Before Howie (lunacobra.net) finished my eye tattoos back in October 2012, a bit over five years after doing the first set of eye tattoos on July 1, 2007 of which mine was one of them along with Pauly Unstoppable and the late Josh Rahn, we did a quick off-the-cuff interview that I think is actually very much worth watching. That first procedure (inspired in part by Rachel’s “jeweleye” corneal implant procedure [video]) was of course the genesis of the eyeball tattoo movement — without that first step, the entire eyeball tattoo concept likely would not exist. I think this video turned out extremely well, probably because we’d just finished writing the first version of the eyeball tattoo FAQ the day before and it was fresh on our mind. Follow the links in this post for lots more information by the way.
Facial modifications are probably my favorite kind of body mod — and facial tattoos my favorite kind of tattoo — because they are by far the most aggressive way of pushing the an individual’s personal sense of who they want to be into the social reality. And inside facial tattoos, there are a million different ways of a person expressing themselves, but what I find especially interesting is when the individual does it in a way that breaks the normal rules of tattooing, drawing from outside it’s normal lexicon, or making decisions that are not the most obviously aesthetically acceptable. In this entry I wanted to show a few people who I think have done fascinating things with the way they’ve chosen to recreate themselves.
First is the amazing Rene van Assema (here with Debbie von B), who’s psychedelic facial work has been featured before:
Next another old BME friend, Jason Sand (who’s currently exploring the world on foot — contact him to get involved in a great project).
Another interesting facial tattoo is on Las Vegas’s Kirtus Blue:
Speaking of Blue, there’s Australia’s Paul Bluey:
I could go on forever, and I think I shall in a future post, but I’ll finish for now with Anthony Green of Cholet, France:
Leaving aside for a moment the safety debate about red tattoo ink, especially in the eyes, reddish eyeball tattoos perhaps push social boundaries even farther than fully black eyes. I’ve noticed that when people see my eyeball tattoos, they almost never recognize them as tattoos, usually assuming it’s some sort of birth defect. As such, I’ve noticed a certain awkwardness in people’s comments, because we’re socially programmed not to look at people’s “deformities”, and even complimenting someone on them is generally frowned upon. I have to admit that it’s sort of funny thinking about what must be going through people’s heads when they see red, orange, or pink eyeball tattoos — it has to be some variant on “oh my god, what horrible injury or infection is this poor bastard suffering from!?!”
Here’s the latest example thereof, Chris’s orange eyeball tattoo done by Pinhead Mark out of Fat Mermaid Tattoo Company in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Of course when it comes to this theme, the definitive example is Mary Jo’s red eye tattoo, shown here with her partner Jefferson Saint, who has black eye tattoos — I’d wager that black eyes register as special effects scleral contact lenses in most people’s minds. Until eyeball tattoos have a higher public profile, I think people won’t accurately recognize what they’re seeing… which really makes these much more fun!
I’ve posted creative work before by Courtney Jane Maxwell of Saint Sabrina’s in Minneapolis (saintsabrinas.com) — a creative lobe placement and an unusual helix piercing — and here again she takes advantage of a customer that came in with slightly unusual ear anatomy. Most people would have a fold in their ear where a snug piercing could be placed, but this person presented an entirely flat surface, with the inner conch running out to the edge of the ear. The customer had actually come in wanting a triple forward helix, but Courtney offered her something much more unique.
One of the problems with scars is the way they change over age. Scars in general begin as red or pink wounds, staying quite dark for the first period of their existence, sometimes raising up as well (often unevenly) depending on the part of the body and the individual’s genetic. Over time, the scars lighten and fade, sometimes back to a natural color, or sometimes to a very pale color. This can happen inconsistently across the design, the result being that viewers who once saw the scar as beautiful and impressive are no longer so admiring, to put it gently.
I’d suggest that in general there are three ways to deal with this reality — first of all, to ignore it. After all, body art, especially scars, is most of an individualistic experience and what matters most is how the individual feels about the scar and that doesn’t have to change as the piece ages any more than people have to fall out of love as their spouse ages. The second way to deal with it is to use tattooing to scaffold the piece, to give it new definition as the original linework and design loses its power. I’ve posted scar/tattoo combos many times, but here’s one that was just done, the tattoo addition by Maartje Verstegen at Turnhout, Belgium’s Pirate Piercing (piratepiercing.be).
