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How To Get A Unique Tattoo Idea

The ultimate tattoo dilemma – what do you get? How do you come up with a tattoo design? Where do you start? How can you be sure you’re going to like in five, ten years? Wonder no more! We talked to some of our artists to gather the best advice on how, exactly, you can come up with a tattoo design idea that you’ll love forever. This doesn’t just apply to brand new tattoos either, these tips can be used if you’re looking for ideas to cover up old tattoos as well.

From where you want your tattoo, to what style you should get, find out what our artists suggest you do to come up with your ideal tattoo design inspiration, so that your artist can take it from there and bring your idea to life.

Think of Where You Want the Tattoo

The first step in coming up with a tattoo design, according to Christine V., an artist at Custom Tattoo Design, is to determine where you want the ink to go, “First thing would be to decide where on your body you want your tattoo, and what size. The placement determines the shape of the tattoo design, and the size determines the level of detail that can be included in your tattoo”. This is important, because an intricate design with a ton of detail may not fit in a small-scale tattoo, so location is a key component in the beginning stages of the process.

CTD art director Jen L. emphasizes this point, “you will need to work with the space available. Larger designs, like full sleeves and full backs, can handle the most elements and the highest level of detail. While smaller designs, like a wrist piece for example, will be constrained by the size”.

She wants to be clear that you can still find a happy medium, regardless of what you thought you wanted initially, “A simple [tattoo] design can be just as beautiful as a complex design; it is just important to manage your expectations when it comes to the detail versus the size”. Before you have your heart set on something too specific, talk to your artist about what you have in mind, as “they will be able to give you a realistic idea of how much you can fit within your desired space”.

Choosing where your tattoo is going to go on your body is the best place to start, even before you come up with inspiration for a tattoo design.

Consider What’s Meaningful to You

Once you know where you want to get your tattoo, it’s time to think about the visual elements you want involved. Christine V. suggests you keep in mind “what… you actually want in your tattoo, what personal meaning will it carry?” She advises against getting too literal with your design if, at all possible, “Sometimes it is good to consider more metaphorical symbolism, and not just go with a literal theme or idea. Being a bit more subtle and symbolic will yield a more personal and unique tattoo”.

Christine D., another artist at CTD, believes that if you’re looking into getting a custom design, you already have some kind of inspiration in mind – even if you don’t consciously know it yet, “…it is pretty rare for someone to simply get a custom tattoo designed ‘just because’… There is always a trigger for the desire [to get] a tattoo”. She goes on to explain:

When someone seeks an unique design, made just for them, it is a sign that there is something very special that they feel connected to, and that they need to make it a visible part of themselves, but…the person [doesn’t always have] a clear picture of what they want, sometimes what they have is just a feeling. And how to put a feeling into paper?

Which is where working with an artist comes into play. “A tattoo is always more than a piece of artwork, it is an inspiration”, says Christine D., so she encourages potential clients to think about what inspires them, whether it be music, art, someone special in your life, or a symbol to represent your own personality and experience.

Jen also recommends you think about what’s meaningful to you, because tattoos are “such a personal form of self-expression”, you could take inspiration from: one of your favorite places, animals, flowers, people you want to celebrate or remember, significant moments in your life, hobbies or media you enjoy, your heritage, mythology that resonates with you, or any symbolism that you feel connected to.

If you can’t decide on just one theme, don’t worry, Jen says, “tattoos… don’t necessarily need to have one driving theme in order to be a beautiful piece of art. If you are having trouble focusing on one theme, you can always incorporate several themes and elements into your tattoo”. There a few different techniques that an artist could use to do this, like, “we can use filler elements (like clouds, waves, flowers, etc.) to tie all the elements together into a cohesive whole, or just draw everything in a specific tattoo style which will unite all the disparate elements”.

Tattooist and CTD artist Andy W. echoes the idea of going with something personal, “so that it will mean something for the rest of your life”. He would not, however, advise going with a spouse’s name, “Personally, I think a partner’s name is a bit risky, as anything could happen”. But that person can be inspiration for a symbol that represents your relationship, and make for a unique and lasting tattoo.

There’s a ton of room for creativity and expression through art when you’re coming up with a tattoo design idea, but choosing something that is meaningful to you personally increases the chances that you’ll be happy with the tattoo in the long-term, as opposed to getting a trendy, ‘current’ design done.

Decide on a Tattoo Style

Next, says Christine V., “you will need to decide on the style. First, color, or no color? The internet is such a great source of ideas and showcases all the myriad of tattoo styles out there. Browsing ideas and themes is a good way to figure out what style you like, and which you don’t like, and perhaps what looks you can combine within a single tattoo”.

Jen recommends this approach as well, “it is a stellar idea to do a little research on tattoo styles to see what style you are most drawn to. Common styles are: American Traditional (Old School), Neo-Traditional (New School), High Realism, Trash Polka, Japanese, Geometric, and Tribal”. She advises not to be held back by any specific style, “any artistic style that you like can be translated effectively into a tattoo design. We have had clients ask for more fine art styles, like Impressionism, Art Nouveau, and even Abstract Impressionism. There are no rules when it comes to your own body canvas”.

