Jade is an awesome tattoo artist. A lot of the people I met that have been photographed for The Tattoo Project have been tattoed by Jade. I kind of like this shot, because she is always never photographed for any of the tattoo shots. She seems tough at first, but she's really a sweetheart. She owns and runs a tattoo shop in Islip, Long Island called Ink Sanctuary. If you're ever interested in getting a tattoo, I highly recommend that you visit.
This is Ryan. Ryan has had some work done since the last time I shot him, and he has now an ever mixed bag of tattoos. I like the mix, because they all mean something to him - there are names of people he loves, and symbols of ideologies he respects. All very good reasons to get tattoos.
Continuation of the The Tattoo Project. Waleed Is a dog trainer, and I think specializing in a breed called "Belgian Malinois". At the time of taking this picture, he was living in Florida. I caught up with him very quickly to get the picture on the day he was flying back, and got the interview later on (via facebook, of course).
PS: Waiting on a full fledged interview from Waleed, but until then, just the picture.
This is Rose, the second person that I had the pleasure of meeting through twitter(courtesy of @miss_lucifer). I have to be honest - for the first time in a while for whatever reason, I really didn't know what to expect. Usually I know the person better, and have had some sort of an introduction prior to the shoot, but this time I was going in totally blind. Well, my fears were unfounded, as Rose was nothing short of awesome, and a wonderful and genuine human being. Rose is a full-time librarian, who also spends a lot of time at Artisanal Tattoo, where this shoot took place. When not at these two places, as an art lover, she runs two websites - The Famous Living Dead Brigade and Twisted Peppermint, both of which offers her fresh outlook on art and culture. The tattoo shop she works at also has an art space which is managed and curated by Rose. Amongst other things, Rose also has quite a fascination with Jack White and Nick Cave. How she got into tattoos is a long story, and for the first time in the Tattoo Project, I am going to post the entire interview, because it's a very interesting read.
Thanks to Leah, the owner of Artisanal Tattoo for letting me use their space.
Rose can also be found on twitter: @sheisanarchy003 - I highly recommend a follow, as she will keep you entertained with her random musings throughout the day.
Oh, and Rose loves her new glasses - if/when you meet her, compliment her on them - she will love it :)
Q.What first got you into tattoos, or how did your first tattoo come about, and what was that experience like?
A. got my first tattoo at the age of 18. I think I was really just craving a way to "own" my own body after dealing with an abusive home life. It was a way of making a statement and taking control. The first tattoo was a very small one on my ankle of a symbol I'd created to represent me. I actually still use it when I sign things at the end of my name. It is a heart w/ an "x" that I used to sign all of my writing with when I was in highschool. That first experience started an addiction. I wanted another one immediately. I loved that I had this ability to use my body as a canvas for self expression.
Q.What does each tattoo mean to you, and what is it important that you had to have it?
A.Hmmm...well some of my tattoos are the usual ones people get that you kind of don't put much thought into and those are some smaller ones that i have. But my most important tattoos are probably my small bat on my chest, which I got when I was about 19 or so w/ a few friends. It was a bonding experience we had over the film "The Lost Boys" of all things! The bat on my left arm is very important to me. He was the first tatt I put so much thought and energy into. It has a banner that says "Unapologetic Apathy" which is a message to many people in my past who didn't seem to care to help me through my childhood and I now kind of just don't bother with a lot of them because now I'm taking care of myself and I'm not sorry that I don't care what they are up to in life or how their lives are going. It sounds harsh but it has helped me to come to terms with a lot of my past abuse. The bat in general is important to me as an animal as I've always related to it because it is a very misunderstood animal, so I have and will have many bats tattooed on me. I almost feel it is like my animal protector. My elbow piece which is a peppermint candy all kind of warped and cracked is my tribute to Jack White. It's cracked and warped because it had to match my personality as well which is a little darker than a cute piece of peppermint candy! I have a pincushion heart on the inside of my one wrist which represents the idea of not being able to get close to people. It also has an "NJ" next to it for my tribute to New Jersey, a state that has altered my life quite a bit. I also have the words "I'm not sleeping" which is a reference to a lyric from the U2 song "Bad" which was a song I attribute to saving my life growing up. Bono is my hero and one person I have always felt changed my life at a time when I really needed it just through his words. I have a baby sea turtle on my one arm next to the kanki for "Ikiru" which means "To live" in Japanese. The baby sea turtle has to make his way into the ocean and its a struggle but he does it because that is what he needs to do in order to live. I believe the struggle to live is what makes us who we are and so the film Ikiru by Akria Kurosawa deals with making a difference in life and it all came together in a way that I understood my own life. I guess it is a tribute to making a difference and the struggle to live and make a difference in the world. I have Gary the snail from SpongeBob Squarepants on my one calf because I love that show and I esp love Gary. That is as deep as that one gets! On my right thigh I have a portrait of Nick Cave started. Nick Cave is a huge influence on my writing and artistic expression. And on the back of my neck I have the words "ProtÃ¨ge-moi de mes desirs" which is from a Placebo song and means "Protect me from what I want" which is kind of a tribute to my struggles with my addictions. PHEW! That's a lot...I don't think I left anything too big or important out.
