Results tagged “Art Brut”
In the many interviews I've done with artists, the issue of whether "a tattoo should look like a tattoo" has come up repeatedly. Some say that only "bold will hold," that is, strong outlines, bold color, and lots of black. Others contest that tattoos need not be limited by these constraints and can indeed stand the body's aging while not strictly adhering to these tattoo tenets. Personally, I got quite a lot of flack for my "Art Brut" chapter in Black Tattoo Art, where I featured the avant garde style of deconstructed tattoos. To some, it looked like scribble, and to others, a new and exciting tattoo genre. When such tattoos are expertly executed, I generally fall into the latter category. While so much of this work has centered in France, Belgium & Montreal [see Yann Black, Jeff, Boucherie Moderne, Loic, Noon ...], there has been an emergence of US-based artists working in this genre.
Simon Watts of Immaculate Conception Tattoo in Hollywood is one such artist. I talked with Simon about his evolving tattoo style in which he's incorporating his painting and street art approach into his tattoo portfolio. He explains:
The drawings kind of look like I just sat down and tossed off some random scribble but there really is a lot of tweaking and editing along the way. And even though it happens quite quickly and looks effortless, that is only possible thanks to years of drawing, editing and critiquing.I then asked Simon to discuss his artistic background and how it has shaped his tattooing:
The background to my style is this: My natural tendency is to be a bit of a control freak and perfectionist, which doesn't inspire spontaneous creativity as you tend to overthink everything. So back in the 90s, I was living in central London and set myself a task of sorts. I decided to grab a big fat marker pen and head out into the night and make some drawings. This kind of set me some necessary limitations as the cops don't like you running around drawing on public spaces, so you have to work fast. Without even realizing it, I'd kind of found my own visual voice so to speak and had my own style.
It didn't seem obvious at first or even possible as I'd really had to relearn to draw for tattooing and my usual style contradicted everything I'd been taught. But deep down I knew it could work. After all there's lots of line movement so the line is always changing direction, which is good (no straight lines); there are lines crossing over each other everywhere, which breaks up large flat areas so you're not having to shade vast areas of flesh and trying to get it even. Plus you can play fast and loose with how you shade things. You still want to give the correct overall impression of three dimensions but you don't have to be exactly literal with directions of shading or depth, etc. So it's kind of liberating. I love it.You can see more of Simon's work on Facebook & the Immaculate Conception Tattoo site.
In the latest issue of Skin & Ink magazine (August 2011), I take a look at the progressive work coming out of Brooklyn's own Tattoo Culture via resident artist Gene Coffey (whose work is shown here) and a host of international talent including Belgium's blackwork specialist Dan DiMattia, and France's avant-garde artists Noon and Loic [aka Xoil], among many others. In fact, owner Chris Budd acts as a "tattoo concierge," helping tattooers from outside New York find places to stay, procure temporary permits, and build a local fan base.
While Tattoo Culture is a full-service custom shop where clients get tattoos in a variety of styles, the focus of the article is the more controversial work that push the definition of what a tattoo should be. Here's a bit of that discussion:
[Gene] credits the roster of guest artists at Tattoo Culture for his artistic growth. "We just feed off of each other's creativity. If I had never worked with people like Noon or Loic, for example, I wouldn't have even tried something weird like what I've been doing lately."Beyond the weirdness (and Gene himself is a strange egg), Tattoo Culture has a relaxed friendly vibe that seems to stand in contrast to the cooler-than-cool attitude of their Williamsburg neighborhood, also known as ground zero for hipsters. The studio also holds regular art shows, exhibiting classic tattoo-inspired painting, photography, mixed media and modern works.
Check their Facebook page for events and guest artists. Gene regularly updates his portfolio on his own Facebook page as well.
One of my favorite styles of tattooing is the feverish abstract art movement that has its greatest popularity in France, Belgium and even Montreal but is created by top artists around the world. One of those artists is Loic of Needles Side Tattoo in France.
Loic, who has been tattooing for ten years, has his studio in Thonon Les Bains but you can also find him doing regular guest spots around the world. [This October, you'll find him in Brooklyn, NY at Tattoo Culture.]
He likens his tattooing to DJing: "A DJ uses different musical elements and effects to create one unified sound. I do the same but with images, using different artistic styles to create one discernible picture."
To see more of Loic's work, check his Facebook page.
[Very Shameless --> For more on this style of tattooing, check the "Art Brut" chapter in my Black Tattoo Art book.]
Black is beautiful, my friends.
