(from Gerz Blog, 27 November 2015)
I had a commission idea; in short, a skull and a candle next to each other in the dark. The reason this interests me is not as some dark or gothic thing, but rather as the old artistic idea of a ‘memento mori’ or ‘vanitas’, a constant reminder that life can be short and we need to live it while we're here. I'm curious to see what your take on these ancient themes would be, and I think it would be a showcase of your inking skills to convey the light, dark and shadows. Just to make it a challenge, perhaps add a mirror?~ Erik K.
I always wonder why people need to make commissions 'challenging'. Nobody ever says, 'Just to make it fun and easy... The concept I wanted to convey was that everything reflected in the mirror has 'passed'; the candle extinguished; the flowers wilted; the sand in the hourglass has trickled down; and the skull would represent the reflection of the viewer.
Once I was reasonably sure of the concept I become more concerned with the composition and the mechanics of reflection. I assembled of few props from around the apartment. Including taping two egg cups together to represent the hour glass. I wanted to get the lighting right. I moved everything to the end of of the hallway, blocked out the daylight and lit the candle...
I had added some foreground elements like the coins and jewelry to reinforce the concept of 'fleeting things in life'. I used this photo for reference. I changed the candle holder to something more visually interesting; changed the egg cups into an hourglass; changed the vase to cut glass; the flowers to narcissuses; and added the skull.
And here's the final inked piece. Ta Da!