Cover 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.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 McKay, Rosamond Norbury, Johnathon Vaughn, Jeff Weddell as well as Vince.
Images 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.
Portrait above by Syx Langemann.
One of the key messages throughout last weekend's Paradise Tattoo Gathering was the need to constantly improve one's drawing skills to be a good tattoo artist. The workshops (and the Drink & Draw party) were great places to hone those skills, but naturally, this work isn't relegated to retreats. A strong artist's arsenal is filled with reference material, from sketches to fine art to tattoo inspiration.
Packed with all this goodness is "Roses and Leaves" by Kore Flatmo. The 120-page softcover is dedicated to one of the most iconic images in tattoo: the rose. And there are over 350 roses in these pages in various forms including black line drawings, charcoals, tattoos and paintings.
Kore's art in charcoal are also available for purchase as a postcard set. The set of seven 4x6 postcards features five cards that have original artwork from "Roses and Leaves" and two cards of his dressed skeletons. The set comes in a vellum envelope with 2 complimentary stickers.
You can purchase the book here and the cards here. Also check the fabulous posters and prints available here.
For more of Kore's tattoo work, hit his recently revamped website and Facebook.
I've told many artists "Do a book." It's a rather selfish suggestion/command as I love turning pages filled with stimulating imagery, firing my neurons up and kicking my ass to create more. And practically, it's a way to view art that won't fit in my tiny Brooklyn apartment.
I wanted Chris Dingwell to do a book. Every time I see one of his works or live painting projects, I know I need to see it again. And I'm happy to say that I now can with his wonderful 150-page collection, "Inside Out," which can be purchased at TattooEducation.com.
"InsideOut" looks at Chris's body of work over the past eight years, featuring full views of the paintings as well as close-ups where you can see the movement of the brush strokes. A fantastic foreword by Johnny Thief opens up the book, giving the reader a better sense of just who Chris Dingwell is beyond his acrylics. Johnny also talks about Chris's tattoo work, which -- like his fine art -- defies categorization. An easy catch-all would be "painterly," but it is so much more than that. Johnny says, "If I had to try and label it, I would call it 'Kineticism'." [He wants 20% every time that term is used.]