Frank La Natra Atmospheric Landscapes
Eternal Ink worked with artist Frank La Natra to mix a set of tattoo ink colors designed specifically for aerial perspective. La Natra’s Atmospheric Landscapes ink set is a twelve-color system designed to simplify the color mixing theory into pre-arranged color groups with the addition of three tones of ‘atmosphere’ hues.
In simplest terms, the illusion of distance or aerial perspective in landscape art is created by adding ‘atmosphere’ to the objects in the landscape. Atmosphere is the air and dust between the viewer’s eye and the distant objects. Atmosphere alters the original color of an object. When you recognize that atmosphere affects color, you accept that the greater the distance an object is from you, the more effect atmosphere has on the color of an object.
Atmosphere is implied in art by desaturating and lightening a color. The greater the distance, the more desaturated the original color will become. Frank La Natra has established a set of three mixing hues called Atmospheric Light, Atmospheric Medium and Atmospheric Dark to aid the artist in simulating atmospheric distance in background art. These three hues are to be selectively added to the original color of an object to adjust the hue into appearing distant. Objects that are very near the viewer will retain their original color. The further away an object appears, the more a color requires desaturating to simulate atmospheric distance. The three hues of Atmospheric Light, Medium and Dark are used for highlights, mid-tones and shadows.
In addition to adding atmosphere to desaturate a color, the artist should also lighten the value of the object’s color. The further an object is from the viewer, the lighter the object will appear. Adding a touch of Eternal Ink’s Snowflake or Ivory will lighten a color without washing out the color. Again, the same approach applies – the greater the distance, the lighter the value of the color.
Presented below is an example of Frank La Natra’s Woodlands Light and Dark. The color swatches simulate the progressive effect of adding Atmosphere and Ivory to desaturate and lighten the color. The result is a convincing range of Woodland colors as seen in the near, middle and far distance of a landscape.
Eternal Ink, Brighton, Michigan
Frank La Natra, Into The Woods Gallery, Dania Beach, Florida
Eternal Ink, Inc. | 7987 Lochlin Drive, Brighton, Michigan, 48116 | (248) 677-4060
“I don’t want the dark canvases. They take away half your skill set.”
You’d expect a little more of the proverbial throat-clearing when a contestant on a nationally televised program dismisses an entire swath of the population based on their skin color. Yet, this comment, specifically singling out people of color and portraying them as somehow undesirable, aired on Spike’s Ink Master with barely a blink from the viewing public.
Perhaps, the use of the word, “canvas,” to refer to an actual person helped to create the disconnect needed to make the comment more palatable. That’s not a wild suggestion. Just try reading the opening quote, but instead of “canvases,” say “people.” It falls off the tongue a bit more awkwardly, doesn’t it?
Be that as it may, this general attitude has become pervasive in tattoo culture. A trade, the roots of which can be traced back almost exclusively to people of color has become one that all but excludes them.
But before you get your Clorox-treated undergarments in a twist, understand this: No one is crying racism, at least not within these pages. What is being suggested, however, is that maybe, in our evermore inclusive society, an artist who openly concedes that he struggles with the challenges of pigmented skin shouldn’t be considered a “master.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by both Mike Burnett and Jason Phillips, and it’s their primary impetus for starting the Detroit Black Tattoo, Art and Music Expo, AKA, BTAME, a convention in the old Motor City that will be celebrating its third year running this July.
“If you’re a master, you should be able to work on all types of skin,” Jason states unapologetically. Mike chimes in next.
“But are those shows created to truly look for the masters or are they created for the masses? Are we really looking for Ink Masters? Someone who is truly skilled in that field? Or are we looking for someone who is marketable on television?”
There is no anger in their voices. In fact, as we wade through the nuances of the topic, the most prominent sounds are laughter. They make it clear that theirs is not a closed fist, but an open hand.
“We’re not omitting anybody,” Jason clarifies “. . . If you are any race and you have experience working on black skin, you’re welcome here. It’s not just for black artists.
“In fact,” he later adds, “most of our attendees aren’t black.”
This is the point where one could imagine the knee-jerk reaction from white America, namely the talking heads in conservative media who perpetuate the narrative of a white culture under attack (cue Hannity): “Why does it have to be black?”
