I recently shared the story of how the ModCon events came to be with the promise to chronicle the other events in time. That’s still on my to-do list, but today we’re going to talk a little about the ScarWars events; how they started and their connection to ModCon.
ScarWars One happened in May of 2005 in Philadelphia, PA with seven of the world’s leading scarification artists working and attending, but it’s roots go back to 2004 at the ModCon4 event in Toronto, Ontario where a guest named Chris and his then wife Danielle asked about doing a collaborative cutting/branding piece with all of the attending artists using different techniques to make a wholly unique scar. Brands, cutting and flesh removal all on the same client. At the time it was unheard of, and as I watched Blair, Ryan, Danielle and I believe Brian work on it, I realized that we had reached uncharted territory.
A post from me that’s not about history?
I know, I know. But I’m looking at things in the long view- eventually ScarCon will join my own ScarWars event as a nodal point in the history of Scarification, so…. this post is just coming a bit early!
Ron Garza is one of my oldest friends, and along with Steve Haworth is someone I consider to be directly responsible for the way that Western scarification has evolved. He’s influenced the best in the world and in 2006 at Scarwars LA I was honored to present him with the ‘Keith Alexander Award for the Advancement of the Art and Culture of Scarification’. To date he’s the only artist who’s been given this award. He recently hosted ScarCon; an international gathering of Scarification artists hosted in London England and has graciously contributed photos exclusively to ModBlog and Scarwars (so check there for pictures not included in this update!)
The artists for the inaugural London ScarCon were: Christiane Lofblad, Ryan Ouellette, Bruno BMA, Iestyn Flye, Ron Garza and Brenno Alberti .
I’m going to be rolling more photos out soon, here and over at Scarwars, so check back!
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.
Over five years ago I posted a photo of this incredible full-back hanya mask skin removal scarification by cross-spectrum body modification master Thorsten Sekira, then at Modified World in Munich, Germany, but now at Silver Studio (silverstudio.at) in Vienna, Austria. As is not surprising, the piece has healed evenly and without complication. Given the chaotic nature of the background, it’s impressive that it stands out as well as it does — and if you compare the picture posted in 2007 with these two pictures (posted a short while apart, as you can tell because the one on the right has additional tattooing), the wearer has been slowly filling in the background with ink, keeping the hanya mask as negative space so the scar will continue to grow more prominent as their body art evolves.
I’m only giving you a tiny glimpse into his large body of work, but another related scar that Thorsten did is this Kirin (a deer-like dragon for lack of a better introduction to its rich and complex mythology which you can search out for yourself), on untattooed skin this time, and using more traditional cutting rather than heavy-lined skin removal. In these photos it is of course healed, and again, you can see that it is nice and consistent, even though it’s on skin that experiences significant movement and abuse and can be quite difficult to get ideal results on.
As I mentioned, Thorsten is one of those guys that’s capable of anything — piercings, suspension, implants, ear reconstruction, scarification, and even tattooing. I say “even” tattooing because it’s not uncommon to find piercers who are into other mods, but most of the time there’s a real line between the tattoo world and the rest of the modification world. To be honest, it’s probably one of our biggest problems as a subculture. On that note I want to finish off with a silly little tattoo he poked — I’m sure it’s obvious, but this is German for “right” and “left”. For those forgetful, always-getting-lost sorts I suppose? Unfortunately it only works in sandals with carefully chosen strap designs. Oh, and I like the subtle typographical touch of slightly deviating the baseline of the text so as to make it look like it’s been shaken (or stomped) a bit out of place.
I like this simple cutting by Alicia in Milan because it keeps things simple. No one — at least no one that can read — has to ask you the old stand-by question that we all get asked over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, “didn’t that hurt?”
Two days ago I posted a neat set of star-shaped horns (placed impressively precisely underneath preexisting tattoos), but I wanted to follow up with another star implant, this one by Matias at Rata Body Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s fresh in the photo — as you already know if you noticed the incision tucked away at the hairline. As great as this looks, I don’t think I would personally want a temple implant — even lightly resting my finger on my temples makes me feel like I’ve got a killer headache coming on. I’d hate to find that I’d implanted something on top of a pressure spot that slowly drives me insane! Oh wait, I started that way. No worries then, I shall do it.
Speaking of Matias, I’ve also been meaning to show you this nice oldschool sailor-art Gypsy girl portrait that he cut over top of a black field of ink. I think it will work especially well due to the stars that sit in the negative space surrounding the canvas of the scarification.
And while I’m on the subject of scarification, I wanted to also show you this superb collar-piece “art scar” that Azl Kelly of Mtl Tattoo created as part of a “aesthetic beheading performance”. There’s a lot to be said for really pure designs. There’s a school of thought among many writers that the less words you can use to completely and effectively describe something, the better. Now, I’ve never been particularly good at that — I’m so redundantly wordy and repetitive that you could Swiss-cheese a print out of my essays with a machinegun and effectively understand what I was saying from the tatters that are left. Azl on the other hand has figured out how to speak volumes with a single incision.
And, well, since I’m doing the “this things reminds me of this thing” game with this long entry, let me add two more implants, both swastika implants under a black tattoo, which visually makes them “pop” even more because of the way the light hits it. The one on the left, in the forearm, is the work of Samppa Von Cyborg, who you know well of course. The one on the right, the implant on the top of a hand, is by an artist you may not know quite as well, Hugo Ferreira of Biotek Toulouse in France. The arm is fresh in the photo, and the hand is about a month old.
PS. I apologize for the crap image quality in this entry — I accidentally overcompressed. I’m really having “one of those days” as the old saying goes.
My friend Baz Black sent me something I’d not have thought I’d ever see — an implant done underneath scarification, and done in the same session as well. My gut response was that this would be dangerous due to the risk of the cutting compromising the pocket that the implant is placed in, but it seems to have been quite trouble free.
Baz started by doing the scarification, making sure to keep the depth consistent (which I’m sure he’d do anyway!). Then the implant was done, taking care not to disrupt the fresh cutting. Her skin was “like butter” and the procedure went quickly. You can sort of get the idea from the side view, but the pictures don’t do it justice, with the implant rising quite prominently (it’s a 1/2″ rise), pulling the spiral contours up toward the middle like a UFO caught in a tornado. Healing to date has been trouble free and the client has asked Baz to do a second one on the other wrist.
And while I’m mentioning Baz’s work, let me quickly post two other recent scars that he’s done, one a “traditional” cutting of flowers and a butterfly using nice clean silouette outlines and subtle details, and the other a cartoon scar over blackwork. (Zoom in if you’d like a closer view).
A client of Azl Kelly’s (Mtl Tattoo in Montreal) came to him looking for help in dealing with a big blog of scar tissue that she’d been left with after a laser tattoo removal. The laser had successfully obliterated the tattoo, but it did so much damage in the process that something had to be done about it — no matter how bad the tattoo may have been, this can’t have seemed like an improvement. Since the scar was now there for good, Azl worked with it, and added some definition, converting it from a random blob into a lotus flower.
Speaking of Azl I wanted to show another piece of tattoo/scar combination work he did (you may recall when I featured some of his a while back). In this large scale piece, the outline of the tree is healed scarification by Azl, and the tattooing was done by his Mtl coworker Travis Driscoll. As I’ve said before, tattooing is a wonderful way to breathe new (and long-term) life into an aging scar that has lost it’s visual impact. It’s hard to pick a favorite from Azl’s top-notch combination pieces, but this one has to be high on the list.