Artist Campaign

I was asked to share the following from an artist who is running an IndieGogo campaign:

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Aloha! My name is Rose Adare, I’m an evocative artist disabled by a muni train in 2005. To get through the hard times, I began painting truly inspiring, brilliant, out of the box people, and now I have solid offers for shows guaranteed in Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, AND Brooklyn, NY! But I need your help to get there!

I’m not asking for plane tickets or hotels. I’ll sleep on couches and eat ramen. But I need help with shipping and production costs.

I’ve had three amazing shows already, at the Hawaii Museum of Contemporary Art, The J+ Gallery in Holualoa, and the prestigious Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Schaefer Portrait Gallery, but now it’s time to reach the mainland.

Hawai’i is 75 miles across and is 2,467 miles from California. That’s a long distance to move 31 paintings, 5 plexiglass shadowboxes, and 35 plexiglass descriptions—especially when some of the paintings are 10 x 7 feet! The powerful success behind Restraint & Revolution “took a village,” and now it’ll “take a continent” to move across the ocean.

More about her art and samples of her work after the break.

Amidst the marble halls of classical portraiture one rarely sees portrayals of body modification, let alone artists like Rose Adare. Sporting spikes in her ears and tattoos down her arm, Adare describes herself as an evocative realist, combining classical elements with dynamic subject matter. When a 60 ton municipal train knocked Adare into disability, she became no stranger to pain. Drawing with a pencil taped to her fingers, she explored the world of punk-therapy, playing loud music to drown out her migraine while trailing torches over her body as a fire-dancer—just to feel something more than the ache in her bones. Settling in a house of body-mod artists on the volcanic island of Hawaii, she began painting her amazing portrait series Restraint & Revolution. But now she needs your help to ship her gorgeous paintings to booked shows in Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. Check out her amazing book, which contains inspiring life stories of her truly boundary-pushing models! She’ll even sketch you, draw you, or paint you, whoever you are, however you are, in all your beautiful diversity.

Excerpts from Restraint & Revolution: The Art of Adare

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Primal Buddha
Kala Kaiwi, Oil on Belgian Linen, 24 x 48 in.

Holding the Guinness World Record (2015) for largest, non-surgically made flesh tunnels, Kala’s stretched earlobes are 4.3 inches in diameter. Instantly recognizable, his body is his art. “When I started researching about it, and finding out about the traditional aspects of the piercings, the cultural beliefs, the background behind piercings—you know, why people originally started getting piercings, were a lot of the African people started stretching their lips and beautifying themselves by stretching their ears—I started realizing—wow! This is a whole different world!”


Venus Unbound
Jesi Collins, Oil on Belgian Linen, 36 x 48 in

Born with congenital hip dysplasia in Port Angeles, WA, Jesi spent most of her childhood in body casts. When they finally cut them off, she laughed: “Look Mom! I have knees!” Growing up in a 12 volt, off grid house in Hawaii, Jesi spent a lot of time drawing, or else swimming in the old, redwood pickle barrel rain catchment tank when her parents weren’t looking. “In 4th grade, I stole a tattoo magazine out of my brother’s room, the Sept. ’94 edition of Skin & Ink.Until then, I hadn’t ever thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, but secretly I wanted to be the lady in the article…I decided then that being a tattooist would be a really cool job.”


Robert Bennett, Oil & Silver Leaf on Belgian Linen, 12 x 48 in.

“Weather change: rain, lightning, huge tree. Scared the crap out of me. The pain during the actual hooking procedure was the worst part of it, then your body kicks into high gear and you don’t really feel it anymore. But when they pulled me up into the actual tree? Rain, thunder, light show? It was one of the greatest experiences I’d ever had. I became addicted to it after a while. I’ve done a lot of suspensions, but the last one was at my friends funeral. He used to do a lot of suspensions as well, and when he died we suspended off a tree in his backyard. Ever since then I a haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I don’t think it’s dead in my life. I’d rather suspend other people and let them experience something new.”

Rose Adare: Restraint & Revolution

Recently a friend forwarded me a video of an art opening — the one I’ve included below — asking me if I recognized anyone. I watched the video with curiosity, and yes, I did recognize someone, seeing my friend Kala Kaiwi (who was just featured in part III of the “Evolution” series) and a number of other modified and atypical models immortalized in paint. The artwork turned out to be that of Hawaiian artist Rose Adare, who I tracked down and interviewed about her current Restraint & Revolution gallery show.

“I set out to paint nontraditional people in a traditional medium.”

I should also mention that you can find out more about Rose and her art at her website, where you can also get in touch with her about both originals and prints (which are very reasonably priced by the way, starting at $20). Her current show will be at Holualoa’s J+ Gallery until March 10, 2013.

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* Are you a modified person yourself, or more of a fan?

