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Collaborative Tattooing – Saved Tattoo NYC


The Lesson of the Needle

By Aimee Heckel

www.huffingtonpost.com

n-TATTOOS-large570I try to relax into the needle scraping across my skin.

Accept the discomfort with love, I keep telling myself, knowing that love is the opposite of fear, and that any drop of fear will destroy this experience. If I let fear cloud me now, I am going to miss the message.

Any rational human would say I should be scared.

I have given my entire back to Chris Fuller, a tattoo artist at Junkyard Ink in Louisville. I met Fuller during an interview in a few months earlier. I clicked with his philosophy: that tattoos are art on flesh. In fact, Fuller and most of the other employees at the shop were traditional artists first. Fuller was a painter.

I visited the shop regularly to talk about my next tattoo. My first four had been specific words or designs in specific places on my body for precise reasons. I had over-thought them all. They felt like extensions of my body, and they were an external expressions of internal enlightenments. They were my babies, in ink.

This time is different.

I don’t know what Fuller is going to tattoo on me. Neither does he.

We agree to not go into the tattoo with preconceptions, but to approach it in the same way he paints his murals on canvas. I will be Chris Fuller’s canvas for a free-form tattoo painting.

Like I said: not rational whatsoever.

But rationality — the over-thinking, the limiting human mind, the man-made labels and explanations — is exactly what I want to suppress.

I am hoping by stilling my brain, I will shift perspective. Gain sight through the endless spirit, not eyes, which can shut or go blind. I hope that by diminishing the physical absorption of a physical experience, it can transcend into something spiritual.

And maybe not hurt so dang bad.

Of course, it’s a far leap. But you can’t catch air without leaping. And I’ve always believed art is an experience and expression, not a logical, finite explanation to prove, or even understand.

Like Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”

I get that, in theory.

I am about to really get it, personally. Do you believe in anything deeply enough to let it transform you? To let it become you? For the love of art, and the sake of its raw beauty, I am about to become it.

Hour two: As I lean over the chair, breathing into the pain, I decide this is what it must feel like to be the marble, or wood, or iron being welded into a new form.

When Michelangelo created some of his greatest masterpieces, he did not go in with an agenda. He did not carve the marble into an angel. Quite the opposite. As he put it, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” The angel was already inside.

Amid the dull hum of the tattoo machine, this quote haunts me. I try to imagine the beauty living inside everything: every piece of paper, every chunk of wood, every empty stage. Potential is hovering beneath the surface of everything, like scientific joules: artistic jewels.

Fuller “carves away” at my canvas in the same way he paints. He lays down layers of color until something emerges out of the lines and shapes, and he builds on that. He had been wanting to attempt this revolutionary style of tattooing for years, but he said he could never find anyone who wanted to do it. They were too afraid of letting go of the control.

What — or who — is living underneath my own skin?

As I sit, I wonder. It could be my own Michaelangelo angel. An octopus. A tree. Beneath my skin could be a flower, a lion, a snake. A demon.

Hour five: I think about beauty.

A person’s style is their temporary artistic expression. A daily opportunity to paint and celebrate our bodies.

Fashion is only as shallow as how you choose to confine it. Because it is possible — albeit difficult — to appreciate something for its pure and simple beauty. In fact, the origin of Zen came from that idea, a “silent sermon” during which Buddha held up a flower and gazed at it, saying nothing. Enlightenment might just be letting go of everything we thought we knew, the labels, the mind, the over-analyzing of every single thing, and just letting the beauty be.

I wrote about this one night. Just a free-form poem to myself. Not to share with anyone. I opened up and the words fell out onto the page.

It was the next day that Fuller told me his tattoo idea. I didn’t hesitate. I would lose control, but gain a mark for beauty’s sake alone. What greater honor than that? Not to remind me of something that I had experienced and learned; but rather to be that very experience and lesson.

Hour 11: I think more about Michelangelo.

Perhaps we all are born with the ability to unearth this perfect beauty, in various ways. For some, it’s dancing or drawing, photography, singing, writing, woodworking, playing an instrument, cooking, theater, a sport, making jewelry or designing clothes. You do not pick your art; it is a gift, given to you. You know it is yours because it chases you.

And it will. It nags at you until you die. That’s because it is your duty to do something with it. Art is what you give back, in exchange for the love that you receive, and the opportunity to have life. And it is balanced; every human’s art is as deep and breathtaking and awesome as the perfect love that God created us from and offers to us.

But occasionally — most of the time, actually — people decide that gift is not there. They suppress it. They bury it under things that do not satisfy. It is almost as if they don’t want their gift, or for some very human reason, they are afraid of it. They do not acknowledge or accept it, so they cannot express it.