“It’s the black conservatives too,” Mike cuts in, correcting this writer’s assumptions. “Don’t just think it’s one side of the fence. That’s why we don’t play the race game in this . . . When we use the term, ‘Black,’ that term does something to people, period. It shakes people. It wakes you up. It makes you pay attention . . . So, a lot of folks, when we first started, were asking us the question, ‘Why black?’ And we were like, ‘Why not?’”
If it wasn’t already made clear, however, BTAME wasn’t formed in reactionary mode, nor was it intended to be a rebuke. It’s an outreach, a reminder to the world that art is beautiful, and that art can be applied to skin of any shade with the right techniques. As a person of color himself and the owner and primary artist at the Detroit Ink Spot, Jason has those techniques on lockdown.
“Nine times out of ten, from my experience, you get fewer passes on melinated skin. The darker the skin, normally the more sensitive it is, so you can’t do more than five or six passes before you blow it out. It’s just a little more delicate. . . I like to stick with hot colors . . . you know, your red, your oranges, your purples . . . If you print that, I want a cut.” He laughs as he finishes off his thoughts and Mike joins in.
“That’s off the record. OFF the record!” His contagious laughter peaks as he blurts out the words.
For anymore insight than what’s been given, you’ll have to come out to Detroit the 21st and 22nd of this upcoming July and experience the expo for yourself. But don’t just expect tattoos. Expect fine art. Expect amazing music. Expect an eye-opening experience that will leave you picking the gravel out of your jaw after it’s hit the ground.
But with upwards of 15,000 attendees reported last year and more expected this round, Mike and Jason need more than just more feet on the floor. They need partners. As the newest kids on the expo block, they’ve had to face the hard reality that most of their potential sponsors are already tied up in exclusivity agreements with other shows. If you’re doing business in this space and want to expand your brand, consider this an invitation, no matter your skin color.
“We welcome any supplier that wants to come on board,” Mike says in closing. Jason repeats for emphasis.
“Any business. Any supplier.”
You have the right to earn an honest living, free from arbitrary, burdensome and protectionist regulation. We call this “economic liberty.” This civil right is protected by the United State’s Constitution. Do not let the government tell you otherwise. – “Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide,” Institute for Justice
If you’re playing hoops or inking a sleeve, being in the zone is good thing. If you’re in a business looking to settle in a neighborhood with restrictions, not so much.
Plainly put, commercial zoning laws control the type of activities a business can conduct in a specific area and the category of business that can occupy the zoned area. Zoning provides the standards and regulations that apply to land and structures, and helps a communities to function properly. It may deal with parking allocation, building occupancy, signage, even health and safety. Many of these ordinances have evolved over a great deal of time, and are often very complex in nature.
It’s common to hear about alternative businesses, like tattoo studios, that have been restricted from setting up shop in one part of town, or even on a specific street or business district. Often, the reasons cited are a result of misperceptions about the nature of the business. A perfect example is a Tennessee tattoo parlor recently forced to redraw its plans due to a law that blindly labeled the business “adult entertainment.”
So, what are you supposed to do if you’ve found the perfect spot for your new business, but have been told no-go? Before you simply give in and reluctantly relocate to location that may or may not be as beneficial to your future success, you might want to take it up with city hall.
If a business wants to do something that is not in conformity with the zoning code, whether it relates to the specific type of business, remodeling the existing space, signage, etc,. it can apply for a variance. This is a permitted exception to the general rules set forth in the zoning law. To get the desired exception, you’ll need to present your case to the zoning board of appeals.
The big guy does not always get his way – and you’ll find that the people who makes decisions are not out to get you, but rather are concerned citizens doing what’s best for all involved. As a business owner, you will have the opportunity to argue your side and members of the public can voice their opinions as well. In the end, what counts is who has the most articulate, reasonable, competent evidence, and whose presentation is most persuasive.
Dispel the Myths
Help decision makers understand the reality of your business and eliminate any out-dated impressions. Present licenses you’ve attained and awards that you’ve earned to show your commitment to bring a a legitimate part of the business community. If your clients include local law enforcement, health care workers, and other adult professionals have them on your side to help sway opinions.
