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.
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!
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. 🙂
(1/3) “I am looking to have my first tattoo. Nothing big. Just a small one around my nipple…I read your rave reviews so would be interested in what ideas you may have.” #NAOHOAstory #NAOHOA #Luxury #Bespoke #Tattoos #Consultation
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(3/3) It healed beautifully. Well sat for a first tattoo….around the nipple, no less! I’ve since heard touching news that this client was so happy, that he embarked on a healthier lifestyle to be in better shape to show off his ink. Well done!! 😁👏 #NAOHOAstory #changinglives #tattoo #Bespoke #customtattoo #customerservice #sun #nipple #nippletattoo
What did you think of this story? Message me, using #NAOHOAstory !
I received a cluster of requests around the same time for clocks and roses (inner arm pieces) and thought I’d share my design process for them.
Aware of the popularity of this combination, I wanted to ensure each design was personal and unique to each client. Everyone has their own reasons to choose the subjects for their tattoos and I strongly believe it is my duty to fulfil that to the best of my ability…in a way where the client feels their tattoo is special for them and them alone.
Clocks & Roses with…
#01: …an Asian Twist
Transition from final design to linework for the stencil.
This tattoo wraps around an existing one of Chinese characters and the client intends on having it extended into a Chinese dragon that ends at his chest. Bearing this in mind, I felt it would be fitting to do the clouds and water in an Asian art style. It’s still realistic (to tie in with the clock and roses), but the forms are stylised. I did this by omitting the hard outline that would normally be used in Asian drawings.
By doing this, the art styles won’t feel disjointed to the rest of the sleeve when complete.
Here’s a short vid of its progress so far (click to play):
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#02: …a Feminine Touch
This client was easy-going with her design so long as it had a clock and roses. Given her slim frame and feminine nature, I felt it would be more appropriate to incorporate this. Visioning white roses (rather than red) and using negative space meant the overall tattoo wouldn’t be too heavy on her. I already knew she preferred delicate tattoos having done a smaller one on her ankle beforehand.
Unfortunately, she disappeared after I designed it, so it’s now available to tattooo:
This design is available! Contact me if interested. 🙂
#03: …a Modern Spin
There were several things to consider with this design: It was his first tattoo, so the clock needed to work as a stand-alone piece, should he change his mind in wanting more; we thought it would be cool to slip in various references of his interests into the design; elements needed to be left out until after a big event. Overall, the brief was to provide a modern take with subtle references woven into the design.
What do you think? I hope you enjoyed this insight to my process and perhaps feel assured that I’ll always do my best to design something special for you. 🙂
This piece was a collaboration between the client and myself. She had the core idea on paper and simply wanted me to snazz up the wave. From what I recall: the circle, sky and water portrays the world and its elements and the dots represent people and how we’re all the same, regardless of gender or race…hence ‘United’ in the title. 🙂
“I’ve been thinking about getting this tattoo for a few months now….”
(2/8) Here’s a sketch the client gave me to elaborate on…
I’ll be at The Color Festival, Cardiff!! If you fancy some face paint or tattoo transfers whilst dancing to some sweet beats, swing by NAOHOA’s stall to get your fix. 😀
I’ll be there all day with my lovely helpers, so even if I’m busy talking to someone about real ink, there will always be someone around to see to you. Obviously, big music festivals aren’t the most relaxing or sterile of environments, so we’ll only be doing temporary tattoos on the day.
Right now, I’m drawing up some Pokémon designs but will have some more non-nerdy ones available on the day at varying sizes and prices.
* Stay Tuned for Updates on Designs & Services *
I’ll be around all day, so if you’d like to discuss tattoos with me, please do. You can book and pay Consultations, which we’ll have after the festival when alcohol isn’t at play! 😛
All of the designs will be available to have tattooed however, as soon as one has been reserved, no one else can have it. NAOHOA stands true to being bespoke. To keep a design, you’ll need to pay a Reservation Fee upfront to secure it. The fee will vary depending on the size and duration you’d like to reserve it for.
Competition & Prizes
The most retweets of your selfie donning NAOHOA temp. ink.
Your post MUST include: Photo selfie clearly showing your temporary tattoo, #TCFtattoo and tag @_naohoa
Would you want to get it tattooed? Or simply have an original sketch/digital print of your own? Email me at info [at] naohoa.com if you’re interested in having a bespoke Pokémon illustration/tattoo of your own in an art style you prefer.
Rapidash Re-design. My go-to art style when painting is realistic, but I’m not restricted to this.
Follow me on social media to see updates on new designs!
Prices will vary depending on what you’d like, so let’s start a conversation and take it from there. 🙂
I’ll be posting updates of my own designs as I go along, which will be made available to clients. Once chosen, they will be taken off the market, so nobody from NAOHOA will have the same tattoo as you!