Alphonse Mucha

“The aim of art is to glorify beauty.”
– Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) has long been one of my all-time favourite artists. His paintings are captivating and after seeing them live at an exhibition, prints don’t do him any justice at all. I love his attention to detail, enchanting figures and elaborate decoration. His style is very organic and has no doubt influenced mine over the years.

 

About Alphonse Mucha

Photograph of Alphonse Mucha's 'The Seasons'. A framed print purchased at the Liverpool Walker Museum by Naomi Hoang, founder of NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos, Cardiff (Wales, UK).

Framed print of ‘The Seasons’ (1896). I bought this after seeing the exhibition, along with ‘Moon and Stars’.

Mucha is most known for his Art Nouveau work and very much lead that era of art during the 19th century. In 1894, he was given the opportunity to create a theatre poster for France’s most celebrated actress, Sarah Bernhardt, after a chance encounter at a print shop. His advert for Gismonda was completed within two weeks and gained much attention across the city. So much so, Bernhardt commissioned him for further illustrations over the course of 6 years.

He continued to paint posters and design jewellery, furniture, sculptures and whole rooms dedicated to the Art Nouveau style. His redesign for Georges Fouquet’s  Chic 6 Rue Royale Jewellery Shop can be seen at the replica in Musée Carnavalet.

Besides his swirling portraits, I greatly enjoy his technical studies and design drawings:

Photograph of Alphonse Mucha's designs for La Belle Epoque. Art Nouveau.

Photograph of Alphonse Mucha’s designs for La Belle Epoque. | ‘Mucha’, ISBN: 0-7112-2517-6

 

 

His Influence on My Work

Digital painting of a ballerina in a gold and red dress with ornate details. Designed and illustrated by Naomi Hoang, founder of NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos, Cardiff (Wales, UK).

This piece, ‘Ballerina’, is on display at the studio.

Work-in-progress shot of Naomi Hoang's piece, 'Magnolia Portrait'. Pencil on brown paper. Inspired by Alphonse Mucha.

Something I’m working on atm (‘Magnolia Portrait’), after being inspired by Mucha’s work during the exhibition. I sketch suuuuper lightly when starting out, so sorry if you can’t see it clearly yet!

Although my personal and tattoo work isn’t as elaborate as Mucha’s, I do enjoy adding flowing shapes to create movement within the image. They tend to start with a vague idea of a subject, roughly map out the core shapes, then develop slowly and organically as I ‘find’ the lines I’m after. It’s normally a long and quiet process where I prefer not to be interrupted, as my trail of thought will be lost.

 

…I’m actually quite bad at finishing personal pieces and writing this is making me realise this even more! Need to fix that. 😛

I like to mix elements of Mucha’s ornate, sensitive subjects with solid, intertwining shapes like Daim and depth of Grinling Gibbons. Through each piece, I’ll solidify my own personal style…

Would you like to see more of my personal artwork? I’m not sure whether to post them via NAOHOA or my personal accounts*…help a sista out! Occasionally, I may post stuff as I’m working on them via Snapchat (username: “naohoa”)

 

*
Facebook Icon for NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos (Cardiff, Wales, UK). Naomi Hoang. Instagram Icon for NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos (Cardiff, Wales, UK). Naomi Hoang. Twitter Icon for NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos (Cardiff, Wales, UK). Naomi Hoang.

 

 

 

 

That’s all from me. Thanks for reading and ciao for now!

Naomi xxx

 

Me being an art dork. 😛

 


‘Four Seasons’ Sleeve

A colourful half-sleeve design by Naomi Hoang, which depicts the four seasons in the style of traditional Japanese woodblock art. NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos, Cardiff, Wales, UK.

In a previous life, I was a Concept Artist/Illustrator for the gaming industry (I still do this sometimes but only on a remote, freelance basis). The first company I worked at was The Creative Assembly (SEGA), where I produced the Event Pictures for Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai. Several pages of my work can be found in The Art of Total War or on my personal art blog.

My experience there left me well-versed in the art of Japanese wood-block prints, which I applied here. The idea was to have a design that resembled traditional Japanese art with a modern twist, rather than imitate big, bold styles that originated from the Yakusa*.

This was my first attempt with colour and I really wanted to go all-out, so I could learn lots before inking people. It’s a lot like traditional painting, and having grown up trying out different types of media, this wasn’t any different.

* Japanese organised gang.

Spring

Japanese wood-block-style tattoo sleeve designed and tattooed by Naomi Hoang on an A Pound of Flesh silicone arm. NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos, Cardiff, Wales, UK.

It was easy to decide what to base Spring on, given that their national flower is the cherry blossom. It’s my favourite type of tree too, so I had fun inking this part in. 🙂 I used coloured lines (rather than black) throughout the sleeve for a softer and more vibrant look. It’s a technique Disney use that prevents the image looking too flat, which I think is the issue with using black outlines…unless you’re going for that look.

 

Summer

Japanese wood-block-style tattoo sleeve designed and tattooed by Naomi Hoang on an A Pound of Flesh silicone arm. NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos, Cardiff, Wales, UK.

Summer was a tricky season to represent. My first thought was a clear blue sky but a.) that can happen in any season and b.) it’s not very interesting compared to the other subjects. Eventually, I read somewhere that fireflies emerge during the Summer, so I depicted this in a silhouetted forest scene. I was concerned it wouldn’t fit into the rest of the sleeve, being so dark, but over time it grew on me and serves as a contrast in light and colour palette.

 

 

Autumn

Japanese wood-block-style tattoo sleeve designed and tattooed by Naomi Hoang on an A Pound of Flesh silicone arm. NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos, Cardiff, Wales, UK.

