At the other end of the spectrum of heavily modified people, you’ve got people like Roland Zwicknapp of Visavajara (visavajara.com). He’s let me share this gorgeous portrait shot of him a few years ago by Ethan Oelman. Click the image below to see it uncropped, or save it from this link for a desktop wallpaper sized image.
Gerhard Wiesbeck (timetravellingtattoo.com) has really blown me away with this tattoo megaproject on Punctum Kay so epic and huge that I swear the Discovery Channel is going to do a show on its construction. You don’t get to see tattoos like this often as there aren’t many people willing to commit to something so immense yet also so simple — simple with the exception of the psychedelic geometric dotwork chest detail. Absolutely incredible. Zoom in for a better look — if you even need it, since this is the sort of tattoo that looks great from two feet or two miles away.
Edit/Update: I wanted to clarify that Kay (prozedurkultur.at) designed the main heavy blackwork (the chest portion was designed by Gerhard).
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.
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!
A beautiful portrait of Marc (Little Swastika) and his new “Life” tattoo, done in the bold and fluid slashing style of script that his studio is well known for, by his partner Freak Mike with whom he pushes their niche of the artform forward. You can also see his black eye tattoo nicely in this photo. Zoom in and take a close look and you’ll also catch hold of many scars and other signposts on the map of Marc’s life.
Here’s what I have learned from the tattoo process, so far. At least when it comes to a full suit, it isn’t important whether you have the whole tattoo project visualized in advance. With a full suit, it’s far, far, far more important to find an artist whose work you revere than it is to decide on a design or theme. I learned that, for me, finding the artist was the key to the entire project. I’m not an artist. I can barely draw a circle so I’m not the best judge of how to design a full suit. But I decided to stop waiting for a design inspiration to hit me and I started looking at artist’s portfolios.
Since I had some excellent Tahitian black work done in Hawaii which covered both of my legs from the knees, down, I thought it would be a good idea to stick with the tribal theme I started and keep that theme as the basis for the suit. I didn’t want solely a tribal suit, I wanted a dense design but one mixed with some colorful Japanese style snakes encircling each thigh with a bold dragon back piece. The sleeves and the abdomen should also have a touch of color. Mixing those two themes, tribal and Japanese, requires the skill of a talented artist. I found the right artist who also happened to be South African, so much of my tribal work has this African bushman thing going on. It combines well with the Tahitian tribal black work and both black styles complement the Japanese elements with snakes and dragon body parts all crawling in and out and over and under the tribal elements.
The artist worked with me to make sure that the designs complemented my physique by working the design to accommodate muscle and bone structures. This is why I believe it’s essential to find the right artist. Once I found him, we talked about the idea and he asked me if I had any specific designs in mind. I told him that I had no designs in mind, at all. He was to be in complete charge of the art with total freedom of design. By the way, the artist was totally cool with this! I do believe he actually looks forward to our sessions as much as I do.
So, my advice is to forget about trying to decide on a design. If you already have a design in mind, share it with the artist…then, turn him loose and give him the freedom to transform you. For me, it has been a great experience, so far, and I believe it will come to an excellent conclusion.
You don’t get to see big beautiful Celtic work much these days. As blackwork goes, it’s been almost entirely pushed out by neotribal, dotwork, and geometric tattoos. So it’s always a treat when you get to see it done right, like in this gorgeous backpiece (and then some — it’s basically a full-body tattoo) by Colin Dale. I know, maybe I’m pushing things classing it as Celtic in the traditional tattoo sense of the word, since it’s got much more of a Scandinavian or Viking sensibility about it, but it’s a beauty either way. I was even more pleased when I realized that Colin is a fellow Canadian, from Saskatoon, although now working at Skin and Bone in Copenhagen. Be sure to click and look at this stunner at full size.
I absolutely love the mix of indigenous influences in this stunning backpiece by artist Phil Cummins of The Antahkarana (website coming soon to Theantahkarana.com). Obviously the Samoan and other Polynesian motifs are the most obvious, and you can see a very large Haida-like animal totem covering the entire lower back, and that’s only scraping the surface of it. Phil’s work is some of the best neotribal out there right now, and it’s always a great pleasure to see the latest coming out of his studio. Some people might find it offensive to mix these traditional designs into something new, but I think that not just carrying forward this art and culture, but respectfully blending it into something that represents our new global culture, is a very forward thinking way of celebrating humanity’s past traditions.
IAM: Viking_boy‘s legs started off as a pair of tribal shorts by Stavros Touzos, and have now been transformed into a full pair of pants by Dan DiMattia. This is one of those times you’re going to want to go to the galleries to see the rest of the images. The front and back views are just as spectacular.
Stavros works at Liquid Sky Tattoo and Dan is from Calypso Tattoo.