W(h)imsical image for a tattoo
July 14, 2017 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I am a devoted fan of Dorothy L. Sayers and her Lord Peter Wimsey novels. There are a number of imaginings of Lord Peter's personal and family crests. I would like to get one tattooed onto my person, but I'm having a difficulty time finding a high-quality image to bring to an artist.

Though I like several different versions of the crest, I think the best one for my purposes is the one I remember from childhood.

I have definitely seen the simple version with the motto "As my whimsy takes me" on paper, but I know it's not in any of my personal books. I'm hoping someone might happen to know which edition and which book(s) contains it. The images on the internet are low res and I'd like to have an artist start with the best possible version.

I am aware of this tattooed version and will reach out to the artist if I'm not successful elsewhere.

posted by annaramma to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
An artist will likely draw their own sketch of the image you show them so having a high res image to start with isn't strictly necessary. They can basically blow up a small image and trace cleaner lines over the image to get a crisp but larger "exact" version of the crest. The tattoo you linked to also has some additional shading and flourish which most reputable artists can certainly do.
posted by Drosera at 12:09 PM on July 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

Hah, this is something I've pondered as well, thanks for asking the question!
posted by PussKillian at 12:59 PM on July 14, 2017

Stephanie Fishwick is known for her whimsical crests - I wonder if you could supply her or another calligrapher/artist the resources you've linked to here and let them riff for you?

In general, if you're reaching out to an artist with a specific description and a few visuals, they are likely to sketch an original version in their own style. So finding an artist with a style you are drawn to is as important as the reference material itself.
posted by muirne81 at 1:49 PM on July 14, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks guys, but I really am hoping to find the original image on paper. Perhaps I just need to head to my hometown neighborhood library and scope out the frontispieces.
posted by annaramma at 2:20 PM on July 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks guys, but I really am hoping to find the original image on paper. Perhaps I just need to head to my hometown neighborhood library and scope out the frontispieces.

Tattoo artists, are in fact, err... artists. Go talk to one. They literally professionally specialize in turning people's ideas into rad tattoos. Bring them all the linked images, describe what you're thinking, and let them go to work.
posted by so fucking future at 2:43 PM on July 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

I checked my physical books (shameless bragging time -- a first edition of Gaudy Night and a 1940's-ish edition of Nine Tailors) and none of them have the coat of arms. Checking my ebooks, they have the proper heraldic description (in the biography by 'Paul Delagardie') but no other image. They mostly seem to be Hodder & Stoughton editions. The physical ones are both Victor Gollancz Ltd; hopefully this will help you narrow down?

If you really want a good paper version, it might be worth printing one of the simpler outlined images and tracing over it, cleaning it up and adjusting to sharpen the lines. But I will second that your tattoo artist won't think less of you or anything if you show up with a blurry photocopy, and that they will likely manage utter magic. (An example: the tattoo before last, I showed up with what was basically a mood board of reference images for what I wanted, and my artist pulled together the perfect tattoo. My last one was the Winter Soldier star. I traced out a decent facsimile, but what my artist got out of that is mind-blowingly good and detailed and so much better than I could even have imagined. I would die on a battlefield for my tattoo artist, but really truly, a simple outline and a long discussion of what you want will get you what you're looking for!)
posted by kalimac at 6:18 PM on July 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's driving me crazy that I can't find it either, but it looks like it may be based on the one in the corner of this cover (or vice versa). Here's another copy on eBay that you can zoom in on and is a bit clearer. It looks the same, just reversed I think.

I'm going to keep looking for that version, though, and will report back if I find anything.
posted by rafaella gabriela sarsaparilla at 7:01 PM on July 14, 2017

Best answer: I'm almost certain that image is from the front of the 1987(?) (I'm not clear on how to read the publication/edition information) paperback version of Strong Poison. The copy I'm holding is one published to support the PBS series with Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter. I just snapped these two photos from my copy (apologies for the shadow in the corner).

(I'm amazed this paperback hasn't completely disintegrated…)
posted by Lexica at 8:44 PM on July 14, 2017

And given the description of the arms ("Arms: Sable, 3 mice courant, argent; crest, a domestic cat crouched as to spring, proper; motto: As my Whimsy takes me.") I have to wonder what those bird-like things are.
posted by Lexica at 9:00 PM on July 14, 2017

Oh! I must have this book, I remember the crest. I will look when I get home tonight. But here are the book versions I know I have, in case someone else can get to them before me to confirm.
The 90s version of the series, white with art deco styling.
The '88 Coronet version of The Nine Tailors
The '68 Avon version of Five Red Herrings
The '02 Perennial publication of "The Complete Stories"
posted by zoetrope at 8:29 AM on July 17, 2017

Response by poster: kalimac: I'm jealous! And yes, I just want a solid starting point for an artist to work their magic.
rafaella gabriela sarsaparilla: Oh! That looks to be the origin of the more complex version. That answers a niggling question. Thank you!
Lexica: You are my hero(ine)! This is just what I needed! I am reminded how much I love the simple line drawing of those fat little mice. I believe I had access to this edition at one point, but didn't hold on to it due to my prejudice against editions with movie or TV "tie-ins".

Thank you for your sleuthing! Heh.
posted by annaramma at 9:47 AM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

It looks like Harper and Rowe used that image a lot — here's another paperback that uses it on the cover. If you just search "Harper and Rowe" and Dorothy Sayers or Wimsey you can find more.

Good luck with the tattoo! I'd love to see how it turns out if you feel like sharing an update.
posted by rafaella gabriela sarsaparilla at 2:04 PM on July 19, 2017

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