Strong support from the business community may help win over zoning and planning officials. If others can advocate the potential benefit to the community, it may be easier to generate backing for your business. Seek support from trade associations, the chamber of commerce, and a business development office in the community. This is a good opportunity to have community members and other nearby businesses offer support through a written petition. It is also effective to ward off any criticism before the hearing by reaching an agreement with those who may object to your business moving in.
It might be hard to win a fight against city hall, but with preparedness, professionalism and persistence, you’ll have a good chance of getting them to bend the rules in your favor.
Photos courtesy of EJR Photography (www.ejrphoto.net) Due South Tattoo & Art Expo March 23-25, 2018 Golden Nugget Casino & Resort, Biloxi, Mississippi “My goal is to bring the art of tattooing to the masses of the Gulf Coast,” says Matt Stebly, owner/artist of Twisted Anchor Tattoo Gallery, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and founder of the […]
Oak Harbor, Washington
At Nite Owl Tattoo, in Oak Harbor, Washington, things are not exactly as they seem. The walls are covered with framed sheets of American traditional flash. But that doesn’t mean this is an old-school shop. Owner William Lloyd and his crew like to put their own modern twist on the classic style.
“If you look at a picture of a traditional tattoo it seems so basic and simple — it looks easy, but that’s what makes it incredibly difficult,” who opened Nite Owl in 2012, on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, north of Seattle.
Lloyd was introduced to tattooing back in high school when he would hang out at his friend’s pop’s shop back when it was actually illegal to tattoo on the island. His apprenticeship was certainly old school – cleaning tubes, organizing, drawing and other chores, and that’s where he gained an appreciation for the kind of tattoos that stand the test of time.
“Over time, most tattoos are going to fade and the lines are going to swell out. But with traditional, the colors are saturated into the skin, so it will have the longest lifetime,” Lloyd says.
There are definitely dynamics to traditional. But according to Lloyd, the rules nowadays are a lot looser.
“I really like the to put twists on art from old school tattooers, like Bert Grimm, Sailor Jerry and Cap Coleman, and bring the style into the modern age,” he says.
“I think they were limited back in their day. Like with some of the line work, you can tell exactly what it is, but it just need to be freshened up,” he adds. “It’s kind of like if somebody were to come in with a tattoo idea, I would draw over that tattoo idea to make it my own. I try and do the same with all the older stuff.”
Check out the portfolios at the shop and you’ll have no trouble seeing the well-rounded talents of Lloyd and his fellow artists – Molly Vigallon, Seth Smith and Joshua Jay. In the traditional, you’ll find tried and true designs ranging from nautical to roses and flaming hearts. You’ll also see Star Wars and pop culture inspired pieces. Anything, Lloyd says, can be turned into traditional with the right touch.
“The hard part about drawing is turning your brain off and just drawing,” he says. “If you put too much into it, it’s not going to look like a typical traditional tattoo. It’s best to keep it basic.”
Typical traditional uses only a few colors, but Lloyd might pick from a dozen or more. Then again, just because a traditional tattoo is traditionally colored, doesn’t mean that it can’t simply be black and grey. B&G is another of Lloyd’s favorite techniques, and he’s not afraid to fuse the two styles.
“Normally you don’t put a gray wash in traditional tattooing, but it can be done, and it can look great,” he says. “I like it to have more contrast; so more black, then softer shading because that’s what’s going to hold it together.”
When it comes to ink, Lloyd has a preference for Eternal, but every brand has its best colors, and on the trays at Nite Owl, you’ll also find, Fusion, Dynamic, Intenze, and Waverly. As for machines, Lloyd sticks with good old fashioned coils that he says work especially well with the traditional style tattoos.
“I go off the feeling in my hand and the sound of the machine to know If I’m getting a good line or if I’m bouncing off the skin. I use my senses to make sure that my machine is working correctly and my needles are gliding properly.”
For the last five years, Lloyd has used the same machine, made by Adam Rosenthal at River City Machinery, for 95 percent of his tattoos. “I’ve never really had to retune it,” he says.
