Results tagged “The Vanishing Tattoo”

May201411
08:59 PM
the tattoo project .jpgDan Kozma The Tattoo Project.jpgCover photo of The Tattoo Project by Vince Hemingson. Portrait above by Dan Kozma.

Four years ago this month, 100 hundred heavily tattooed people and 11 of Vancouver's best photographers came together for The Tattoo Project:  Body. Art. Image:  a three-day event at the Vancouver Photo Workshops described as "a synthesis of portraiture and tattoo art that poses the eternal question, Who am I?"  The body of work born from the project explores tattooed bodies via diverse photographic philosophies. Vince Hemingson, creator of The Tattoo Project (as well as many other wonderful projects), has said that the images not only reflect who the subjects are but also the photographers, from their differing approaches to lighting, mood, and color to different methods for engaging the subjects. The subjects were quite diverse themselves and not just today's standard "tattoo model" fare. 

Vince explains his inspiration behind The Tattoo Project: body. art. image.:
This project was an idea that I had simmering on the back burner for nearly fifteen years.  I have always wanted to to see how fine art photographers would interpret individuals who were tattooed. When I first saw Albert Watson's seminal work from the Louisiana Prisons in his book CYCLOPS it was an idea that wouldn't go away.   In my writing and filmmaking, I have always thought that the purpose of training your pen or your camera on a subject was illumination.  Literally to shine a light on something. 

In fifteen years of researching the history and social significance of tattooing - in dozens of different cultures around the world - I was struck by the extraordinary power that tattoos can have to reveal a person's inner self.  Rarely is the choice of a tattoo or a tattoo symbol an accident.  People choose tattoos that resonate with their sense of perceived identity of a deep level.  I was quoted in an interview nearly ten years ago, saying that, "Beauty is skin deep, but a tattoo goes all the way to the bone". And by that I meant that a tattoo can have profound meaning, far beyond mere decoration for many people.  A tattoo reveals character.  I wanted my photographs to be portraits, but I also wanted them to be about illuminating identity.  I can focus my camera on an individual and capture some aspect of the external self.  But I think their tattoo illuminates an aspect of their internal self, often times far more than they realize.  The idea that you could capture parts of both the external self and the inner self fascinates me. 

I wanted to exhibit my images as transparencies on light-boxes because I wanted the tattoos I photographed to be illuminated from within.  If the body is a temple, then the tattoos are stain-glass windows. Tattoos tell stories.  I want my images to record those stories.
From that long weekend, almost 200 images were selected for The Tattoo Project exhibition in November 2010, curated by Pennylane Shen, and shown at Performance Works on Granville Island. More than 750 people attended the opening night. With such incredible success, naturally, the next step was a book.

The 240-page hardcover The Tattoo Project: body. art. image., published by Schiffer Books, takes the very best works from the project and highlights them in a large-format, beautifully designed coffee table book. This book isn't just about pretty tattoos -- although there are a number of exceptional ones. What makes it engaging is the storytelling of these portraits, the way the personalities of these tattooed people shine through. And also, as Vince mentioned, it's interesting to see how these stories are told in so many ways, whether it be through the black & white long exposure photos by Marc Koegel or the "housewife cheescake" images by Melanie Jane. The other photographers include Wayne A. Hoecherl , Dan Kozma , Spencer Kovats, Syx Langemann, Aura McKayRosamond Norbury, Johnathon Vaughn, Jeff Weddell as well as Vince.   

Spencer_Kovats_The_Tattoo_Project.jpgImages above by Spencer Kovats.

The next step for Tattoo Project: body. art. image. is a documentary film. Throughout the project, two film crews captured the process -- as Vince says, they "prowled the crowded hallways, eves-dropped on photographers  as they shot in the studios, and interviewed dozens of models and all of the photographers."  This summer, Vince and his team will be launching a Kickstarter.com crowd funding campaign to help finish the post-production on the film.

Check The Vanishing Tattoo blog for updates on the film (and the perks for contributing) and other tattoo goodness.
  
Syx_Langemann_The_Tattoo_Project.jpgPortrait above by Syx Langemann.
Nov201314
08:49 AM
tattoo_history_page.jpg
For near-daily gems of tattoo history, The Vanishing Tattoo's Facebook Page is a great source. Two days ago, they posted this incredible gem: a 1902 NY Tribune article entitled A Tattooing"Artist." A must-read piece.

The article discusses tattooing as an art form, how "real silk-stocking society women" were tattooed, tattoo trends at the time, and even how tattooers practiced on children. Here's a taste from the article:

When schools on the East Side opened a few weeks ago, the teachers were astonished at the number of tattooed youngsters who appeared for beginning their schooling. Some of them were as variously decorated as the saltiest of seaman, and the boys who had escaped the needle were so envious that they only wanted an opportunity to join the ranks of the "skin pictures" as the tattooed boys were called.

The designs were not unlike those one sees on the arms of grown men. Youthful taste had not been allowed to assert itself, for the reason that the tattooers were simply practicing on the boys that they might do better work on the men who came to them. So there was the usual round of anchors, eagles, stars, butterflies, frogs, snakes, hearts entwined and bleeding hearts.

Then, in a careless moment, one of the tattooers made a mistake. He wanted to try some religious emblems, and was not particular as to the faith of the victim. In everlasting ink he put a picture of the crucifixion, popular with Roman Catholics, upon the chest of a Jewish boy. The father naturally objected and complained to the boy's teacher.
There are also salty scenes from inside the shop of Elmer E. Glitchell aka "Electric" Elmer, the "Wonder Tattooer," of Chatham Square:

The young man bared his arm and the operation began. The "professor" washed the skin with antiseptic and shaved away the hairs. He rubbed a little cocaine into the skin and then stenciled the design. He turned the current into his electric outline machine, and at the rate of a thousand punctures a minute traced the outline. The patient winced once or twice at first, but soon got used to the pricking sensation, and made no complaint. There was little or no sign of blood. The "professor" held out his arm that the patient might select the colors he desired, and the arm made a perfect color sheet. Blue, red and green were the colors that appealed to the merchant and the outline was soon completed with a brush...
Read more from the American Newspaper Repository.
Feb201207
10:56 AM
tattoo statistics.jpg
The media just love the throw around tattoo statistics (no matter how outdated), but these stats do serve a purpose of forming some idea on the breadth of tattooing's popularity.

A more artful way to convey people's love for the craft is found in this infographic by Paul Marcinkowski, which was created as a student project at Academy Of Fine Arts in Lodz. Check Paul's Behance page for close-ups of the work.

And for more statistics, check The Vanishing Tattoo, who have been compiling tattoo data in one place since 1999.

Thanks, Mikey, for the link!
Jul201006
12:24 PM


The mother of all tattoo websites, The Vanishing Tattoo, which is one of the oldest and most comprehensive online resources on the art, has a new feature that I'm just loving:

Check out the Tattoo Theater, a collection of video interviews, like the one above, with tattoo legends talking about everything from getting your first tattoo to old time tales of tattooists working in meat lockers and plexiglass-protected spaces to keep the bullets away. It's a treasure trove of thrilling stories. More footage will be added to the Theater on a regular basis. Bookmark it!
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