on the head.

Working up several colorways to give Wes an example of what the design might look like colored and shaded. I knew that the tattoo artist would have a better sense of these things- but I still had fun with it!

Making the trip to Alternative Arts Tattoo on Central Avenue. Photo courtesy of Michelle McCullough.

Thomas Harkness at work. Tom improved the look of the longer feathers by curling them up, cutting a few out, and adding a lot of texture, shading and movement. He tied everything together by bringing more of the paisley design into the long feathers. He also did an awesome job drawing in the details and feathers on the wings (which I left blank so he could do his thing). Photo courtesy of Michelle McCullough.

The finished Simurgh tattoo on a very happy birthday boy. Wes will return in the summer to have the design colored in.

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