The Nite Owl crew travels to expos as frequently as their schedules allow. Not only do they meet and work with new clients, they’re also excited to be able to kick it with other tattoo artists who they admire. Another big part of going to a show is having your work critiqued in the daily competitions. Yes, they’ve got Best of Show and Best of Tattoo for the day trophies, but what really counts is the opportunity to further their art.
“Even if you don’t win anything, you’re getting your tattoos out there for people to see. It’s really awesome to get constructive criticism from the judges, who are usually heavy hitters. That’s feedback we can put towards making a better tattoo,” Lloyd says.
And as for American Traditional? “It’s never going to go away. It’s continually growing because people are pushing the limits of what can be traditional and what’s excepted.”
Nite Owl Tattoo
Oak Harbor, Washington
Name? Lorri Thomas, AKA, Lady L.
Shop? Detroit Inkspot
Location? Detroit, MI
Specialty? Cover ups, Watercolor Tattoos, Polynesian Tribal.
Years tattooing? 12.
How did you get started tattooing?
I’m a self-taught artist. I went to shops with my portfolio, inquiring about an apprenticeship, hoping with my previous background and education in art, someone would give me a chance, but they didn’t. I did, however, have mentors from around the country to give me pointers.
Tell us about the Ladies of Ink tour you created.
The Ladies of Ink Tour is a collective of black female tattoo artists who travel around the United States tattooing at different conventions and shops. I created this tour three years ago to educate people, to show them that we do exist in this industry and can tattoo just as well as other artists, regardless of our race and sex.
What has been the response from the tattooing community?
We’ve had a great response in most areas. Some shops weren’t too enthused about seven black women invading their space, but it’s all love. We embrace those who embrace us.
Tell us about your involvement with BTAME.
Our shop started BTAME 3 years ago and The Ladies of Ink Tour has been involved for the last two.
How do you feel when you hear an artist refer to pigmented skin as a “bad canvas”?
I feel that it’s very disrespectful to people of color. Just because you don’t know how to tattoo on our skin doesn’t mean we can’t be tattooed well.
Can an artist who is only adept with one skin tone really consider him/herself a master? Why or why not?
No. I feel if you’re really a “master” artist you should be able to tattoo on all skin tones. There’s no such thing as a “bad canvas.”
Can you give us some pointers on techniques and/or equipment and materials to use to better accommodate skin with darker pigmentation?
When tattooing darker skin, negative space is a must. The darker the skin tone, the bolder the linework should be, the shading shouldn’t be too overwhelming. Over time the piece will still look good and not blotchy.
Dear Ms. Angel,
I’m at my wit’s end and I don’t know what to do! I’ve been reading your articles forever, and I finally need some help from you myself. I have run my own piercing business for many years now, but this has been a recurring problem. Lame counter help is driving me batsh*t!
I just cannot seem to hire staff that “gets it” no matter what I do, and I find myself needing to start over with a new employee yet AGAIN.
Do you have any advice or ideas to help make this part of my shop run more smoothly?
I’ve generally found the maxim “good help is hard to find” to be an unfortunate truism. That said, there are measures you can take to greatly improve the likelihood of hiring an effective employee, whether counter staff, piercer, or another team member.
Prior to beginning the interview phase, write up a thorough and honest job description including the position title, a summary of the role, and a comprehensive bullet-pointed list of specific duties and responsibilities. Enumerate any qualifications, certifications, or attributes you deem essential.
From this, you can define and prioritize characteristics of the ideal individual, such as strong verbal skills or organizational expertise, capacity to take direction—or to work independently, etc. This solid foundation should help you to focus your search on contenders who are a reasonable fit, and applicants can see what the position entails.
A proficient piercer or manager does not necessarily make a good interviewer. Poor interviewing skills are likely to result in failures down the line. There is a wealth of useful resources online( i) to upgrade your competency, and it is well worth the time and effort to study up and establish solid strategies for conducting the hiring process.
Have candidates fill out an employment application and submit a resume. I also suggest requiring an essay (without a stipulated word count) on why they want to work in your studio. This can be very revealing about their attitude, and their writing and reasoning capabilities.
Always contact listed references. Due to previous employers’ fear of litigation, sometimes you need to listen very carefully to receive an important message that is being presented. Before extending an offer, it is wise to run a background check (ii) including credit history, especially if tiny pieces of expensive gold jewelry are readily accessible.
