There have been a few instances over the years though, when I've been asked to draw something for somebody that I've actually gone through with it. Not for tattoo purposes, but just sketches for friends. To my amazement, some of them have even ended up getting framed and hung up on walls. I would never hang anything I drew on my wall, as again, I don't have that much confidence in what I do.
One friend in particular, who was the first person I really ever sent a sketch to, has done more to boost my confidence over the years that just about anybody except my mother. His name is Brandon, although I affectionately refer to him as Binky, and we met on an Xbox Live message board. It started with a Batman drawing I did for him, which he seemed to genuinely love, as he sent me back a photo of it hanging on a wall in his basement. I followed that up with another Batman sketch for him. Earlier this year I got an email from him, asking me to design a tattoo from an idea he had. I was skeptical at first, as again, I'm not crazy about drawing things that might end up branded permanently on people, but I actually LIKE this person, and I'd hate to draw something and him end up being disappointed with it. When I heard the idea though, I knew I had to at least give it a shot.
The idea was to mix the animated universes of both Hellboy and Batman, which obviously share special places in my tiny black heart. The short version of this brilliant idea is that Joker somehow got ahold of some of Rasputin's books and accidentally summoned a giant monster, and Batman and Hellboy had to put a stop to it. Brandon gave a much more detailed story, which after I read it, I immediately wish actually existed in comic book or movie form. It immediately put an image into my head, and the next day I set out to try and get it on paper, which isn't always easy for me. I decided that seeing as how I didn't have any idea as to what kind of room the artist would have to work on Brandon's arm, that I would do two images, and he could resize and put them together the best way possible.
For Hellboy, I wanted him to be in the middle of the fight with the creature, I figured between he and Batman, he would be the muscle of the two, who would run head first into battle, ready to punch this thing in it's tentacled face. I used lots of reference material online for Hellboy, but the tentacles I just randomly threw in there, figuring the tattoo artist could add, delete, or change as needed. I also just for reference purposes crudely sketched in where Batman's arm would enter the image, grabbing Hellboy by the jacket.
Batman I assumed would be more interested in figuring out a way to get rid of the creature, sending it back to where it came from. Heading into battle head on with this tentacled beast might not be in his best interest. Knowing he would need Hellboy's assistance, I wanted him trying desperately to pull him from the fray to regroup and come up with a plan. For Batman, I didn't need much help, as I normally at some point or another sketch him daily. Animated Batman is especially fun and easy to draw. I envisioned him hanging off a gargoyle from a building in Gotham, with his grapple extended in one hand, and the other grabbing Hellboy. Again, not knowing what kind of room the artist would have, or how much of his arm Brandon was going to get inked, I decided it was probably best to focus on the characters and not so much with the other stuff. You can see again a basic placement of where Hellboy would enter the image.
Here's the two of them, only obviously separated.
I can honestly admit to being pretty happy with them, but I was very nervous when I went to send some pics to Brandon. I knew he had put a ton of thought into this tattoo, and if he wasn't happy with what I produced, I knew he'd be disappointed. I sent him the pics, and thankfully, he seemed to love what I had done. I can't even begin to describe how relieved I felt. I couldn't wait to see what the tattoo artist, a real artist, was going to do with them.
I'd have to wait a while, as these things tend to take time to set up and actually do, but when I woke up this morning I had another email from Bink, with the completed work. I've been looking at these pics all morning. It's absolutely amazing to see something I did transferred to another human being, permanently. The colors are fantastic, and really improved upon the pencils I sent. I asked to share the photos here on the blog, and was given permission. Here's the finished product:
I'm assuming he will be reading this at some point, so to Brandon, I want to extend the biggest possible thanks for believing I could pull this off. Seeing the sketches I did end up looking so amazing has made me ridiculously happy this morning. I hope you enjoy the tattoo for years to come, it's truly incredible, and I'm insanely jealous of both your brilliant idea and your ink.