Power Portfolio: Roy R. Fowler

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In this Modblog piece we occasionally feature select artist portfolios for those that have been really killing it lately! Our small way of giving some credit where credit is due and giving back to the industry!

This go around we’re featuring the extraordinarily talented Roy R. Fowler from Wilmington, NC. Roy works out of Cape Fear Tattoo, go say hello and get some awesome work if you live in the area!

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I may have purposely used this photo to showcase that beard action.

Lets dive right in to some rad portfolio action!

portfirstport4Click through to see the rest!
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Calmly Skewering

I’ve come across some really fantastic photographs this week and couldn’t help sharing them with all of you! Below is a photo of my buddy “J” skewering his cheek. His expression here really gets me as it really blurs the line between elation (“Yes! Its through!”) and pain (“Ahh, Its through!”). He performs with Carnivalesque in Charleston, South Carolina so if you’re in the neighborhood go check him out!

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Photo Credit-William Long

Fighting The Good Fight

You may have seen a number of articles circulating about the state of Arkansas and a movement to ban certain body modifications. The simple fact is, what went down in Arkansas was a step towards bettering the modification industry. Thankfully we have a great ambassador Misty Forsberg to thank for it.

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Thanks Misty!

Misty is a professional piercer and scarification artist at Southtown Tattoo & Body Piercing in Fort Smith, Arkansas. However her contributions to the body modification community don’t even come close to ending there. Misty has been battling hard through the proper channels for better body art industry regulation. I was able to do a brief interview with Misty and talk about her experiences.

I’d like to thank you for taking the time out to do this interview, I know you’ve been traveling quite a bit and had your hands pretty well full! I’d like to hop right in and ask you about the most recent and initially turbulent legislation push in Arkansas. Where many articles we’re quick to say the state was trying to ban procedures what we’re you really trying to achieve?

Well there were two bills introduced. It was one of the most confusing issues for most people looking at what was happening in Arkansas. SB387 and SB388 were sponsored by Senator Irvin a the same time, but were two very different items. The bill involving banning any body art practices was unrelated to the bill we were working on. Our bill was aimed at increasing the standards in our state for body art, especially in the area of body piercing, which previously had no laws governing it. The bill involving banning what the state deemed as ‘extreme’ body modification came after we had written our draft and worked to get the Senator to carry it for us.

How did you start the process of fighting for legislation changes? I might imagine that a visibly modified person may have a tough initial ice breaking period when it comes to state lawmakers.

We actually got lucky, they came to us. The Arkansas Department of Health held a private meeting with a small group of artists from around the state to ask for help with updating the legislation regarding body art. Most of that group fell away when there was work to do, and the two of us that were left moved forward. As we began to talk with Steve Joyner about how to proceed, a group led by Joe Phillips formed called the Arkansas Body Modification Association. Dustin Jackson and I joined, and worked with their group to push forward with the legislative changes we felt were necessary to keep body art safe in our state. A lot of people really underestimate what having an organized group does for you when you are working with state agencies and representatives. Having a collective voice that can represent the industry, rather than 20 voices all pulling in different directions, gets attention and gets your issues taken seriously.

When it came to working with the state representatives and how we look, we actually discussed it to make sure we were all on the same page before meetings. I feel like it is unrealistic to expect to be treated like a professional in any field if you can’t present yourself as such. Yes, I kept all of my piercings in and some of my tattoos were visible, but I also knew that as an adult it is about compromise. My orange and yellow hair was dyed brown and trimmed, I bought a few suits, slapped on my heels, and went in looking and speaking like a professional. There wasn’t a single meeting that we came in looking like we weren’t there for business.

As much as it would be nice to believe you should get treated fairly no matter what, it just isn’t the way it works. You have a matter of minutes (literally 2 minutes one of the meetings) to not only present yourself, but to convince a room full of people that you know what you are talking about and that they want to listen to you. As much as it might not be fair, how you look is a huge part of that.

By redefining “body art” in Arkansas legislation you actually we’re successful in keeping scarification work legal and regulated. Do you feel like this victory was watered down by the plethora of bad publicity?

