I’m currently working on a full sleeve tattoo, with an octopus as its main feature. It’s in a contemporary Japanese art style and we worked together a lot to get it just right. 🙂 Click on the Instagram posts to watch the videos.
On Saturday 18th November, I had a stall at Queen’s Arcade, Cardiff. I had a fun time chatting to people who were please to discover an alternative tattoo studio! Here’s an intro vid I did in the morning:
…unfortunately, I couldn’t broadcast it as a Facebook Live ’cause signal. was. so. bad. I did get it on FB eventually and things got busier for me later in the afternoon.
NAOHOA isn’t just about getting a tattoo, it’s about having a positive, empowering experience whilst marking your body with art that will stay with you for life. It’s natural to feel nervous or even anxious before going under the needle, which is why I’ve compiled some helpful tips you can apply NOW in order to have a calm, peaceful mind.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a trained well-being coach or affiliate of any of the companies suggested here. The purpose of this post is to help clients by sharing practical tips I’ve learned over the years. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk.
3 Tips on Calming the Mind
Meditation is the act of being still and observing and as little as 15 minutes a day can have a positive impact on your wellbeing.
Here is a concise video to explain what it is in a nutshell:
Here are some forms of meditation that can be easily implemented into your day:
…in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Imagine your body being scanned from the top of your head right down to your toes. In your mind, follow the light as it travels down your body…how does that part of your body feel? You might notice that certain muscles ache more than you realised, or that you feel tiredness in your forehead or other parts…or that you feel grand all over!
Either way, this exercise will help you identify the current state of your body and mind. If you’re feeling achey, how about treating yourself to some TLC? 🙂 Regular stretches (e.g. Yoga), a muscle-relaxing bubble bath or massage* can go a long way!
* Aromatherapy massage = relaxing
Deep Tissue/Sports Massage = fixing. It’ll hurt, but it’s worth it if you have built-up tension. A good masseuse will teach you stretches to alleviate your problem points too.
…at a slow-moderate pace and consciously being aware of the environment you’re travelling though. What’s the ground like? The sound of leaves crunching under your shoes or people and traffic passing by…how does the air change from one place to another? When we slow down, our eyes take in more light and process the imagery around us more vividly. By doing this activity alone, the world becomes so much more beautiful.
Not bad, eh?
…whilst concentrating on each sensation that passes. Is what you’re eating crunchy? Soft? Chewy? What does it taste like? Notice how it changes the longer you chew it and how it feels as it goes through your body. It’s too easy to have something playing on a device or read an article with your meal as a distraction, but try to take a moment only for yourself and the food. Enjoy it wholeheartedly – appreciating its taste, texture and that we have any at all. Gratitude grounds us every time.
Traditional meditation (the one we all picture: where monks sit down cross-legged) involves you to be both mentally and physically still. The idea is to let all sensation pass by without judgement. Got a niggling thought that keeps popping into your head? That’s alright. Acknowledge its presence and leave it be. Don’t invite it in to ruminate but also don’t push it away. Simply leave your thoughts be and let them drift in and out of your consciousness.
Is someone making a weird, annoying noise? Or maybe there’s loud construction work going on. S’all cool. It’s a sound that’s happening outside that doesn’t concern you, so don’t let it. If you’re feeling frustrated regardless, that’s okay. Acknowledge that feeling, give it a nod and move on.
Acknowledge, not react.
Here are some visual metaphors that can help you in your practice:
Clouds Passing By
This is my go-to mental imagery when meditating. Clouds are constantly moving – it’s what they do. They’re huge, visible things in the sky that we can see clearly but not touch or interact with. Just like your thoughts, they’ll come and go and no matter how hard you try, waving at them (i.e. getting tied into thoughts) won’t do much good. Most of us have spent time lying on the grass on a sunny day watching the clouds go by. Isn’t it joyful and relaxing? Same with meditation. 🙂
A Drop of Water in a Pond
Imagine a pond where the water is still and there’s a tree that hangs over it. When thoughts occur, it’s like a drop of water from the leaves landing on the pond. The ripples interrupt the calm, stillness. If you interact with your thoughts, it’s like shaking the tree – more drops fall, disrupting the pond even further. If you leave things be, the ripples will eventually dissipate and all will be clear again.
