Results tagged “Matt Ellis”

07:32 AM
NYC Tattoo Convention.jpg
Megan Jean Morris head tattoo_web.jpg
Jason's skull tattoo by Megan Jean Morris.

Gerhard Weisbeck.jpgBackpiece by Gerhard Wiesbeck.

Matt Ellis tattoo.jpgWork in progress by Matt Ellis.

I think I just about recovered from this past weekend's 18th Annual NYC Tattoo Convention. With friends descending on my hometown to work or just enjoy the show, it was another great party -- with some new twists.

While I'm still mourning the demolition of the Roseland Ballroom (the show's former home), the convention's new sleeker spot at the Metropolitan Pavilion offered greater space on the ground floor for more artists and vendors, as well as a second floor for bands and burlesque.

Organizers Bonge & Butch set up the book signing table for me and author/historian/tattooer Michael McCabe in a prime location, right in front of the main floor stage, perfect for surveying the action. People watching is what makes this convention, and the crowd was as diverse of NYC itself: the 5 foot tall Dominatrix-in-training wearing head-to-toe latex; the Rockabilly couple pushing their mini-Greaser in a stroller; the tattoo reality TV reality star (and reality star hopefuls); the cool grandma; the guy straight from the set of Mad Max wearing his pet lizard; the preppy crew who missed their ride to The Hamptons ... and the tattooed lawyer shilling books and scaring people with her maniacal laugh.

Oh, and all the photographers -- professional and otherwise -- trying to find that perfect shot to encapsulate the event. As I am unable to take any successful picture, I just threw my iPhone camera lens around and took these pics here. You can find more of my pics on Instagram and in this Flickr Album.

PIX11 also did a TV piece on the show.

It was wonderful to see legends like Jack Rudy, Paul Booth and Bill & Junii Salmon continuing to inspire generations of tattooers. I also had the opportunity to flip through portfolios of artists I hadn't known before but became an instant fan upon seeing their work.

The sideshow acts drew crowds. In addition to sword swallowing, phone book shredding, and razor blade eating, performer Adam Realman also squirted whiskey -- through his nose -- down the gullets of convention goers who stood by the stage with their mouths open. Granted, drinks at the bar weren't cheap, but I this was not a suitable alternative. Nevertheless, if was fun to watch.

What I thought was particularly interesting was Sacred Tattoo's booth area where a doctor demonstrated corneal tattooing to repair cosmetic eye damage. There was also a laser removal section to help lighten up old regrets and make tattoo coverups easier.

And, of course, I spent a lot of money shopping at the vendor booths, which included everything from brass knuckles rosary necklaces to Japanese sex figurines.

Most important, I got to hug a lot of y'all in person. Till the next show!

Adam Realman sideshow.jpgAdam Realman offering some Coney Island sideshow fun.

NYC Tattoo Convention2.jpg Bill & Junii Salmon's buzzing booth.

tattoo books.jpgMe selling my books & being ridiculous.
08:59 AM

MattEllis_homeless portrait1.jpgCelebrity portraits are common tattoo odes that pay tribute (whether seriously or ironically) to someone whom the wearer may not have met, but feels a connection to. What if the person being memorialized on one's body is not on the A-List, but instead, has been marginalized and often ignored by society? Tattooist Matt C. Ellis uses his particular skills in tattoo realism and offers clients a chance to make a connection with those who are forgotten, shedding light on the issues of poverty and homeless.

Matthew, who has been tattooing for 12 years, is working on a project that involves tattooing portraits of New York City homeless individuals on clients for free, and any money a client gives is donated to a homeless charity. I asked him about his project, which he graciously answered in this Q & A below:

What sparked this project and what keeps driving it? Is it a political statement or just a humanist act?

I started this project because I find the subject of homeless culture very intriguing. To have such a large percentage of our populace so overlooked; these persons are right outside our door but we continue to ignore the homeless. When I tattoo these portraits, I am trying to raise awareness for their plight and our culture's disregard and dehumanization of homeless individuals in our society. I tattoo these portraits for free, and 100% of any money that the client decides to give me is directly donated to a local NYC homeless charity.

When I was living in Miami, I developed friendships with many homeless persons, most of whom were war veterans. I became close to these people and developed a certain connection with them. One of the persons I particularly became close with was a local artist in the area, and through this friendship, I continued to make more friends that happened to be living homeless.

The experiences that I have had with some of these individuals is what I am trying to capture in my works of art. I am trying to portray a glimpse into the raw interaction between myself and these persons. Some of these personalities can be so beautiful and are overlooked in our culture, and I'm trying to look at this concept in a broader sense. This project is not just about homeless individuals, but how our culture lives -- the way that we take many of our comforts for granted. We place so much value on the material. We cherish material beauty and what we see on magazine covers and television. I find these homeless individuals to have more of a raw and powerful quality to themselves that is extremely intriguing.

MattEllis_homeless portrait2.jpgWho are these people whose portraits you are tattooing?

The faces that I create these portraits from vary from homeless people that I have a close friendship with, to homeless persons that I have randomly encountered and approached. Each of these persons I converse with and take photos of, which I use as reference and inspiration for my artwork. When I approach an individual, I will walk up to the person and straightforwardly ask if I can take a few photos of them. Some of these individuals are taken aback and are cautious of my intent. I try to explain to them more about my project and what I am trying to accomplish. I go on to tell them my views about how I see an unfiltered beauty within them that cannot be found on the cover of a fashion magazine. About half of the people don't agree with me but appreciate my ideas. Many of the people I speak to outright deny my claims and cannot see the beauty within themselves.

Once the person I am speaking to becomes more comfortable with the idea of my project, I begin to take photos randomly. I do not ask the person to pose and I do not look through the viewfinder. I hold the camera at different angles and push the shutter button randomly, attempting to capture a glimpse of that moment experienced between us. I do not interview these persons, but rather "hang out" with them and try to capture an unfiltered, raw experience with this other human being.

MattEllis_homeless portrait3.jpg

For those who wear these portraits, what are their thoughts about immortalizing people whom they may not have a personal connection with?

People will get tattoo portraits of celebrities who they do not know personally and will not think twice about it. They may do this because they find the imagery beautiful or they admire the person. When a client is interested in getting one of my homeless portrait tattoos, they are usually drawn to the idea of the project, and they like the fact that there is a strong meaning behind the tattoo. It is a piece of art with a purpose and is also raising awareness. My clients like that they have something more than just an image on their skin. Art is about ideas and making people think. I am trying to help push my tattooing into a direction that is more fine art rather than solely illustration.

For more on Matt and his work, check his website and follow him on Instagram.

MattEllis_homeless portrait4.jpg
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