My name is Kat and I live in New York City. I have been hesitating to get a tattoo for long-long years. I always knew I wanted a tattoo but I had two problems:
- I didn’t find the right artist
- and I wasn’t sure how my images would be delivered with all the reflection of my ideas in one big cohesive piece
I heard about Caesar from one of my friends and checked him out. I was amazed by his artwork. Time passed, and I’ve seen his amazing skills in numerous international tattoo magazines when I was browsing at Barnes & Nobles. I even bought some of them because of him beside that frequently visited his website to check his unique custom creations. I also signed up for his monthly newsletter about his updated portfolio and tattoo convention plans. I kind of waited every month for a new project he came up with and published it in his portfolio. They gave me ideas and learned the possibilities for my first tattoo. The more I looked the more sure I was that Caesar could be the one to bring my idea alive in a very unique way and translate my idea in my own LEGEND. I knew he never makes the same tattoo two times and this also secured my vote for him.
- He is also Hungarian
- He is also local
- and most importatly, he is able to deliver my thoughts
So the decision was made.
I scheduled a free consultation with him. He asked me to email him all digital references that I have and bring everything else physical printouts that I have. At the agreed appointment I met Caesar to see the last step, how he feels about my idea and whether the chemistry is working between us. I knew this is a fairly large project so it will cost a pretty penny and will come with pain on the top of all, but I wanted to get it done.
Kat’s bucket list:
I wanted my tattoo to represent my personality and something I feel very connected to. The idea behind Gaia is my point of view of the universe and a detailed representation of the things I feel strong about. Every detail means something to me and overall a creation of my belief system.
Planet earth is not just a place for living beings; it is a living organism as a whole. This is what the Gaia (Mother Earth) theory says. Materialism considers everything as objects. Spirituality, on the other hand, discovers life in everything. The interconnectedness of all living systems function as a single organism.
Mother Earth is the Cosmic Power, representing all of the good and all of the bad in the Universe, combining the absolute power of destruction with the precious motherly gift of creation. All the plants and flowers around and above the female figure represent how everything is connected in the universe in perfect harmony.
I had strict requirements on the content of my LEGEND, but didn’t have the vision how to represent them visually. This was Caesar’s job. 🙂
I had this MUST list:
- The seven energy centers; The Chakra System, our energetic connection to the realm of pure consciousness and our spiritual essence. It is something I learned through many years of yoga practice and feel very connected to. These major chakras in the human body are energy centers, points of energy flow, and act as energy junctions in the body. How I see it, the chakra system and energetic body is a way for us to connect to the universe, to Gaia.
- There is more to the human body than the physical body. There are numerous energy bodies within and around the human body. It is said that when you begin to develop your senses, a “new and fascinating world opens before you; the hidden world suddenly unveils itself – your perception heightens and your thoughts and feelings are expressed before your very own eyes in color and form”.
- Our physical universe is not really composed of any “matter at all”. Its basic component is a kind of force or essence that we call energy. We are all just energy and everything within and around us are made of energy. We are all part of our great energy field. We are all one, even in a literal physical senses. If everything is made of energy than its logical to believe that everything is interconnected in the universe and we are part of one, great, living organism: GAIA.
- Renewal, positive force and the power of life in general. Also, as a creature of the wind, the dragonfly represents change. And as a dragonfly lives a short life, it knows it must live its life to the fullest with the short time it has – which is a lesson for all of us.
- The Theory of Four Elements is embodied in the whole picture of Gaia. In my view of the universe, all things are made up of four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. All animals, plants, stones, emotions, inanimate objects, and energies are combinations of these elements..as, of course, are we.
- The spiral represents many things in the universe, for me particularly a symbol of the spiritual journey and the evolutionary process of learning and growing. The spiral shows up very often in nature – in hurricanes, in pattern of seeds, in the pattern that leaves grow, and as a helix, the shape of the DNA molecule.
Overall, this view of the universe and these ideas show up in all aspects of my life; in my personal life being who I am and in my professional life being a holistic health counselor or a healer.“
Caesar’s Artistic Vision:
Kate had a pretty solid idea of her tattoo. She wanted to represent Mother Nature, or Gaia on her upper half-sleeve. She brought a lot of references that we ended up incorporating into her final tattoo. During the consultation in July 2009, we discussed how we wanted to manifest Gaia as a solid entity when itself was an abstract concept. With that concept clear, we began session zero immediately.
The challenge was in incorporating elements of air, earth, water, and the chakra system. These were also abstract, and we also wanted to preserve the femininity of Gaia while doing so. We settled on the female body, but without sexual features, save her chest. This human body would be the vessel for the chakra system. Each chakra element would be encased in a sphere of energy. We symbolized air with a spiral trail of butterflies in negative. wrapping around Gaia’s body. I realized that the water element was the key in beginning the path of flow for the tattoo. The figure of Gaia would arise from a body of water, and we would add fishes in negative to clarify. We also decided to add a molecular structure of the atom to symbolize the particles that make up the universe. Gaia’s magnitude would be seen with mountains at her hip level, and further emphasize the feminine with vines of flowers beginning at her hands and wrapping upwards. She would also have long flowing hair that would drape her back and provide the dark background to symbolize night. In order to merge her skin with the tattoo, we would plant flowers growing in a Victorian ornamental style behind her hair. And that would smoothen the transition of the upper half of the body into the tattoo like the water did for the lower.
We put the design together in Photoshop and I stenciled it. Kate scheduled her first inking session after her vacation, since too much fun in the sun would likely ruin a fresh healing tattoo.
We made solid progress on the first session, fully shading Gaia’s body, complete with mountains, atoms, and birds.
The second session was little special. Kate wanted to add a dragonfly on the other side of her arm, symbolizing change. Since it was continuous with the theme of nature and Gaia, I allowed it. I made a small prototype of the dragonfly on her inner bicep. I like to call this “chicken-scratch” because the ink is shallow and faint. This means that it can be merged in the foreground or the background. This is essential because there are no lines in nature. There are only hard edges and soft edges, because reality is three-dimensional.
The third session we flesh out the dimensionality based on the focal point of the composition. We shade in most of the tattoo, including the chakra sphere and the upper body. I add a touch of color to the dragonfly, which is something I rarely ever do.
We slowly start expanding the tattoo, adding water to the bottom of the tattoo, with fish and air bubbles, which adds flow into the piece. I increase contrast on the legs to better merge it with the water.
Since some parts are healing, I decide to work on new parts of the skin, stretching the back of Gaia’s hair and night around the back of the tattoo, wrapping around to the dragonfly. And I use this time to add in the stencil for the flowery ornamentation aboe Gaia’s head.
Now it’s time for some complexity. The dragonfly is not only in color but also presents intricacy in its wings. In order to present the illusion of transparency, I carefully navigate the non-geometric pattern of the wings and color in the green. All the while, I further polish the Gaia tattoo, adding details to flowers and the body. I also fused the black background with the green with a gradient of smooth lighter browns, which is a shade of yellow, then progressing away from the black into the brighter greens.
Keeping the imagery of femininity in this piece was a welcome experience. I had to work with the smaller surface area. I had previously considered spirituality a foreign concept but after hours of talking with her it gave me a different perspective on how to live life.