Q.How has tattoos (if yes) influenced your choices for other types of art, or vice versa..
A. Having tattoos and being a part of the tattoo community has made me look at art differently for sure. I mean I realize that art means something different to every single person and the use of your own body to express that art is a huge symbol of our freedom in this country.
Q.When did you start the living dead brigade, and what prompted you to start it, and what has it become now, and what do you see it becoming in the future?
A. I started the Famous Living Dead Brigade after a bad bout w/ depression. I realized that the only thing that would make me happy with my life was if I knew I was making a difference in the world but that that difference had to start with me. Once I started to focus on expressing myself artistically or in any way that I felt was putting the real me out there, I decided that I wanted to share the idea with someone. So I decided to find some folks who would be willing to get dressed up and go to rock shows and maybe "perform" or express themselves in the queues of shows. This inspiration came from three places: the book 101 Alternatives to Suicide by Kate Bornstein, the Dirty Business Brigade w/ the Dresden Dolls and a few ideas I found in some My Chemical Romance lyrics. Right now it exists primarily online although we do manage to get groups together to do fundraisers at times but it really is an idea more than a "club" or "group" so its open for anyone who embraces it to go out there and do their thing and if they want to do it in the name of the FLDB then, that's great! The most important thing is that they are taking the idea and being themselves and expressing themselves. Staying alive. Living. In the future, I'd love to see it become a full on non profit organization. I'd love to be able to provide a place where people are safe to be themselves, express themselves and possibly to sponsor artists and shows and do it all not only online but in the real world.
Q.Explain the fascination with jack white a little bit more - other than the fact that he's awesome.
A.Haha! Jack White...wow. That man is an inspiration. He started out wanting to become a priest and ended up playing music. Not only does he play music, he is a genius at his musicianship and also in the business itself. He's a workaholic who takes his dreams, goals and ideas and nothing holds him back, he just does it. Watching him perform and work is like watching someone who was just born to do what he is doing. Everything just comes natural and he seems to really have a great way of not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks...and he's just doing it all right. I'd love to just sit down with him and talk and get him to do an I Am Art picture for my art project. Better yet, have him do a song with me for it, that would be ideal.
Q.The two online screen names you have - sheisanarchy and ladymothrarose - can you explain a little bit as to what is behind these names? (if there is any significant story behind it, that is)
A. She Is Anarchy is the name of a poem I wrote once. It was supposed to represent myself in the sense that I have never done what was expected of me. I never seem to do anything the way anyone wants me to. I go about things my own way. I'm not good at being told what to do. So I started to use the name online. LadyMothraRose comes from the giant radioactive moth seen in Godzilla movies...I just happen to be a big fan of Mothra and so I wanted to sound Regally SciFi and came up with that and it has stuck. Between the two I get called "Lady Mothra" and "Anarchy" outside in the real world now, which is cool to me..I really like it.
I did a mother and son portrait a while ago, so I guess a mother and daughter portrait is a natural followup - and who could be a better subject than a daughter pursuing her passion, and a mother who supports her fully?
This is Mandy, Dale's daughter. Mandy is an up and coming tattoo artist, currently working at Chrome Gardens in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I don't have the whole story yet as to how Mandy got started in the tattoo business, but I'm doing an interview with her by e-mail, and this post will be updated soon. But I do know that Mandy also has a degree in art, and has an awesome supportive mom. I mean, do you know any mom cool enough to let your daughter tattoo you? (well I do - now :)). You can learn more about Mandy here, until I get the interview complete.
Mandy's tattoo credits: Jim White of Chrome Gardens in Gettysburg, PA, Tim Kern of Tribulation in NYC and Stacy McCleaf of Chrome Gardens in Gettysburg, PA.