I don’t have any hardcore bodymods yet, though I do have a fiery tattoo on my lower back I drew while learning to fire spin in Ireland, and I have four spike piercings crowning the top of my ear. All of my piercings were done by Kala Kaiwi, our resident specialist on the Big Island of Hawaii — he’s also the model in Primal Buddha.

* How did you get into piercing and tattoos?

A lot of things drew me to bodymod. I was a San Francisco goth while studying at the Academy of Art University — another shadow in the Deathguild scene, dancing on coffins at Spike’s Vampire Bar at Burning Man! In 2005 I was in a collision with a municipal train and wound up in ten body braces. With the overall body-pain I had to escape the cold of San Francisco so I moved to Hawaii. I wound up living with the wonderful John Corbin — R.I.P., fondly remembered as Burning Man’s flaming bagpipes. He used to have a flamethrower which would set off a huge jet of fire when he wailed! His house was covered in surreal murals, and my room was a bright pink girly-girl room with a mural of Pudge the Fish (the sandwich eating fish from Lilo and Stitch). Here’s me, lying in black, in a bright pink room with Pudge the Fish. Aloha!

Years later my partner, Alex Stitt, the fire dancer in Pyro Paramour, moved into a new place with Robert Bennett, the model in the painting Ardens. I adore Robert. He’s family, and the one who painted all the murals in my old house. He’s one of the best tattoo artists on the Big Island, and unlike many tattoo artists he’s also a painter, which gives him an eye for detail and form, and his professionalism is next to known.

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* What were you “trying to say” with this series of paintings?

When I was dreaming of Restraint & Revolution I was imagining all the different kinds of corsetry. The painting series is about how people push social boundaries, and corsets are amazing because they have transformed from a symbol of chastity worn under the clothes, to sexy, naughty lingerie worn over top. A complete 180! Everyone in the series pushes those boundaries. Kimberly Dark (Mysterium) is one of the top six LGBT speakers in the country, Carol Queen (Queen 2B4) founded GAYouth and the Center For Sex and Culture — the woman added words to the sexual dictionary! — Jason Webley (Eleventh Hour) is an underground musical genius, Buffy Saint-Marie (Sky Dance) is a Native American musical powerhouse, Ariellah Darker Still (Bring Me My Ghosts) created Dark Fusion belly dance, and Master Obsidian and slave Namaste (Genuflect) are award-winning sex positive role models. They’re all amazing because they change the world by expressing who they are. I mean, if we’re talking about body-mods and self actualization, let’s talk about Billy Castro (Bonnie is Clyde). He’s a transgender porn star. He even spoke at Stanford at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

* But beyond corsets of the traditional body-reshaping clothing type, you’ve also painted the play piercing sort?

Naturally, I wanted to paint a corset piercing. At the time Robert was dating the fetish model Stembot (who’s in the painting Acceptance). She leapt off the couch and said “Let’s do it!” Next thing I know, we’re at Kala Kaiwi’s mod-shop lancing eighteen hoops into her back. That’s how I met Kala. His work is brilliant. Scarification, implants, subdermals — he can do it all and he has it all. Implants in his forehead, spikes drilled into the top of his head, tattooed eyes, knotwork patterns in his skin. Everything. About a year later Stembot moved back to the mainland and Robert met Jesi Collins (Venus Unbound). She’s also an amazing tattoo artist and a wonderful mom (Robert tattooed a lot of the work on her left leg). She and her daughter came to live with us. She has a starfish implant in the back of her hand (which you can’t see in the painting because of her pose), as well as a magnet embedded in her finger to perform magic tricks like picking up paper clips and making them spin on tables. She also has a puffer-fish tattooed on her right leg so when she bends her knee it puffs up! I guess we were one fantastic, freaky family after that. We used to go down to the cliffs in the jungle and Kala would pierce Jesi’s back with these huge meat hooks then Robert would suspend her from a tree and swing her out across the water.

rose - portrait of jesi collins

* How literal are you with your portraits?

I paint people as they are — though Koyote (in the painting Koyote) is wearing costume horns because he’s a fire performer, and I think they suit him. Sexy devil! However, people are motion, and paintings are still. What I mean by that is people, in life, transform from second to second. Every smile and frown and twitch creases the face, so the idea you have of them is an amalgam of these images — the serene, the troubled, the beautiful, the fear; all mashed together. A painting is like picking one character out of the play that is you. My painting of Kala, for example, is undoubtedly him, though only one or two aspects. Unlike photographs, paintings are more than a mere snapshot. They’re archetypes, like streamlined forms of self.

* What about with their body art? For example, do you try and be literal with their tattoos, or do you take liberties to make their tattoos match your artistic style or commentary?

