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).
I am in the uncomfortable position of telling you that this piercing, done by Baz Black (fb/BazBlackPiercing) in Dundalk, Ireland, has been named “The Hitler Piercing“… Yikes. Baz isn’t sure how long the lifespan will be, as it was just freehanded in place using a curved barbell, rather than using traditional surface piercing techniques or even piercing right through the lip, but the piercing went well even though that skin is quite solid, and was relatively painless.
Let me be fair though and redeem Baz’s good name by also showing you a “tiger scratch” skin peel scarification that he did. I think sometimes when people see these “faux wounds” they write them off as somewhat trite, but before you make that mistake let me share the story behind it,
I loved tigers from no age but when I was a little kid I used to draw on tiger claw scratches on myself and tell the other kids in Spain I had been attacked by a tiger. After the laughter subsided, I would head to class and just dream about how they wouldn’t laugh if it was for real.
Then my weight started to balloon. I yo-yo’d for years until finally I got to where I am now — I got it under control and I decided to have this done.
As we where leaving and walking down the street I got all kinda emotional! This is a lifelong dream to have those marks and they mean so much because I could never have them, being so overweight before, with the rolls of fat in that area. It was a case of having gotten over one hurdle with my weight, then another one of letting someone see my body, and finally the hurdle of the pain getting it done.
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.
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?
Facial modifications are probably my favorite kind of body mod — and facial tattoos my favorite kind of tattoo — because they are by far the most aggressive way of pushing the an individual’s personal sense of who they want to be into the social reality. And inside facial tattoos, there are a million different ways of a person expressing themselves, but what I find especially interesting is when the individual does it in a way that breaks the normal rules of tattooing, drawing from outside it’s normal lexicon, or making decisions that are not the most obviously aesthetically acceptable. In this entry I wanted to show a few people who I think have done fascinating things with the way they’ve chosen to recreate themselves.
First is the amazing Rene van Assema (here with Debbie von B), who’s psychedelic facial work has been featured before:
Next another old BME friend, Jason Sand (who’s currently exploring the world on foot — contact him to get involved in a great project).
Another interesting facial tattoo is on Las Vegas’s Kirtus Blue:
Leaving aside for a moment the safety debate about red tattoo ink, especially in the eyes, reddish eyeball tattoos perhaps push social boundaries even farther than fully black eyes. I’ve noticed that when people see my eyeball tattoos, they almost never recognize them as tattoos, usually assuming it’s some sort of birth defect. As such, I’ve noticed a certain awkwardness in people’s comments, because we’re socially programmed not to look at people’s “deformities”, and even complimenting someone on them is generally frowned upon. I have to admit that it’s sort of funny thinking about what must be going through people’s heads when they see red, orange, or pink eyeball tattoos — it has to be some variant on “oh my god, what horrible injury or infection is this poor bastard suffering from!?!”
Here’s the latest example thereof, Chris’s orange eyeball tattoo done by Pinhead Mark out of Fat Mermaid Tattoo Company in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Of course when it comes to this theme, the definitive example is Mary Jo’s red eye tattoo, shown here with her partner Jefferson Saint, who has black eye tattoos — I’d wager that black eyes register as special effects scleral contact lenses in most people’s minds. Until eyeball tattoos have a higher public profile, I think people won’t accurately recognize what they’re seeing… which really makes these much more fun!
I’ve posted creative work before by Courtney Jane Maxwell of Saint Sabrina’s in Minneapolis (saintsabrinas.com) — a creative lobe placement and an unusual helix piercing — and here again she takes advantage of a customer that came in with slightly unusual ear anatomy. Most people would have a fold in their ear where a snug piercing could be placed, but this person presented an entirely flat surface, with the inner conch running out to the edge of the ear. The customer had actually come in wanting a triple forward helix, but Courtney offered her something much more unique.
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).
It’s pretty rare for people to reverse meatotomies and subincisions — if anything, they tend to grow longer rather than shorter — but it does happen. Sometimes it’s just because people enjoy modifying their bits in may different ways (this is covered in detail in the Meet Tommy book), and at other times it has to do with regrets, either of the individual themselves (sometimes people cut themselves in a sort of “sexual frenzy” and get carried away, pushing their mods farther than they are ready for) or their worries about how others will respond.
Patrick Kielty (of Body Alter in Worksop, England who you may remember from this recent achilles piercing post) was recently called in to repair a self-done subincision. The wearer seemed unsure from the start about what they had done, and for the first week kept it hidden away and wrapped up in tissue paper. Realizing the problem wasn’t going to solve itself, he went to Patrick for the reconstruction because his subincision “made him feel weird” and “it just needed fixing”. The procedure itself was as you’d expect — cut open the inside edges and stitch it back together. While doing the closure, Patrick also used a small urethral sound to ensure that the urethra was kept at an appropriate size. In addition, because the wearer had originally worn a 15mm PA prior to the splitting, when Patrick closed it up, he left a PA hole, which now holds a captive bead ring.
The pictures continue after the break — they are of course NSFW and “adults only”.