Fire’s Focus


David writes in about his tattoo:

Several months ago, my beautiful friend Aly sent me this image via E-mail and followed up with several text messages demanding I check my E-mail right away. I did and was totally blown away by the image that was there—a photograph of this woman (that several people claim to believe was involved with Tawapa) sitting in front of me. I knew seconds later that she was going to be be tattooed on me. I went back to Daniel Jones (of Asylum Studios in Salem, Virginia) who had done another beautiful color portrait of another indigenous person and asked him to do it. He studied the image for about a month and we scheduled the tattoo for opening day of the 15th annual Greensboro (Little John), North Carolina, tattoo convention. Daniel felt challenged and nervous but confident. His focus and dedication to this tattoo were unmatched by anything I’d seen him do and it ended up winning him first-place color tattoo of the day! This whole experience has been awesome fore me and Daniel alike. Thanks got out to Aly, Daniel, the photographer who took the original picture and everyone at the Little John tattoo convention.

It’s excellent work, but this is certainly reminiscent of this post—another instance where the quality of the work was widely praised, but some readers felt uncomfortable with the idea of getting tattooed with a “random face,” for lack of a better term. On the other hand, though, is this all that different from getting a tattoo of a piece of (non-face) art with which you feel a deep connection?

20 thoughts on “Fire’s Focus

  1. People who think doing portraits means just becoming a photo copier should learn from this :)

    Fantastic work, color, style is unmatchable.

  2. Love, love, love the portrait and negative space, not sure on the bueish-turquoise though and the left side ends a little harsh, but damn that skin is amazing

  3. This totally makes me want to google the word ‘hilarious comedian’ and get the FIRST image result tattooed on me.

  4. While really well done, I do find the idea of getting some person’s face tattooed on you without you knowing them, or them having any idea, or even being some sort of icon or character is kind of disturbing.

    As for the question about how’s it’s different than a work of art, while a work of art does belong to the artist, it’s not part of the artist the way your face is a part of you.

    If someone I didn’t know just went and decided to tattoo my face on themselves without my permission I would be pretty pissed off. It’s like they are stealing your face!

  5. ru + vomit: no kidding.
    i feel pretty uncomfortable with the idea of a westerner getting the face of some person tattooed on them– it’s a total loss of identity both for the individual and their culture.

  6. and here i was stupidly thinking i was honoring someone and a culture. damn yall are just a bunch of people that want to bitch and complain about everything. there is always someone that has to being a twat and try and ruin something god an wholesome just to prove your own damn OPINION

  7. And remember, kids, cameras will capture your soul, too…

    I absolutely understand why someone would chose to make this image a “permanent” part of themselves. Kudos for finding an artist who could pull it off, David.

  8. What has culture / being a westerner / being indigenous got to do with it? No-one kicks up a fuss when someone gets a portrait of a random white person tattooed on themselves.

  9. I don’t see how getting a portrait of a beautiful person of an ethnicity that the wearer does not possibly share is any different than people who get full japanese suits who are American or kanji or hanzi or native american or polysesian or Maori or anything else cultural or ethnic for that matter. I have to tattoo this stuff on people all the time and they get it because they think it’s cute or pretty. There’s nothing wrong with that but they obviously don’t have any real respect for the culture, don’t want to learn about it, and just want to look cute or tough or it’s a cool design. White people stretch their lobes too, which is not a European practice traditionally. This wearer obviously has a respect for the culture of this lady. Also, you don’t know what the ethnicity of the wearer is, I don’t look like what I am because my family is of 3 very different parts of the world. Next time you say , “why would they get a person of a different race on them?” think about how much fucking kanji you have on your hip, feet, wrist…

  10. I’ve got to say, I’ve never seen a tattoo of a “random white person.” Most portraits that are of no one in particular seem to be indigenous people tattooed on white people. It’s a matter of cultural appropriation, dude.

  11. actually, tons of zombie, or bloody, or whatever portraits are of random googled white people. or westerners at least. getting a photograph tattooed on you that you really like is the same as buying a print or getting a painting you really like tattooed on you. and also, who gives a shit? ever gotten the opinion of a native on cultural appropriation? these opinions are coming mostly or wholly from privileged white kids anyway. i’ve run into plenty of Africans just this week who had smiled and gave thumbs ups to my ears and other mods(currently traveling in Paris), which is quite nicer than some of the reactions I’ve gotten from the indigenous Europeans here. Then again, I like the idea of tattooing some random shit on people. I think when they come in requesting something it would be great to just tattoo the first image google comes up with. I’d be hella down to do that “hillarious comedian” tattoo.

  12. Here’s the thing for me. Respect and understand the tradition, and in turn place anything controversial respectfully. If David had gotten it done on his ass or gotten it done because he thought, “Gee, her ears sure do look funny,” then I’d have a problem with it. As is? Kudos, man. That’s a beautiful piece of work and such a thoughtful image. AMAZING work with the hands, too!

    But in the end, this woman had her photograph on the internet. From the pose, she was probably in a National Geographic or other such article. She gave her permission for it to be there. That kind of shit is needed and expected. So now she’s a tattoo. I’ve also seen Jack Nicholson turned into a tattoo. And John Heder. And Tim Curry. I’m sure none of these people would expect to see their faces in a tattoo, but it happens. Why is this so horrible?

    Side note: If anyone wants to put my face on their body, feel free.

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