Tattoo is a fascinating art form, and I follow quite a few tattoo blogs on my Coealacanth Gallery tumblr. But this image turned up on a scientific illustration blog, since this man has had himself inked with a version one of my favorite Zdenek Burian illustrations– one which I had posted here earlier this year as part of an appreciation of that artist’s work.He has changed the order of the animals, and flipped them, but they’re clearly Burian’s classic elephants. This makes me recall a recent discussion with a tattoo artist, who told me that many tattoo experts prefer to flip images of faces in profile so that they face toward the centerline of the subject’s body. I don’t know whether that is a purely aesthetic decision, an artistic convention, or a superstition of some kind (or possibly a combination of any two or all three), but I wonder if that’s what’s happening here. I think the elephants look great the way Burian originally painted them, but the tattoo is also well composed, considering the change in medium and the radically different canvas presented by the human body.
I don’t know this man, but I like him. A love of mammoths, and of Burian, profound enough to tattoo this particular image on his body makes him a bit of a kindred spirit.