Leave that tree alone, bud. Even if it did upset you. 😛
Remember, the goal is to be in the present moment. Not ruminating over the past or planning or fretting over the future. Here, now, and only now. Like doing weights or learning to do a full press-up, it takes time and discipline to get those muscles into shape. If 15 minutes a day or more is too much to handle, try starting with 2 minutes a day for a week….then 3 minutes a day for another week, etc. Starting small means you’ll have less pressure to start, and once you build up the habit, it becomes second nature.
2.) Breathing Exercise
Need something urgent? Like, RIGHT NOW? Try this simple breathing exercise:
One way to slow down a racing heartbeat is to breathe out longer than you breathe in: i.e. breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 2, then out for 6 seconds. The act of doing this and concentrating on counting and breathing alone should help you find your centre.
Feeling distracted? Find a recurring sound nearby and focus purely on that (…assuming you’re not doing something important, like driving!). Whether it’s birds chirping, rain pattering against the window or one element of a song; zoning out and focusing on one single thing can curb rushing thoughts or emotions before they spiral out of control.
Rainy Wales makes this one easy to remember! 💦
Personally, I enjoy listening to Classical music as it helps me stay calm and focus on the task at hand. Sometimes, I’ll put all my attention to one part of the piece – i.e. one instrument. “Only listen to the flute” or, “concentrate on the bass line”…not only does this deepen my appreciation and learning for music, it calms my mind by diverting it from unhelpful thoughts that could spiral down a negative path.
Need More Help?
If you feel there is a deeper issue at hand, check out Mind.org.uk or helpful advice or contact your GP for a referral to local, professional help. Although it’s dependant on quality of counsellor, I highly recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It’s very much a “you get what you put in” course that’s absolutely worth the effort. The more honest you are with your therapist, the more effectively they can help you.
…okay, more of a ‘duo’ than a ‘pack’, but that’s less catchy. 😛 Check out this client’s first venture into the world of tattoos with her cute buddies. 🐀🐁
(1/3) “This will be my first tattoo…I want it to be of my pet rats. ❤” I love how this client checked I didn’t have a phobia of rats before talking about them or showing me pictures. So kind. Thankfully it wasn’t for spiders, so we’re okay!! 😅🙈 #NAOHOAstory @waterlootea: Your Hibiscus Berry tea went down a treat here! 👌
(4/3) BONUS IMAGE: Isn’t this adorable?! 😍 Wanna start your #NAOHOAstory? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your Consultation~ ✨😄
“I had my first tattoo with NAOHOA. Naomi is a really welcoming person who makes you feel you’re in safe hands. She got my ideas straight away and the final tattoo is so cute! Already planning tattoo number 2!”
Want to start your #NAOHOAstory? Contact me now to book a Consultation!
“The aim of art is to glorify beauty.”
– Alphonse Mucha
AlphonseMucha (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
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. | ‘Mucha’, ISBN: 0-7112-2517-6
His Influence on My Work
This piece, ‘Ballerina’, is on display at the studio.
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 Daimand 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”)
That’s all from me. Thanks for reading and ciao for now!
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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!
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. 🙂
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:
Knees (front and back)
Elbows (front and back)
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.
Here are places I’ve noticed clients have very different reactions:
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)
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.
…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?
A few weeks ago, I asked a bunch of people what I should draw and two requests involved, “Something geometric”, and “Ooooo a swan”…so I put the two together and drew this. 🙂
I started by drawing a rough sketch of the design, then scanned, darkened and blew it up to use as a template. I tend to draw really, really lightly, so it’s hard to see the original in photos/videos. After that, I simply inked in the geo aspects first, then sketched in the rest with pencil. I used a photo found via Google Images for reference of the swan and made up the rest.
This design is available to buy from my Art Rookie store as prints and greeting cards. I have some more designs on there and will be building on it over time, so be sure to check by for new pieces!