Tattoo in the making - Metatron

Extras - Issue 26

Metatron, aka Costas Georgiou, loves Dotwork, geometric shapes and sacred geometry. Based in Nicosia, Cyprus, he was introduced to the art of tattoo in 2013, and has been practicing it ever since with success. HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine chose a backpiece - one of its most impressive - and discussed with the tattoo artist the whole process, design and execution of this demanding piece.

Photos & interview: Ino Mei.

When did you do this particular tattoo?

The first session took place in March 2018 and the tattoo itself was completed somewhere around the end of the same year.

How did you come up with the idea for the backpiece;

First of all, my client gave me the liberty to create whatever I wanted. Being given the chance to create freely on one’s body, immediately leads to infinite paths of creation and imagination, that have no limits. It’s not a coincidence that I have created one of my best works through the experience of this approach. 

At the same time, I really appreciate the fact that a person, whether it’s an acquaintance of mine or not, wishes to have my art on such a large part of his body.

Many ideas sprung to mind for this particular backpiece, after a lot research and experimenting. However, I identified this specific drawing as the ‘strongest’ from the rest I had created. Following this, I met up with my client and I showed him what I had come up with and I explained why I thought this one would be the best choice to go. 

How many sessions did it take in order to complete it?

It took six sessions that lasted about forty hours in total. Each session had a different duration, depending on what needed to be done. For example, the first session lasted about five hours whereas the following two took place during a tattoo convention, where I would be working for seven or eight hours at a time.

How did you design this backpiece?

I started by photographing my client and then with the help of a software I created a preliminary drawing which shows approximatively how it will look on one’s body. Then I based the rest on my initial raw design that I had created and I “painted” it by filling in with Dotwork. 

During the first session I applied the stencil on the surface of his back, and I did the outline. Once the back was completed, I connected the two pieces on his bottom and legs and did the outline. Once I filled these parts in, the rest got merged together with them and you were left with one single backpiece tattoo.

What were the difficulties that you had to overcome during such a demanding piece?

The biggest difficulty was finding the different central parts of the body and being able to place the stencils as harmonically as possible based on them. The difficulty of placing the stencils correctly comes from the fact that the body is not a flat surface and the two sides are more or less disproportionate. 

In geometrical drawings, the slightest mistake is obvious, even to the most "untrained" eye, and for this reason, the correct positioning of the stencil is a very important prerequisite. Because of the fact that each person has a different body type, the approach may be similar, but never the same.

Another difficulty I have had, this time with my client, is the pain caused by the needle as it punctures the skin in areas that are sensitive. During these parts, my client had to stay steady and endure the pain so that I could execute the tattoo the way I was supposed to. We would take small breaks, they were necessary, as the pain can become intolerable.

Generally speaking, a large and long-term project in its completion is tiring for both the tattooist and the client and requires a great deal of self-focus, patience and perseverance from both until it is completed.

What techniques did you use?

To create this particular tattoo, I used a single technique, Dotwork, one kind of ink and a single needle.

What was the client's reaction and stamina while doing such a painful tattoo, and how did it affect your work?

There are a number of factors that influence a tattooist's job. One of them is the pain that the client feels for quite some time in each session. Pain, as I understand it, is a personal matter. I mean, the perception of pain in each person is different and unique. One may feel excessive pain at a specific part of their body, while another may feel minimal pain at that same part. Client endurance always plays an important role in the final result of the tattoo. If the client can stand it, doesn’t complain and remain calm and stable, then the tattooist can do his job properly, easily and quickly.

To make a tattoo of this size, one must be psychologically and physically ready to undergo painful sessions which will last many hours. With this particular client, I knew beforehand that he had a really good threshold of pain and was prepared to complete this tattoo at all costs.

In general, I think that in order to get a great tattoo done the right way, it is necessary, among other things, to be working harmoniously with your client, otherwise the whole process becomes very difficult for both. 

What inspired its creation?

Most of the geometric shapes I create are mainly inspired by our natural environment - from the microcosm to the macrocosm. At the same time, I create very often just by using my own imagination. After all, a particular shape or pattern may suit some people, while others may not. Part of my job is to be able to discern, what shape and form suits whom, on what part of the body the tattoo should be placed and on what bevel.

In this particular tattoo, I think it was a “patchwork” of inspiration from the physical world, but also from my imagination.

What should somebody who wants to get such a large piece know? 

At first, it should be known that they will be changing a large part of their body forever. For this reason, they must know themselves well and what they would like to have over their body, for the rest of their lives, as well as who or whom they will trust to undertake this task. Tattoos are not fashion, which is changing with each new era, although lately, this idea has been developed in many people. Unfortunately, these people end up having something on them that doesn't represent them, that they don't like, and they end up not feeling comfortable having it. Few of them are lucky and manage to fix their tattoos, remove them or cover them up with something else.

Large projects usually take a long time and cost a lot to complete. There are several factors that can contribute to the completion of a large project. One factor is the technique to get the tattoo done, which automatically determines the healing duration, and thus the time between sessions. For example, in Dotwork technique, the skin is less injured, so it tends to heal faster than in solid Blackwork or Linework. For this reason, the sessions may be more or less far apart from each other respectively.

Another important factor is the economic part. Because large projects need more sessions, the overall cost increases. In order to avoid any misunderstandings, an approximative cost should be discussed so that the client can have an estimate of how much it would cost to complete the tattoo. 

Also, the days that need to be set for the sessions are another important factor. Because the days that the client can spend on the table may not coincide with the empty days the tattooist will have.

Finally, the client should be aware of the fact that they will be devoting a few days of their lives, preparing their body and spirit appropriately, both before and after each session. This factor will play an important role in the completion of the tattoo and too many people seem to be unaware of this fact.

What was it that first attracted you to Dotwork and what kept you going?

It all started when I began looking for information about the laws nature follows to create various shapes and so I ended up in the field of sacred geometry. Through this study, I began to analyse and design geometric shapes in the traditional way: pencil, ruler, and compass.

When I started learning about the art of tattooing, I also studied the tattooists who were practicing geometric tattoo. The main method they used to convey their ideas to the body was Dotwork. That discovery was what made me start adopting this technique in my drawings and tattoos as well.

At first, Dotwork seemed a bit monotonous to me and I was convinced it had a few variants. However, over time, I have come to realize that it hides many different ways of working and can be combined with other tattoo techniques. So, I progressively developed this technique and adapted it to my own needs, which has my personal aesthetic embedded in it.


Private Tattoo Studio: Apostolou Varnava 1, 2059, Strovolos, Nicosia, Cyprus. 
Phone, Whatsapp & Viber: +35795952808
Email: [email protected]