Fin Back

Last year, I led an online group read of Moby-Dick. While doing so, I happened across the art of Matt Kish, with whom I’ve struck up something of a friendship since. When I met him, Matt was about midway through a project to illustrate every page of Moby-Dick. He was kind enough to contribute some articles for the group read, and in February, he finished his ambitious project, which is now being collected in an art book. I was lucky enough to be the first to purchase one of the original pieces from the project (though several other illustrations that didn’t make the final cut have also been sold, and I’ve bought one of those too).

It’s a really gorgeous piece, vibrantly colored and drawn on an old TV schematic. The drawing has hundreds of tiny precision lines and dots that aren’t nearly as impressive in the crummy phone snapshot below as they are in person.

Although there are lots of fantastic pieces in the collection, this one is of particular significance to me because I decided last June to get a tattoo adaptation of it. Naturally, I got Matt’s permission first, and he was really pleased with the outcome. I am too. (As with the original art, the photo below really doesn’t do the piece justice.)

Fin Back Tattoo

When M and I talked about my getting a tattoo, she had envisioned something much smaller than what I wound up with. For that matter, so had I, but it was hard to translate the stencil the tattoo artist showed me into a size relative to my back, which for understandable reasons I have only a tenuous understanding of the size and geography of. She was upset when I came home with a bandage covering the better part of my not-small upper back. I think it’s grown on her since, and although I didn’t mean to get one quite so large, I love that it’s as big as it is.

The tattoo artist had to change the sizing on a lot of elements to translate the original piece into a tattoo, and I think that by and large, he did a great job. Some of the crookedness manifest in the snapshot above is the result of my back’s contours and not of an unsteady hand on the tattoo artist’s part. I wish he had colors matching the originals a little more closely, I’ll say.

Since the moment I got the thing, I’ve wanted another (maybe even another Kish piece), but I’m told I’m disallowed from doing so, at least for a few years.

I’m glad now to have the original artwork in hand as a companion to my inked knock-off.