Adding scarification to the definition of body art was a huge victory, and I don’t feel like people misreading what happened tainted that. The bill was amended last minute, and so on paper people saw that it ‘passed’, but didn’t realize that changes had been made.

It is a very scary door to open, and we are still trying to write the rules and regulations that will license and govern scarification artists in my state. It is two sided. It brings light onto scarification which can potentially make other states consider regulation (possibly in a negative way), but it could also set an example for other states to follow which keeps artists like myself safe. I can continue to openly work in a studio without fear of it becoming illegal or the studio suffering because of my work in a ‘grey area’. Our state has taken a stance and decided that scarification is a form of body art, and we have a right to do it. I am proud of that regardless of incorrect internet buzz.

The quote from Republican state senator Missy Irvin “Body artists are my people.” feels almost like a shot heard round the world to me. Do you feel that now more than ever it is important for artists to have good rapport with their state officials?

YES. I can’t say that enough. Get to know who is regulating you, keep in touch, and let them know that you want to be involved. Missy Irvin and I did not see eye to eye, we did not have anything in common, and we would probably disagree with a number of each others political standpoints. At the end of the day, we learned to work together, we found a compromise, and we shook hands like adults and walked away with a mutual respect for each other.

We have to understand that a lot of the problem is a lack of education. These representatives don’t know our industry because they are outside of it, and hating them and lashing out does nothing but reinforce the stereotype they might hold of who we are. If you don’t like their stance and you want to see a change, shake their hand, present yourself in a manner that gives them a reason to listen to what you have to say, and educate them.

You have openly shared your scarification portfolio to the state, something that a lot of folks may be pretty wary of. Were you afraid of any repercussions from being so open?

The body art industry as a whole is very small in my state. We have two representatives at the health department, and they know all of us by name if that gives you an idea of what I mean by small. When I first started doing scarification in my former studio I had two options; hide it and lose the trust of my state representatives when someone told on me or openly offer a service that was not illegal and be proactive in educating them on what I was doing. So they have known for quite a while that I offered scarification.

When the state began looking at restricting what they deemed as ‘extreme’ procedures, they asked Steve, Dustin, and I to attend a meeting to discuss a number of forms of body art including body suspension, subdermal and transdermal implants, scarification, anchors, and tongue splitting. With them already being aware that I was a scarification artist, I felt that showing clean photos where healed results could be seen and explained was a much better option than leaving it to whatever google might pull up for them. It was still intimidating though.

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With lines that clean who could be mad?

Bodmod Punky and His Magic Cheeks

Well…maybe not magical, but most certainly attention grabbing! The last time I remember seeing stretched cheeks close to this size was in the post about our old friend fishmaul back in 2008. You might remember Bodmodpunky from the previous post I did about his deep chest piercings here.

The photo below sparked a little controversy among the piercing community as there were a few viral posts claiming his cheeks were cut from nothing to this size. Honestly nobody had much background on this photo so I decided to go straight to the source!

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Bodmodpunky was willing to answer a few quick questions for ModBlog, he is not a native English speaker so a bit of translating was in order.

 Firstly was your cheek initially cut to 30mm?

My cheeks were at 1,6mm for four years before I made the initial cut to 10mm, After 3 Months they healed completely and I made the next cut to 18mm. This healed in 1 Month. I stretched then to 22mm in 1mm increments and yesterday we made the last cut to 30mm. The jewelry was PTFE with 22mm wearable after cutting and Black PMMA with 14mm wearable when completely healed. We didn’t use any stitches only the teflon jewelry.  When you make a smaller initial cut it takes a long time to heal completely. We made a big cut for lower pressure. Cheeks are always trouble when they have too much pressure on them.  The big risk is if you damage your salivary glands, the nerves are no problem.

Who performed the procedures?

Danny from Rock the Body Studio in Baden (CH)

What kind of adversity have you experienced having such an unconventional and visible modification? Are you happy with it today?

People look at me strangely when I’m walking through the city. My life will never the same as before, but i like it and would never want to go back. I’m really happy with all my mods and I’m not finished with my modification. 

