Mod’s most iconic tattoos have always been the ones that turn a collection of ideas into a single work of art; the ones that bring a story to life.  

It’s afternoon, when Kysha’s first messages come in. She’s looking to get her first tattoo (always exciting) and she has a number of ideas in mind, several concepts and symbols she hopes can be transformed into one coherent, final design. 

She’s looking to get a custom tattoo that incorporates the Fawohodie symbol, a lotus, African cowrie shells, elements of afro-futurism, and the image of a Black woman with locs, between 7 to 9 centimeters in size. 

Before we’ve even finished rereading the messages, Mod has already settled down at his desk and gotten to work. 

As his apprentice (and daughter) I’ve gotten to watch him design countless pieces, tattoo innumerable people. I’m still awestruck every single time, watching him shuffle layers of tracing paper and sketch with a teeny stub of a red pencil, going over the tattoo design again and again with pencil and then sharpie until he has his first draft, every element carefully incorporated into one single design. 

This particular design presents a challenge to him for numerous reasons. The breadth of elements (technically enough to constitute a whole backpiece!), the size requirements, and the elements of a culture Mod has not often had the opportunity to work with.  

Kysha has an appointment to come in in a few days, but she’s in town and swings by the shop the day before her appointment to take a look at the design. She loves it! 

She and Mod go over it together, reviewing all the design elements. She makes notes of a few things that need adjustment and Mod continues working on the sketch that night, making all changes needed — shifting some of the Cowrie shells, adjusting the hair, the shape of the nose. Mod’s planning to slip the shape of the continent of Africa into the negative space in the hair (in the final work, if you look carefully, you can spot the subtle silhouette relocated to the temple). 

When she arrives the next day, final changes are made, and they begin the process of the tattoo. 

Here is the final result: 

The session concluded with an unique tattoo both artist and client were very happy with. The best sort of process to end the best kind of day! 

Written by Nachel Suwansathien