11 Hours of Hand-Poked Scalp

Ferank Manseed, who has now been doing hand-poked tattoos for a decade (“I don’t play with that modern machine nonsense!”) just finished the second session on this amazing swastika/asanoha scalp piece, which now has eleven hours of hand poking in it. I like the 3D effect that makes it look like the design is cut right into the head, kind of a dotwork trompe l’oeil. As you may have guessed Ferank is pure hand-poked all the way, only having used a machine a few times (and that was a long time ago). He says, “the freedom of working by hand has allowed me to tattoo and travel and connect with other handwork tattooists, who are still rare — I like this…”

Like most hand tattooists, Ferank is largely self-taught, doing much of his learning by tattooing his own skin. I asked him what he uses for tools and while he points out that he “can make a tattoo with anything sharp” he usually uses pre-made needles (the same sort that would be put in a machine) strapped to a chopstick. When the tattoo is completed, he removes the needles from the bamboo chopstick, marks the date on it, blesses it with a swastika and an aum and gives it to the client as a souvenir of the experience.

Ferank is based at Northside Private Rooms (one of the rare studios that contains a dedicated hand area) in Newcastle Upone Tyne in England, and you can email him at mudraink@hotmail.com or visit him on Facebook.

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Sacred Undulations

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.

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Geometric Couples Tattoo

I love this double design running across a couple, done by Montreal’s Maika Houde (maikatattooart.com, also on Facebook and Instagram). You may be reminded, as I was when I saw this, of some of the pieces done by Little Swastika, and Maika told me that she’s always found inspiration in his art, so when this couple came to her looking for a shared tattoo she jumped at the opportunity to adapt the style to her own portfolio. It’s still in progress in these pictures, but already stands on its own. I really like that each tattoo is great on its own, but when you bring them together they become so much more… this of course works as a great metaphor for love.

Zoom in for a closer look.

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Maika is actually in Toronto right now, doing a guest spot at Exotix, although her week is already full. I actually had a chance — by complete surprise — to see some of her fresh work in person because we hosted Russ Foxx‘s suspension event at our studio yesterday. Here are two pieces she’s done in Toronto, the one on the left being the one I got to see. Hmmm… I think she likes hexagons?

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Suspension Scar + Tattoo Job Offer

I got a message from Mike Hill at Broad Street Studio (broadstreetstudio.co.uk) in Bath, Somerset, UK telling me that they’re looking for a new tattoo artist at their studio and asking me whether I’d be willing to post a job ad for him… I told him I couldn’t really do that, but if he could find something interesting for me to post, well, as they say, “one hand washes the other”… So he got me some pictures of a recent scar he did on Tam Smith. Unlike most skin removal scars over tattoos, this is over a Japanese sleeve, rather than over blackwork, and the negative-space it creates interacts with the tattoo rather than standing solo. At first I’d assumed this was a tattoo on a fishing enthusiast, but it’s actually a flesh hook as Tam is part of the suspension community.

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If you’re a tattoo artist looking for work (or perhaps even a long-term working vacation in beautiful Bath), get in touch with Mike on Faceobook, or via their shop website. To give you an idea of the sort of shop you’d be stepping into, here’s some work done by Fil, another one of the tattooists that call Broad Street Studio home — that’s Mike’s head top-right (you may recognize it, because Rob featured it back in 2010). Click for a giant look.

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BME Pubic Piece Update

I’ve posted on Mateo’s BME logo pubic scar previously, which has been getting augmented with a growing and glowing aura of dotwork ink geometry by Jodi Lyford of Chimera (chimeratattoo.com) in Santa Cruz. She’s recently done more work on it, and it’s absolutely stunning. And the best thing about it is that it has an extremely realistic beard! But seriously, along with Keff’s dotwork BME logo sleeve and Joeltron’s BME logo backpiece, Matteo’s easily earns a place in my shortlist of best BME-themed body art.

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On a barely related note, speaking of Mateo, that reminds me I’ve been meaning to post a picture of the great nostril jewelry that Pauly Unstoppable was wearing in his latest pictures (the connection is that Mateo has done many of Pauly’s piercings). It almost looks like the coils that the Kayan people wear around their necks, and to my surprise is a look that I rarely see even though it’s quite beautiful.

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Cammy Stewart Interview

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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 cammytattoo@hotmail.co.uk.

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Fabric-design-esque Backpiece

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.

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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.

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Geometric Butterfly Backpiece

I was looking at this backpiece — still in progress I should mention — by Cameron Sterwart (facebook.com/cammystewart) and the way that a lot of artists adept in geometric work are starting to explore mixing different fields of geometry, often but not always in identifiable shapes like these butterflies and got to thinking that there’s a lot of kinship between the art of tattooing and the art of quiltmaking. Not just on a surface level either — you can also see it even more profoundly when you look at the history of quiltmaking and the way that artform evolved and changed over time. Although perhaps that is true for all artforms — it’s just more obvious in these cases because some of the technical restrictions make it more visually obvious. In anycase, more amazing work by Cammy.

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Marc’s Third Double-Canvas

I have mentioned Marc (Little Swastika) and his multi-person tattoos before — you can click here to see the first two (four?) that he did. Over four presumably epic sessions he’s completed his third double-canvas tattoo, which you can see below. It’s not uncommon for someone to get a tattoo of their partner’s name, or to get little matching tattoos with their best friend, but this takes it to a whole new level… It resculpts the body into something that doesn’t make sense on its own any more… It creates a world in which you are forever — like it or not — unified with another person. The bond is so extreme it’s almost mindboggling to think about… And heartbreaking to imagine what it would be like if the two were separated, be it by death or be it by the foibles of love. If things don’t work out, one is forever broken in half. And while you’re thinking about this, look carefully at the tattoo — it’s not just a tattoo that runs across the beast with two backs. The tattoo is designed to look it’s best only when the one is holding the other.

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King of All Black

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).