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Introduction

.............................................................................................................................................................. 1

Chapter 1

Origins ......................................................................................................................................... 4

Chapter 2

Body Ar t of the Orient ........................................................................................... 12

Chapter 3

Illustrated Women...................................................................................................22

Chapter 4

In Time of War ............................................................................................................32

Chapter 5

Per manent Por traiture .......................................................................................... 40

Chapter 6

Primitive Tribal ...............................................................................................................48

Chapter 7

Gangland JailHouse ............................................................................................... 58

Chapter 8

Romancing the Macabre ..................................................................................68

Chapter 9

BioMechanical ...............................................................................................................78

Chapter 10

Trendy Hipster .................................................................................................................86

Chapter 11

Car nival FreakShow ...............................................................................................96

About the Author ....................................................................................................................................................... 104


Introduction

Human fascination with tattoos can be traced back to the ear liest fossil evidence of the existence of the species; more than 5,200 years. Throughout the ages, tattoos range from simple mar kings to breathtakingly elaborate and intricate designs.

Originally used as

protection against evil spirits or to ward off demons, tattoos have since become status symbols.

Tattoos declare our love, pronounce our rites

of passage, symbolize our religious beliefs, ador n us and even punish us. Each society weaves its own culture, a complex fabric of many elements, each element giving special meaning to the others. It is often difficult for someone from outside a par ticular culture to understand the fabric as an entity. As with any ar t for m, tattoo can be more fully appreciated when presented in the light of the culture that produced it. 1


The paradigm shift of recent years has moved tattoos from a seedy subculture, mostly limited to convicts, gang members, and car nies, to a wider acceptance of the ar t as a for m of personal expression. In today’s society, tattoos are no longer looked down upon with disdain and disregard. In recent years, a tattoo phenomenon has swept the United States.

Moder n American culture places a high value on individuality.

We take special pride in those aspects of ourselves that set us apar t from the pack. As population expands exponentially, each generation strives to find increasingly creative methods of proclaiming their uniqueness and individuality.

Our “freedom of spirit” may be proclaimed in our choice of

clothing, music, vehicles, and hobbies, but nothing speaks as loudly and boldly as per manently altering our own bodies. The origins of my own interest in the ar t of tattoo can be pinpointed to a specific place and time: my pre-teen per usal of Ray Bradbur y’s series of shor t wor ks of fiction entitled “The Illustrated Man”. Both my interest and imagination were ignited by tales of the man covered in body ar t from head to toe, whose tattoos came to life and played out star tling and profoundly personal dramas of the destiny of humankind.

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Origins

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Ötzi the Iceman Ötzi is a mummified human discovered in 1991 in the Schnalstal glacier in the Alps, on the border between Austria and Italy. He died around 3300 BC. Ötzi’s body is covered with over 50 tattoos in the for m of groups of lines and crosses. Unlike moder n tattooing methods, the tattoos were not produced with needles but by means of fine incisions into which charcoal was r ubbed. Astonishingly, the tattooed areas correspond to skin acupuncture lines. The tattoos were therefore probably intended as therapeutic measures rather than as symbols. 5


Pre-Incan Ink Most examples on mummies are largely dotted patter ns of lines and patter ns. The tattoos occasionally found in tomb scenes also reflect images of ancient deities. Usually a dar k or black pigment such as soot was introduced into the pricked skin.

Brighter colors were

largely used in some ancient cultures, such as the Inuit who are believed to have used a yellow color along with the more usual dar ker pigments. The tattooed right hand of a Chiribaya mummy is displayed at El Algarrobal Museum, near the por t of Ilo in souther n Per u. 6