The third way approach is to design a piece that looks good at all stages. You could argue that this imposes significant limitations on the artform, but on the other hand, you could say that to ignore those limitations and to treat scarification as something it isn’t (ie. scars aren’t tattoos) is the real problem. In general, this means simple geometric or repeating designs that are highly resilient to changes in the scar. A good example of this is the work of Iestyn Flye (search for him on ModBlog), normally based out of London’s Divine Canvas (divine-canvas.com) although this piece I believe was done while touring. You can also find Iestyn at the 2013 London ScarCon in May (fresh back from Kathmandu, the Nepal Tattoo Convention, right after his London scarification seminar with Ron Garza).
It’s pretty rare for people to reverse meatotomies and subincisions — if anything, they tend to grow longer rather than shorter — but it does happen. Sometimes it’s just because people enjoy modifying their bits in may different ways (this is covered in detail in the Meet Tommy book), and at other times it has to do with regrets, either of the individual themselves (sometimes people cut themselves in a sort of “sexual frenzy” and get carried away, pushing their mods farther than they are ready for) or their worries about how others will respond.
Patrick Kielty (of Body Alter in Worksop, England who you may remember from this recent achilles piercing post) was recently called in to repair a self-done subincision. The wearer seemed unsure from the start about what they had done, and for the first week kept it hidden away and wrapped up in tissue paper. Realizing the problem wasn’t going to solve itself, he went to Patrick for the reconstruction because his subincision “made him feel weird” and “it just needed fixing”. The procedure itself was as you’d expect — cut open the inside edges and stitch it back together. While doing the closure, Patrick also used a small urethral sound to ensure that the urethra was kept at an appropriate size. In addition, because the wearer had originally worn a 15mm PA prior to the splitting, when Patrick closed it up, he left a PA hole, which now holds a captive bead ring.
The pictures continue after the break — they are of course NSFW and “adults only”.
At the other end of the spectrum of heavily modified people, you’ve got people like Roland Zwicknapp of Visavajara (visavajara.com). He’s let me share this gorgeous portrait shot of him a few years ago by Ethan Oelman. Click the image below to see it uncropped, or save it from this link for a desktop wallpaper sized image.
Back in 2008, ModBlog posted pictures of an incredible nostril and septum resculpting with another entry early in the healing and one more four weeks later. I thought it was about time that an update be posted, since Bogotá, Colombia based tattoo artist, piercer, and alternative model Caim Divell (click here for his fan page) is one of the most remarkable looking people in body modification (and BME’s early entries generated one hell of a lot of debate). As you can see he has reduced the size of his horns, which were at one point the largest forehead implants ever installed, but other than that, his look has continued to evolve. There are very few people who have pushed a concept transformation to this degree, and I would argue that living as a demonic embodiment of metal is socially more challenging than being, say, the Lizardman. As I said, there’s more info on Caim’s surgical modifications in the early posts, but I should mention here that they were created by Emilio Gonzalez (mithostattoo.com).
I just got an interesting photo from Tommy in Germany, who wears a 4mm (about 6ga) glass bar, made for him by the talented folks at Gorilla Glass. The piercing started as a normal 14ga industrial, and over five years Tommy stretched it up using normal steel rings, never finding any jewelry he really liked until discovering Gorilla Glass. Much of the time he wears two separate short glass plugs, but here in the picture he’s using the 55mm (just over 2″) long glass bar with round ends, secured with O-rings. The bar is quite solid, having survived a few falls, and I suspect with that any guaranteed-concussion blow to the noggin hard enough to break the bar, the broken bar would be the least of his worries.
The Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego is the largest concrete pier on the West Coast, extending almost two thousand feet into an often epic ocean, the kind of misty scene that deserves a soundtrack fit for a moon landing. Third Eye Perception Flesh Suspension (thirdeyeperception.com; who you may remember for the baby-bouncing superman) chose this modern yet primal landscape as the site for an ideal guerrilla suspension. If you like the picture, don’t miss the video.