Ferank Manseed, who has now been doing hand-poked tattoos for a decade (“I don’t play with that modern machine nonsense!”) just finished the second session on this amazing swastika/asanoha scalp piece, which now has eleven hours of hand poking in it. I like the 3D effect that makes it look like the design is cut right into the head, kind of a dotwork trompe l’oeil. As you may have guessed Ferank is pure hand-poked all the way, only having used a machine a few times (and that was a long time ago). He says, “the freedom of working by hand has allowed me to tattoo and travel and connect with other handwork tattooists, who are still rare — I like this…”
Like most hand tattooists, Ferank is largely self-taught, doing much of his learning by tattooing his own skin. I asked him what he uses for tools and while he points out that he “can make a tattoo with anything sharp” he usually uses pre-made needles (the same sort that would be put in a machine) strapped to a chopstick. When the tattoo is completed, he removes the needles from the bamboo chopstick, marks the date on it, blesses it with a swastika and an aum and gives it to the client as a souvenir of the experience.
Ferank is based at Northside Private Rooms (one of the rare studios that contains a dedicated hand area) in Newcastle Upone Tyne in England, and you can email him at email@example.com or visit him on Facebook.
I got a message from Mike Hill at Broad Street Studio (broadstreetstudio.co.uk) in Bath, Somerset, UK telling me that they’re looking for a new tattoo artist at their studio and asking me whether I’d be willing to post a job ad for him… I told him I couldn’t really do that, but if he could find something interesting for me to post, well, as they say, “one hand washes the other”… So he got me some pictures of a recent scar he did on Tam Smith. Unlike most skin removal scars over tattoos, this is over a Japanese sleeve, rather than over blackwork, and the negative-space it creates interacts with the tattoo rather than standing solo. At first I’d assumed this was a tattoo on a fishing enthusiast, but it’s actually a flesh hook as Tam is part of the suspension community.
If you’re a tattoo artist looking for work (or perhaps even a long-term working vacation in beautiful Bath), get in touch with Mike on Faceobook, or via their shop website. To give you an idea of the sort of shop you’d be stepping into, here’s some work done by Fil, another one of the tattooists that call Broad Street Studio home — that’s Mike’s head top-right (you may recognize it, because Rob featured it back in 2010). Click for a giant look.
I wanted to show three separate dotwork designs this afternoon, each of them showing a slightly different approach to the medium. The first piece I want to show is by Kenji Alucky (blackinkpower.com), an incredibly complex strobing pattern with the bands flashing on and off in a series of overlaid reversals, all orbiting around a central sun.
Next, a gorgeous chestpiece by Argentina’s Nazareno Tubaro (nazareno-tubaro.com), heartshaped field of dotwork stripes with a pair of mirrored Maori curls in negative space, creating a simple, powerful design. This was done while doing a guest spot at Denmark’s amazing Skin & Bone (skinandbone.dk).
This last one doesn’t have remotely the technical precision or complexity of the first two, but I still like it a lot (and you know I’ve never felt that complexity is needed for a great tattoo). This spiral was created by Wayne Fredrickson of Zodiac Tattoo Studio in Moreno Valley, CA, machine-poked on the palm of his spiral. Wayne tells me that his apprentice couldn’t stay still, with his fingers curling and his arm lifting in reflex action beyond his control — I think the exact quote was “it was like tattooing on a rollercoaster”. It’s lucky this was a dotwork design, because if it had been anything else, it would have likely been scribble city, an impersonation of a John Callahan cartoon.
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.
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.
Hand tattoos more than almost any other body part allow the artist to create a tattoo that has movement and life that a static piece could never have. For me, this means that simple yet fluid designs can easily beat out photo realistic mastery dumped flat on the back of a hand, and this tattoo of dots tracing the “mold line” of the hand by Christian Bedics (of Germany’s Time Travelling Tattoo) is a great example. Like all of his tattoos, this dotwork piece is hand poked. I should also mention that Christian is probably better for his scarification work — he’s one of the scarmasters appearing at the First International ScarCon, taking place May 4th and 5th in London.
Speaking of movement in hand tattoos, here’s another, much more whimsical tattoo also by Christian Bedics. Sure beats a finger mustache!
Cammy Stewart, whose work has been featured on ModBlog in the past, is a Dundee, Scotland based tattoo artist who started like most do — self-taught, tattooing anything they could on anyone they could find — but had an epiphany when he met neotribal, blackwork, and sacred geometry tattooing pioneer Xed LeHead at London’s Divine Canvas. He began merging this new style and philosophy of tattooing into his own, and became a part of what began with the idiosyncratic style of a small handful of outsider tattoo artists and has become a full-on art movement. Find Cammy at Metalurgey in Dundee, Scotland, online at facebook/cammystewart or instagram/cammytattoo, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former BME columnist Marisa Kakoulas at Needles and Sins just posted a fascinating article on a hand-poked cremation ashes tattoo done in a hand-poked dotwork style by Colin Dale of Skin & Bone in Copenhagen. Colin recently tattooed his friend Eric with Eric’s father’s ashes, mixed with soot to darken the ink, milled together in strong Vodka — apparently human ashes are very light and it helps to add an agent to make the tattoo more visible. Click the picture to visit Needles and Sins for the whole story.
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.
Here’s a simple and beautiful set of dotwork finger tattoos done by Kenji Alucky while guest spotting at New York Adorned. It’s hard to make ink stay on the palm-side of the fingers, but this style of dotwork gives it the best chance of success (it’s fresh in this photo).
The following photo was submitted anonymously and didn’t include any details. I thought it was an interesting dotwork design. The popularity of dotwork seems to have really grown in the last year or so (or at least that’s been my observation while moderating photos on BME). It’s definitely something that requires a skilled hand.
This piece reminds me a lot of my Spirograph that I had as a kid. I loved that thing!
In BME news, while we continue to work on improvements for the site, we have added a cool new feature. Now, you can add photos and videos to your “favorites” list. This list is private so it’s not about a popularity contest but rather a way for you to quickly and easily view photos and videos that you really like. Beside each photo and video you’ll see a red heart with “add to favorites” next to it. Just click that to add the photo or video to your list. To view your list, go to your account details and under “My Content” you’ll find the subheading “Favorite Media”. Just click on that to view your favorites! You’ll need a BME account but remember, it’s absolutely free to create an account. Read the BME FAQ if you would like more information on the site and using BME.
See more Dotwork Tattoos.