I love painting tattoos because they are the literal meaning of organic art. When it comes to painting in general, I use sacred geometry like the vesica piscis or the nautilus spiral, blending and softening around the edges before bringing it in for detail. This means that certain tattoos come into focus, just as your eye would focus, while others phase out into basic shapes and color. People can’t see everything simultaneously, and that’s important to remember in portraiture. It’s one of the key differences between Classical Realism and Photo realism. An excellent tattoo painter is Shawn Barber. He focuses on the detail of tattoos.

rose - portrait of robert bennett

* What sort of response have you gotten to this series?

The response to my art has been nothing but excellent. Restraint & Revolution will be visiting the mainland U.S. within the next year before moving on to Europe. Yet we were careful about starting in Hawaii. Hawaii’s art is Hawaiiana. Dolphins and orchids and sunset “plein air” landscapes. Hawaii is so vibrant and colorful artists have to compete with nature herself to capture anything half as brilliant. My art, because it evolves out of Classical Realism, takes on more somber tones, and there’s nothing quite like these portraits out here. Our opening at the East Hawaii Cultural Center drew more people than they’d ever had at a single event! People came out in droves, and it was a mixed house. The classic Hawiianna art scene, the local island vibe, the hippies from the jungle, the fetishists from the off grid dungeons, the college students from UH Hilo, the vacationers fresh off the cruise ship — everyone wanted to see! And the truth is, people are often afraid to ask, especially about bodymods. They want to know “does it hurt?” or “why did you do that?’ or “how does that work?” or “is her hand really magnetic?” But at the same time that little voice says “don’t stare, don’t be rude.” At the art show we posted bios of each model so people could read all about these different intersecting, counterculture, underground, subculture lifestyles.

* Beyond capturing a sense of breaking sociopersonal boundaries, is there any other theme to your artwork?

I set out to paint nontraditional people in a traditional medium. Fine art can be so stiff and traditional. Masterfully skilled but thematic. Contemporary art, especially abstract art, can be so expressive that in the end there’s more message than talent or skill. I love the traditionalists, but we can’t all be Da Vinci. I love the innovators, but we can’t all be Duchamp. Fine art needs to evolve, in the same way that the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood broke the mold, and the Impressionists blurred the boundaries, and the Surrealists escaped reality. But there is a magic to fine art, an alchemy in oil paint, and a soul in composition that we’re losing to Photoshop and instantaneous art. Each portrait takes well over one hundred hours, and is infused with gold leaf, and santo paolo, and whiskey, and peyote — and in the portrait of Koyote even some of my own blood. Blood, sweat and tears. That’s Fine Art. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in instantaneous art, I believe in instantaneous expression, and I believe everyone is an artist, and everyone has a message, and that’s the truth. But which iconic images survive the test of time? Some changed the very way we saw the world. Look at Picasso and Georges Braque and Cubism. But others survived because they captured time and place. Toulouse-Lautrec immortalized Montmartre, as did Modigliani. I love to celebrate people. I love to celebrate our time, and the bodymod scene is a huge part of that. Blood, sweat and tears. That’s love. That’s dedication. And that’s art.

rose - portrait of stembot

Snaking Rings

Gabriele of Maxart Body Piercing in Rome, Italy (ModBlog superstar) just did this wild play piercing scene using a just massive collection of captive bead rings, which appear to form a tube through which is drawn the soul of a flower — I particularly like the touch of the threading being pulled through a cheek piercing!

There are about 120 rings in all in this scene, and they took about three hours total to do, including some short breaks. The rings were taken out immediately afterwards at Gabriele’s insistence, I assume to keep scarring to a minimum (although it would make a cool scar to let these all reject!). I suspect that Gabriele must have been practically as sore as the client, after taking all those balls on and off.



Skin Removal Scarification = Profit?

Australian Israeli-born and currently Iceland-based conceptual jeweler Sruli Recht — who tends to have a wonderful sci-fi aesthetic to his fashion and design that is less silly than much of the “far out” ideas too-often presented by his field — recently had a roughly 1/2″ by 4″ strip of skin cut off his belly which was then tanned and wrapped around a 24k gold ring, now being offered for a half million dollars. The somewhat grotesque design doesn’t just look like random leather — it’s even got wiry belly hair. He calls it the “Forget Me Knot”. Recht has lots of experience working with dubious organic materials — animal and fish remains including a stillborn lamb, hair, spider silk from a modified goat — but this is the first time he’s used human skin.


Here’s a graphic YouTube video of the procedure and some stills from it. The procedure is actually quite fascinating if you’re more used to the sort of skin removal scars done in the body modification world where the concern is the scar, rather than the excised tissue. You’ll see the doctor first spend a surprisingly long time anesthetizing the area, then cutting the outline using a scalpel, and then quickly cutting off the strip of skin using a pair of surgical scissors. Next you’ll see an interesting use of an electrocautery tool to stop small bleeders, where instead of applying the electrocautery tool to the wound itself, the vessels are pinched using tweezers, which are then electrified. Finally the wound is sutured closed.