Michelangelo accepted it. He opened up and took it. If people accepted their art and stopped thinking about it, and just became that gift, their art would flow from them perfectly and fully and completely.

The reason Michelangelo’s art was so incredible is because he simply removed the dam and could see what was already inside — of the marble, and of himself. Art flows out, like love flows in.

By letting go and releasing my canvas to an artist, and trusting him, I was allowing him to follow his art.

Of course, the very manifestation of this experience, the reason I was ready for it, came from the poem I had written the day before. In an artistic cause-and-effect, this made the tattoo a ripple effect from my own art: writing. Art begetting art.

Hour 20: I can’t wait to see what is living inside my skin.

It has been four sessions of about five hours each. Fuller used more than 20 different shades of blues, greens and purples. The white highlights he added at the end will continue to grow brighter as the tattoo heals.

He tattooed the entire right side of my back, from my neck to waist. I felt him painting swirls. I felt spirals and coils and curls, tracing the natural curves of my body. Fuller followed those shapes and connected them until they created a picture.

I stand up to finally see the completed project. I feel open and trusting, but exhausted. Above all, I feel honored to spend the rest of my life wearing a painting. Fuller initials it. I turn to see the mirror.

One of her arms is reaching up to the sky. Her chin is lifted, and she’s gazing up. She is feminine, elegant and fragile. She is abstract, almost a mermaid, or a cyclone, a Siren, a ghost, or an illusion in the water or sky or both. Fuller barely knew me when we started, but he tattooed my spirit.

Underneath my skin was a dancer.

TATTOO

This article originally appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Photo by Mark Leffingwell/Daily Camera.


What’s in a Name?

By Deb Yarian

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By Don Yarian

The first thing out of my mouth when a couple says ” We’ve decided to have a baby ” is usually “Congratulations” not ” What happens if you get a divorce?”

I wish as many obstetricians counseled their patients against having babies using the same reasoning as some tattooers do when they advise their customers against getting a partner’s name – “What happens if you break up?”

Well… what happens if you break up is that you, having made an adult decision to show your devotion to someone by getting their name tattooed on your skin must now make another adult decision and learn to live with it, cover it, or change it.

A ludicrous comparison, yes- but the name tattoo (a foolish choice only in retrospect) seems far less permanent  when compared with the really permanent -living child

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This sort of counsel is a particular pet peeve of mine. I think that when a person wishes to commemorate their love and devotion to another person by getting a tattoo of their name, that is their adult decision and they don’t need my opinion other than possibly font or calligraphic design choice or placement.

I’ve heard so many tattooers respond to name requests with such negativity. With mocking responses ranging from ” That’s a sure way to end a relationship!” “You sure you want to do that?” To ridicule or refusal to do the name tattoo.
But why should any couple coming in to get name tattoos from me or any other tattooer have to validate anything other than their legal ability to get tattooed? Since when did the tattooer become the priest and rabbi and moral counsel of their customers?

During my 35 years of tattooing there have probably been hundreds, even thousands of tattoo designs that I have been asked to do that I myself would not have chosen to get. In my opinion many more ugly or foolish design choices have been made than choosing to get the name of a loved one.

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By Don Yarian

I am speaking solely on my opinion of a person’s decision to get another’s name- not the aesthetics of it.
Certainly, if the aesthetics of type interferes with the look or design flow of a larger tattoo then when asked for my artistic opinion I would give my honest one. However, if asked my opinion  as to whether someone should get their partner’s name – how could I answer that?

I feel that it’s only my responsibility to advise on design choice and placement and to try and do the best job that I can regardless of my opinion of someone else’s choice of what to wear on their body.


Girl X Tattoo – Michell G.

By Some Quality Meat

www.somequalitymeat.com

For Some Quality Meat we created a short and playful series about beautiful woman and their tattoo’s. Celebrating femininity and independence. With these shorts we try to depict the essence of and way of live of these beautiful females.
Model: Michelle Goormans
Jewelery: Monocrafft | monocrafft.com
Music by Hippie Sabotage, Stay High.


Seattle Tattoo Expo This Weekend!!

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I will be attending the Seattle Tattoo Expo this weekend.  This is one of my favorite shows in the US… So many talented artists… the show is busy, and the city is fun.  If you’re around, please stop by and check it out.  They always have good entertainment, good food, a good bar, cigar lounge, and most importantly… GOOD TATTOOS!  Hope to see you there!

For more information about the show like featured artists and event schedules, visit: www.seattletattooexpo.com

Nicki

TAM

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Propaganda Podcast: Joe Swanson with Josh Hagan


Scars of a Past Life, Lend a Helping Hand

By Erin Boyle

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Scar coverup by Melissa Fusco.

