Inky Bidness

Coupla tattoo things. 

Fascinating personal post by paleo-author Brian Switek of Laelaps over at his other gig, Dinosaur Tracking, where he talks some more about the tattoo I designed for him not long ago. And hints at a second design possibly in the works. (I'm trying to see if it's possible to make a theropod's jaw open and close on Brian's flexing bicep.)

Check out his Allosaurus Ink, Brian has more recent, healed photos.  



Another tattoo I designed, the caffeine molecule for my SciAm peep Scicurious has long been one of my most popular all-time posts for getting traffic. Bound to happen then, that another internet denizen, Ryan S on Reddit has gotten a similar tattoo based on the design Sci and I came up with. 

Here it is on Scicurious:






I've also made a portfolio gallery of my science tattoo designs if you'd like to see more.


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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Hominid Skulls wearing Mexican Wrestling Masks

Not every art project for a client sees the light of day. Here's an example from a few years ago.   
(I retained the copyright on the images even if the contract had gone through: in this case, I was never paid so I'm quite sure there's no conflict, and it's fair game to post these.)

The client had asked for a challenging tattoo design.

Up to you to judge whether or not these fit the bill. The concept was three different hominid skulls, each wearing Mexican Luchador wrestling masks. In black line: no colour, no grey scale. See?  Challenging. How do you bring out the masks on very specific human ancestral skulls without colour?
I got started by working on the hominid skulls and on the layout. Homo sapiens sapiens, Homo erectus tautavelensis and Australopithicus afarensis.

Deciding the layout of the three skulls.




Originally, I drew the concept in reverse by mistake;
three masks that look  like hominid skulls. 

I played with the drawing in Photoshop to get a different view of a "messier" ink style.

Now the challenge of overlaying cloth onto skulls,
and making the bold cartoon outlines found on Luchador masks.

Final submitted image. The Australopithecus on the bottom is wearing a half-mask.

There were more drawings than these few; I like to keep clients informed when working on a project and it's especially important for the personal work involved in tattoos. Ultimately, the project was never fully realized. But what do you think of the last image?  Does it read as hominid skulls wearing Luchador masks?


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 Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

Making of The Last Refuge

Earlier this month I debuted a new painting, commissioned by Kevin Zelnio of Deep Sea News and The Other 95%.  You can see Kevin's post about The Last Refuge here, and who it was for. 

Here's a little about the process of making that painting. 

Kevin had mentioned it to me quite a while earlier, the first time we met in person.  The idea rattled around in my head quite a bit, so there wasn't a lot of prep work needed for this one. 

I started with the sketch above, done using my Faber-Castell Pitt pens.  It's a typical type of starting sketch for me, not a lot of stuff that may make sense to someone else.  I'll try to explain it after the jump.


First of all, it's two sketches side by side.  Let's look at the right one: the little "x" marks all around are a typical comic book notation for all black background. I knew I wanted heavy black shadows, and the light source coming from behind. 

You can see the original composition was quite symmetrical:  I wanted almost a reverent feel, almost like a religious landscape.  It's an easier feeling to invoke with obvious geometry and I thought black smoker thermal vents on either side would evoke that. 

Turned on Die Antwoord  and Massive Attack videos on my 'puter, made some coffee (mocha java) and got started painting.  Used black acrylic for a base in the background. As oil paints age, they become darker and more transparent, so a dark ground will prevent the painting from bleaching over time. 

But at the last second I changed the composition.



Something about all that indanthrene blue...I needed to give the ocean itself more space.  I jettisoned the symmetrical composition for a more natural one.  Also, I wanted a series of lines of light that would direct the eye around the painting in a trangular way, and the submersible hiding behind a smoker wouldn't have helped.




I stayed with a classical compositions with three distances.  The first distance, is the rock at the bottom left with the big standard trilobite (Elrathia kingi is one of my favourites).  This typically gives the viewer an entryway into the painting, and since we're in the West, starting on the left is typical.  The trilobite kind of gazes and points into the rest of the painting. The 2nd, or middle distance, brings in more detail, and shows the "story" of the painting.

When painting the submersible, originally I hadn't add much in the way of light.  I knew I wanted to make some dramatic beams, and a halo, but if I did that and it looked awful, I wouldn't be able to get that smooth deep blue of the surrounding water without starting completely over in the background.




Had to go for it. I was happy with the result, but I still miss that deep mysterious blue cutting down the left hand side.  The light is more dramatic, less tranquil.  


The shape of the light beam is actually inspired by comics. I still pick up Marvel or Dark Horse comics now and then, (love New Avengers) and the shape of the light beams is roughly the same as when a ninja throws multiple stars: the arc of their hand intercut with the path of the throwing stars. If you read comics, you probably know what I mean. 

