I’ve always been a giant fan of all of the work of Freak Garcia / Garcia Leonam (of Ink Karma Nation, inkarma.wordpress.com or facebook.com/freakgarcia), but the stuff I especially love is his undulating “oil slick” patterns that dance across a person’s anatomy. The one he posted today really caught my eye because the design radiates out from an icosahedron — or as RPG fans like me, who grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, know it, a D20.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
A few days ago I posted about the third “double canvas tattoo” that Marc (Little Swastika) had completed. He has quite a few of these in progress — he tells me there are four on the go at present — but this one is particularly unusual because the mirroring only works in this very peculiar configuration, a sort of psychedelic bodmod yin-yang.
I have mentioned Marc (Little Swastika) and his multi-person tattoos before — you can click here to see the first two (four?) that he did. Over four presumably epic sessions he’s completed his third double-canvas tattoo, which you can see below. It’s not uncommon for someone to get a tattoo of their partner’s name, or to get little matching tattoos with their best friend, but this takes it to a whole new level… It resculpts the body into something that doesn’t make sense on its own any more… It creates a world in which you are forever — like it or not — unified with another person. The bond is so extreme it’s almost mindboggling to think about… And heartbreaking to imagine what it would be like if the two were separated, be it by death or be it by the foibles of love. If things don’t work out, one is forever broken in half. And while you’re thinking about this, look carefully at the tattoo — it’s not just a tattoo that runs across the beast with two backs. The tattoo is designed to look it’s best only when the one is holding the other.
At the start of September I shared some work by the German blackwork master Gerhard Wiesbeck of Time Travelling Tattoo (timetravellingtattoo.com) in Landshut (near Munich). Today I want to share a few more of his incredible pieces. I enjoy Gerhard’s ability to tastefully integrate dotwork with bold solid black, fields of geometry with organic flowing designs, and the sacred with the psychedelic. I’ll tell you though, the thing I often am reminded of when I see these incredible large scale pieces is the advice I always give people about their first tattoo — wait until you’re 110% sure, and then go at it full-throttle, and err on the side of “huge”. Too many people get a small tattoo — and often a very nice and meaningful one — that ends up marring future large scale creations. I know so many heavily tattooed people that I am quite certain wish that they were completely un-tattooed so that they could allow a master like Gerhard Wiesbeck to fully transform them without having to worry about the scars of previous work throwing off the aesthetic.
Before I go on with my exciting plans for the rest of the day, which as those who know me are aware, mostly involve cocaine and hookers while Caitlin is off at work, I wanted to share with you this charming trash tattoo by André Cruz (andrecruztattoo.com.br). I’ve had this piece open in a window for a week or two now, and smile every time I look at it. There’s something just really happy about it, and I think it’s the perfect picture to use as my bow before leaving the stage for now.