Once you have decided to take someone on, it is sensible to institute a trial before committing to a permanent employment arrangement. You should set a 60- to 90-day probationary period in which benefits and vacation time do not accrue. Be explicit about the trial’s length, compensation, and expectations. After both parties verbally approve the trial, write a job-offer letter to confirm and clarify the terms and conditions negotiated in the spoken agreement.
I highly suggest that you initiate a discussion about whether the job has prospects for later advancement—or not. Be frank about possible opportunities, whether a piercing apprenticeship, store management, or other appointment. Avoiding this matter is a great way to set up your new hire for unrealistic and unmet expectations. I also made it a point to impress upon applicants that the body art industry might seem “alternative,” but the position is a regular job like any other. And it involves repetitive, mundane tasks and requires considerable patience with patrons who will ask the same exact questions every day.
You should also maintain realistic expectations. Employees as dedicated and driven as owners are all but mythical creatures. Though it is reasonable to anticipate that your staff will consistently follow the practices and procedures you establish during their training.
Carefully monitor on-the-job performance and keep a written record of issues to discuss during periodic, but regular reviews.
Unless you appropriate a worker from a competitor or a colleague, you’ll likely be training someone from scratch—even if you take on a seasoned client. Hiring someone from your own customer base is a common method for studio staff selection. It does make sense to employ folks who have a personal interest in the products and services you provide, and some familiarity with your approach. A piercee who already displays the studio’s wares can be a plus, but standardized, meticulous screening is still critical.
Things are pretty different on our side of the counter. If the individual has never worked in a studio, don’t presume that they will know much about the job, even if they’ve spent a lot of time in your retail area and piercing room. You need to be prepared to offer up a significant amount of thorough instruction.
Support your training with a detailed employee handbook/studio manual. The contents should be specific and include policies, rules, and processes: everything you want your employee to know. New personnel will promptly understand what is required of them, and what they can expect from the company. Put in a disclaimer that the handbook is not a contract or other promise of employment.
Your new hire should sign an acknowledgement form that they’ve read, understood, and agreed to abide by the contents of the guidebook. Non-compete and confidentiality-agreements that must be signed are also common. You’ll customize the contents to suit, but it should incorporate clear policies and items such as the following:
- Company history, mission statement, and/or goals
- Code of conduct and business ethics
- Work hours, overtime, breaks, and lunch periods
- Compensation and benefits (hours, paid holidays, sick leave, vacation time)
- Smoking, drugs, and alcohol
- Dress code
- Workplace visitors
- Employee discounts
- Cell phone use
- Social media guidelines
- Use of company equipment, computers (email/internet), copiers, etc.
- Emergency procedures in the event of robbery, fire, or natural disaster
Additionally, the studio training manual component should contain in-depth documentation on everything they’ll need to know.
- Greeting patrons and intake process: ID requirements, release forms, sequence of events (i.e., piercer consult before paperwork or after?)
- Ringing up sales and taking payments
- Initial jewelry styles and size ranges by piercing
- Minimum prices for piercing and jewelry by body part
- Policy and requirements for piercing minors
- Studio cleaning/maintenance schedules and procedures
- Refund policies
- Handling worn jewelry
- And so on!
Staff instruction might include checklists with fields that must be initialed and dated. These are great tools for guidance and accountability with everyday tasks like opening and closing the store, cleaning, and restocking—even after training is concluded.
Complete regular, methodical performance reviews with unambiguous feedback, and by the end of the assessment period, you’ll both know whether they’re a good fit. Do not expect a trainee to change substantially in the long run; if they don’t work out well during the trial, they won’t later, either. Once you realize someone is wrong for a position, it is foolish to suffer through retaining them; cut your losses and start over.
Laws and regulations governing employment vary from state to state. It is crucial to learn about best practices for hiring (iii), and to be certain that your actions are suitable for your region. It is wise to seek local professional legal advice.
Apply these sound principles and conduct yourself in a consistent, businesslike manner throughout the hiring process. This should help you to select and employ the right person for the job, and engage in a successful training program that will result in a productive and mutually beneficial work situation.
You might wonder why we’re bothering to write an article about creativity in a magazine devoted to tattoo artists.
