Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Embrace the world

Outline done - stencil ink shows shading First session's work completed

A tattoo to celebrate Bondi's part in my life has been a long time in the making. I started doodling ideas even before we finished our travels two years ago.  Actually, I'd even begun preparing before we started our travels by taking a cast of his paw in 2004. I collected further images of his prints in the sands of the Orkney Islands, and in snows near the Jura mountains in France.

I tried to stylise that first paw-print, quickly realising that I could embed his name in the pads and so the name-in-paw progressed to the image you see on the right below. The white space in the O and D evokes Bondi's distinctive eyebrow markings.


And that's where I left it - according to my notes - while we were residing in Edinburgh in August 2007.

The next step, recounted here, was when I decided that the NW Pacific tradition provided the most appropriate design language to begin sketching further ideas. I collected sample images from many sources and wrote to some NWP artists to commission work from them, but didn't get very far.

All of that fell by the way when Bondi's cancer was diagnosed and through the difficult months that followed, capped by the illness and passing of my cousin Natasha less than eight weeks later.

About a month ago I was told that a Japanese tattoo artist by the name of Chisaki was revisiting Sydney, and I noticed from her website that she had some experience in NWP tattoos. I made an appointment for a consultation with her at Inner Vision Tattoo, where she was to be in residency for a few months.

Bondi tattoo sketch [Mike]

I returned to (badly) sketching some ideas that I could take to Chisaki, and sifted through the images I'd collected. One of them had a name on it, and a quick web search took me to the artist's website with many more examples of animals rendered in a NW Pacific style. So that's how I came to email Bernice Gordon in Toronto, Canada who enthusiastically took on my commission and all the sketches and photos I threw at her. Several days later I got three draft images, two of which used my image above of Bondi embracing the globe (no that's Europe, not a man on all fours trying to scratch himself doggie-style).

One of those images immediately proclaimed itself as the right direction, both in terms of the symbolism and as a shape that would fit the intended placement off my right-shoulder. Bernice and I iterated through several ways to "fill-in the globe" in a way that would actually realisable within the limits of a tattoo artist's craft. About two days ago at about 3am while juggling the n-th version of a map with or without paw-prints and footprints trekking across it, I grabbed my Bondi name-in-paw image and slapped it into the hole. That was it.

So at 11.30 this morning I sat down with Chisaki to begin applying Bernice's awesome work to my arm. At 2.30pm we finished the session as you see it at the top right of this post, with all the outlining done and a little bit of the shading. The remaining shading will be done in two weeks.

I'm extremely happy with the way it's come so far and very grateful to the two talented women who have helped me realise this project to keep Bondi at my side into the future.


  1. Wow! That's just amazing! It's such an awesome way to memorialize a beloved pet and companion.

  2. Very cool!!!! I love how you did Bondi's name with the pawprint look.

    Mom recently got a tattoo portrait of Abby on her leg. The artist did a fantastic job! You can see if on my blog here;


  3. That looks AWESOME!!!

    Merry Christmas to the 2 of you!