Trees look fabulous in Autumn, and I was delightfully surprised in how easy it was to portray bunches of leaves with simple lines. I drew a loooooot of clouds and waves during my contract at The Creative Assembly, to the point where people would call them “Naomi Clouds”, which was cute. 🙂 “Naomi Swirls” were a thing too, hah.

 

 

Winter

Japanese wood-block-style tattoo sleeve designed and tattooed by Naomi Hoang on an A Pound of Flesh silicone arm. NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos, Cardiff, Wales, UK.

Winter was another tricky one. I knew I wanted to feature Mt. Fuji, which always has some snow on the peak and figured it would be a clear and easy way to portray the season when covered in snow. I added a cooler, brighter hue of blue/turquoise to give the surrounding patch of sky an icy chill…subtle details like that can be nicer than big, literal ones, I think. For example, slapping a snowflake on top would be too much, imo, and distract from the overall image.

 

Wave

Japanese wood-block-style tattoo sleeve designed and tattooed by Naomi Hoang on an A Pound of Flesh silicone arm. NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos, Cardiff, Wales, UK.

I’m aware that Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa‘ is hugely popular as a tattoo as well as a print, so I wanted to feature this in the sleeve for solid practice. I noticed a lot of tattoos neglected the subtle shading on the outer waves, so I added some in blue for my version. It’s a tiny detail that adds a lot to the image, I think. Having studied his work for Shogun 2, it was already embedded in my brain anyway!

 

Closing Thoughts

It’s been around two years since this piece was completed. I started practising on my desk in the spare room and carried on working on it in the studio during late hours…because parking in Cardiff is free after 6pm and I couldn’t afford to pay for a spot or didn’t know the area enough to find free ones. I put everything I had into this and setting up the studio, making as many sacrifices needed to make it all happen. It’s easy to forget about that sense of tenacity once it’s all done and bewildering to look back on.

‘Four Seasons’ is still my favourite and proudest tattoo moment and I think it’s because it was fun and void of pressure. Sure, these arms aren’t cheap to use, but I did have the freedom to work on it whenever I liked, on a subject I enjoyed and, if I messed up, at least it wasn’t on a human being! 🙈

Thanks for reading~ I hope you liked reading about my thought process and musings behind this design. If not…that’s okay too! It was nice to reflect on this piece and the time around it. 🙂

Kind regards,
Naomi xxx


#NAOHOAstory…Geo Tulip

 

Pencil drawings by a Bristol-based NAOHOA client for Naomi Hoang to use as inspiration for her tattoo design (Cardiff, Wales).

(1/4) After seeing the Watercolour Geo Flower I did, this client wanted something along the same lines, featuring a tulip. Here are sketches she gave me to work with. 🙂

 

(Click to play the videos below)

 

(4/4) The healed tattoo! This client travelled over from Bristol and took this photo for me. #NAOHOAstory

Healed back tattoo of a geometric tulip. Designed and inked at NAOHOA Luxury Bespoke Tattoos (Cardiff, Wales, UK) by Naomi Hoang.

(4/4) The healed tattoo! This client travelled over from Bristol and took this photo for me.  #NAOHOAstory

 

This client travelled over from Bristol for her ink! If you’d like to know more about travelling for your tattoo (and hear what others have to say), check out my blog post, Visiting Wales.


Will It Hurt?

Most common question? You guessed it: “Do tattoos hurt?”

In a nutshell:

The level of pain you experience will depend on where and what you’re getting, along with your personal pain threshold.

Here’s a simple breakdown based on my experience as a tattoo artist:

 

Places That Don’t Hurt (…as much):

  • Outer arm
  • Outer thigh
  • Calves
  • Forearms
  • Shoulders

Why?

If you think about it, these parts of the body are used to being, well…used. The skin is conditioned from being out in the open more often. Nerves aren’t as close to the skin as other parts of the body, making these areas good starting points for first tattoos.

 

Places That (typically) Hurt More:

  • Inner arm
  • Inner thigh
  • Chest
  • Foot
  • Knees (front and back)
  • Ankles
  • Elbows (front and back)

Why?

Bony areas essentially have less ‘padding’, so they tend to hurt more than more fleshy parts of the body. Skin is more sensitive on inner arms, thighs and joints. They’re less exposed to the elements, so they don’t need to be as hardy as the outer parts. There’s also a lot of motion/friction from clothing in these areas, which can contribute to longer healing times.

 

In-betweenies

Here are places I’ve noticed clients have very different reactions:

  • Back
  • Ribs
  • Wrists

Yeah…I’m surprised ribs are on this list too, but the people I’ve inked there so far dealt with it really well. It’s a bony area that’s notorious for being a pain-point – same goes for the wrists. Goes to show that it really comes down to the individual!

 

Places I Won’t Tattoo:

  • Face and neck (nape of the neck is fine)
  • Intimate areas
  • Hands

Why?

The first two are places I personally don’t want to tattoo. Hand tattoos tend not to heal properly and fade quicker than other areas due to the amount of use and movement they go through. I’m simply not convinced they’re a hygienic place to ink and don’t want my name to something that won’t look as good as my usual work.

 

 

Final Thoughts

…ultimately, everyone’s different, so it’s impossible to predict. What might be agony for one person is a breeze for another. Factors such as weather and preparation (such as eating beforehand and staying hydrated…or not) can affect your tattoo session, as well as location and size of tattoo. Naturally, I try to make things as comfortable for you as possible when you visit NAOHOA, but some things are out of my control.

From 1-10 (10 being the most painful), what was your last tattoo like?

Naomi xxx