In fact, I've taken the statement to heart (and skin) with enough black ink in my dermis to fill the Library of Congress. And with this passion for blackwork tattoos, I began collecting images and some stories of the world's best tattoo artists only working in black ink with the help of my primary tattooist, former hubby, and friend, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo, renowned himself for this style. The result ...
Black Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal.
The book will be released this Thursday, September 10 and yes, there will be some partying. Join me on Thursday at Tattoo Culture from 7 to 10:30pm for drinks, food, and an awesome playlist of tunes by the fabulous Ron Worthy.
I'll be selling some of my author copies at a discounted rate of $120 at the party. You can click the link (above right) to order my copies while supplies last for $159.
The book is available through LastGasp.com and from Hermansky books.
UPDATE: Get Free Shipping from LastGasp.com on Black Tattoo Art by using the promo code "Needles" at checkout.
Keep in mind that the book -- published by fine art and erotic publishers Edition Reuss -- is a 536-page, thread-bound hardcover with silver embossing that weighs over six pounds. A friend suggested that it will also nicely double as a home defense device. Or free weight.
Evan's sleeves by David Sena of North Star Tattoo
So yeah, my first tattoo book is done and out soon. All I can say right now is freakin finally!
Apologies for the lack of highbrow here but I did write a fancy press release with big words. What I didn't mention in the release is the year-long process of seeking out pictures and stories of the top blackwork artists. Many of whom shun online communication and enjoy long stretches of time without any worldly contact so to rejuvenate and become inspired for the masterful tattoos featured. But try to explain large size 300 DPI format to 'em ...
I joke. Kinda.
Seriously, it was a great honor to curate the very first English language book EVER dedicated to blackwork tattooing in its many forms. It was inspired by Ed Hardy's TattooTime premier issue entitled New Tribalism. In it, the legendary Cliff Raven said one of my favorite quotes:
"The perfect tattoo -- the one I believe we are all struggling toward -- is the one that turned the jackass into the zebra."Raven, one of the pioneers of the fine art tattoo movement, wrote that after 20 years of tattooing, he found "decorative art" was the tattoo style that best fit the human canvas. He explained that creating two-dimensional elaborations on a three-dimensional object is akin to "pin striping an auto as opposed to copying Frazetta paintings onto the sides of vans." It was a bold statement, but one perfectly suited to the tattoo movement it trumpeted.
He called this style "Pre-Technological Tattooing." Hardy called it "New Tribalism." Most have used the term "Neo-tribal" to define the tattooing of Leo Zulueta, one of the first contemporary tattooists to fully dedicate his body of work to interpreting the arts of indigenous cultures (also featured in Black Tattoo Art).
More recently, many tattooists have been defining their portfolios as "Blackwork," taking their tribal interpretations even farther but still adhering to the decorative arts tenets. Indeed, there is a rainbow of terms to describe this monochromatic art form.
Work by Vincent Hocquet of Beautiful Freak Tattoo
For this book, we kept it simple with the title "Black Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal" to encompass the various designs and aesthetics that have sprung from the Neo-Tribal movement; a movement which took root in the late sixties, flourished in the eighties and nineties, and pollenized the beautiful offshoots of today.
The title is deceptively simple, however, because what really is "modern black" tattoo art?
It's not a book on traditional tribal tattooing. There is a chapter that looks at a few artists today reviving their ancestral tattoo arts, but this is a very small part of this monster volume.
It is a book that looks at how today's tattooists have taken the tenets of tribal arts -- the soulfulness and harmony with the body -- and applied it in contemporary, imaginative ways.
To see sample pages of their work in the book, check the Black Tattoo Art Flickr set.
I hope to see y'all at Tattoo Culture. If not, this month I'll also be selling the book at the Paradise Tattoo Gathering September 17-20, and at the London Tattoo Convention September 25-27. More convention dates to come.
And now, gotta rest up for Thursday's party.
Good readers, let me take this time to suggest you toss out that old tape recorder from the 80s you may have used to interview various tattoo artists in the past, especially if you've recently discovered that during your latest interview it failed to record anything at all and, instead, still has the four gloriously terrible songs from your short-lived lark of a synth-heavy goofball hardcore band AXXX WOUND. "I like the look and feel," he says, making motions with his hands that seem to be building something in mid-air. He plans to keep painting but he is a tattooist first. "Always tattooing," he says, "until they shkkt! -- chop off my hands."
Noon will be back at Tattoo Culture from November 9th through the 22nd. He's currently taking appointments via email.