I think there’s something to be said about searching for an artist you can trust with personal symbols and parts of the self. I stumbled upon Melissa Fusco’s portfolio by pure chance after searching 4 years for artists in a different style; I was instantly swayed. I found her work captivating and unique: her craftsmanship was soft, colorful and organic, and I saw hints of depth and spirituality in her portfolios – these things really clicked for me. I had consulted with many artists over the years, and the request to tattoo over my scars was nothing new to me – I even met some who refused to work on scars. Finding a good fit was important; the artist would, after all, be spending several hours confronted with these scars and whatever it brought up for them. I was looking not just for the quality of an artist’s work but also the personhood of the one applying it, Melissa’s warmth and professionalism really showed through during our consultation process. Though she had no idea of my story at the time, I told her, “but really, who gets out of life unscarred in one way or another”…everybody has their thing…it’s all in what you do with it.

Now, I’m not much for telling soggy and dramatic tales about my life, much the reason why I chose this particular flower for my tattoo – but I’ll get to that later. The Buddha once said, “every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind; the goal is to find it”. I, like many, was blessed with a difficult childhood; abuse and neglect were my reality for much of my childhood and adolescence. Though high achieving, at 17 there came a point where my goals took a backseat and I thought there was only one way out. This thought became not just a memory, but left behind the scars to prove it.

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Erin Boyle beginning Stencil




Every good story has a twist; mine came a few years later after coming out of an abusive relationship. At that point I looked long and hard at my life, I spent a lot of time healing old wounds and rebuilding the Self. Mindfulness, courage and sacrifice were essential building blocks in my process of change and moving towards doing what I love and loving what I do. I threw away my masks of success and achievement, gave up my fancy title and hefty paycheck, got a second bachelors degree in pre-clinical psych, and began working at a Residential Treatment Center for youth with mental illness. In other words, for mere pennies I worked with teenage boys who liked to break shit, especially your face, and taught them how to give and receive love. This is what makes sense for me; this is what life is about, using our humanity to help others grow.

The paradox of my story is that no matter how much I healed and evolved, I still had my past written on my arms along with the judgment from others about what that means. No amount of success, forgiveness or compassion would ever make that go away. However, life with this tattoo is different. Not just myself, but others see beauty and strength where shame and secrecy once lived. In a way it removes the stigma I once felt. I don’t perceive myself as a victim or a survivor, I see myself as a person with the drive and motivation to create and sustain social justice through guiding others to lead the best possible life they can. As an Art Therapy graduate student en route towards doctoral research, I’ve found that having the permanence of this image in my skin helped ignite this fearless internal integration of my personal and professional lives. It’s closure, it’s dignity, it’s confidence, and in a huge way it is taking ownership of my body while standing grounded in authenticity and unapologetically residing in my own identity and truth.

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Tattoo by Melissa Fusco.

Embedded in the image also lies the memory of the process. To match my initial impressions, Melissa was grounded, focused, caring, calm, gentle, warm, empathic, funny, respectful, edgy, and an incredibly skilled independent female artist in a male dominated field. She made the process personal and relational, and that’s not something I got from any other tattoo artists I reached out to. I don’t know if I would have found another talented artist that I felt as comfortable with during this process, not to mention one who honored the experience. I’m grateful to have found her, and look forward to collaborating on future work.

As a symbol of the self, this phoenix of a flower holds no mythology – only truth. Coming from one of the oldest families of flowers on earth, whenever a wildfire ravages the area the King Protea is the first sign of new life. In fact, wildfires are central to their evolution – just as challenges, failures and setbacks are to ours. As I see it there is no fantasy in real life – our results come from our own hard work…or as Melissa would say, there is “no progress without sacrifice.” I couldn’t say it better myself.

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To see more work by Melissa, or to get in touch with her, go to:

www.missmelis.com


Three German Students Surprise a Homeless Guy

This has nothing to do with tattoos, and everything to do with humanity.  I just really like it and wanted to share…

What have you done to touch someone’s life lately?

Nicki


P E R S E V E R A N C E

Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World

MARCH 8 – SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

Source: www.janm.org

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About the Exhibition

Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World explores the artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos along with its rich history and influence on modern tattoo practices in this groundbreaking photographic exhibition.

As Japanese tattoos have moved into the mainstream, the artistry and legacy of Japanese tattooing remain both enigmatic and misunderstood. Often copied by practitioners and aficionados in the West without regard to its rich history, symbolism, or tradition, the art form is commonly reduced to a visual or exotic caricature. Conversely, mainstream Japanese culture still dismisses the subject itself as underground, associating it more with some of its clientele than with the artists practicing it. Both of these mindsets ignore the vast artistry and rich history of the practice.

