To create a tattoo for a friend, based on the word Mom I first went through a little reference by searching up the net and by consulting a book from my local library.
The book gave me a good introduction on the history of tattoos and on the various style influences on tattoo design like old school, tribal, oriental, macabre and nautical.
Image searching on the internet turned up millions of hearts, roses and scrolls dedicated to mothers. But I also thought that there are very personal links between a tattoo and its wearer.
So yes, symbols are a major reference, but there also is a good injection of personal history with that.
I referred to another book – which I was so proud and happy to find on my shelves! – to get more information about symbols.
I actually had a symbol in my mind since the beginning, a tree, so I was particularly looking at that and found out that is one of the symbols meaning the same thing in nearly all the past and present cultures on Earth: life.
I thought that a tree could perfectly represent the word Mom, giving life to its leaves and fruits through its roots and being stable and strong, like a pillar.
And I thought that it could be connected with personal history, for example if the friend’s mother is passionate about nature, plants, gardening (like mine, for instance!).
I recorded some of my early ideas in the phase of brainstorming and after researching my references I sketched a tree. Two coiled roots become a banner where Mom is written.
I copied the sketch on another sheet and used a fine liner to give it the tattoo aspect. I shaded it with little dots and used an old school font for the word Mom.
I was careful to make a quite clear design without too tiny details, which are hardly reproducible in the tattoo practice.
I think it would work well as a card and discovered accidentally that I really like how it looks with colours inverted!
How to draw tattoo style , Andy Fish with Veronica Heard, 2012
Sacred Symbols – people, Religions, Mysteries, Thames and Hudson edited by Robert Adkinson, 2009