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.

10 Sports Photography tips for beginners

10 Sports Photography tips for beginners

Capturing the action of a thrilling sports event, whether it is football, rugby league, soccer, tennis and everything in between, is a wonderful feeling for all involved. But just how can we get those shots we see in the magazines and newspapers?

I will be giving you my top 10 tips on sports photography for beginners, hopefully improving your sports photos dramatically!

What you need and some pre-tips:

You will need a digital SLR camera, or a camera that allows you to set your own shutter speed. If you aren’t using either of these then chances are you won’t be able to capture very good sports photos.

When you first arrive at an event, particularly children’s sports, it’s important to remember that you need to seek permission to take photos. Once you get the a-ok we are ready to shoot!

1. Have a lens or zoom range that is AT LEAST 200mm.

A focal length greater than 200mm is obviously a lot better as it will allow you to get close to the action and without being able to zoom in, you won’t be able to isolate any of your subjects. Two common beginners lenses are the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR or the Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM.

2. Do NOT use full automatic mode.

This is a common mistake made by amateur photographers. They will usually set their camera in full automatic mode or a pre-mode labelled “sports” or “action”. While these may work OK on occasions, to really take to the next level you need to use a semi-manual mode.

3. Use a fast shutter speed.

In sports photography, you want to ensure that the shutter speed on your camera is fast enough to capture the quick moving bodies of the athletes. A shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second is required to freeze movement. Try not to go below 1/500th of a second.

4. Use Aperture Priority mode.

The modes on a typical DSLR are Automatic, Program Automatic, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual. Displayed by the letter A on a Nikon camera and AV on a Canon, the aperture is our f/stop number, which determines how much light is taken into the camera’s sensor. If you aren’t using a digital SLR camera, you don’t need to worry about setting an aperture, but rather a shutter speed, which we will get to shortly. When we set the camera’s aperture in aperture priority mode we are allowing the camera to determine the shutter speed. On a bright sunny day, this is usually the best setting to use. Many professionals for sports photography use aperture priority mode. What we are looking at doing in this mode is setting a very large aperture, which is a small f-stop number, such as f/2.8 or f/4. This will ensure that the most possible light is allowed in, which in turn tells the camera that a fast shutter speed is needed for the correct exposure. When there is more light in the camera it will allow for a faster shutter speed, thus helping to freeze the action.

5. Watch your ISO.

Shutter speed, as you can tell, is very important. To determine the correct exposure we use 3 components, which are aperture, shutter speed and ISO. When shooting in a semi-manual modes such as aperture priority or shutter priority we need to set the ISO ourselves considering the location, time and conditions of the event you are photographing. For a bright sunny daytime soccer match for example, a low ISO of 400 will be perfect as there is plenty of light available for the camera to use. However if it is a dull overcast day, there is not as much light and we need to be able to tell the camera this by setting our ISO. On a darker day you will need to increase your ISO, usually to around the 800-1200 mark.

6. Use Shutter Priority Mode if Aperture Priority isn’t available.

This setting is best used for non-SLR photographers who only have a camera that enables shutter speed settings. As many people reading this won’t own an SLR, it is important to remember that you can still capture some great shots. Most cameras including point-and-shoots will enable the users to set a shutter speed. Instead of telling the camera how much light to let in, as we did with aperture priority, using shutter priority mode enables us to tell the camera directly what speed we would like the shutter to be. The camera will then decide on what aperture – or f/stop number – to use. As mentioned earlier, at least 1/500th of a second is needed. You will need to take test shots when setting your shutter speed manually, in case you set it too high and are not letting enough light into the camera.

7. Use a fast auto-focus and burst mode.

In order for the camera to keep up with the fast movements we want to set it to continually focus on our subject or subjects rather than lock on to one spot. On top of this, we must also set our camera to take multiple images, usually referred to as “frames per second” or “burst”. Locate both of these on your camera and ensure that they are switched ON when shooting sports. If you have the option to set how many frames per second you would like your camera to take, always set it to the maximum whether it be 3, 4, 5 or more photos a second. This increases our chances of capturing that money shot.

8. Position yourself correctly and know your sport.

The best thing you can do is to position yourself with the sun behind your back. This ensures that a lot of light is hitting your subject out on the field of play, which reverts back to letting as much light in as possible and freezing the action with those fast shutter speeds. It is also helpful if you know a lot about the sport you are taking photos of as anticipating where the ball or the action may be is going to help you get the best shots possible. Follow the action with your camera, ensuring that you are zoomed in close enough to have the majority of the frame be the player themselves.

9. Take lots and lots of photos.

Whether it be a soccer player kicking the ball or a tennis player serving, once you have your subject in the frame you can half-hold the shutter button to focus and then hold down to fire away and capture as many photos per second as you can, thanks to the previous burst modes we have set. In this day and age with digital photography we are fortunate to be able to see our results immediately. There is absolutely no harm in finishing a sporting event with 2000 pictures on your camera!

10. Shoot from a low angle, such as your knees and use a monopod.

By shooting from your knees you are capturing much more of a dramatic angle as well as letting in more of a clear background rather than other athletes and grass. The lower perspective gives the photo excellent depth and it’s a technique that you will see all pro photographers doing. Also look to purchase a monopod and use it, even if your lens and camera are not heavy. It is very beneficial in helping you keep your camera steady and balanced while shooting from different angles, particularly your knees.

I hope that with these tips you can capture some awesome pictures. We would love to see your results.