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Tattoos » Conan Lea » Page 1 » Full Back Fractal Tattoo
By Conan Lea

Voluta Tattoo
212 West 10th Street
Indianapolis IN, 46202

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This client was interested in the enormity and beauty of randomized fractals. It’s for a good reason, but I won't butcher her eloquent description of why she appreciates this art. 

The challenge was to define the portal to the fractal world on her soft, curving form that allowed our eyes to find the continuity in a randomized fractal. The client and I were immediately sure that we did not want this piece to occupy the whole of her back, but we also knew that creating a narrow portal would diminish our chances of conveying the idea of fractals to the human eye. Without enough room to see the patterns unravel, I ran the risk of creating a hodgepodge of disorienting textures and values. Using a standard Julia fractal would be ideal given the narrow space through which to view the complex mathematical formations that define the art.

Once we've established the shape we realized that any if anything protruded in the top of the portal, it might mimic a Christian cross, which we did not want to happen, even accidentally.

Given that random fractals have to be seen on a large surface so that the human eye can find the patterns, I had to imagine that my canvas was more like 5' x 5'. I could not imagine designing a fractal from scratch, nor one of that scale, and certainly not one that was randomized enough to be understood out of my simple human hand. I'm sure it could be done: I know the artists who could do it. But not by me.

I instead drew the entire tattoo directly on her back with a marker, imagining the whole thing unfolding on the giant scale. The client and I spent many hours sketching, erasing, and resketching on her body with sharpies. It was very brave of her to stand there for hours with me, moving and dancing in front of the mirror to make sure it flowed with her female curves. We even made a little video so she could see how the silhouette of the piece would look on her form in motion.

She drove to my studio from a different state so we had to be economical and focused during our sessions. This rarely happens. She became a dear and trusted friend and a guide for my daughters and for me as a father. Ultimately, I should have paid her for the tattoo time for all the help and support she gave me.

I love this tattoo. I love the person wearing it. We discussed eventually giving her two full sleeves when her life allows for it. Given that she is a fantastic scholar and professor at a large university, I imagine this will simply extend our adventure for years to come and solidify our friendship.

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