There are a number of different tattoo styles out there, so research as many as you can to find out which ones you prefer. After looking at them and comparing, you’ll notice you lean toward one particular style over the others, and that’s likely the one to go with. If not, you can always combine particular elements that you like about individual tattoo styles, and incorporate those into your tattoo.

Bring it all Together

The very last stage of coming up with a tattoo design, according to Christine V., is taking what you’ve decided, “then it’s just a matter of throwing all your ideas together and seeing what comes out of it”. At this stage, you want to get an artist involved, so that they can visually create what you’ve had in mind. This is why it’s important to think about all of the previous elements before contacting an artist. Christine D. explains that when you’ve considered your source of “the client gets a better understanding of himself and then, we artists can start to participate in his vision, allowing us to create a custom tattoo design in the image of the person’s thoughts and inspirations”.

From here, it’s just a matter of going back and forth with your artist, with the drafts they create for you, until you’re 100% happy with the final product. This may take several revisions, and it may take none, but don’t settle for a tattoo design that you feel even a hint of doubt about. Request the changes you want, and you’ll be better off for it.

4 Basic Tips From a Tattoo Artist

If you want to get a tattoo, but that’s about all you know, then Andy has some advice. He suggests four tips on making sure you choose the right design for you, so that you’ll love it in the long-run:

  1. Don’t get one until you are sure [about the design]! It is something you are either going to love all your life, or hate until you’re dying day.
  2. Spend a long time deciding [on a design idea]. Trawl the internet for as many designs around the area/type of design you are thinking of.
  3. Ask a graphic artist to graft designs you like on a photo of your body, so you get a rough idea of what it would look like.
  4. Get it individually designed – unless you are set on a design you have seen on a flash sheet. The more personal it is, the less likely you are to want to change it later on.

Tattoos don’t always need to be meaningful, but if you’re looking into getting a custom tattoo design done, chances are you want to immortalize something that’s important to you. By starting with the placement of your desired tattoo, then getting to the root of your tattoo inspiration, and finally, researching tattoo styles that you like, you’ll be on track to getting the best custom tattoo design for you.

The ‘Cosplay’ Economy: How Dressing Up Grew Up

Comic conventions have steadily risen in popularity over recent decades and, as a corollary, “cosplay” – dressing up as a favourite character – is becoming more than just a hobby to many people. You only have to look at some of the costumes to realise the effort that some people put in – whether that involves handcrafting or sourcing the perfect piece – to realise the devotion involved.

The most recent major events in the UK have attracted record turnouts. More than 133,000 cosplayers attended the London MCM Comic Con Event in May this year. When you consider that tickets can cost more than £20 per person, it suggests the amount of money this strange new industry is generating for the UK economy. And it’s not just tickets to events – people often spend upwards of £200 on materials, paints and fixings to make their costumes.

There has been a debate on whether the rise of cosplay has been a sign of hard economic times: young people without jobs spending far too much time wanting to become someone/something else. James Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute fellow and columnist, wrote – referencing mainly the cosplay craze in Japan – that “any rise in people fleeing reality for fantasy suggests problems with our reality”. Citing surveys that showed that young people in America are now less likely to spend their time playing and watching sport, economist Adam Ozimek argued that this is just a sign of changing youth culture – and actually, reflected a relative rise in prosperity: “I bet being a fan of cosplay is more correlated with higher wages than being a fan of football. ”

Creativity not sexuality

But regardless of the numbers, it’s the creativity of cosplay which really enthuses me, as a teacher of design. Cosplay is giving (mainly young) people a new-found creative output. Many will have skilled up in researching properties of materials to the point where they become real masters of those materials. Creative skills such as sketching and design development also become the norm for many people who were novices.

For a large number of people, cosplaying can be the start of a lifelong journey into a design career – whether this be costume design, SFX makeup or product and prop design. For instance, the person who first got me into cosplay, Sorcha McIntyre, launched a graphic design career after attending events. It opened the creative doors to a career by giving her a chance to display artwork and exhibit her design flair.

Some of the costumes displayed at events are among the most imaginative you will see on stage or screen. Alongside this is the inevitable controversy surrounding the costumes of women in particular – accusations about the way in which cosplay sexualises its participants. The media doesn’t really help – as you might imagine, stories about cosplay and comic conventions tend to mainly feature scantily-clad women. But if you look at the actual character – or the concept art that inspired the costumes – this is usually where the images come from.

For many people who attend comic conventions, cosplay isn’t about the particular costume they have chosen to wear, it’s about getting to be their favourite character for the day. That’s not to say that some people don’t dress this way just for the attention – even if the attention they get is approval for the hard work put into the costume. If you asked most cosplayers, they will admit the attention they receive is a major attraction for cosplaying. Nevertheless, dressing up to be “sexy” is not the key factor in this.

