Photograph by Dr. Gemma Angel, Courtesy of the Science Museum, London.
Top tattoo news from around the world included stories on preserving tattooed skin postmorten, more do-it-yourself tattoo machine madness, court battles over police tattoo bans, traditional tatau, and more. Here are the details:
In Vice's "Human Pelts: The Art of Preserving Tattooed Skin After Death," the article takes a look at those who have offered to have their tattoos preserved and displayed after their deaths. Most notably, Geoff Ostling, whose tattoos are largely done by artist eX de Medici, talks about how he chose to donate his taxidermied body as a work of art to be displayed at the National Museum of Australia museum (as well as all the gory details of skinning his tattoos once he's gone). There's also a great discussion with Dr. Gemma Angel, who shares her expertise on logistics of preserving skin, as well as the history -- and mystery -- behind the acquisitions at London's Wellcome Collection. Here's a taste:
As fascinating as it is, public exhibits of preserved tattooed skin are rare and controversial. That's in part because it's unclear whether many of these skins were acquired ethically. The preserved skins in the Wellcome Collection, for example, were all purchased from a single mysterious individual.I've linked a number of articles here on the blog about Gemma's work, including this one, "Collecting Tattoo Skin."
More buzz over Do-It-Yourself tattoos, this time over Jakub Pollag's art grad project Personal Tattoo Machine, which he claims "democratizes the tattoo industry, " adding, "It puts a tool used only by a limited group of people into the hands of enthusiasts, who are seeking an alternative and unique way to permanently mark their meaningful memories onto their skin." Of course, it also puts, in the hands of tattoo enthusiasts, skin infections, Hepatitis C, scars, and a permanent reminder of bad decision making. Also, if anyone can grab a tattoo kit on Amazon or eBay, what's the big difference here? Last January, I wrote on the Stick & Poke kits, also meant to "democratize" tattooing. Both are bad news.
In Chicago, cops have filed a lawsuit challenging the police department's tattoo ban, which requires officers cover up their tattoos that aren't covered by long-sleeve shirts and pants with skin-toned bandages. While I've written extensively on tattoo bans and employment discrimination, you may want to also check this National Law Review article that was published last week on regulating appearance in the workplace.
I was very happy to see my friend, master of Samoan tatau Pili Mo'o, in Mauitime.com, featuring his handtapped Polynesian tattooing, which he will be offering at Blue Hawaii July 1-15. As Mo'o notes in the article, he carries on the traditions of tatau, taught to him by master Sua Sulu'ape Paulo II, and honors the faith and trust his clients put into it.
Pili Mo'o handtapping tatau.
In other news ...
* Here's a piece on why many people are tattooing semicolons on their bodies.
* An article on "A day in the life of an all-female tattoo studio."
* Corneal tattooing -- as demonstrated at the NYC Tattoo Convention last month.
* Cross-stitch tattoos.
* And a sweet story on a "Tattoo Artist Turns Girl's Leg Braces Into A Pair Of Wicked Awesome Disney Villains."
Homemade tattoo machines made in Mexican prisons are the subjects of Scott Campbell's solo exhibition Things Get Better at OHWOW, in Los Angeles, on view now through June 22, 2013. The exhibition comprises "a series of ink wash paintings on paper that realistically illustrate novel objects and improvised tools." OHWOW offers more on the story behind this work.
The NY Times featured the exhibit last week as well. Here's a bit from the article:
"I was looking for a way to fall in love with tattooing again," said Campbell, the Southern-born, Brooklyn-based founder of Saved Tattoo, who is renowned for both his artwork and for having inked the likes of Marc Jacobs and Terry Richardson. "Prison tattoo culture holds a certain amount of gravity. There's a population given orange suits and known by numbers -- it's homogenized -- tattoos claim the little personality that these guys can have." [...] The pictures depict his "Frankenguns," jury-rigged contraptions he built inside Mexican prisons to administer tattoos to inmates -- a personal project he pursued two years ago as an antidote to the superficiality of the contemporary tattoo world.
The article further runs down a list of what Scott had to do for this project, from bribing prison wardens to experimenting with different materials. Definitely worth a click through.
The Times article also has more images from the show as does Arrested Motion.
While the series of paintings is new, this isn't the first time Scott's homemade guns have been featured in the press. In 2011, we posted on this video in which Scott takes viewers along as he rummages through trash to build a machine and then tattoos someone in Thompkins Square Park. I wasn't a big fan of this how-to video, for safety reasons really. But the series of paintings I can get behind.