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Tattoo Artist Questions and Answers #2
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In this continuation of tattoo artist Q and A you will learn about a few tricks of the trade, remember this set of articles is in no way to replace a professional apprenticeship, and meant only to inform artists on the common questions posed by artists, and enthusiast alike.

2. How can I better understand negative space in tattoos?

Like any other part of tattooing, there isn’t really a simple way to answer this question. Generally, there are three basics to tattooing which are the flow of negative space, development of edges (outlines), and the meticulous interweaving of elements in the design. In laymen term, the negative space should flow in an S curve of the body part being tattooed, this is especially so if other elements don’t flow with the form of the body. Doing this, will allow you to make an otherwise awkward design, into a flowing masterpiece.

It is also important to develop the proper edges of a tattoo, as leaving this vital part out can result in a sloppy looking tattoo, or leave an impression of forgetfulness on the artists part. They should be developed into a soft wispy look by using the low power, and large circular motions with a magnum needle stack. You should also consider diluting the pigment by dipping it into the rinse cup (much like making grey wash). To help describe this better, picture a beautiful landscape painting or tattoo, there is a bear in the front and an expansive tree behind him. Use a stream of negative space that could pass in front of the tree, and behind the bear. This will help unite the bear and its environment. You will need to tinker with the idea on each tattoo, as depending on the subject it may change.

3. What can I do to limit wrist strain?

This is by far one of the biggest concerns facing a tattoo artist, along with back pain. One suggestion would be to use a folded paper towel to stretch the skin, rather than using your thumb and index finger. You may also be inclined to get a good massage weekly, this can aid in reducing the risks for carpel tunnel. Also, remember after every couple hours of working on a tattoo you should take a break, use this time to stretch your arms straight out, making fists and making 90 degree angles with your wrist up and down. Tighten your fists, pulling them in toward your stomach. You can vary every stretch that you do, just remember that it is important to keep your body, and wrists in tune to keep you in tip top tattooing shape.


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