By Indigo del Castillo
Sculptor Jessica Harrison has forever changed how we see Victorian-era ceramic figures with her works involving ladies in fancy dresses sporting badass tattoos or their own blood and guts. In this exclusive interview, she talks more about her roots as an artist and her unique take on ceramics. [read our original posts about her sculptures here and here]
How did you discover your passion for sculpture?
When I was little I wanted to work in animation – there were quite a few great children’s tv programs on in the 80’s that were made with 3D models and I decided quite early on it looked like the best job in the world to mess around with clay all day.
Let’s talk about your grotesque ceramic ladies with severed heads and misplaced body parts. Where did you get the inspiration for this collection? What was the message you were trying to convey here?
That series is called ‘Broken’ as the pieces are made using found ceramics that I have quite literally taken a hammer and chisel to.They present an impossibly fair-skinned ‘perfect’ woman and my attraction to these works was precisely because of this image they portray of the female body – my aim was to counter it and present its opposite within itself.
This was simple to do, by breaking apart the hollow cast pieces and ‘revealing’ the interior, a standard formula in Western knowledge for making discoveries about the body. The female interior is a space still laced with taboo in a way that the male interior is not, and for me this gender bias of what is most often an invisible space in our everyday lives was a fascinating and important one to address. This series, like my other works in stone, ceramics, silicone and ink comes from exploring shared ideas about the body, unraveling shared experiences of different spaces, textures and shapes.
Do you have any memorable reactions and responses regarding the macabre ceramics?
Not really, the pieces from the ‘Broken’ series are very bland to me before I break them. I think they make more sense in their altered form.
Seeing as you’ve been into sculpture all your artistic life, how difficult was it to move into tattoo art in your series about the Victorian-era ladies with tattoos?
It wasn’t difficult as it is not something different. I’m using the tattoo in this series to explore the skin space rather than creating any tattoo art itself, which is a completely different thing. Tattooing is not a painting or a drawing onto a static plane, it is incredibly sculptural, literally threading ink into a moving surface, one that has no flat surfaces.
So although the pieces are called ‘Painted Ladies’ in reference to the old term for a tattooed woman, they in fact draw from something incredibly sculptural and active in space, the skin.
The tattoo imagery I have used is all from war-time source imagery, to recall a time before the popularity boom of the tattoo when it may be pointed more towards a particular kind of harsher life. The idea was to present opposing outer layers, contrasting skins, where masculine illustrations are intertwined with overtly over-idealized feminine costume. The viewer is presented with the question of what we are supposed to consider beautiful, which costume to believe.
How long did it take you to finish a piece?
A long time, that’s why there are only a few, and why there are unlikely to be any more!
Do you have anything you’re currently working on that we should look out for?
I have an exhibition opening at Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh this July. It’s going to be very pink…
Donate to Rick Lee Peters and his family as he continues his fight against Cancer. Please help provide him peace of mind in his final days.
Rick Lee Peters received his Masters of Fine Arts with Honors from The University of Kansas. But who needs a fancy piece of paper to notice the true talents of this man. One peek at his repertoire is a clear display of a truly wonderful, creative and talented man who our Universe is preparing to take away due to Cancer.
He began his battle about a year ago and we all had hopes that he would pull thru this routine procedure. The other side of the curtain must need some funny, bright new personalities and probably some new artwork!
As Rick prepares for a battle that his body no longer has control over, his family – his beautiful wife Jill, his son Tim and daughter Aimee, his grandchildren and a long list of loved ones and friends take comfort in being able to see and speak with Rick, and share encouraging hugs during these final days. His good humor helps everyone ease thru an extremely heartbreaking and difficult process.
Of course – with any medical battle there are costs involved. Not only the hospital and treatment bills, but cost of living expenses, final resting costs, and the stress of being able to provide for loved ones once that fateful day has come. One of Rick’s requests is to have a simple heart shaped headstone -even the most modest design is worth a mint.
Rick has provided this World with laughs, smiles, love and brightness – not only thru his amazing being but thru the beauty of his artwork. Whether you knew him in person or not – his paintings and sketches will spread a smile across your face and in your heart.
Skip the line at Starbucks and donate that $5 to someone who really matters. No amount is too small or too big. Every little bit helps. Please donate and share this fundraiser with others.
Thank you and much peace.
For donations, please visit: http://gfwd.at/1oQHJQO
By Dan Henk
I want to address two things in this blog. They might seem unrelated at first, but I’ll try my best to tie them together.
The first is that people love to complain, and they have a ton of excuses on why it is someone else’s fault. You know what I’ve learned in my 41 years on this planet?
Shut the fuck up, put your nose down, and try doing some ground work for a change.
I hear all the time “I’m a good artist, but no one would give me a chance, so I bought this kit of eBay and starting tattooing out of my house.”
Unless you happen to be one of the very few who just stumble into opportunity, like Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton, you have to go above and beyond, spending countless hours trying to realize your dreams.