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A Word On “New Trends” and Perspective

If you have been on the internet in the past three months odds are you have seen at least one story almost exactly like this photo below.

toddlerLate author edit: The link and photo above is from a satirical website. This entire post is more about news sources that will grab anything even remotely shocking and run with it. Yes this time it is satire but it doesn’t take much for something to become “Fact” on the internet these days. The following talk about perspective is about us “playing pretend” if this WAS becoming a widespread practice. 

Is this potentially shocking (fake or not)? Yes. Is this a new trend? No. One of the biggest annoyances I have about social media and this new wave of “TOP TEN MOST DISTURBING WHATEVER” lists is the fact that the “new trend” tag is used far too frequently. These are a few isolated cases of poorly made choices or completely made up stories being taken out of context for clicks to a website. This is the exact same issue we recently had with the eyelet being worn in a large labret photo. I do realize that body modification is not the only victim of these click hungry times, but it does almost feel like a blow to the gut as the internet is really starting to desensitize folks more than ever. I mean that last statement in a positive light because in my opinion when you get over the initial shock and awe of something you can begin to really understand more about what you’re viewing. ModBlog did exactly that for me a long time ago and will continue to.

Now on to what can we do about this whole thing…Satirical websites will be around forever and have their place, but the spread of bad information is an entirely different monster. We can be the messengers of good information and present ourselves and modifications in a positive light for the world to see. There will always be the hard nosed naysayers out there, but we need them too. I don’t mind if you oppose my train of thought or lifestlye but I mind if you trash it unintelligently. If you believe in this community and are absolutely sick of seeing ridiculous modification related things in your every day news feeds then spread good information. We can’t fault anyone for not being as educated as we are on a topic but we can fault ourselves for not attempting to educate.

I’d also like to throw a completely separate talk about perspective in this post. This is a thinking point that will be possibly controversial but interesting at the least. Taking the photo above for what it is worth, even if it is photoshop /satire what have you… how did it make you feel? The photo below is one of many that a fast internet search yielded. I don’t have the photographer credit but if anyone has it let me know so I can update this post immediately. My point being here that the modification of young children-young adults is deeply ingrained in many cultures. This particular photo was posted as a child of the Mursi tribe however I can’t fully verify that as truth. Either way my point should be made.

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Did you bat an eye at this? What if this photo pulled out to reveal a young African American child in an urban setting who’s parents began stretching their ears while they were an infant? Would that change your opinion on what is acceptable? A quick comparative example is that many parents are vegan, and therefore feel it is right to raise vegan children. I’m not comparing apples to apples here I know but it is just an example of parents passing down values or beliefs.  Many ModBlog followers also subscribe to the modern primitive movement, and may choose to us raise a child according to our own ideals. Would early age modification or “family rites of passage” be considered an abomination or culturally significant?

This is the matter of perspective I’m talking about, where we are very quick to slam one group of people for doing the same things we may admire another group for. Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying here, my personal opinion is that a non consenting human being should not be modified under any circumstance- cultural tradition permitting or not. All of these things go back to the roots of body modification as a whole and in my opinion a topic that needs to be discussed. Large gauge piercings especially stretched earlobe piercings are becoming more acceptable than ever. Does this fact mean that as a modern society we are starting to pass this new (old) cultural wave on to our children? I would love to hear everybody’s thoughts on this.

Achilles Piercing Revisited

When biggernostrils submitted this photo it made me realize that although ModBlog has thoroughly covered Achilles piercings in the past I very rarely see them crop up. It isn’t surprising to me as there are multitudes of potential complications including but not limited to things like healing times up to 10 years and well…shoes. All risks aside I cant say I have ever seen a double Achilles piercing.

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I would be interested in getting a follow up on this so if you’re out there biggernostrils give us a little background!

To all of us picky piercing types out there I leave you with a quote that Shannon added to one of the first posts on this subject.

“Since there are some serious comprehension issues with this entry getting people even whinier, let me be perfectly clear: I couldn’t care less if a piercer feels that they don’t want to do this, and personally I don’t think this should be offered on the walk-in public. Where I have a problem is if people say that no one should be doing or getting this modification (or other heavy mods). Body modification is where it is today because people informed themselves about the risks and tried new things, often with what seemed like serious dangers at the time and when that ends, body modification begins to die.”

-Shannon Larratt 2008