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Recht’s work is in a way another example of the “fine art” world catching up to and borrowing from the body modification world (Recht is no outsider though, and has tattoos as well as large gauge inner conch piercings), which has been using procedure remnants in jewelry for ages. Here are a few examples formerly featured on BME — a couple examples of removed nipples encased in cast acrylic resin (this seems to be a trend!), and a heart-shaped piece of human skin and cartilage inside a set of earplugs, also cast in clear resin. Below the pictures are a list of the previous entries that cover them in more detail.

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PS. If anyone wants a strip of my belly skin — I have plenty of it, more than I need — I’ll sell it to you for a hell of a lot less than a half million dollars!

Little Swastika Book

Marc, better known as Little Swastika, is an avant garde tattoo artist that’s a leader in the new worlds of dotwork, geometry, “trash” tattooing, neotribal spiritualism and fine art tattooing. He has just released a limited edition book of paintings and sketches done between 2005 and 2009. It is 108 pages long, printed in a limited hand-numbered and signed edition of 108 copies, and costs 108 euro (about $140 USD). This is a must-have for any tattoo studio — it’s not flash, but it’s a wonderful design resource — or tattoo artist interested in this style as well as art collectors. You can click below to take a closer look, or visit to find out how to get your own copy of this incredibly special book.


Marc’s work has been featured on ModBlog ever since I first saw his work, at the time at his earlier studio Swastika Freakshop, but while I have your attention, let me show you two recent creations. On the left, and amazingly dense and manic chestpiece that somehow mix the scrawlings of a madman with ripples and spirals and sacred geometry, and on the left, an evocative backpiece in dripping in saturated full color, with multiple layers of both scribbled block printing and Marc’s highly stylized and very recognizable red script. If you enjoy art tattooing, Marc is one of the best, creative and technically gifted.

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Finally, since they have not yet been covered on ModBlog, I want to give coverage to Marc’s work with double backpieces. Marc’s art is sometimes so big and powerful that it takes more than one person to contain it, as he splashes his striking visions across friends and families. Here are three examples of multi-person tattoos that he’s performed, as well as a shot of him working on laying down a stencil on two of his latest subjects. I love all of these (even though the one in the top row does cover up a BME logo!).

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Again, you can find Marc online at, or click here to see a collection of ModBlog entries of his work. I just spent a few minutes going through it myself and found lots of wonderful pieces that had slipped my memory — his portfolio is beyond incredible. Have I mentioned what a fan I am? Finally you can also track him down on Facebook at There are very few artists who I whole-heartedly endorse. Marc is one of them.

Encircled by the Flight of a Bird

Fans of artist Joan Miro will recognize this instantly.  Jamie from Tattoo Temple in Hong Kong has reproduced Miro’s “Woman Encircled by the Flight of a Bird” on this young man’s forearm.  By taking a look at the original, it’s safe to say Jamie definitely faithfully reproduced the painting even with the change in medium.

Help out the youngest member of the BME family. Get a limited edition 2012 BME Classic Logo t-shirt. Read all the details here.

Injected with a poison

One of the galleries that doesn’t get a lot of coverage is the Art Gallery.  It’s located in the culture section of the galleries, and is a showcase of artwork from many talented artists the world over.  Paintings, sketches, sculpture, and photography are just some of the mediums you’ll find there.  This example comes from photographer Ivana O. whose work you saw earlier today with the corset photo.

Reproducing a moment

A client walked into Brandon “Fox” Layng‘s studio, Fox Tattoo Designs in Bowmanville with a photo of a painting.  The only thing he said was that it was “The exact moment everything changed”. Since doing the tattoo Brandon has looked high and low as to the origins of the original piece, so if you recognize it speak up, as he’d like to know a bit about the painting he reproduced.

Oh what a night

Vincent Van Gogh is known for a few things; his impressionist paintings, his bouts with mental illness that lead to his death, and a DIY partial earlobe removal.  As you can see by the tattoo below, his influence still carries forward to this day.  In a piece sent in by lollison to the tattoo galleries, artist Kris Miller puts together a piece heavily inspired by Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night”.

Pollock Explosion

One of the most well known abstract expressionist painters is Jackson Pollock.  If you’re not familiar with his name, you’ll probably know him as the paint splatter guy.  Reed Leslie from The Hole Look in Anchorage, AK, sent in this interpretation of Pollock’s work.  From where I’m sitting it looks like it could have been done by Pollock himself.  The level of detail and thought that went into this is staggering.

This is just one of a couple of photos Reed sent in that can be found in the miscellaneous tattoo gallery.