For the title, I kicked around names like "Deep Discovery" and suchlike, but Kevn supplied the perfect one:  The Last Refuge.

My aim for The Last Refuge was to create a painting the recipient could sit still and look at, and notice little details in the edges.  The cluster of trilobites on the right. The tubeworms rising out of the dark. The shape and texture of the sulpherous smoke. 

It's about a dream, isn't it?  Richard Fortey in Trilobite!  Eyewitness to Evolution said, "Hope has faded that, when today's mid-ocean ridges were explored by bathyscape, in some dimly-known abyss there might still dwell a solitary trilobite to bring Paleozoic virtues into the age of the soundbite..,". 

I hope Kevin and the painting's recipient enjoy The Last Refuge for many years to come. 
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The Last Refuge is also available in a variety of prints from my online print shop. I recommend the laminated print (shown below) or the charcoal frame with dark mat



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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under
Creative Commons Licence.
Portfolio
Blog
Print Shop

New tattoo design gallery at glendonmellow.com

I've replaced the objects gallery on my site with a Tattoo Design Gallery.  There's just the two in there so far, but I hope to add more!

The items in the objects gallery have found homes in drawing and painting.

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Original artwork on
The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under
Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

Art Tuesday: group effort

A while ago, I asked Flying Trilobite readers for help choosing a quote for a school project. The winner was from Matt Ridley's, Genome: the autobiography of a species in 23 chapters.

"The word transformed the land surface of the planet from a dusty hell to a verdant paradise."

In class, we were partnered with another student based on our names in alphabetical order. Luckily, I was paired with Michelle Kim, another representational artist. Her quote had to do with life being like a spiral. Here's some pics of the end result.


Detail 1: Detail 2:

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**My apologies for missing Art Monday! I was too sick to post.

Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

Art Monday: banner rough sketches

Around this time last year I posted a new version of my blog banner. It was the second trilobite on shale painting I had completed and used as a banner, and I'm at work on a new one for this year. Why not annually?

Here's my thumbnail sketches, done with a ballpoint pen in my beloved Moles
kine sketchbook.

There's something exciting about sketching in ballpoint pen. It always turns out looser. Perhaps it may go back to those days in high school and university when I would listen to lectures and lessons while perpetually doodling.

I also may update my footer and side bar art before the end of the month. Last year, I feel I accomplished many of the goals I had set out for myself. This year, I hope to work on a new series of portraits in addition to playing with my fossil images. I'd like to complete six portraits by the end of the year. Three are planned out already, and executing a portrait is always a test of an artists' abilities.

Previous banners are here and here, and a selection of portraits is here. Click each to enlarge.

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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details. Please visit my blog, gallery and reproduction store.
2009 Calendar available now!

Artwork Mondays: Happy Hallowe'en!


Created for a Hallowe'en invite. Ink on paper, colours slapped on with the Photoshop paintbucket tool. I was going for an old Hollywood look.

I've cropped it a bit so I don't get the Citizens of the World Wide Web trying to cram into my apartment.


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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.
Please visit my blog, gallery and reproduction store.

Flying Trilobite Fossil Tattoo

In my last post, I alluded to a mysterious image of the Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil.

The image I designed would not be completed by me. Instead it was completed by the talented and professional Andre of Pick Your Poison Custom Tattoos.

So yeah, I'm serious about my art and concepts. Now to submit it to Carl Zimmer's Science Tattoo Emporium...



Edit: The trilobite is an elrathia kingii, very similar to the one on the trilobite ring my wife gave me some years ago. The bat wings were taken directly from the Flying Trilobite painted shale in the possession of my good friend Rudi L, which can also be seen in this interview with Virginia Hughes at Page 3.14 from last year.

Elrathia represents to me the archetypal trilobite. Not too many fancy spines or other evolutionary power-ups, it is a common trilobite, and often found made into jewellery. They are usually only an inch or two across, and never had wings. All trilobites were aquatic.

One of the main things I love about art is to produce unreal visions based on the enormous wealth of knowledge no other generation had access to. I believe to do less is a disservice to the times we live in, and how much we know about the times that came before, and the universe at large.
Okay, I think I'm coming off the tat' endorphins now.
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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.

Artwork Mondays: A Mysterious Sigil

What could this be?

I will be showing a finished version of this piece on Wednesday, I think. The thing is, I will not be completing the final art, and yet I may still submit it to another popular site, to see if it will be featured there. Hopefully it won't be mistaken for a skeletal frog too often.

It's been over a decade of artwork about mythical flying trilobites and their fossilized remains. It's only fitting....
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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.