I spent years doing menial jobs until, at age 28, I finally started tattooing for a living. Even then it was a touch and go at first. But after striving for so long, I was not about to give in. The guy who taught me was in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I lived in Brooklyn, New York. Working at his shop was not an option. The first shop I worked at was way out in the ghetto in Queens. I would barely even call it a shop. The second shop I worked at was Underground Tattoos on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn. That is where Mike Tyson is from. We closed at dark so we didn’t get robbed, I got called “white devil”, and we had to call the cops more than once when we were being scoped out by some guy who wanted to rob us. People tried to pay with food stamps. My third shop was also a nightmare, one of slowest shops of an infamous chain in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I wasn’t until my fourth shop, on St. Mark’s Place in NYC that I could finally pay rent and afford 3 square meals a day.
Tattoo Culture Magazine #5 featuring Gunnar, Eric Inksmith, Shawn Barber and more is now available on the App Store at:
Digital edition for all other devices/computer go to:
By Nick Baxter
Here’s a process sequence for a tiny diptych painting I did a few months ago related to the recurring theme in my work of healing wounds.
This tiny little pair will be included in the forthcoming art catalogue Pint Size Paintings Volume 2, which compiles these small paintings completed by members of the worldwide tattoo community, and features them in a traveling art show.
I wrote about the Tibetan Buddhist symbolism surrounding my use of the hook symbol last year, after completing Shenpa I (which now resides in the collection of the amazing and prolific figurative painter Shawn Barber!).
By Adam Guy Hays
A few months ago I took part in the “Fuck Art, Let’s Kill” exhibition put on at Nick Caruso’s Bound For Glory shop in Staten Island. It was a death and reaper themed art show. I’ve always been a big fan of drawing skulls and reapers and as excited as I was to be a part of the show the idea of trying to come up with something nice and original that would stand out was daunting. I decided to try to paint something a bit out of my comfort zone. I stuck to my preferred mix of watercolors, inks, and liquid acrylics, but I tried to give the piece a renaissance feel using those media.
Before I’d started this project I’d downloaded a bunch of books from IllustratedMonthly.com to my iPad. I thought I’d just grab a variety and see what there was in them. They were cheap enough that I ended up getting a heap of really good stuff for a fraction of what physical books would cost. There was a lot of visual information there in a variety of styles. I found it handy when I was struggling for ideas in coming up with the composition for this piece. I flipped through the books on my iPad until I saw something that caught my eye. I saved the first two images (Ref. 1) because I was drawn to the composition. I started formulating the idea of doing a reclined death. It just seemed different. Like he was just kicking back like a dude on a lazy Sunday. There were some good examples of drapery in there as well. In the third image (Ref. 2), I really liked the candle’s being snuffed out and the light effects. The last image (Ref. 2) is the skull from the cover of the Illustrated Monthly book of skulls. I thought it’d be fun to paint an ancient looking skull with missing teeth.
I’ve always done my brainstorming sketches very small. I like to do two or three tiny versions so I can work out the composition before dedicating time to the details in a full size sketch. I meant to take a photo before trashing the other tiny sketches but I just kinda forgot. I chose the sketch whose composition I liked best (Fig. 1) and enlarged it on the copy machine to the size I wanted the final painting to be. I then laid tracing paper over the quick version and did some fine tuning to flesh it out (Fig. 2).
This piece is 12″ x 16″ and is on a piece of Windsor & Newton Aquarelle paper. This is my favorite paper to use for most every project. It’s similar to Arches cold press in terms of durability, but the tooth of the paper is much finer and allows for much finer line work when you’re using ink. I usually cut my piece of paper larger than I want the final image to be and mask it off with orange artist tape. It helps me keep my compositional constraints in mind by giving me a border where a frame would be. I also like to have an edge to test paint on that’s from the same ream of paper. Paper always ages differently and I think you have better results if you can test your colors on a piece of scrap paper that’s identical to the piece you’re painting on. You can see what my primary paints for this piece were in Fig. B. I used the FW Liquid Acrylic colors Flesh Tint, Crimson, Antelope Brown, and Purple Lake; the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus watercolor series Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna; and the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Slate Blue and Van Dyke Brown in the concentrated and transparent watercolors. The black i’m using is Speed Ball black.
By Nicki Kasper
“In that moment, I realized that instead of trying to be inspired, I was going to try to inspire people.”
I recently ordered two copies of Jeff Gogue’s DVD, “tattoo as I see it”… Jeff is one of my closest and most genuine friends and I wanted to support his project, something I know he and put a lot of work, time, money, energy and heart into. I bought a copy for myself, and one for a close friend of mine – an artist I thought could use some inspiration. I didn’t know exactly what the DVD would be like, but I know Jeff, and I knew it would be inspiring, as well as very giving with valuable information and advice to tattooers… I just now was able to find the time to sit down and watch it, and it doesn’t disappoint.
I know Jeff in a couple different ways… We’re friends; I know him on a personal level, and he’s fun, open, genuine, kind, generous, and hilarious. I’m also one of his clients, so I know him on that level. I know how much he cares about his clients, about the pieces he puts on our bodies, about the pain we’re feeling, etc. I know how much heart he puts into every single piece, and I’m grateful and fortunate to be covered in them. But in addition to being a friend, and a client, I’ve also had the pleasure of working with him on side projects.
