Club Tropicana

Art Works: Gray Silva

25 October 17 words: Gray Silva

A local tattoo artist lets us in on his creative process...

For the last ten years or so, I've built a professional reputation on abstract colourful design, creating pieces of work with an edge that don't necessarily appeal to the masses, but my own client base love. I call them “Gray Silva Abstracts”. However, the tattoo I’ve chosen to share is a recent piece in a style I like to call “Gray Silva Realish-ism”.

This particular robin is made up of several images. Taking the most interesting details from each photograph, I used Procreate to edit everything together, to make sure the piece is unlikely to be seen tattooed on anyone else.

Many of my other bird pieces have outstretched wings with elements of my abstract work within them, and there’s a little bit of that on this piece, in the hard lines that run down the back of the bird, continuing to the tail feathers. 

These “realish-ism” pieces came about when I noticed the growing number of realism artists in the tattooing world. I started to wonder how I could interpret the recent innovation in tattoo techniques, as well as improve colour pigments and needle configurations. It was only a matter of time before clients came through our doors enquiring about realism work, and I felt I should try and accommodate them in an original way. I love a challenge. 

Initially, I used my abstract line work and existing realism techniques to execute the style, but the extreme details in each piece quickly became incompatible with my need to work quick and loose. After a lot of experimentation with marker pens, oil paints and digital media, I found I could create pieces in a “painterly” way using oversized needle configurations and more of an impressionist style, rather than the highly detailed, time-consuming methods of ultra-realism.

I want my clients to get a special piece of custom art, rather than the usual tattoo design expectations. A lot of them say they love explaining their tattoo and the process – the brief, the artist’s concept, and the execution – to anyone who sees it.

I love that people are realising that getting a tattoo can be much more than just choosing a design from the internet. You can now get a one-off piece of art directly out of the head of an artist that didn't exist before you met, and wouldn't exist without your commitment to pushing boundaries and helping drive our art form forwards. 

Rampant Ink, 6 Meadow Road, NG4 2FF. 0115 841 7449

Rampant Ink website

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