Michael's Mariachis Celebrate Life with a Burst of Musical Color


In reconnecting with old college friends through Facebook, my old friend Michael who I haven't seen in almost twenty years sent me an amazing tattoo he has on his right arm.

He sent me before and after shots so we can see the transformation from outline to spectacularly colorful body art. First, the before shots.....



The detail and the line work is exemplary and breath-taking. As someone with a guitar inked on my arm, I can appreciate the intricacies of a finely-drawn instrument. The detail on the mariachi's jacket cuff is incredible.



And now, for some color:




Michael explains the basic premise of this tattoo:
In a sense, this piece is a "memorial" tattoo, although I hate to call it that. Since I grew up in the Southwest, Day of the Dead was a regular thing, so I've always been drawn to that type of imagery, plus I like the meaning -- honoring the dead, and reminding us to live life to the fullest. I picked the mariachis partly because I am so into music, and partly because of the celebratory aspect of mariachis.
Like many intricate tattoos with multiple elements, every part has significance. The tulips, for example, that are growing at the mariachi's feet, "are an actual heirloom varietal that I have in the garden" [and] are for my wife -- tulips are her favorite flower".



And the angel at the top of the piece (and the top of the post)?


Michael informs us that "the angel is for my mother, who is no longer with us. The angel holds a purple iris (my mother's favorite flower), and looks down over the whole scene."

This amazing piece was inked by Susan Behney-Doyle who works out of Jinx Proof Tattoo in Washington, D.C. Mexican folk art is one of her specialties (see a gallery of her work here) and Michael says he "gave her a few reference pieces to look at, but she basically drew it after a consultation". He continues, "we made just a couple tweaks after I saw the drawing, but it's a one-of-a-kind custom piece".

The whole tattoo was crafted back in 2006 over a five-month, seven-session period. Michael notes that one of those sessions was devoted solely to shading the guitar. A closer look at the instrument reveals an incredible complexity of brown variations that truly makes the guitar jump off the skin.

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