It’s not always about the ability to pull art from the deepest corners of your mind, or “free-handing”, it’s about creating a beautiful tattoo for your clients which will stand the test of time. I am a reference artist, which means that I employ imagery from other sources for my drawing process. This is why I have a variety of reference books to pull this imagery from.
Many tattoo artists use google as a source from which to pull images, this means that hundreds maybe thousands of people have the same rose as a tattoo. I try to use my reference library as much as possible so that I can always use imagery that few people also have access to. This is one of the old school methods that was passed down to me from some of the older greats.