by Iestyn Flye, ScarCon London
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!
As always… discuss! Continue reading
Have we ever considered designating May as ‘International Scarification Month”?
Going back to 2005, May was the month that I hosted the first organized gathering of Scarification professionals in the world under the banner of ‘Scarwars‘ and eight years later my old friend Ron Garza is hosting ScarCon this weekend in London. I’m sure the two things are just a coincidence, but it’s worth looking into. I mean, right now the only thing we really have to compete with is National Masturbation Month.
One of the artists who attended all three Scarwars events was NYC’s multi-talented Brian Decker of Pure Body Arts, who did this amazing cut/cautery hybrid scarification.
Since thighs don’t typically scar that well, I made sure to keep the main parts bold, and am hoping the burning will do more damage to the tissue than superficial removal. We’ll see…..
It’s super important to go into a cutting/branding piece knowing that the results can be unpredictable, with technique, healing method, genetics and just plain luck factored in. Some folks may want the reassurance of knowing exactly how a modification will heal, but as Mr. Decker says: “We’ll see.”
The following photo was sent in by Eric who did this branding on his knee as a tribute to Shannon, taking the calm logo and incorporating Shannon’s facial tattoos onto it.
If you have a BME tattoo (or scar) or plan on getting one please submit photos, videos if you have them, a write up of your experience either through your account or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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).
Scarab Body Arts‘s John Joyce (scarabbodyarts.com) has oft been featured on ModBlog (including a long interview back in 2008), but given that I’m posting scar follow-ups today, it’s a good time to feature more of his top-of-the-line work, fresh and healed. The first piece shows the scar at four months (the wearer has been previously featured here and here), and the second at seven months.
PS. Do take the time to browse his earlier ModBlog mentions for mountains of similarly brilliant work. You won’t regret it!
I know Rob made a tradition of posting scar follow-ups on Fridays, but I’ve never been good at planning things, and better at doing things when inspiration strikes, so I’m going to post a couple more followups today instead of waiting until week’s end.
This first one is “selective ink rubbing” that Brandon Pearce of Foolish Pride Tattoo Company (foolishpridetattoo.com) in St. Petersburg, Florida did eight months ago. In these pictures you can see it fresh, then at three months, and finally as it is now, at eight months into the healing. As you can see, it’s a normal cutting, but he’s rubbed ink into parts of it (the glasses, eyelashes, and barrette/bow) to accentuate the design, a technique that he’s used in a number of scars he’s done. Click to take a closer look at any of the stages.
I also wanted to show a blackwork-vs-scar sleeve that he’s been slowly building up with linework scars of vegetation like leaves and flowers. You really can’t go wrong with scars over blackwork!
Last February Brian Decker (purebodyarts.com) cut this amazing piece of scart (hmm… that doesn’t sound appealing… I need a better term), and now a year later it’s beautifully healed. What can I say about it? It’s stunning, one of my favorite pieces in some time.
I think most people know of the Maori tradition of facial tattooing or Moko, but I suspect most people see this tradition as being about tattooing (as in using needles to poke a design using ink into the skin). At its roots though it’s more likely an extension of their tradition of wood carving — similar patterns are chiseled into their homes, furniture, and boats. Mokos appear to have began by applying this wood art to the human body, literally chiseling or carving designs into the face, using similar tools for similar results. Some time after this practice began, ink was the added to the scars, making them more visible, and in time the tradition slowly moved away from scarification-based methods to tattooing-based ones. Some early photos show the three dimensional nature of Mokos created using the ink-rubbing scarification technique, although by the time Western anthropologists began documenting the practice it was already falling out of fashion.
Anyway, I was reminded of that history when I saw this skin peel done by John Durante (of Seattle-based jewelry company Evolve), which you can see here both fresh and well into healing. I really like the way he has used a sort of “reverse negative space” by cutting out a simple shape, but leaving a circle of skin in the middle untouched. As to why these facial scars inset rather than raising (as most scars do), it’s possible that it’s some evolution that makes facial injuries less likely to disfigure, it could be due to there being less subcutaneous fat, or it could be due to the vascular nature, but I don’t really have a good explanation as to why the majority of facial scars are “innies” rather than “outies”. If there are any medically aware readers that want to save me some googling, I’m like a Ferengi… all ears.
You don’t have to move far off the face for the scarred skin to start being more likely to raise than stay inset. Here’s another good example of a scar showing fresh versus healing, a throat piece done by Brendan Russell of Tribal Urge in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. The sharp-eyed will notice that this isn’t just a skin removal scar by the way — it’s also an ink rubbing done with white ink, which has the interesting side-effect of making the age of the scar difficult to eyeball.
About two months ago Wayne Fredrickson of Zodiac Tattoo Studio in Moreno Valley, CA did this scar of an ammonite fossil. I like the way the design leaves out the edges of the shell, but instead focuses on the texture of the shell. The resultant effect reminds me of a textural rubbing of a fossil, and seems especially well suited to the scarification artform.
In terms of building up a tactile texture landscape, I’m also reminded of this scar that Iestyn of London’s Divine Canvas (divine-canvas.com). It’s about four years old in this photo.
As you know, I like seeing pieces that combine multiple body art disciplines, and I thought this was an elegant example of scarification used alongside tattooing, each artform contributing to the part of the design they’re best able to execute. Unlike many tattoo/scar combos, where the tattoos (or sometimes the scars) are added as an afterthought or “upgrade” long after the initial mod is well healed, this example was designed as such from the beginning. The scarification portion was performed by Binho Barduzzi of Familia Amorim Tattoo Shop in Lisbon, and the tattoo by was done by his friend Rafa. The piece is well healed now as it was cut back in 2009, so I wish I could show you a healed picture of it but unfortunately their client lives in Brazil, practically on the other side of the planet from them in Portugal.