I’ve always been a giant fan of all of the work of Freak Garcia / Garcia Leonam (of Ink Karma Nation, inkarma.wordpress.com or facebook.com/freakgarcia), but the stuff I especially love is his undulating “oil slick” patterns that dance across a person’s anatomy. The one he posted today really caught my eye because the design radiates out from an icosahedron — or as RPG fans like me, who grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, know it, a D20.
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.
Cammy Stewart, whose work has been featured on ModBlog in the past, is a Dundee, Scotland based tattoo artist who started like most do — self-taught, tattooing anything they could on anyone they could find — but had an epiphany when he met neotribal, blackwork, and sacred geometry tattooing pioneer Xed LeHead at London’s Divine Canvas. He began merging this new style and philosophy of tattooing into his own, and became a part of what began with the idiosyncratic style of a small handful of outsider tattoo artists and has become a full-on art movement. Find Cammy at Metalurgey in Dundee, Scotland, online at facebook/cammystewart or instagram/cammytattoo, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most of the tattoo artists specializing in geometric designs seem to draw heavily from math and sacred geometry (often centered around swastika mysticism), and as much as I consistently enjoy that, I’m always very excited to see the boundaries of modern blackwork and neotribal being expanded with other influences. I don’t want to put words in his mouth — and I am planning on updating it soon, but much earlier in Vincent’s career we did an interview which you can read here — but in this gorgeous backpiece by Beautiful Freak‘s (beautifulfreaktattoo.com) Vincent Hocquet I’m seeing fabric design playing a role as well, and the textures and level work in the faces makes me think of printmaking as well. There’s more as well, maybe in the general layout, that I can’t quite put my finger on but very much sets it apart from similar “texture collage” tattoos. Great work as always. Zoom in for a closer look.
Update: Vincent just showed me some of the source artwork, a Mayan “Mask of Death and Rebirth” from Tikal, 900 AD. I love the way he’s adapted it for the tattoo.
This Maya mask shows the different stages of life as part of a never ending cicle of human evolution through life and the afterlife as it was understood by the mayas. The mask has three layered faces, each representing one particular stage of life. The inner face represents the beginning of life at birth. The middle face is the most important one since it represents the adult stage when the person comes into his full potential and most of his life experiences happened. The outer or third face represents the end of earthly life. This sacred time was viewed by the Maya as the end of one cycle and the beginning of another one. Death was followed by lavish preparations for the next life.
For me, often the simplest tattoos are the most powerful… It’s been my observation that when people imagine themselves, their internal self-image often doesn’t include complex or pictorial tattoos, but heavy, simple blackwork like this almost always integrates on a low level with how the person perceives themselves (and how others perceive them as well). This great example of a simple but unique tattoo was done by Stefan Halbwachs of Austria’s Happy Needles (happyneedles.at).
Gerhard Wiesbeck (timetravellingtattoo.com) has really blown me away with this tattoo megaproject on Punctum Kay so epic and huge that I swear the Discovery Channel is going to do a show on its construction. You don’t get to see tattoos like this often as there aren’t many people willing to commit to something so immense yet also so simple — simple with the exception of the psychedelic geometric dotwork chest detail. Absolutely incredible. Zoom in for a better look — if you even need it, since this is the sort of tattoo that looks great from two feet or two miles away.
Edit/Update: I wanted to clarify that Kay (prozedurkultur.at) designed the main heavy blackwork (the chest portion was designed by Gerhard).
I’ve featured the remarkable work coming out of Friedrichshain, Germany’s Scratcher’s Paradise Tattoo (scratchers-paradise.de) before, both with a full gallery post and a stunning half-sock tattoo. Today though I want to show a very unique forearm tattoo, a series of broad black ink brushstrokes, with fine detail scribbles mixed in. The tattoo is especially interesting conceptually when you realize that it is both effectively masking and covering up while simultaneously echoing and enhancing a series of scars on the wearer’s arm that appear to be the random slashes of self-harm.
At the start of September I shared some work by the German blackwork master Gerhard Wiesbeck of Time Travelling Tattoo (timetravellingtattoo.com) in Landshut (near Munich). Today I want to share a few more of his incredible pieces. I enjoy Gerhard’s ability to tastefully integrate dotwork with bold solid black, fields of geometry with organic flowing designs, and the sacred with the psychedelic. I’ll tell you though, the thing I often am reminded of when I see these incredible large scale pieces is the advice I always give people about their first tattoo — wait until you’re 110% sure, and then go at it full-throttle, and err on the side of “huge”. Too many people get a small tattoo — and often a very nice and meaningful one — that ends up marring future large scale creations. I know so many heavily tattooed people that I am quite certain wish that they were completely un-tattooed so that they could allow a master like Gerhard Wiesbeck to fully transform them without having to worry about the scars of previous work throwing off the aesthetic.
As soon as I saw this tattoo by London’s Damien Voodoo (divine-canvas.com) I could tell there was something special about it — there was a unique energy about it that one rarely sees in a tattoo, and of course it has a clean, simple, beautiful design aesthetic that stands out from other tattoos as well. I asked Damien about it and was told,
I drew the symbol on this lady because she needed strength and protection. I remembered an Ahl-i Hava [Followers of the winds] symbol from childhood which is an African Persian symbol which represents a strong tree that can stand very powerful winds at the cross road between this world and the unseen world.
Click to take a closer look.
I’ve said this a few times, and I hope no one takes offense, but after being constantly exposed to the current deluge of stunning — and it really is amazing work — blackwork, oft-sacred geometry, neotribal, it all starts to look the same, without any particular message or explicit unique personality. Simultaneously empty and profound — I think that’s part of the beauty of math, especially when encoded in flesh. Meditative emptiness in a tattoo. But it’s hard for me to separate myself from the ego, and I always enjoy expression that comes with an easily identified unique identity. A good example of that is this backpiece by Marc (little-swastika.com), which combines his bold art-tribal with a traditional Japanese Hanya mask, done in a sketchy trash style… A great fusion of different styles in a tattoo that is unlikely to get mixed up with anyone else’s.