Headhunters In 1900, just before American authorities outlawed headhunting, tattoo was to be seen ever ywhere, especially among the Bontoc Igorot, Kalinga, and Ifugao peoples. Ver y often the amount of designs wor n by a headhunter was directly related to the propor tion of human heads he had taken. The chaklag, usually r unning upward from each nipple, curving out on the shoulders and ending on the upper ar ms, indicated that the man had taken a head or, as one writer put it in 1905, “The indelible 7


tattoo emblem proclaims them takers of human heads, nine-tenths of the men in the pueblos of Bontoc and Samoki wear them.” Among the neighboring Kalinga to the nor th, successful warriors had tattoos on the back of their hands and wrists after their first kill. These striped designs were called gulot, meaning “cutter of the head.” Kalinga men who killed two or more men had elaborate patter ns applied to their ar ms and chests called biking, comprised of head-axes, centipede scales and bodies of the centipede, which were 8


protective and spiritually charged symbols. The khaman design also covered por tions of the torso, back, and thighs. Centipede scales crossed the cheeks of the most successful warriors. Sometimes, a human anthropomor ph was tattooed just above the navel and striking tribal lines and swir ls ador ned the face, indicating a warrior of the highest rank. Other, simpler mar kings were believed to have therapeutic value. Among the Kalinga headhunters par ticular arrangements of centipede scales were believed to ward off cholera and other disease. 9


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Orient

Body Art of the

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The place of tattoos in the culture of the Orient today parallels their standing in society in the west in many ways; associations with gangs, outlaws and degenerate subcultures are commonly held perceptions. It is, however, the differences which fascinate and illuminate. Traditional motifs include dragons, chr ysanthemum flowers, koi, and dramatic landscapes. Over time these influences have developed into a fascinating moder n discipline. The aesthetic is often copied in the west, but seldom with the depth of tradition found in authentic Oriental tattoo. 13


Japanese Irezumi Until the Edo period in Japan, tattoos around the wor ld featured mar ks and symbolism rather than imager y. It was Japan in the Edo period, however, that “decorative” tattoo began to develop into the advanced ar t for m it is known as today. The traditional Japanese “Irezumi” is the decoration of the body with mythical beasts, flowers, leafs, oni, namakubi and other images from stor y, myth and tale.

It is painful,

expensive, and can take one to five years of weekly visits to complete. Wearing Irezumi is an “aspiration” to life goals. 14


Chinese Ci Shen The ar t of tattooing has been known in China for thousands of years. Tattooing in China is called Ci Shen, a ter m that means literally “puncture the body.” A raging phenomenon among tattoo enthusiasts of the wester n wor ld, Chinese tattoos offer beautiful characters with a sense of the exotic and often much deeper meaning than that which lies on the surface. The west’s fascination is not rooted in Chinese tradition but is rather a testament to how perfectly Chinese characters mesh with the ar t of tattoo. 15


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Women

Illustrated

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The first heavily tattooed women in America were employed and displayed as circus freaks and sideshow tattooed ladies. Sideshow ladies were allowed to show more skin than other women of the period. But thanks to Victorian fashion, when they weren’t perfor ming, their tattoos were usually covered. They also had significantly more financial and geographic independence than the vast majority of Victorian women. Stories of “tattoo rape” by abusive males sometimes accompanied these women. But the majority of ear ly tattooed women, as the ear ly forer unners of women’s liberation, 23


chose the life consciously and willingly as a means of suppor ting themselves. Though tattoos are an increasingly common, and visible, element of personal style these days, some of the more hidden and historic examples from Victorian women to circus attractions are the most sur prising. Here we examine this trend, which, as it tur ns out, has been sur prisingly long in the making. Photographs of tattooed women through the ages, beginning with Victorian era “tattooed ladies� of circus and sideshow fame, offer a revelation of how tattoo culture for women has evolved over the years. 24


Anyone riding the Brooklyn L train these days can see that tattoo culture is thriving, especially among women. In fact, 2012 was the first year in which more women than men were tattooed in the U.S. (23% of women, compared with 19% of men). Tattoos appeal to moder n women both as emblems of empower ment in an era of feminist gains and as badges of selfdeter mination at a time when controversies about abor tion rights, date rape, and sexual harassment have made them think hard about who controls their bodies - and why. As we approach the for tieth anniversar y of Roe v. Wade, this observation is especially resonant. 25