Although tattooing is largely seen as an underground activity in Japan, Japanese tattoo artists have pursued their passions, applied their skills, and have risen to become internationally acclaimed artists. Through the endurance and dedication of these tattoo artists, Japanese tattooing has also persevered and is now internationally renowned for its artistry, lineage, historical symbolism, and skill.

Curated by Takahiro Kitamura and photographed and designed by Kip FulbeckPerseverance is a groundbreaking exhibition and the first of its kind. Perseverance will explore Japanese tattooing as an art form by acknowledging its roots in ukiyo-e prints. This exhibition will also examine current practices and offshoots of Japanese tattooing in the U.S. and Japan.

Perseverance features the work of seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists, HoritakaHoritomoChris Horishiki BrandMiyazoShigeJunii, and Yokohama Horiken, along with tattoo works by selected others. Through the display of a variety of photographs, including life-sized pictures of full body tattoos, these artists will cover a broad spectrum of the current world of Japanese tattooing.

Premier Sponsor

Mariko Gordon and Hugh Cosman

Patron Sponsors

Friends
LS Tattoo Museum
Pasadena Art Alliance
UCSB Academic Senate
UCSB Department of Art

Supporters
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
Los Angeles County Arts Commission
Richard Ross
Samy’s Camera
Spoonflower, Inc.
Target
Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation

Media Sponsor
The Rafu Shimpo


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Tattoo Decision Flow Chart

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What Makes Tattoos Permanent?

Claudia Aguirre

TED-Ed


Tattoo Age: Freddy Corbin Part 1

By Vice


Visions From Venice: Part 1

By Melissa Fusco

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For a few years now, I have had a strong desire to visit the land of my great grandparents and become immersed in my ‘genetic roots’. Italy, my much anticipated trip, has arrived…

Outside of conventions, guest spots and gatherings in the states, I crave a culture change and new scenery at least once a year.  I was meeting a friend here in Venice, unfortunately for good reason she was unable to make the first leg of the trip. So I prepared as best as I could to be in Italy for 6 days before the Rome convention, alone.

For more than half of my life, about 20 years now I have traveled alone more times than accompanied by a travel companion. No doubt I would enjoy a companion on my travels, however, there is something precious about solo travel and how it contributes to my inner self. It helps build my confidence and aids in my personal growth. For me, when I travel, I prefer to live amongst the locals, so first thing off the plane, I find my way to the small water taxi dock. I purchased a water taxi pass on-line that would take me from the airport to the nearest taxi stop from my hotel destination. After the taxi makes a few stops along the way, I finally arrive at my exit and play the alley way game to find my hotel. Hotel Tiepolo, is settled down the alley that runs directly along side the Piazza San Marco. One of the most visited tourist landmarks on the S. Marco Island in Venice. I thought I was a little further away from this touristy area and at first was a little let down by the busyness of the surrounding areas.  However, I feel I couldn’t have picked a greater location.

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When I depart from the front door of the hotel, which is located at the end of an alley, I weave my way through narrow alley ways that ended at the water front Palazzo. I quickly find myself amongst the crowd. The sounds of sea gulls, water taxi’s, sales men, and tourist chatter fill the breezy ocean air. Kiosks filled the waterfront walkway selling duplicate Venezia souvenirs, scarf’s, hats and Italian leather handbags. Landscape artists work amongst rip off Coach bag sellers, and not to forget the slightly annoying single rose auctioneers.  The phrase “ no thank you” leaves my lips more times then I could count throughout the day. I quickly head to the water taxi stop titled S. Marco  Zaccaria.

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10 Life Lessons People with Tattoos Can Teach You

By Kayla Matthews

www.lifehack.org

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1.  Your standards are the only ones that matter

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Of course not everyone will think that your new chest piece is as gorgeous as you do, but why should that matter?

As long as you love the way it looks and feel great about yourself because of it, those stares on the street are laughable.

2. First impressions aren’t always right

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Anyone with tattoos or a heavily tattooed friend can tell you this life lesson is true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched perfectly nice, loving, and intelligent people get judged because of their ink.

Having tattoos and knowing people with tattoos teaches you to not place value on appearances and, instead, spend more time getting to know new people.

3. Pain is temporary

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This, for sure, is something every tattoo-ee can attest to. Regardless of your pain tolerance, you’re bound to encounter one tattoo that hurts like a B. But making it through a painful tattooing experience just makes you more proud of the end result.

Sometimes we forget that painful things can lead to great things, but I think tattoos are a fabulous reminder of that.

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*NEW* Photos Added To The Gallery

Tattoos by Chris Stuart

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Ace Custom Tattoo, Charlotte, NC

www.chrisstuarttattooing.com

www.facebook/chrisstuarttattooing.com