larch needles newsletter 9/16
hello everyone! september is now well underway, and autumn is very much present in the air and the landscape. the wild grapes are beginning to ripen, the goldenrod is bowing under its own weight, and clouds of pale violet asters are emerging at the edges of the forest. for the last two years, one of my fall rituals has been visiting a long-abandoned quarry in the woods - a jagged crater cut out of the mountainside, now filled with locust trees and bittersweet. though the quarry is often browsed by passing hikers, few people venture to the far side, where a slope of boulders climbs up to the rim. with a fair bit of scrambling, one can ascend quite far up. there is a distinctly different atmosphere here. aspen, birch, and sumac dominate the sparse overstory, and the stones form almost architectural structures - chambers, courtyards, and cavities. deep chasms plunge down into the earth, where the rock was split apart long ago. a dense web of grapevines is knotted through the upper regions, heavy with fruit that will be deliciously sweet in a month's time.
these eight pieces complete the series i started a couple weeks ago. 09 and 10 are some newer interpretations of the ice fissure / cellular network motif i’ve been exploring for a while now. 11 and 12 are inspired by two different kinds of beetle galleries (the etchings left by beetle larvae in the inner bark of trees) - 11 is typical of the elm bark beetle, while 12 is based on the marks of the emerald ash borer. i’m still in the early stages of figuring out how to draw like beetles do! 13 and 14 are some particularly intricate root designs, with 14 being a figure-eight knot. 15 is based on a concept that i’ve painted several times, but haven’t translated into a tattoo design before now. 16 is an evolution of the angular / crystalline fracture pattern that features in a couple of my recent tattoos.
9/3, spirit flow
this was an especially fun piece - i really value motifs and patterns that are flexible and adaptable. these little spirit wisps flow together so easily. i’m looking forward to doing some more pieces in this style in the near future!
9/4, structural salvage
coverups always present a challenge. the new piece is unavoidably constrained by what already exists in the skin. this piece was particularly puzzling, as the original tattoo involved a lot of straight lines and hard angles, and thus couldn’t easily fit under most of the organic forms i typically work with. as it turned out, this piece led very naturally into the next.
9/11, quarry fracture
this was the longest single session i’ve done in quite a while, and pushed me right up to my limit. while certainly exhausting, pieces like this are what i find most exciting about tattooing. i love to create sprawling compositions that couldn’t exist anywhere else but on the body. this piece also felt particularly auspicious - it was based on a drawing originally inspired by the angular rifts and fractures found in the quarry mentioned earlier, and was completed the day after i paid my first visit this year to that place.
on the other end of the spectrum is this piece, which was easily one of the quickest to complete since i began tattooing professionally. it’s rare that i’ll do a tattoo that takes less than an hour. while i’d like to continue pushing my practice towards larger pieces (particularly freehand), i was certainly happy for the opportunity to tattoo one of my favorite mushrooms. this piece also felt like it came just at the right time, as i had happened upon an enormous patch of cinnabar chanterelles just the day before - a rare find!
rootbound archipelago (sketch)
recently on instagram i floated the idea of sketching out concepts for freehand pieces on volunteers. this idea seemed fairly popular, so i created a form to send to upcoming clients who might be interested in adding a drawing session to their appointment. the other day, i had my friend come over to the studio to test this out, and it was really fun. not having to worry about turning the drawing into a tattoo lifted a lot of pressure off the process, and allowed me to experiment more freely. i’m looking forward to doing more of this, and i think my freehand work will benefit enormously from it!
in other news, i have a very exciting announcement to make. in november, i’ll be welcoming my first-ever guest artist and studiomate - Moth Morgenson! i’ve been a huge fan of Moth for years, and it’s an honor to welcome them into my space. i met them in person for the first time today, and we connected really beautifully as i showed them around my local area. at the moment, they’re in the process of moving upstate from brooklyn. after taking a short break from tattooing, they’ll be working out of my studio a couple days a week while they search for a more permanent space closer to their home. we haven’t begun to discuss this in any detail, but we’re both very enthusiastic about the possibility of creating some collaborative pieces during this time. there are honestly very few tattoo artists i could easily see myself working with in this way, but Moth is undoubtedly one of them. stay tuned for a more formal announcement from both of us in the near future!
october: still pretty wide open! 10/2 and 10/3 are booked, and i’m reserving 10/16, 10/23, 10/24, and 10/25 for personal reasons.
also, a note on custom pieces - i’m still open to doing customs, but i am trying to be more selective about the projects i take on. i’m also starting to charge a bigger deposit for customs, to reflect the additional work involved before the appointment.