Iraq War veteran Mike Ergo with his daughter, Adeline. (Courtesy War Ink)
Senior Medic Ron Riveira of the California Army National Guard's 184th Air Assault. (Courtesy War Ink)
Launched on this Veterans' Day to honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces, War Ink is a very powerful virtual exhibit that explores the experiences of 24 veterans (most of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan), as illustrated by their tattoos.
In the video below, you'll hear pieces of the larger conversation that War Ink holds. As one veteran says, the project is a chance to talk about their own experiences in their own voice without a politically charged message, and tattoos are a way to tell those stories. The stories told through the tattoos speak of "the burden of survivor's guilt," "a reminder to maintain my humanity," "acceptance that I had come home" ... One summed up War Ink as open communication between veterans and civilians.
War Ink is created by Jason Deitch, a former Army medic and military sociologist, and Chris Brown, the senior manager at the Contra Costa County Library in California. The online exhibit is presented in four chapters: "We Were You," "Changed Forever," "Living Scars," and "Living Not Surviving." The site also has a segment called "Your Role," which is something we should really think about, particularly on this day:
Whether a veteran is a close relative, a good friend, a co-worker or even a new acquaintance, ask about his or her experiences. Most veterans welcome the opportunity to share their stories. And when they do, then... listen. Really listen. Don't use the conversation as an opportunity for telling your own story or voicing your opinions. Just be open and respectful.
Tattoos of Staff Sgt. Adam Thorogood above.
On Friday, I wrote about one of the most popular tattoo images on those who serve and have served in the military: the Fallen Soldier / Battlefield Cross tattoo, a tribute to those lost to war. In fact, most of my friends in the military have some form of memorial tattoo -- some citing their tattoos as personally cathartic or a way to share stories about those honored in their artwork. Considering the ancient practice of marking warriors with tattoos, it is hard to break that act of expression.
On April 30th, the newest revision to the US Army's regulation on grooming and appearance standards, AR 670-1, took effect, and it has provisions that are causing some controversy -- and even prompted a law suit. As noted in Army Times, the rules ban tattoos below the knee or elbow, although soldiers who already have such tattoos are "grandfathered" in. A big issue, however, is that the new regulations bar any soldier with tattoos from seeking a promotion to warrant officer or commissioning as an officer.
One guardsman who served 10 years on active duty, Staff Sgt. Adam Thorogood, has filed a $100 million lawsuit in response to the ban, which has stopped him from "fulfilling a dream of joining 'The Nightstalkers,' the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky."
According to this Army Times article:
The lawsuit acknowledges that troops have an abridged right to free speech, but only insofar as it hinders their mission, discipline morale or loyalty. The lawsuit argues in effect that the ban itself is hindering the Army's mission, since it is preventing the most qualified candidates from applying to become officers or warrant officers because they have certain tattoos.The lawsuit has gotten a lot of media attention, and it should be interesting to see how this plays out in federal court.
Also, at issue with the new revisions to AR 670-1 is whether the new grooming standards discriminate against African-American women serving in the Army, as regards to a section called "female twists and dreadlocks," which bans "any unkempt or matted braids or cornrows."
While the military has a long-standing tradition of conservative appearance regulations, many argue that they must be brought up to today's norms of appearance and reflect the diversity of its soldiers. Thorogood's lawsuit should have an impact on this debate.
Beyond the rules and regs, today is a day to reflect on those who have given their lives in service and to honor them in our own ways.
Tattoo by Tim Kern
The branches of the US military regularly clarify and update their dress and personal appearance policies, but it seems that in the last five years they've been extra busy doing so...98 times since 2006 according to Time's article on Air Force dress codes.
While I personally prefer my soldiers suffer a 30-hour backpiece than bullets, the Air Force seems to get its regulation panties in a bunch over the diameter of visible tattoos. So much so, they've come up with a mathematical equation to figure out what is and what is not acceptable body art. There are even charts!
Get your calculators ready. Here goes:
Use the following calculation: (all measurements are to be done in inches; partial inches should be rounded up to the nearest inch). Member will be measured standing at the position of attention. If member has multiple tattoos/brands (T/B) that are clearly separate TBs, each will be measured separately and the cumulative size of the TBs cannot exceed one-fourth or 25% of the exposed body part.Huh?
Ok, so what happens if you're bad at math and your tattoos violate policy? Well, you can get a slap-on-the-wrist reprimand. Or they can order full tattoo removal. They'll even pay for removal if there's a budget! Read more here for details. [The article also provides links to PDFs of the full dress code policies for the Army, Marines, and Navy.]
At a time when the Legislature is looking to cap government spending, perhaps we shouldn't be budgeting for tattoo removal or even wasting so much time on the colors in military skin.
We've had our BBQs and enjoyed the sunshine of this weekend, but it wouldn't be Memorial Day in the US without giving pause to think on those who have lost their lives in serving our country.
Memorial and patriotic artwork is often tattooed to ensure that the fallen are remembered every day -- work like this chestpiece by Timothy Hoyer of NY Adorned, and the neck rocker below by Jerrett of Monarch Tattoo in Washington.
For more military & memorial tattoos check the Shock.Military.com galleries and MilitaryTattoos.us.