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War

In Time of

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Tattoos and the militar y have a long and colorful histor y. Moder n pop culture credits the Navy with introducing the ar t of tattooing to the United States in the ear ly 1900s, when Sailors retur ning from distant lands displayed their skin-ar t souvenirs. Although the times have changed, the militar y’s love affair with tattoos has not. Today, it seems, you couldn’t throw a rock into an Ar my for mation without hitting a Soldier with tattoos. “I would say, across combat ar ms especially, probably a good 90% of soldiers have tattoos,” said Staff Sergeant James Campbell, a tattooed platoon sergeant. 33


While styles and themes var y greatly depending on the tastes of each individual, there are definite trends among Ar my tattoo enthusiasts, with a large number of tattooed Soldiers spor ting Americana and militar y themed ink. That might not seem sur prising until you consider that ver y few civilians walk around with their company’s cor porate logo per manently etched on their skin. First Sergeant Aki Paylor believes that for many Soldiers, tattoos are a way to express themselves as individuals - especially when their day-to-day lives revolve around confor ming to Ar my standards. 34


“Ever y tattoo I have on my body says something about who I am, where I’m from, or the things I’ve been through,” explained Paylor, who has the Warrior Ethos tattooed on his left forear m. “I’ve got 16 years in the service. The Ar my is not just a job; it’s a way of life. For me, the Warrior Ethos - that’s who I am.” Paylor’s tattoo could be classified as “pride in service,” one of four themes commonly spotted among tattooed troops. In addition to the eagle and U.S. flag tattoos falling under the “patriotic” categor y, many Soldiers use per manent ink to showcase their pride in a specific unit or occupational specialty. 35


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Portraiture

Permanent

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Por trait tattoos are deeply personal and have a long histor y in tattoo ar t. Images of our children, loved ones, celebrities, pets, and historical figures are among the most popular. Many people choose to honor a deceased loved one in a tattoo design. There are those who believe that wearing an image calls up the spirit of that image. Some choose to take it a step fur ther,

having the

ashes of a deceased’s remains poured into tattoo ink. This ink is then used to tattoo the por trait image, mimicking ancient cultures that have long carried the remains of their loved ones through body ink. 41


The ter m por trait wor k does not only indicate tattoos of people’s faces, but of highly detailed realism. Any tattoo that is photo realistic is considered as being por trait wor k. Photo realism is different than just high detailed tattooing. Realism is based on what is real, not ar tist inter pretation. This suggests the exact image of people and animals. In it there are subtle touches, shadows, the end result a meticulous por trayal of the smallest detail. Por trait realism is a highly sought after style, and can be masterfully executed by only the most gifted and highly skilled tattoo ar tists. 42


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Tribal

Bohemian

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Tribal tattoos consist of bold strokes of solid color, with designs made of swir ls, shar p points, and fractal-like patter ns. Ancient tribal tattoos were meant as an attractive or nament on the face or other par ts of the body, or as par t of a ceremony or rite of passage. Moder n tribal tattoos are rich with deep, personal meaning, and incor porate original designs which are heavily influenced

by

Maori patter ns, Celtic Runes, and Pagan Symbols. One simple r une is the Alquiz, in the shape of a Y with an extra line between the two branching top lines, which 49


symbolizes protection. The Ber kana, which looks like an uppercase B with triangular hoops, symbolizes new growth. Tribal tattoos often incor porate abstract motifs from animals and nature. Mythological creatures are also frequently represented in the complex, intersecting shapes of tribal tattoo designs. Some tribal tattoo designs also use par ts of animals, such as dragon claws, bear paws or bat and bird wings. According to Tribal Celtic Tattoo.com, “We all have a undeniable need to belong, this is the most basic Tribal need, and the reason for the Tribal Tattoos renewed power.� 50


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JailHouse

Gangland

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Tattoos are a means of pledging one’s allegiance and affiliation among gang members and prisoners. These tattoos also represent a for m of defiance; a way of broadcasting to prison guards, “hey, you might be able to control where you house my body, but you can’t control what the hell I put on it”. Another more honorable reason is a prisoner’s passion for ar t. Having quality tattoo skills in prison is a way of ear ning funds behind bars. Although slinging ink is against prison policy, seasoned tattoo ar tists ear n more money than a common penitentiar y clown selling dr ugs. 59


