Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The sketch process- behind the scenes of the design

All tattoos start with the sketching process.
In my case they are very crude. My sketches are messy and rough.
I mean this in a good way. As an artist, I am critical of my art and to compare my sketches
to others- well, I have seen some very awesome, perfect, clean, killer sketches and sometimes mine are that.
But humbly, my sketches for the most part are really really, well, sketchy. Super not tidy.
I like sketching rough and messy, it gives my hand and wrist freedom to literally move fast and in different ways that tattooing does not allow. Tattooing frankly, kills the wrist after awhile. Especially if your lining all day long.
So, my sketches these days go down with a sharpie pen. They will smear and smudge and be juicy and leave a mess on the tracing paper. But it feels good to me.
When I show my clients the sketch- I say, bear with me, this is rough but I wanted to get the idea of what we are thinking...I always explain what is what and the way the placement will work out- possibly anyway...The real test is once it's on the skin.
Since my customers have been with me a long time, they are such good sports about going through with the "bones" of the design and allow me to work away and create the tattoo, sometimes with the end result look, not even developed but we make it happen.
This is my favorite. I love testing peoples openness to going through with the tattoo-
See, this is the thing- no one knows what the piece will look like til it is done. I can predict and offer up what it may look like but you just don't know til it is done. You must go through the process.
I know, I know, ya'll are so nervous and anxious when you come in, as you really do that to yourself.
If you are not up for what it may or may not turn out like...perhaps you shouldn't subject yourself to the unknowing in the first place.
You must be brave and surrender. Allow your artist to be the artist self that they are to create the best piece for YOU. Your piece is of the best interest and it will be awesome if you let it.
I hear ideas all day from people, I get these pictures in my mind- I see these awesome pieces, that were inspired by what you dreamed up to commemorate whatever it is that is dear to you.
I think getting past the first step of the nerves when looking at a sketch and being supportive to your artist and not a nit-picky-boss about it, your artist will really shine for you!
Hope this helps!
Here is a piece that is one session in, so we will have another on it for sure. 

All tattoos start from some where- All artists map things out differently and I still think my method is really rough considering. So I am super appreciative of all the clients that are supportive and are always down to go with my process and TRUST me. (praying hands emoji here)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


It is always good to do a refresher on the ol' aftercare treatment or if you are new to getting a tattoo, it's good to get the run through in the first place.
Some people have 'heard" many ways to take care of their tattoo- lot's a different ointments and lotions...
It is best to listen and do what your artists recommends~~~
I actually say often "less is more"
and I say, if you ignored it and did nothing, it will probably heal best too.
That is because when people get a new tattoo, they won't stop touching it! And people tend to put too much stuff on it! Suffocating the poor, beautiful new piece of art.
So, just leave it alone!

Here is the quick basics-
Take the bandage off after the instructed time- I say a few hours is suffice usually, unless you were a bloody mess = longer time.
Once bandage wrap is off, rinse it with water.
Water once in a 24 hour period or once or twice a day is good.
WAIT about 2-3 days before putting stuff on it-
These days people like Aquaphor or if you make an awesome all natural product like I do for the shop- (it is pure shea butter and coconut oil, not petroleum)
And people like plain, fragrant free moisturizer like Aveeno, Cural brands)
The trick is to not over do this!
In most cases, putting the ointment/lotion on it once per day is good too. Just enough to help a little with the itch and help smooth out the dryness.

 Healed work over a year old on Spencer. Black always heals easier in most cases.
 Here is some roses on Mia, that is about 4 days old from when we did it. No redness or irritation.
 Here is the balm we make. Very calming!

My lovely client and sister gardener's tattoo experience...

I recently received a client who was recommended to me by an old client of mine I have had like 15 years ago...I was smitten with her as soon as she arrived and when she told me what she wanted- photos emerging from her pack, a handful of pictures that she took herself of these lovely swallowtail butterfly's that she raised herself in her native back yard garden.  I was so inspired by her doing this, being a gardener myself.
I could tell her heart was so in this. So, I wanted to to the best job I could for her. It was her first tattoo ever, which I know takes great bravery. She was patient for me and she didn't pressure me with art reviews- my schedule rarely affords this these days.
Either way, she sat lovely and was patient with the whole process and I just really enjoyed working with this special lady.
She is a writer and teaches-
So here is a link to a sweet piece she wrote about her experience:

On Teaching, Depression, and Tattoos – Teaching with Trust

By Jen Hurley of Alameda, Ca.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Good bye to 2018....

I pretty much decided to not do any writing for the year of 2018-  kinda felt bad about it because there was so many awesome things that were happening at the shop, but in honor of staying focused on the clients and what was going on with Toni and the other crew, I just couldn't get to it. It is challenging being able to execute everything that you want to, especially when the creative ideas are brimming or dying to come to fruition.

I found myself repeatedly 'steadying' myself.  I had a mantra~ "easy woman, it will all happen, it will all get done."

And most definently, a lot of projects did get done indeed.

In the future I am planning on writing more, so I can use my Instagram page as a pictorial without having to write so much explanation for pieces. But it shows up, time and time again, that the people wanting to get tattoos need continued education, if you will.

My whole idea is how to enjoy the tattoo process for both people. The collector/the wearer and for the artist. Your artist needs to trust themselves with doing the tattoo not just the client trusting the artist.
More on that whole thing later...

2018 was one of the best years Valkyrie has experienced. The amount of tattoos we did this past year was so many- our Saturdays were jammed at the shop! It was such a magnificent year, full of love, creativity and inspiration. We picked up so much momentum at the shop, it was quite the buzz.
Toni, my apprentice started tattooing after spending over a year or more just being the intern.
Truly a very exciting time for the shop. The current crew is so happy to work with each other, it has been a easy going crew for sure.  I love it when the shop has that feeling of everyone gets along and is motivated to work hard and is inspired and inspiring each other and trusting each other- more trust, more bonding, for everyone who enters the space = better tattoos.

Here is some recent pics of Toni, working away- she's becoming a killer tattoo artist, very quickly in my opinion :)

This is a sister gardener named Jen who, raises these butterflies in her garden! She took those pics!

My viking brother Harry, I finally tattooed a "helm of awe" on him. He deserved it. He got clean and sober and had been hittin' the gym and exercising like the true badass warrior he is, so here is his (AEGLISHJALMUR)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Skal! Skal! Skal!

Best of 2018!!!!!!!

It's been way too long and I have a lot of time to think about this but I have wanted to lament on what a killer year it has been for Valkyrie!
It was such an honor to be named Sonoma County's best tattoo shop in our local paper~ the Bohemian for 2018!
That alone floored me a bit and was very exciting for us. We are feelin' the love. It was really nice going to the shin-dig they put on and we really enjoyed their appitizers and live band, in the fancy museum. Next time I will be sure to wear a dress. :) Anywho, that was in March...

We have been so productive and inspired this year- After wanting to tile our shop entrance for almost 5 years me and Toni put plans together and showed up at 7am on a sunday morning to do it! We have never done anything like that before and it was like we knew what we were doing! We are pleased with how it turned out: