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).
I know Rob made a tradition of posting scar follow-ups on Fridays, but I’ve never been good at planning things, and better at doing things when inspiration strikes, so I’m going to post a couple more followups today instead of waiting until week’s end.
This first one is “selective ink rubbing” that Brandon Pearce of Foolish Pride Tattoo Company (foolishpridetattoo.com) in St. Petersburg, Florida did eight months ago. In these pictures you can see it fresh, then at three months, and finally as it is now, at eight months into the healing. As you can see, it’s a normal cutting, but he’s rubbed ink into parts of it (the glasses, eyelashes, and barrette/bow) to accentuate the design, a technique that he’s used in a number of scars he’s done. Click to take a closer look at any of the stages.
I also wanted to show a blackwork-vs-scar sleeve that he’s been slowly building up with linework scars of vegetation like leaves and flowers. You really can’t go wrong with scars over blackwork!
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’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.
As you know, I like seeing pieces that combine multiple body art disciplines, and I thought this was an elegant example of scarification used alongside tattooing, each artform contributing to the part of the design they’re best able to execute. Unlike many tattoo/scar combos, where the tattoos (or sometimes the scars) are added as an afterthought or “upgrade” long after the initial mod is well healed, this example was designed as such from the beginning. The scarification portion was performed by Binho Barduzzi of Familia Amorim Tattoo Shop in Lisbon, and the tattoo by was done by his friend Rafa. The piece is well healed now as it was cut back in 2009, so I wish I could show you a healed picture of it but unfortunately their client lives in Brazil, practically on the other side of the planet from them in Portugal.
Gosh, I’d forgotten both how fun and how difficult posting here is for me. I’m simultaneously excited and nauseous! But before I call it a night, I wanted to share a few more pieces by Iestyn Flye that he’s posted while I’ve been largely offline. I should also mention, if you didn’t catch it earlier today, that he’s now online at the-absolute.co.uk. Anyway, I will try and post a bit more this weekend but I can’t promise a lot.
This first piece is really interesting and not something you see every day (for all of these I suggest zooming in for a closer look of course). It begins life (the left and middle image) as a skin-removal scar, which is then accentuated once it’s well healed using red dotwork tattooing.
Next, a gorgeous example of facial scarification, with an organic free-flowing piece on one side that has a sort of early Celtic/Viking feel to it, balanced and contrasted on the other side of the face with a series of geometric crosses that instead of being free-flowing, integrate tightly and precisely into the tattoo work done earlier. A stunning and world-class creation.
Finally, the some mind-blowing geometric scarification that would be impressive if done as a tattoo, and unbelievable when done as a scar.
My friend Tony Snow (of Voodoo Tattoo in Paradise, Nevada), who I first at a taco shop while passing through Nevada about a decade ago, did the scar-half of this superb tattoo/scar combo piece. A lot of the time when tattoo/scar combos are done, the scar can stand on its own, but at some later point the tattooing is added to breathe more life into it. In the case of this piece though, the two artforms dance beautifully, with each half desperately needing the other half. The scars that Tony did keloided beautifully, raising up like flames of tissue hinting at some subcutaneous inferno, hinting at the demonic skull that the tattooing then draws into focus.
My father mentioned to me that I’m putting a real posting bias on scarification photos these days — I wasn’t sure whether that was a reflection on my personal interests, or on the fact that there are so many people doing great work in the field. I want to say I’ll try and be more balanced, but I’ve never been keeping my fingers still when I see something that I want to share with the world.
In any case, Christopher Lee Shelafoe, who permanently alters folks who walk into the doors of Rendezvous Tattoo & Body Piercing (Marquette, MI), sent me an update on Wesley Larson’s big classic-punk anarchy sign chest scar. Since doing it via standard skin peel technique, a red tattooed outline was added by Ken Jago of Dragon’s Eye Tattoo (Sault Ste. Marie, MI). Because of how light scars get when they heal (and this one is still a bit pink, with a wonderful Freddy Krueger-esque texture, and will get lighter in time), tattooing is an easy way to give them extra definition — for example, while red ink alone is perfectly cromulent, I’ve always liked (and was immediately reminded of) the scarred lettering by Azl that got two-tone tattooing added to pump up not just the edges, but the three-dimensionality.
Here’s the anarchy scar both fresh and in its current state — click to embiggen.
PS. I am also reminded of the nape anarchy scar posted last year.
Two days ago I posted a neat set of star-shaped horns (placed impressively precisely underneath preexisting tattoos), but I wanted to follow up with another star implant, this one by Matias at Rata Body Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s fresh in the photo — as you already know if you noticed the incision tucked away at the hairline. As great as this looks, I don’t think I would personally want a temple implant — even lightly resting my finger on my temples makes me feel like I’ve got a killer headache coming on. I’d hate to find that I’d implanted something on top of a pressure spot that slowly drives me insane! Oh wait, I started that way. No worries then, I shall do it.
Speaking of Matias, I’ve also been meaning to show you this nice oldschool sailor-art Gypsy girl portrait that he cut over top of a black field of ink. I think it will work especially well due to the stars that sit in the negative space surrounding the canvas of the scarification.
And while I’m on the subject of scarification, I wanted to also show you this superb collar-piece “art scar” that Azl Kelly of Mtl Tattoo created as part of a “aesthetic beheading performance”. There’s a lot to be said for really pure designs. There’s a school of thought among many writers that the less words you can use to completely and effectively describe something, the better. Now, I’ve never been particularly good at that — I’m so redundantly wordy and repetitive that you could Swiss-cheese a print out of my essays with a machinegun and effectively understand what I was saying from the tatters that are left. Azl on the other hand has figured out how to speak volumes with a single incision.
And, well, since I’m doing the “this things reminds me of this thing” game with this long entry, let me add two more implants, both swastika implants under a black tattoo, which visually makes them “pop” even more because of the way the light hits it. The one on the left, in the forearm, is the work of Samppa Von Cyborg, who you know well of course. The one on the right, the implant on the top of a hand, is by an artist you may not know quite as well, Hugo Ferreira of Biotek Toulouse in France. The arm is fresh in the photo, and the hand is about a month old.
PS. I apologize for the crap image quality in this entry — I accidentally overcompressed. I’m really having “one of those days” as the old saying goes.
Been seeing some nice examples of healed scars being augmented with tattoos (like the ones Azl did). This example of little flowers and skulls by Alicia in Milan, Italy is interesting because it doesn’t so much look like a “3D mod”, but more like the tattoos are swollen in some way, like they’ve been “slapped” in place or something — it reminds me of the people whose skin swells up at the slightest touch.