In fact, incarcerated tattoo ar tists ear n the respect of guards who often view these ar tistic felons as enter prising and talented. Unlike jailhouse predators that enter tain their tiny brains with reckless gossip, habitual lies and gang related drama, a tr ue tattoo ar tist occupies his or her mind with skin and ar t. Tattooing in prison can be a deadly ar t. HIV and other diseases are a major factor when handling the blood of an incarcerated stranger. Just as technology advances on the outside, convicts have done the same when it comes to manufacturing ink and building their tattoo guns. That’s one reason prison tattoos these days look so damn shar p. 60


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Macabre

Romancing the

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Ever wonder why people get tattoos of evil skulls, faces of death and tor ture, sewn up mouths, and elaborate demons and devils? What is this over whelmingly popular obsession with death and suffering? Human preoccupation with death and the macabre seems to be intrinsic to the species, from ancient Othello to moder n day Death Metal. Many macabre tattoo designs are inked in styles that belong to an older time. Hundreds of years of ar t and imager y of demons, devils, imps, ogres, goblins and ghouls are put to employment 69

for this style.


Pop culture, Medieval, and Renaissance ar t styles all collide neatly to contribute to this par ticular ly popular genre of tattoo ar t. These tattoos are undeniably badass, but what par t of our psyche deems demons and miser y cool? Per haps outward expression of the inner dar k side helps us to face it. When this dar kness is manifested in nothing more than skin pigment, then it becomes more manageable. These tattoos may also express a deep passion for the dar ker side of life, or a simple curiosity of the more sinister aspect of things surrounding us.

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The best of tattoos of this genre create excr uciatingly minute gradations of shade, tone and hue that perfectly mimic three dimensionality, shadow and light; wor k that takes hours upon hours to complete, the finished effect so accurate that the characters almost spring off their owner’s skin. For instance, some consist of a menacing creature interacting with the wearer in some way, or lur king just beneath the surface of the skin. Others carr y a theme of the duality of good and evil, offering ar tistic insight into the ongoing inter nal str uggle that has defined us since the dawn of 71

humanity.


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Mechanical

Bio

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A biomechanical tattoo is elaborate and draws upon the link between humankind and machine. Each tattoo is an intricate, illusor y wor k of ar t displayed on a person’s body. They are generally characterized by a detailed rendering of the human for m combined with machines. The idea for the biomechanical tattoo first blossomed in the ear ly 1980s. Many attribute the concept to H. R. Geiger, the ar tistic master mind behind the movie Alien. As the ar t for m and concepts for the biomechanical tattoo evolved, it became more detailed and elaborate. Most tattoos of this nature demonstrate a star tling, 79


three-dimensional effect that simulates an optical illusion. The intent of a biomechanical tattoo is to give the impression that the person wearing the tattoo has an under lying mechanical core. Many of these tattoos depict the person’s skin splitting to reveal robotic par ts beneath. For example, the skin of a person’s side might appear to be pulled back, but instead of bone and muscle, mechanical components are visible. Similar ly, the skin on a person’s shoulder might appear to be split and tor n only to reveal the wor kings of a computer mother board beneath. 80


These images, when done by a specialized tattoo ar tist, can be ver y realistic and graphic. Biomechanical tattoos can transfor m the wearer into an alien or a cyborg. New designs are also being created in which the tattoo displays animals and/or humans with mechanical and biological par ts.

No

matter what the design, biomechanical tattoos usually require a few tattoo sessions to complete, due to the high amount of detail and, sometimes, color used in the design. These tattoos create a futuristic vibe, and though the trend is fair ly new, biomechanical tattooing looks like it’s here to stay. 81


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Hipster

Trendy

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The thing about hipsters is that though nobody really seems to know what they are and what they stand for, yet ever ybody knows at least one hipster. With their unconventional clothes, their obscure references to barely known books and movies, and their general air of myster y, hipsters fascinate us all. Hipster tattoos cer tainly warrant a closer look, even if you are the most mainstream, un-hipster y person alive, The Hipster Aesthetic is a myster y and an enigma. Hipsters seem to be engaged in a continual effor t to out-cool each other, but being thought of as ‘cool’ is looked down 87


upon in their community. Hipsters love bright, tight clothing, and the tattoos that ador n them are as original and avant-garde as the lifestyle they exemplify. Hipsters pride themselves on having unique tattoos that they thought up on their own, often choosing ironic imager y in order to make a point. In today’s Hipster scene tattoos are prerequisite. But with their whimsical nature and desire to stay ahead of the populist curve, they face the ever present danger that their unique and ironic tattoo might well become incredibly mainstream in a matter of weeks. 88