Career cosplayers

This image isn’t helped by the most popular cosplayers, including Jessica Nigri and Lindsay Elyse – who are known specifically for their scantily clad outfits and the oversexualised photographs that they make their money selling. Nigri was reportedly asked to leave an event unless she changed into something different to the plunging neckline catsuit she had been sporting.

It’s people like this that can often overshadow other talented cosplayers who don’t feel the need to sex up their costumes. Svetlana Quindt, aka Kamui Cosplay, makes a living from cosplay – but she is also invested in sharing her knowledge on creating costumes with her fans through online tutorials and her books. Some of her costumes may be seen as sexual, but this is a reflection of the character she is portraying, not the cosplayer.

Safe space for fantasy

By becoming a character for the day (even one in a scanty costume) people get to wear a figurative mask that they can shelter behind. Robin S. Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist in the US, interestingly, argues that cosplay helps people deal with traumatic events. He believes it also allows fans to connect with other people who also share similar interests, giving a safe environment for those who might otherwise feel uncomfortable in a “standard” social situation.

Many conventions offer the opportunity for particular fandoms to get together in large groups to share their passion for and experiences of creating their costumes, giving a sense of community.

So if you think cosplay is just about dressing up in sexy outfits you are sadly mistaken. Cosplay has grown up: it’s an art, an inclusive hobby and a creative pursuit – and, for an increasing number of people, it’s a way of life.

How to watch the Marvel movies in order

With Avengers: Endgame behind us, 2020 is the perfect time for a Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) marathon. Most of the Marvel movies are now available to stream on Disney Plus, and Black Widow will soon be kicking off Phase 4, making this a huge year for Marvel-related media.

Watching the Marvel movies in order isn’t totally simple, though, even if you already bought them all. You can enjoy the Marvel movies in chronological order, starting with Captain America: The First Avenger in WW2, as Cap fights the Red Skull in the ’40s. But you can also watch the Marvel movies in release order, meaning your starting point will be 2008’s Iron Man, where Tony Stark makes his MCU debut.

Watching the MCU films in order will give you context for new entries like Black Widow and The Eternals, but also for the Disney Plus Marvel TV shows coming in 2020, like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision. Below, you’ll find lists of the chronological and release orders, and a list of the best Marvel movies, ranked by user score. That means you can avoid the bad ones as you watch the Avengers movies in order, if you choose (sorry, The Incredible Hulk). We’ll also explain which Marvel movies you’ll find on Disney Plus in 2020. Now, let’s jump in to the best superhero films of the modern age…

How to watch the Marvel movies in order: chronological order

A Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) timeline is probably what you’re searching for. This lists all the Marvel films chronologically from The First Avenger to Avengers: Endgame. The main upside of watching the Marvel movies like this means you’ll see key events as they unfolded in the MCU. You’ll follow the Tesseract across the decades, see how Captain Marvel landed on Earth in 1995, and see Thanos’ journey to getting the Infinity Stones.

This is the chronological viewing order of the Marvel movies:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (takes place during WWII)
  • Captain Marvel (takes place in 1995)
  • Iron Man (takes place in 2010)
  • Iron Man 2 (takes place after Iron Man)
  • The Incredible Hulk (time unspecified, pre-Avengers)
  • Thor (time unspecified, pre-Avengers)
  • The Avengers (takes place in 2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (takes place six months after The Avengers)
  • Thor: Dark World (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (sometime in 2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (after Guardians)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (takes place in 2015)
  • Ant-Man (takes place in 2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (post-Civil War, pre-Infinity War)
  • Doctor Strange (takes place in 2016)
  • Black Panther (takes place in 2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (takes place in 2017)
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp (ambiguous, but fits nicely between IW and Endgame)
  • Avengers: Endgame (starts in 2017, finishes in 2022)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (post-Endgame)

When 2020 Marvel movies Black Widow and The Eternals are released, along with canonical Disney Plus shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we’ll add them to this list when we know exactly how they fall in the MCU timeline. Black Widow, for example, is officially set after Captain America: Civil War, but since you can’t actually see that movie yet, we’ve left it off the list above for now.

Marvel movies in order: release date

If you’d rather see the MCU as it was originally released in theaters, however, you should follow this list that starts with the original Iron Man in 2008 and continues all the way up to Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Not only is it a fun nostalgia trip to start with the earlier movies, but you’ll see how the Marvel movies steadily became more refined with bigger budgets.

Phase One

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Phase Two

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)

Phase Three

  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Phase Four

  • Black Widow (May 1, 2020)
  • The Eternals (November 6, 2020)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021)
  • Untitled third Spider-Man movie (July 16, 2021)
  • Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5, 2021)

The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

  • Black Panther 2 (May 6, 2022)
  • Captain Marvel 2 (TBA 2022)
  • Ant-Man 3 (TBA 2022)
  • Blade (TBD)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBD)
  • Untitled Fantastic Four film (TBD)