I know from experience that nothing Jeff Gogue does professionally or otherwise is half-assed. He cares about the details. If he decides he’s going to do something, he wants to give all of himself to it. If it has his name on it, he wants it to be the absolute best he has to offer at that time and place. He never thinks he’s reached his full potential, which is why we see his work changing and evolving over and over. I can relate to him in many ways, which I think is part of the reason we became instant friends so many years ago.
“You’re either a taker, or you’re a giver.”
He wants to inspire others, and that is the point of this movie. It will inspire everyone who watches, artist or not. He’s honest and open about his process, what he wants, his strengths and weaknesses. It’s real, and humble and people can always relate to that.
If you’re an artist, you will be blown away at how generous Jeff is with information that will help you from laying out a piece to tips on using contrast in your work to mixing colors. It’s invaluable information that he’s learned by trial and error over the years and he’s sharing it all with you. But if you’re not an artist, and you just want to be inspired about believing in yourself and making shit happen for yourself… About not accepting failure, and instead being driven by it, you need to watch this film.
To Jeff and Ryan Moon – You guys did an incredible job on this, and now I wish I hadn’t been such a chicken about being interviewed for it! I’m proud of you both!
By Jon Osiris
Read Part 1 here: http://wp.me/p14cQJ-59Q
It so happens that after becoming a bit more familiar with this place, I have been privy to further tales and experiences with The Natha and his strange and magical ways…
After morning exercises some weeks back, I was invited to take tea with the Natha somewhat privately, along with a couple of other students. While we were ushered past a stone statue in the courtyard of the elephant headed god Ganesh, whom was bedecked with garlands of marigolds and offering bowls full of sweets, we entered into a small antechamber where the Natha’s consort was serving tea. I exchanged formalities and a few pleasantries with her and the other three while everyone was served. Two of them were male senior students at the temple and neither were likely yet twenty years of age. The third, a friend and guest of the Natha, a pleasant woman tattooist and artisan in her early thirties.
While sipping the aromatic brew we listened as the Natha told us why we were assembled. It had to do with a messenger who had arrived a few days back… a weary looking fellow that had appeared one evening and begged to see the Natha straight away, even before accepting food or water. I had not heard anything more about him until now. The man had traveled for several days without stopping, only taking sustenance when it was dire, exhausting his provisions quickly nonetheless. The news that the messenger carried came from his village in the hill country north of the temple. Several animals from the village had gone missing and most recently a small mute child was also gone from her play area near her families’ hut. The local hunters had seen the sign and tracks of a large snake near the livestock pens, though absolutely no sign was detected near where the child was playing. If that wasn’t enough, the headman’s daughter was coming into her own as a shaman and had sent word also to request a special tattoo ceremony to mark the transition fully into this capacity as a helper and healer of her people. The Natha had lived with the people of this village for several years before he had the vision to build the temple. He related that the headman and the old shaman were close friends of his and it was apparent that the he held them in high esteem. We were asked to accompany the him if we desired, on his journey into the hills to assist his friends in whatever capacity he could. Of course, all of us were keen on going and made immediate preparations to leave the following morning. The messenger would stay on to rest and receive needed care from the Natha’s consort.
By Andrew Fingerhut
A – It was more difficult to wrap my mind around the process then physically make the art. I still find it hard to believe anyone figured out this process for print making . I loved working on Stone . It was incredible. The texture is like no other . I was destroying the tips of the grease pens ! Your basically using the softest of tools on the absolute hardest of surfaces.
What elements of the print were created in the studio with the printer and which were able to be created at your studio?
How much of the piece was planned out before starting and how much was improvised?
Was the lithograph process of working layer by layer to craft a single final print image difficult or easy to adapt to?
Did your tattoo background help or influence your work with the lithograph medium? If so, can you give an example or two?
When can we expect to see the next lithograph print from you?
The untitled piece is a single edition of 30 and was recently published by Raking Light Projects. It is available for purchase on the RakingLightProjects.com website.
By Adam Guy Hays
A while back I decided I needed a new banner, as I’ve been using a shitty Kinko’s copy of one of my old ones for while now. I thought it’d be a good excuse to do another step-by-step of my painting process. I’ve included the photos of the references I used. I’m a big believer in having true life references for all projects.
I started with an image that my business partner Mike Bellamy drew and that has been our shop’s longtime logo. I wanted to keep the overall composition more or less the same but make my own version. I changed up the proportions, added a tiny RR logo , and gave the girl more Alphonse Mucha styled hair. I love that art nouveau stuff.
Typically when I’m sketching I like to use Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils on heavy vellum, which can stand a fair bit of abuse from erasing and sketching. The Col-Erase pencils are pretty good at staying where they’re put and not smudging too much. Some details in here are just plain pencil too.
Tattoos and Painting by Jeff Johnson
By Nick Baxter
Here’s a recent piece I completed for submission to an upcoming charity art exhibit at The Egan Gallery in Fullerton, California, curated by friend and fellow artist Cody Raiza who is a passionate animal welfare activist.
Tattoos and Painting by Joe Larralde