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Sugar Skull Sugar skull ar t originated in Mexico with the ver y festive Dias de Muer tos celebration. On this day, families celebrate and honor their deceased. Sugar skull tattoos represent a sad time in life but in a ver y positive way. The tattoo is in celebration of a loved one who has passed on. These tattoos are colorful, cheerful and sometimes even a little comical. Sugar skull tattoos have no set of defined r ules in their design, except their use of multiple bright colors, and that each must be completely unique - an original wor k of ar t. 91


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FreakShow

Carnival

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Some, however, choose to take a different approach. The individuals in our sideshow pages have taken “creative self-expression” to a whole new level. Their extreme tattoos, elaborate piercings, and bizarre surgical modifications ear n them the right to bear the title of “Freak”. Erik Sprague, well known by the name of ‘The Lizardman’ was bor n on June 12, 1972, in Kentucky. He is a freak show and sideshow perfor mer and is best known for his body modification including his shar pened teeth, fullbody tattoo of green scales, bifurcated tongue, subder mal implants and green-inked lips. 97


Dennis Avner bor n on August 27, 1958 widely known as Cat Man tests the limits of extreme body modification. He has spent considerable resources to surgically modify his body to resemble that of a tiger. He prefers to be called by his Native American nameStalking Cat. He holds the wor ld record for the most body modifications. Etienne Dumont is tattooed from head to toe with silicone implants on his head that give that extra special touch. He has plexiglas piercings on the nose and under the lower lip; rings of 70-mm (2.7 inches) diameter on the ear lobes. Also, he has two hor ns on his head. 98


Paul Lawrence known as ‘The Enigma’ is a sideshow perfor mer, actor and musician who has undergone extensive body modification including hor n implants, ear reshaping, multiple body piercings and a full-body jigsaw puzzle tattoo. Julia Gnuse is commonly known as ‘The Illustrated Lady’. She has 95% of her body covered in tattoos and holds the Guinness Record for being the most tattooed woman in the wor ld. Rick Genest, a.k.a. Zombie Boy, is a successful model bor n in Montreal, Canada. Rick has his entire head, face, and body tattooed to depict a zombie. 99


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Meet Lucky Diamond Rich, the most tattooed person in the wor ld. Lucky Rich has tattoos all over his body including the inside of his foreskin, mouth and ears. Lucky proudly holds the official Guinness wor ld record since 2006 for being 100 percent tattooed. Tom Leppard, more widely known as the Leopard Man, fled society years ago to the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

His tattoo covers

entire body, except areas between his fingers and toes, and inside ears.

He

also has leopard eyes tattooed over his eyelids and cat-like teeth implants. He has spent ÂŁ5,500 to have his body covered in leopard-like spots. 101


Horace Ridler was a professional freak and sideshow perfor mer who exhibited himself as The Great Omi or The Zebra Man. Tattooed from head to foot in black and white stripes, he became Omnithe Zebra Man. Katzen, well known as the Tiger Lady, is a perfor mance and tattoo ar tist. She has extensive tattooing on all par ts of her body and wears tiger whiskers attached via piercings on her face. She is the ex-wife of Paul Lawrence, “The Enigma�, who has blue puzzle pieces tattooed all over his body and perfor ms as a sword swallower. 102


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teenage daughter, Elyssa. She is currently involved in the development of interactive curriculum for a networ k of private schools. Janet is also an ar t major at Golden West College. To see more of her wor k on the web, please visit www.slinkydesign.weebly.com or janetslinkard.wordpress.com 104

Author

living in Huntington Beach, Califor nia with her

About the

Janet Slinkard is a graphic, por trait and tattoo ar tist



Ink: a visual tattoo anthology