William with Philip's Tattoo digital collage ©evertson 2009
My wife found a beautiful gem of a book for me. Published
in 2005; I hope you are not as far behind on your reading
list as I. The Tattoo Artist by Jill Clement is a beautifully
constructed story of Sara, an early modernist artist. The
novel unravels the tale of her art; successes, failures and
ultimately the pain of using her own body as a canvas. It
combines threads of early 20th century modern art and
primitive votive art forms with themes of immortality
and perseverance. The construction of identity forms a rich
undercurrent. While not without a few quirks: I found her
descriptions of Ta'un'uuan life much more believable
than her artist life in Manhattan. Still, I was impressed
by Ms. Ciments imagination and wit.
While not finding myself in the same circumstance as
protagonists Sara and her lover Philip, I was inspired to
attempt a version of Philip's tattoo.
Starting with my head shot I added a layer of black lines
rotated to the tilt of my head and created a drop shadow.
I made a new channel for the head shot and adjusted for
a high contrast.
Using the displacement filter I mapped the drop shadow
to my high contrast face channel. I continued with the
eraser, dodge and burn tools to create a more life-like
I worked with Philip's tattoo mainly because I think I
would rather have Jill Clement's words paint the
picture of Sara's.