Just because you can draw (or trace) or pull a line with the steadiest hand, doesn’t necessarily mean you are creative. Arthur Schawlow, winner of the Nobel prize in physics in 1981, was once asked what, in his opinion, made the difference between highly creative and less creative scientists. He replied, “The most successful scientists often are not the most talented. But they are the ones who are impelled by curiosity.”
Tattooing hasn’t always been that creative of an endeavor — in the early days, it was a “pick em and stick em,” mentality, and if you could copy a piece of flash, you’d have a happy client and a couple of bucks in your pocket. As the art form and the industry has evolved, tattoo artists have added the word “custom” to their shingle. Those sheets of classic flash are more a starting point for inspiration.
The key to creating and truly unique tattoo is something that you might associate with a scientist than an artist — call it innovation if you will; the essence of creativity begins with looking at things from different angles, solving problems and satisfying needs. With a tattoo, those requirements may have to do with placement, color or even something as intangible as how the design relates to the client’s personal experience.
Many people assume that creativity is a gift from above — either you have it or you don’t. Actually, creativity is more skill than inborn talent, and it is a skill that can be learned and cultivated. Creativity is easily defined — it is the process of generating new ideas. It is the same for aerospace engineers as it is for artists, whether they dabble in ink, paint or clay.
Tune the radio to a new station, take a different route to work, dye your hair a different color. As Frank Baum, wrote in the Scarecrow of Oz, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
Sounds simple enough, right? Put down your machine and take a breather. Here are three things you can do to cultivate your creativity.
In order to drum up unique ideas, you have to venture outside of your comfort zone. Google pioneered a concept of “80/20 time” that allowed engineers to tinker for 20% of their work time. It’s not enough to just want to be creative, you have to actively pursue it. If your schedule is packed solid with the technical part of doing, there’s no time for creative thinking. Give your brain a break, and set aside some time each day to doodle.
The act of doodling is thought to stimulate areas of the brain that may help you analyze information differently. Taking time to sketch and scribble your thoughts and emotions, either in words, pictures or designs, can lead you to new perspectives and trigger that, “Ah ha!” moment.
Take a break
Speaking of that lightning bolt of inspiration, focusing too intently on a task is the quickest path to a creative roadblock. When you step back and do something mundane or repetitive – shoot some hoops or play a few games of Mario Kart, you lighten your “cognitive load” and give your brain the space to be creative.
Embrace the wisdom of Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki (second cousin to Mr. Miyagi) who said, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” You may be accomplished at a specific style of tattooing, but it’s never too late to recover the qualities of a “beginner’s mind,” to enjoy the freedom and spontaneity of being reborn into a child-like state of curiosity, without rules, without boundaries — without limits to creativity.
Daniel Silva has only been tattooing for 2 years and successfully beat season 8, Ink Master winner, Ryan Ashley during an Ink Angels episode to secure his spot to compete in season 10 of Ink Master.
He has turned his life around at the young age of 24 and says “What sparked my interest in tattooing the most was watching other people pursue and live their dream of creating art for a living. Being able to wake up every day knowing there’s room for growth and creating something better than the day before, to me, is the key to life. Being able to put your heart and soul into something, that is helping you live.”
Mr Silva describes himself as “dedicated beyond all belief” with aspirations of creating a unique innovative environment in SoCal (Southern Cali) with his best friend Gabe (the tattooer/apprentice), Dalton (the photographer) and AJ (barber/music producer). To not only to create a tattoo studio, but a place where creative minds can come together.
Daniel Silva is a realism artist who dabbles in sacred geometry, ornamental black-and-grey, and dotwork tattooing out of Gilroy CA. Some of his favorite artists inspirations are Jun Cha and Glendale Bully while also studying Sullen Time lapse videos of Nikki Hurtado and Tectorial on YouTube.
He says “Success is not something you simply wake up with. Success It’s a mindset you achieve by chasing your goals every single day. No matter how much you achieve in life it’s human nature to want more. Falling in love with the Journey is a huge part of that every day success and I hope one day I master that feeling”
Regardless of how he fairs on Ink Master season 10, Silva is definitely someone to watch out for in the industry.
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