SPC: Rest in Peace, Bud Larsen

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I wish that this story had a happy ending, and I apologize that the majority of my Modblog articles turn out to be memorials, but as a community archivist it’s part of the job.

I had just turned sixteen when I lied about my age and ordered every issue of PFIQ that Gauntlet had in stock. I had seen images from them in the seminal RE/Search Publication MODERN PRIMITIVES, but getting them all was a piercing nerd’s dream.

The first fourteen issues featured stunning illustrated covers by gay erotic artist BUD. They were iconic; primarily line art featuring subject matter ranging from pierced Leather Daddies (Bud also worked with DRUMMER magazine) and femme fatals, fantasy creature/human hybrids and more. Bud’s art was integral to the brand identity of those first  dozen plus issues and even after Jim switched to photo covers Bud still occasionally lent his skills to provide spot illustrations.

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Bud Viking Navarro’s backpiece by Cliff Raven, drawn by Bud Larsen

I spent years trying to track him down with no success; he had lost touch with the piercing world (his only real connection being the PFIQ covers) and was seemingly unfindable. I had stopped searching when I happened upon an envelope featuring his artwork, thumbtacked to a cork board in a cubicle in my office.

I risked writing him an introduction letter, asking if he’d be willing to talk to me about the ‘old days’. Not only did he consent, but I was shocked to find that his next door neighbor was a good friend of mine!  We corresponded back and forth for a while, discussing him doing a t-shirt design for SPCOnline and the possibility of meeting in person.

Shannon of BME noticed the story on my IAM page and asked me if I’d like to fly out to Arizona to interview Bud for BME and a few days later I was on a plane to meet him. We chatted for a little over an hour, with me recording the interview and snapping pictures of Bud and his artwork, having him sign a few PFIQs I brought with me and listening to stories about the old days; doing art for PFIQ, Drummer and other erotic magazines.

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6byd7ik5I wish I could share that with you folks, but in an epic comedy of errors my film (this was pre digital camera) was exposed and ruined by airport security and I lost the cassette with the interview somewhere in Arizona. I always planned to go back out there and re-interview him, but these things slip away and before you know it, it’s too late.

I was contacted this morning by my friend Jennifer (Bud’s neighbor) with the news that he had passed away. He leaves behind a legacy of art that captured the imaginations of the subcultures he worked in.

Rest in peace, Bud.

You can check out some of Bud’s erotic illustrations here.
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Hand-Poked Backpieces

Long ago I posted an interview with machine-free (hand-poked) tattoo artist and pioneer Boff Konkerz (read it here), but at that point he was better known for smaller pieces. Boff told me back then that he figured hand-poked tattoos took about three times as long as “normal” tattoos in general, so as you can imagine doing a full backpiece is quite a commitment. Boff is based at King of Hearts in London, but travels extensively across the UK and Europe — follow his plans or get in touch via fb/RoadmapsForTheSoul.

Upcoming tour dates include:

  • Shining Tattoo, Nenzing, Austria… March 21st-26th
  • Íslenzka Húðflúrstofan, Reykjavik, Iceland… April 18th-23rd
  • Funhouse Tattoo, Metz, France… 2nd-7th May
  • Fo Tat Fest, Torshavn, Faroe Islands… 17th-19th May
  • Lucky 7, Oslo, Norway… 27th June-2nd July

Here are a few backpieces, epics of machine-free tattooing, that Boff has done. The first one by the way you may recognize elements of — it is based on Last Embrace by Laurie Lipton (although the motif of embracing skeletons is not an unusual one).

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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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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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Strikingly Beautiful Backpiece Scar

For a wide variety of cultural reasons, even though dark skin is the ancestral home of the scarification artform, it’s rare for modern artists to have the opportunity to work on such skin. Iestyn Flye at London’s Divine Canvas (divine-canvas.com) recently had the chance to do a scarification backpiece on his friend Moniasse Sessou, and the result is incredible, easily placing it among the great masterpieces of modern scar art. Some of the design work came from friend and magician Touka Voodoo (whose work you’ve also seen here), the middle portion representing Moniasse’s spiritual path. The design was drawn on freehand, and the main part was done all at once, with the flower being done in a second session. It’s six or seven months old in these amazing photos.

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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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Three new tattoos by Lionel Fahy

I’m sorry posts are a bit light right now, I’m busy and Rob is temporarily away — we are being joined by some new writers soon that I’m greatly looking forward to. But tonight I wanted to leave you with a few tattoos from one of the very first French art tattooists I met, and still one of my favorite, the wonderful Lionel Fahy (who is also an extremely talented musician and author — his veins are just pulsing with creativity). I want to being by mentioning that you can follow his adventures and work in great detail at lioneloutofstep.blogspot.fr, and today I’m going to post just three recent pieces that caught my imagination. The first one, this charming and funny octopus, was tattooed at this year’s Nantes Tattoo Convention.

This endearing backpiece, as many of Lionels pieces, evokes memories of childhood and loves. The swing set reads “a vous tous” or “to all of you”.

Finally, I was especially struck by the strong graphic design in this wrist/palm tattoo, one hand a hanging lantern light, and the other an electricity tower, with a power line connecting the tattoo. I love the way that the lines extend onto the hands, powerfully integrating the piece into the wearer’s anatomy and also adding a sense of symmetry to two otherwise graphically unbalanced elements. Take the time to zoom this for a better look.

Little Swastika-Style Hanya Backpiece

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.

FTW Update and Nose Skin Removal

As you know, I’m a fan of body modification master Thorsten Sekira at Silver Studio (silverstudio.at) in Vienna, Austria and I recently posted a couple of his large-scale scarifications. Today I wanted to feature some of his smaller scale work that he’s done on Pauli’s face. The FTW forehead — I’m consistently surprised at how subtle forehead scarification often is — was done almost two years ago (January 2011), so it’s well healed in the pictures that show the fresh skin peeling on the nose. Given the fine structure of the nose and its zero margin for error and the fact that it’s slightly different from the normal body surface skin that artists are more familiar with, this is definitely the sort of scarification best reserved for artists with Thorsten’s level of experience.

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The first picture can be zoomed in.

As an aside I gotta say I’m really loving the “13″ eyelid tattoo! And it’s always a great pleasure not just watching scars heal, but watching body modification collections on major enthusiasts like Pauli grow. It’s a real treat. Some day I’d love to see someone put together a comprehensive book that tracks a multitude of heavily modded people over a ten-or-more-year window, perhaps with a big coffee-table page-spread dedicated to each person with photos showing how their aesthetic evolved over time. If I had more time on this planet I’d sign myself up to tackle such a project, but since I don’t, I hope someone will steal the idea (or has already had it independently).

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Hanya Skin Removal Backpiece Update

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.

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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.

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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.

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