Finally, I have been told “no”. It seems like everyone I know always likes the artwork I do, or else has lied about it. For once my raw talent has fallen short, or I may have been too impatient.

A co-worker of mine had asked for a tribal design weaving through a set of runes. This did not seem utterly difficult. I immediately said yes. She informed me that she wanted to use the Anglo-Saxon runes as adapted by Tolkien to spell the word dream but did not know the runic equivalent of the letter “e”. I did some homework and got back to her the next day.

tribal exOver the next couple of days I struggled with the design. Tribal lines are usually thick and close together. When I attempted to weave the lines of the tribal in between the lines of the runes, they quickly thinned and became spaced much farther apart. My first design looked something like this:

dream tribal bThe lines were too thin for my taste and I quickly abandoned that design for a new one. I would not however, give up completely on the “weaving” or Celtic knot part of the design. It would be all too easy to draw some regular-looking tribal and slap the runes on top of it. Besides that, my co-worker hadn’t really been specific about the design or direction of the tribal, only that it would weave in and out. I tried again:

dream tribal birdThis was a fun exercise for my brain to do, to escape from the artistic corner I had mentally burrowed into. However, it did not come close to fulfilling the criteria of the commission. I tried a third time:

dream tribal 2This design reminded me terribly of a spider. The runes said “dream” and this design was for a girl. I decided to try again:

dream tribal 1Even though rounding off the corners made the design resemble clouds more than it did a spider, I thought it completely killed the overall design, and I hated it. I am a perfectionist and the times that I actually like my artwork are few and far between. Even though I hated it, she just might like it, and why spend more time on one design than I have to? The beginning of our conversation the next day:

Me, “What do you think?”

Her, “…”

Me, “You don’t like it do you?”

Her “…”

I could tell by the look on her face that she was trying desperately to find a way to tell me that I was way off and that she hated it, while still sparing my feelings. I began to grin.

“Finally!” I blurted out, and began to explain to her that it was not often that someone didn’t like a piece of art that I had worked on. She liked the pointy parts in the middle at the bottom, and I explained about the whole spider thing, which she understood. I told her I would start again from scratch, and came up with a quick half an hour sketch that turned into this:

dream tribal finalMission accomplished. We both liked it. I told her I would scan my sketch, clean it up, print it out, and bring it to work with me the next day. She had the day off, but would come in and pick it up. Little did we know, the parlor where she was going took walk-ins, and it could be done in two hours. She was back at work in two and a half to show me the final product. I got a picture after the redness went away:

dream tribal skinI have branded yet another human being…


2 thoughts on “A Bit O’ Tribal

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