Round Sixteen: Tattooed

Ruben Ireland / Eye of the Storm vs. New Way Warrior

Artists often share fan tattoos and I find this really interesting. Tattooing itself is such an art, and it must be a hard challenge to take an existing work of art and transform mediums to the skin. I wonder if people are happy with the end results, or if the essence can change when touched by another hand? For todays This vs. That I have chosen two tattoos by fans of Ruben Ireland. His work is amazing (I must share some more on the blog soon) and is largely digital. Here’s my thoughts on two tattooists (sorry I can’t find them to credit them…) attempts at Ireland’s art.

eye of the storm

What I like about the first image (Eye of the Storm):

The original piece is stunning and  a great option for a tattoo as it is easy to simplify. No eyes makes the job easier and the simple nose, lips and torso would be easy enough to translate. The real effort would be the hair as there is a nice amount of texture and detail. This person has obviously decided to simplify Ireland’s art. Colour is eliminated and there is no shading. They have also added some words which are wrapped around the girl in a ribbon.

I really like the simplification and think the tattoo works really well. The detail of the hair is great and gives the same emphasis to it as Ireland does in his original. The added text on the lower torso create a heavier bottom half of the image which is the opposite to Ireland’s piece. It could have easily trailed out down the arm, but the fan decided to add their personal touch to the image. This balances the tattoo out and stops the detail of the hair from looking to out-of-place and heavy on the arm. The horns and feathers are lessened, which seems like a bit of a shame. I would have liked to see the horns in bold black (like the original) as this connects to the chosen quote that references the devil. But, all in all a lovely tattoo which combines Ireland’s art with the fan’s personal message and aesthetics.

new way warrior-ireland

What I like about the second image (New Way Warrior):

If you know my taste, you will know I love an unfinished piece, which is perhaps why I like this tattoo so much. Granted, I’m sure it doesn’t exist anymore, but somebody thought to capture it at this moment and thus make it eternal. I am going to write about it at this stage (as I don’t even know how it was finished). The realism is very strong. The tattooist actually adds more realism than the original piece, which is quite stark and recognizably digital. The tattooist adds a softness to the woman’s face and it acquires extra beauty. The detail seems pretty much exact (although you can see the outlines above the skull at the top are different to Ireland’s original). Her hair-tie is purple, so I assume the fan wanted to continue the same colour palate as Ireland, but I would have liked to see it all in black and grey. I guess this is why I like the image at this stage. The extra shading work around her face makes the tattoo actually work better in my opinion. I think it’s a fantastic effort and one lucky fan now has a killer piece on their back.


I like both pieces and love seeing how art is transformed to tattoo form. The first piece is wonderful because it really captures the essence of a tattoo – it is personal, considered and unique to the body it is on. But the second piece has such amazing quality and is brilliant in that it surpasses the original artwork (in my opinion). So how do I decide? It’s tough. I will go with the second tattoo as the realism and skill of the tattooist is too good to ignore. I do love the first piece, and can only judge New Way Warrior as it is in the photograph I can see. For all I know, the purple flowers and skull may make it less appealing. I guess I’ll never know…

Do you agree? Let me know which piece you would crown winner.

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