T'ee of Life vs. Sleeve of Knowledge
I've always wanted to get a tattoo. Before I turned 18 I didn't really consider what tattoo I wanted, I just wanted one. I begged and pleaded with my Mom to no avail. By the time I turned 18 and could get one - I didn't. I've still wanted one but I was old enough to realize that I wanted one but that I wanted something meaningful and "cool". Ever since i've kept it in the back of my mind - trying to think of what design I would be confident enough to have permanently injected into my skin.
Throughout the years nothing ever seemed to manifest itself. No idea stuck. I decided that I didn't want to get random tattoo after tattoo that didn't relate to each other. I wanted a full body and fully realized concept.
Obviously the design i'm going to post here would take thousands of dollars and dozens of hours to complete - not to mention that I would have to polish up the design and details to permanent quality. But that's the first point of this post.
While I was designing this I realized something that would influence both my book and my own work/ art.
I noticed that when working on this idea - a permanent tattoo- that would go on my body - forever, that the quality and importance and effort I was putting into it rivaled and surpassed my book covers. I understand that you can't judge a book by it's cover, or even someone's appearance - especially tattoo's. Someone who is tattoo'd all over their body has nothing to do with the person they are. They could be the most amazing person in the world and having some ink imbedded in their skin has nothing to do with that. It's also true that the most amazing book could have a crappy cover.
BUT! It's also possible that a book's cover - and someone's tattoos are a reflection of what's inside. I aspire that both my book(s) cover(s) and my future and potential tattoo's reflect and allude to the quality of the contents.
But back to point #1 - both the thought and quality of my drawings/ designs was influenced and enhanced with the idea that they would both represent myself and be permanent. The time I spent and the thought that went into them made me realize that I should, and could put that same effort into everything else I do and create. That whatever I'm doing I could do with that same mentality. "Permanence"
The vast majority of what I write and draw are "Doodles" I don't have any intention of anyone else reading them or seeing them. For me the concept and idea are enough - the presentation is not considered. What I realized when working on a tattoo design is that I could use that same effort in everything I do.
On a side note, since this is a "Derek & Da Vinci" blog I should compare and contrast this idea to him. His journals and drawings (and paintings especially) are impeccable and surprisingly artistic. It's as if he applied a grace and sophistication to everything he did. It's hard to tell if that was his intention - or that his doodles and sketches took no real effort - they were just innately great because he was great. BUT there is another thing to consider in what we see today vs. what he actually did in the past.
"While I was learning how to live, I was really learning how to die." DvQ (da Vinci Quote"
What I think he meant by this is that he was spending his life trying to live in his present but then eventually realized that both his work and journals would eventually be read and preserved through time. So he spent some of his life trying to finish his work and bring them to fruition - only to realize later - that he wouldn't have been able to in his life time. SO he realized that he could imbue his knowledge and preserve his work and knowledge in a way that someone - someday - would be able to continue it. In that way he could achieve a sense of "immortality" despite his obvious and eventual mortality. Like a historic relay race!
"It is a poor pupil that does not surpass his master" DvQ
Another thing to consider, besides the aforementioned, is that his access to supplies - paper especially, were limited. Today we can buy paper for cents on the dollar but 500 years ago they were not just expensive but a luxury. I have dozens of notebooks filled up with scribbles and gibberish - why would i take the time to make something great and refined when I can go buy a new one for 1$ and start over? If notebooks were to cost 100$ or 1000$ and were hard to come by - I would definitely try a LOT harder to preserve and refine what I wrote and drew. If I also added in the idea that someone else would - someday - read them, I would try even harder.
One other consideration before I move on. We only have access to a very small % of what he actually created and wrote. The rest was either lost, or is still hiding somewhere. If I knew I was about to die and also knew that other people would be able to see what i've really written - I would probably censor and destroy a large portion of it. I would also try to put the rest together in a more cohesive way that someone else could understand since the majority of it was written as mental notes or brainstorming and not meant for anyone else to read but me. (Not to mention the things that are embarrassing and no one else could ever understand which would be left out!)
So, onto the next reason for this post.
While I was designing the tattoo it made me understand the concept of "Symbolism" and how it can either be obvious or more obscure. Although I knew exactly what the intention of the themes and symbols were - someone else might not "get it". I could imagine that someday after I am no longer here to explain it - others would debate over what it meant or didn't mean and could or couldn't mean. Especially if I didn't leave behind an explanation. I also realized that time could obscure a lot of the symbolism that is related to both personal and present ideas. I also highly considered having certain aspects of the design that were purposely obscured and mystified.
I will explain the concept of the tattoo/ design next, but consider that instead of a tattoo that it is a painting. Also consider that in relation to Leonardo and the time he lived in, that some ideas HAD to be hidden and purposely left complicated. Galileo was left in house arrest for the later part of his life because he said the Earth was not the center of the universe. Leonardo lived around the same time and was under the same censorship. Imagine that I am also - and that I had to, and wanted to keep some themes and information that are represented in the design - also cloaked covertly.
This design's concept could best be described as the "Tree of life vs. The tree of knowledge" an obvious Biblical theme, but also a theme in every aspect of reality. The physical vs the mental. Yin and Yang. Matter vs Electricity. Science vs Religion. Nature vs Artificial. The body vs the soul.
In the center of the back would be the sun, below it the moon, and below that the earth. This would represent the "coincidental" proportion between the size of the Moon and the sun and the Earth that allows for Eclipses. If the moon were larger or smaller - eclipses wouldn't be possible. The center of the sun has a Phi symbol, which I think embodies this alignment.
One side, the tree of life, would branch off literally with a vine that wraps around the shoulder and then wraps around the arm and evolves into a tentacle and then an artery and then veins that end in the hand.