Yes, yes I know. It's been a while since I've done a review, but really I've been shielding your eyes from the ugliness of the tattoo headlines, a veritable ten-car pileup.
Rubberneckers may slow down for wrecks like reality show juice-heads bawling over tattoo pain, clown-face criminals, tributes to OD'd celebs (ala Corey and DJ AM) alongside tributes to booze, and of course, the incessant coverage of "Nazi tattoo models." Ok, the Tina Fey bit on Michelle McGee was really funny.
But not all news items have necessitated air bags. Here are my less painful picks:
First up, Dallas Observer photographers, Patrick Michels and Kevin Todora, offer an extensive slideshow of photos (like the one above) from the MusInk Festival this past weekend. It's a sweet mix of rockstars, Miss Tattoo contestants, and views from the convention floor.
The Down East Tattoo Show in Maine, a smaller convention this past weekend, had an interesting twist on its tattoo competition: the judges were art scholars from the University of Maine (and not one had a tattoo). Organizers of the show say that the professors are unbiased and decide strictly on the art (and not if their buddy tattooed it), but they also are aware of good technique like strong line work and smooth shading. As one judge said, "A well-designed but badly executed tattoo just doesn't cut it." [Also check the video interview of one collector from the show.]
On the tattoo law front (my fave!):
South Carolina, the last US state that required parental permission to get tattooed for those under 21 years of age, has now lowered the age requirement to 18. Considering you don't need parental consent to go to war at 18, this seems more logical.
And while the military has certain tattoo prohibitions itself, the number of heavily tattooed soldiers continues to grow.
Connecticut marshals fought a ban on visible tattoos and won. The tattoo policy said that "visible tattoos could pose a threat to safety and security" of the marshals. Huh? Happy that the Connecticut judiciary had the same reaction and nixed it.
And Canadian tattooists with poor spelling can relax now: a small claims court in Nova Scotia ruled that a woman who sued a studio for a misspelled tattoo was the "author of her own misfortune" as she had a chance to view the stencil before it was tattooed on her. She also didn't give the artist time to correct the work before suing. The misspelled word? "Beautiful" in the phrase "You're so beautiful." I know, it's a toughie.
Even dumber: Chicago law makers spending time and money crafting a ban on eyeball tattooing. I'll say this again: just because a couple of inmates and bod mod artists do it, does not mean tattooing your eyeball has become a trend. *primal scream*
Quick & Dirty Links:
Photo by the Associated Press for the Military Times.
Today is Veteran's Day and Needles and Sins would like to say Thank You to the men and women in the US Armed Forces.
Military tattoos have held fascination for many, whether they be corps insignias on skin or memorials to fallen soldiers. See the variety of veteran tattoo tributes on these sites:
The tattoo news this week has been a pop culture bonanza. It was all about fashion, celebs and products, and so my review today will be a tattoo tapas of tasty tidbits. It won't fill you up, but you can enjoy a guilty pleasure every now and then.
Let's start with the surreal ...
With Patrick Swayze's passing, comes the birth of Swayze tribute tattoos. Like this Swayze Pour Vida backpiece (above) [via Louise Palanker]. But we all know that nothing will ever come close to the Swayze centaur tattoo. Point. Laugh.
We wouldn't be able to do our internet point-and-laugh thang is we all listened to Kelly Osbourne. Kelly, known for her high style (and sobriety), is telling the world 'Don't get a tattoo." And we agree. Don't get her patchwork of badly thought-out work like the Nicole Richie-inspired mini-angel wings or the I'm-a-musician-so-tattoo-a-keyboard-on-me tattoo. [Thanks David!] I would, however, consider an Ozzy Pour Vida tramp stamp.
For true high style, check the Rodarte tribal inspired collection, which the fab Susanah Breslin was all aTwitter on Tuesday. Backstage turned into a faux tattoo shop with MAC artists creating Polynesian inspired designs on models using body markers.
Grazia mag has the deets: "Eight different half sleeve, four full sleeve and one neck tattoo design were being drawn onto the models with a medical marker (think plastic surgery type pen) a concept MAC are testing out for a body art product, PRO Micronized Airbrush in Black Black and Liquidlast Liner in Point Black." See pics here and here.
The Rodarte show was inspired by female warriors of tribal cultures, but check this image (right) of one of our own from Cheezburger.com.[Thanks, Scott!]
Speaking of cheez...Vince Neil of Motley Crue opened his second tattoo shop.
And if that wasn't one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, then Rihanna's tattoo debut was. But the The New York City Department of Health wasn't having it. They fined East Side Ink where Rihanna tattooed several of the shop's employees for "operating with an unlicensed tattoo artist on site." The fine amount could range from $200-$2000.
In North Caroline, a couple of kitchen table scratchers were arrested when a teen they tattooed got a staph infection from bad inking. They are charged with tattooing without a permit and tattooing a juvenile.
If people wanna play tattooist, they should go to Toys R Us, not ebay for starter kits. I've blogged about GR8 TaT2 Maker for years but HuffPost just caught on & listed it under its 7 Most Inappropriate Products for Children. Next to the Pole Dancing doll. [Thanks, Urban Gypsy (NSFW)]
If that didn't leave you feelin dirty, these links will:
And with the image of the beautiful Megan Fox, I'll leave you now and wish you a wonderful weekend.