On another note, I have been pretty busy with the day job, and this blog has been neglected for over a month now. One of the reasons I started this blog was to have a regular forray into 'practicing' my photography. When photography isn't your day job or your main source of living, its very easy to let it fall on the wayside, especially if your day job is stressful and runs into overtime and into your weekends. It's really no excuse though, if it's your passion. I can't think of hours that I've spent mentally exhausted on the couch after days of night/day streches of work, that I couldn't spend outside with a camera - it would have been just as relaxing and restful. So - I'm making a new resolution - I shall call it the "spring resolution" - to be out with my camera at LEAST once a week, no matter what my schedule is. So far, so good for this week.....
Technology is great. It's what led me to meet Dale - through twitter, and our mutual friend Ron Dubin. Ron saw the other tattoo shots on my blog, and thought that his friend would be a good subject for this, and boy was he right. Dale is a musician, and runs a recording studio in the city. She has two daughters, one of whom is a tattoo artist - her daughter being a tattoo artist is what got Dale into tattoos, and she started with one, and the rest is history. She is ordained with beautiful tattoos all over, some of which are done by her Daughter Mandy - who I also photographed in this session. Her tattoos have won awards in many tattoo conventions, most recently at the Baltimore tattoo convention.
Dale is incredibly cool and confident, and unfortunately she got sick on the day of the shoot - but she still made it, and was even singing along to Lady Gaga blasting in the next room while waiting for us to set up the lights....
Tattoo Credits: Ox of Jinx Proof in Montclair, NJ, Jim White of Chrome Gardens in Gettysburg, PA and Stacy McCleaf of Chrome Gardens in Gettysburg, PA
On a different note, a friend of mine, Thomas, has been travelling around for a while now, and only recently did I realize he has a blog. It has grown into a very nice collection of experiences, and will probably grow - feel free to check it out here: http://neonomadic.com/. He's in Chile right now (he's safe), and so I suspect there will be a few more additions to the blog very soon.
As usual, thanks to Francesco for helping me out big time.
This is Crystal. Her arm piece is one of the best ones I've seen to date....
Tattoos, I believe are a reflective process. Before choosing something that will be on your body for your entire life, I would think one would need to look inside for a bit in order to find that piece that finally calls out to him/her. More often than not, the tattoo becomes one with the person - [which is exactly what you want, by the way :)]. But I think sometimes we forget to look at the tattoo as an art form itself. So I chose to do this shot of the tattoo itself in a more reflective process, with a hint of the person that dorns it.
On a different note, my blog database seemed to have rolled back along with the backup, and I've lost two posts, and all the comments in the last two weeks. This is highly random, and very weird, and I've never seen this before; but I apologise to anybody who left comments in the last two weeks; I sincerely appreciate that you took the time to visit and leave a comment, and hope you will visit back again.
This Rob and his girlfriend Alicia. Rob is a tattoo artist himself, and the work on Alicia's feet were done by him.
This is Denny. He is a surfer, and likes Nixon watches.
I would like to take this opportunity to very succintly remind people about the terrible natural disaster in Haiti, and what we in the artist/photographer community can do. There is a charity auction being held on flickr for user-contributed prints, with all donations going charities helping out rescue and recovery. Bid on some, offer your own - both will help....
This is Bobby. He's got a dragon and koi fish all along his arm in Japanese motif. I'm very partial to the Japanese style of tattoo, and the traditional Samoan style - both of which I feel are very spiritual, have a lot of symbolic metaphors.
This is the second portrait in The Tattoo Project series.
I also decided to do a new design to the blog - my older one was slightly airy, minimalistic light-colored feel - this one is more dramatic in-your-face type, and darker feel. Hope you like it :) I've decided that I'm going to be putting a new design every year... hopefully I'm ambitious enough to pull that off...
Tattoos. Love'em or hate'em, you can't help but admire the level of skill that it takes to create a work of art on somebody's body. They aren't always looked at favourably, though - even as recent as 10 years ago, they were associated with gangs and criminals. In the recent years however, it has experienced a resurgency, and they are more mainstream than ever, infiltrating people from every walk of life.
To me, tattoos are personal. They are permanent. They are constant reminders of the reason you got them. They are almost like your announcement of your existence to the world.
Given the nose-snubbing tattoos take with the more affluent/well-to-do population, combined with how many of them actually have tattoos, its interesting to see how many people from all different backgrounds and jobs have tattoos. I've always wanted to capture these people with their tattoos, and thanks to Jade, an awesome tattoo artist, I get to finally do it.
I'm not very good at studio lighting, even after attending one of Don Giannitti's great workshops :) - with the terribly helpfulness of Francesco and what I learned at the workshop and info from the never ending source we call the 'internets' ;) , we got through this shoot; so this is first in a series of portraits that will be part of the The Tattoo Project"The Tattoo Project".
This is Chris.