The Beginning.

The two most important things to learn in the beginning of any tattoo journey is:

A. What is a good tattoo.

B. Who came before you.

Starting with Sailor Jerry covers both.  Haram is starting  this journey in the tattoo world by taking off the rosy glasses of pinterest and watercolor tattoos and finding the hard and strong images of Traditional Americano.  It seems like a obvious choice but the biggest tool for teaching is communication.  Studying the old flash and discussing it helps us to speak the same language.

With any cult, learning the lingo is first.  To really learn the cult of tattooing, you must understand the critical thinking behind the lingo.

Here is a blog from my friend Haram:


My first lesson was to distinguish between good and bad tattoos which relies heavily on the principles of form and design. So in order to understand the design concept, I spent most of my time deconstructing Sailor Jerry flash.

The biggest thing that I learned was that perception and thinking goes hand in hand. In our current education system, the arts are neglected because they are considered to be based on perception, and perception is disdained because it’s not assumed to involve thought. From my experience of deconstructing  flash, I realized that although personal response and judgement of beauty must be present in all visual decisions, art-making absolutely requires systematic thinking. Regularity of structures in images invariably has a mathematical basis.

For example, at first glance, Sailor Jerry flash appears to be simple and even random but compositional flow is always present and is responsible in determining how the eye is led through a design: where it looks first, where it looks next, where the eye pauses, and how long it stays. It’s about movement and direction and it is certainly not random but rather calculated in advance. After I understood the importance of design, it was time for me to start cranking out flash designs and practice spit-shading.

One of my biggest challenge was to make my shading “short and sweet.” It was difficult for me to let go of this idea that shading should have a subtle gradient effect that fades out softly but I soon realized that using this method does not allow enough space for color which would be applied later on. I learned that in order to create successful flash, I had to commit to the darkest part of the black with confidence then soften it just at the edge and no more. With this new realization, it made a world of difference as I moved forward with my practice.

This is the end of my update for today. I am continuously reminding myself that my journey has just begun. I have so much to learn and there is no point in rushing. I hope to be able to absorb all I can, hopefully getting better and better day by day. Thanks for following along in my journey. 

-Haram Ahn

Follow Haram’s Journey into Tattooing click HERE

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