few years ago I got a call from singer/songwriter Troy Garza. He had somehow tracked me down in New Mexico, where I'd been living for the last 20 years, to have me design a Japanese type full back tattoo. Troy had remembered some illustrations of mine that had appeared in The Time-Life Fantasy series of books ages and ages ago. He had never had a large tattoo, but now decided to go all out and have a complete back tattoo and Troy decided that he wanted me to design it. How could I resist? I’ve never designed a tattoo...... what a fabulous challenge. I did ask him several times if he really wanted me to do this and each time he said yes.
Troy was a former dancer who worked with Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye and the Manhattan Transfer. He danced in the original production of A Chorus Line in London then went on to become the dance captain for the Broadway production. He was also the choreographer for Saturday Night Live for ten seasons. After meeting him, I can say that he is also funny, loves to cook and is an overall nice guy. How could I refuse him a Jill Karla Schwarz designed tattoo on his back?
Creating artwork to fit on the human body was a real challenge. I was taking a flat drawing and trying to make it work on the 3/D curves of a man’s back. Troy had certain elements he wanted in the tattoo. The main element was to be a mountain lion. When he told me this, I told him that about a week ago I had been comforting two mountain lion cubs whose mother had been shot at the NM Wild Life Center where I volunteer. He quickly decided that mountain lion cubs should also be included. Other elements were rabbits and a volcano. What I ended up doing was creating a tattoo of The Pacific Northwest. This was an environment I knew extremely well, having spent many times camping there and even living in Portland, Oregon for a shot time.
This was an American Tattoo. Instead of a dragon, there was the mountain lion. The birds like the Steller's Jay live in both the high mountains of the Northwest as well as the mountains above my home in Santa Fe. Instead of Koi, I used Rainbow Trout.
Troy chose the amazing Dave Davenport in West Hollywood, CA to do the deed. Even better, he flew me out there for a few days to work with Dave on any design problems that might occur when the template was finally applied to Troy's real back. I wish I had more clients that would send me on a cool trip somewhere.
The tattoo has been a work in progress for a few years and the work is almost done. Troy says he has no buyer's remorse on the tattoo and Dave continues to work his wonders on Troy’s back.
Dave Davenport: dogspunk.com