Results tagged “memorial tattoo”
Athletes bodies are generally not known for great works of art, despite the money available to them. One tattooist explained to me that he felt the reason why the tattoos of celebrities were so bad was because they are used to getting what they want, when they want it. And if you have someone who lacks impulse control and foresight, well, that can be a recipe for a tattoo disaster.
So, when I come across a story about a sports star who really put thought and research behind his tattoo, it stood out.
The Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp was in the news last month for his chest piece honoring his grandparents (his grandfather had passed away just a month before he was tattooed). The work was done by black & grey rising star, Jun Cha, who works out of a private studio in LA.
A couple of days ago, a behind-the-scenes video look of the tattoo, and Kemp talking about his thoughts on getting this tribute, was posted on Jun's site (and embedded below). In it, you'll also see Jun's process in creating the work and his interesting stylization of the portrait. Worth a look.
The other day, I received an interesting email from our friend and one of our favorite tattooers, Colin Dale of Skin & Bone tattoo studio in Copenhagen, Denmark. Colin particularly specializes in hand-poked dotwork, creating gorgeous pieces, large and small, with a particular bent towards Nordic art and mythology (although he works in a variety of genres).
In the message, Colin sent these photos, shot by his partner Nana, of him tattooing their friend Eric Frederikson with soot mixed with the ashes of Eric's deceased father to make the ink. As Colin said, "It doesn't get more tribal than that."
Considering my fascination with memorial tattoos using cremation ashes, I asked for more to the story, and Colin obliged. Here's what he wrote:
Leviticus talked about cutting and marking the body in reverence to the dead. The Hawaiians used to cut themselves with shells (scalp) and smear the funeral pyre ashes on themselves. And I know several people have done this in modern times before me...I seem to remember Bill Tinney (Photographer for Outlaw Biker, Tattoo Review, etc.) got a portrait of his mother (or grandmother) done by Brian Everett, I believe, with some ash mixed in the ink. However, I actually wanted to make ink out of the ash!For more on the tattoo, and to see other great photos by Nana, read Colin's blog here.
And for other N+S posts on tattooing with cremation ashes check these previous posts:
Yom Hashoah means the "Day of Devastation." It is the powerful and all too literal name by which the Holocaust is remembered in Israel and elsewhere within the Jewish Diaspora.
Regardless of the many ways that the Jewish community has chosen to deal with this personal devastation and the even more ways by which the world has attempted to understand it, it always returns to a very intimate understanding, a scar upon the psyche.
Which makes it appropriate that tattooing has, recently, become an important facet of this conversation. As is well-known, many Jews who were victimized by the Holocaust had identification numbers tattooed (branded, actually) onto their forearms.
Today, many descendants of these victims are considering and, in rare cases, actually getting their parents and grandparents numbers tattooed on their own arm. The reasons vary.
For some, it is similar to a Christian wearing a cross around their neck, taking upon themselves a piece of the burden administered by Jesus. For others, it is simply a reflex of memory. With Holocaust revisionist history gaining popularity and the witnesses to the Devastation passing away, it is a skin-based documentary of a time we wish not to remember but should never forget. Of course, with all things tattoo, the reasons, the logic behind the reasons and the quality with which those reasons are displayed are of subjective value and worth. What is unquestionable, however, is the growing popularity.
First reported in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, in 2008, this article on a son tattooing his father's Auschwitz numbers on his own arm encouraged debate and shock. Since then, the story has been met by many others, and today, the phenomenon is far less shocking, albeit still equally debatable. As the original article says, a Holocaust remembrance tattoo, particular one that mimics the identification numbers, is a delicate interplay between the sensibilities and sensitivities of the victims, those who seek to honor them and the religious community.
It is outside my realm to discuss the actions, motivations and judgments of my peers. Instead, allow me to share my personal story. When I was 19 and, at the time, only sporting one other tattoo, I decided that the weight of the Holocaust was too much to bear internally. I had no outlet for the emotion I suffered. I wrote poetry but none read it. With youthful anger, I could have killed a Nazi with my bare hands, but such an angry fantasy was just that, a fantasy waiting for a Quentin Tarantino movie to give it boundaries. I knew not how to quench my anger nor salve my pain other than to place it somewhere outside of myself.
At the time, I was editing a Holocaust survivor's book and I told the author, Alex Levin, of my idea for a Holocaust memorial tattoo. He was thoughtful and considerate. And, resolute. "Absolutely not," he demanded. "We need no other reminders of that time and place. No." For that day, our interview was over. He became quiet, bowed by knowing that his suffering had found its way, if only minimally, into my own heart. And, perhaps, angry at my heart for being so weak and selfish.
I vowed that day to never get one of these tattoos. Not because I knew it would hurt the living or harm the memory of the dead. But because I did not understand its power and, I know enough to leave alone that which I do not understand.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. My body might die, but my skin never rusts.
In this story from the BBC -- which rides an Edgar Allen Poe, serrated edge of a border between morbid obsession and touching, honorable worship -- a tattoo studio owner who lost his son to a rare genetic disease is about to receive a tattoo using a portion of his cremated child's ashes in the ink. Of course, the tattoo will be a portrait of the youth.
Apparently, the science is right and the ashes will have no negative, physical considerations for Mark Richmond. The emotional, spiritual and sociological concerns, however, are not as easily dismissed.
The ceremony of death and memorial has never as artistically rendered as in the tattoo and graffiti communities. Both take great pains to remember the deceased in literal, life-like relief. Whether spray-painted across a handball court in Brooklyn or permanently engraved into flesh in Greater Hampshire, the names, faces and defining characteristics of the departed are shown time and again.
For two communities that, oftentimes, live dangerous lifestyles, it is remarkable the amount of appreciation we share for mortality. The more conservative groups who may not approve of our subcultures are so concerned with the appropriate ways to live life, they often fail in how to live death.
Bobby Bonafides Fisher is touched by this man's tribute and, in general, by the tattoo communities respect for their fallen.
More links on the topic:
Tattoo by Steve Boltz of Smith Street Tattoo.
As Americans head into our Memorial Day weekend, prepping to gorge on BBQ and cultivate sunburns, I figured I'd do a holier-than-thou, finger wagging post to remind us that it's a time to honor and reflect on those who died in service to our country. And I figured I'd do that via memorial and military tattoos, like this one above by Steve Boltz of Smith Street Tattoo in Brooklyn.
You can find an array of those designs on the following sites: