As soon as I saw this tattoo by London’s Damien Voodoo (divine-canvas.com) I could tell there was something special about it — there was a unique energy about it that one rarely sees in a tattoo, and of course it has a clean, simple, beautiful design aesthetic that stands out from other tattoos as well. I asked Damien about it and was told,
I drew the symbol on this lady because she needed strength and protection. I remembered an Ahl-i Hava [Followers of the winds] symbol from childhood which is an African Persian symbol which represents a strong tree that can stand very powerful winds at the cross road between this world and the unseen world.
Click to take a closer look.
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.
Over the past while I’ve been updating you on the latest layer of tattooing that Lucky Diamond Rich — see “Unblacking the Blackest Man” — has been adding onto his incredibly saturated inkflesh. Most recently he’s had Terry Baker from Jinxproof Tattoo in Geelong add a nice big FTW in big black Old English letters outlined in white to the mix. I wonder if there’s an upper limit to the number of times he can retattoo himself? I suspect that there’s no limit at all, and he can just keep on redefining himself until the end of his time — and I never would have suspected such a thing if it wasn’t for Rich proving it to me.
I can’t imagine there’s a single BME regular who doesn’t know Jesse Star, and many of us have known him throughout his remarkable body modification journey (which I’m sure is still ongoing). I was both amused and pleased to see the tattoo that Josh Taylor got in the middle of his back. Yes, it’s true, it’s getting covered up as he blackens himself, but still, I think Jesse can say he’s reached a certain level of bodmod success if people are tattooing his visage on themselves, even temporarily. But my favorite part of the story is that they haven’t just tattooed over him in a single step. As they’re getting close to finished, they’ve “updated” Josh’s Jesse into Juggalo mode!
Click to zoom that picture for a close-up view of the tattoos. The inset picture is how it started of course. For those that haven’t seen Jesse Star lately, I have to share a recent picture showing a small part of his wonderful collection of body modifications.
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 little-swastika.com 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.
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!).
Again, you can find Marc online at little-swastika.com, 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 facebook.com/tattoingisdeath. There are very few artists who I whole-heartedly endorse. Marc is one of them.
I have been a fan of master tattoo artist Nazareno Tubaro since long before I first met him at the Buenos Aires convention way back in 2004, but I realized today that he’s gotten very little coverage here on ModBlog, even though he hugely deserves it. He was an early innovator in the world of neotribal and modern blackwork, and hundreds if not thousands of tattoo artists around the world have drawn inspiration from (and sometimes outright copied) his style. So today I want to share with you just a couple recent pieces that struck me as particularly beautiful, but I encourage you to explore nazareno-tubaro.com — hell, I encourage you to get on an airplane, show up on his doorstep, and beg him to decorate your empty skin!
The first image can be zoomed in.
I’m tripping over this great chestpiece by Pinkie Leenders (tattoopink.be). Or at least this tattoo makes me reminisce about tripping — what a gloriously psychedelic body he’s created for Laurent. This is a wonderful example of modern body modification Shamanism.
Marc (Little Swastika, little-swastika.com) recently posted this old tattoo he did in Blackie’s Heavy Blackwork group, and emphasized that it was one of his older pieces, during a period where he used much heavier swaths of solid black than he does nowadays. Even though his style has evolved a great deal since then, I wanted to publicly acknowledge it because it’s a beautiful piece of graphic design. The interplay between the heavy “maze” on the left have versus the dance of spirals on the right with a background that’s been tattooed to mimic the splotchy image of block printing, and the two halves separated with a strong scribbled red boundary line, is incredible. For a big bold piece that it is in some ways “simple”, it’s also got some great little nuances — for example, look at the very bottom right how the fine stamp pattern goes over the heavy black bar as negative space.
And in relation to some of the volatile discussion lately about the way tattoos heal, I also love that Marc almost exclusively posts healed tattoos (not that he has much choice on account of the sheer scale). These tattoos will look good forever in my opinion, not just because Marc is technically proficient, but by the very nature of their design being resilient to the natural effects of aging.
This is going to go down as one of my top-picks I think when people ask me about my favorite scarification work of all 2012. One of the biggest signs that this really worked out right is that it looks dramatically better healed than it did fresh — although that’s not uncommon with scars over blackwork. But for example, the central logo in the fresh photo is a sort of Obama logo or something, but healed it’s obvious that it’s a beautifully executed captive bead ring (since it’s on a piercer). The small nuances in the shapes of the diamonds seem perfectly executed, and the tiny detailed horizontal linework around the ring healed without a single apparent flaw.
This superb scarification was performed by a man you know well, Brian Decker of Pure Body Arts (purebodyarts.com), and is on Jose Tallon of Adornment Piercing in Palm Springs, California, with the original blackwork tattoo being done by James Haun (of Private Tattoo, the other half of Jose’s shop). Again, great work, and thanks to Jose for putting together this set of progression photos.
Posted with apologies to Rob for not leaving this for him to post for his “Friday Followup”, but it’s so superb I couldn’t stop myself from starting the day with it.
A friend runs a “heavy blackwork” group on FB where I was introduced to the work of German tattooist Gerhard Wiesbeck (facebook.com/gerhard.wiesbeck) of Time Traveling Tattoo (timetravellingtattoo.com). Much of his ultra-dense blackwork borrows on traditional South Pacific “tribal” motifs, and I encourage you to explore his galleries to enjoy that aspect of his work, but I’m particularly taken by his blackwork that draws its inspiration by modern geometry, math, and graphic design. Unlike much of the geometric tattooing out there which is intricate and detailed, Gerhard’s work is often ultra-bold and very, very heavy in nature, giving it a unique appearance. Here are three pieces that particularly struck me.
The first one is my favorite by the way — isn’t that amazing?
Finally, I want to show a piece of his that’s in a completely different genre from most of the rest of Gerhard Wiesbeck’s pieces, and is one of those “obvious” ideas that somehow I’ve never seen before. This tattoo of little hands superimposed on the wearer’s hands is quite brilliant!