ORIG SPRING 2012
Has society stripped itself of preconceived notions about tattooed women?
Ancient Art of the Japanese Tebori Tattoo Masters Ink in Harmony
Inkling of Concern Chemicals in Tattoo Inks Face Scrutiny
Controversy and the New Zealand Moko International Influences and the Appropriation of the Maori Tattoo
i n n o v at i o n a l
8 ANCIENT ART OF THE JAPANESE 40 COMING SOON TO A PHARMACY 62 LADYLIKE Has Society Stripped Itself of Preconceived TEBORI TATTOO MASTERS NEAR YOU Ink in Harmony Kazuo Oguri
14 MATT MYRDAL The Technique Heâ€™s Using to Perfect His Shading Work John Durnham
22 NKLING OF CONCERN Chemicals in Tattoo Ink faces Scrutiny Brett Israel
32 CALIFORNIA LOVE We Talk to West Coast Artists to See What All the Fuss is About David Sluss
Researchers May Have Found a Medical Use for Getting Inked Jessica Byrn
42 CONTROVERSY AND THE NEW ZEALAND MOKO International Influences and Appropria- tion of the Maori Tattoo Rachel Sawaya
48 ROSE COLORED GLASSES Female Artist Megan Massacre Believes Color Work is Better Work Duke Harten
54 BLACKLIST TO BLACKCARD Tattooing Has Made the Shift from Taboo to Couture Christine Caruso
Notions About Tattooed Women? Brian Martinez
72 FINALLY, FINE ART Amanda Wachob Proves Why Her Work is Museum Worthy Katelyn Houde
78 LARGE SCALE Creating a Cohesive Piece When Covering a Dedicating a lot of Skin Thomas McCants
82 A Different Type of Badge Danzig Baldayev Decodes the Systematic Inkings of Russian Inmates Danzig Baldayev
PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Melissa Blenkhorn/ ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER: Jan Kubasiewicz/ EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: David Sluss/ DESIGN DIRECTOR: Regan McLean/ SENIOR ART DIRECTOR: Jaime Chao/ ART DIRECTOR: Kathyrn Jones/ CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Lawrence Tierney/ CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Chris Conroy/ PRESIDENT: Patrick McCann/ VICE PRESIDENT: Jennifer MacKenzie/ LITERARY EDITOR: Duke Harten/ LEGAL AFFAIRS: Nancy Murphy
62 every issue
9 Ridiculous Tattoo Trends of the Past Five Years Greg Rowley
6 HISTORY QUICKIE
A Brief History of Tattooing Matthew Geary
86 LETTERS TO DUKE Ask him the dumb questions Duke Harten
NINE ABSURD TATTOO TRENDS
EYEBALL Forget about every weird tattoo or piercing you have ever seen, there’s a bod mod trend being used by some cell mates that’s definitely going to get your attention. 27-year-old David Boltjes was the first prisioner to be brave enough to let his prison mate stab him in the eye with an unconventional, untested, tattoo method. The tattoos change the sclera (the white part of the eye) to be blue or even red and really change the look of the eye.
of the past
FIVE YEARS Greg Rowley
TEETH A US dental technician is blazing a trail as one of the world’s first tooth tattooist. Steve Heward is also a trained tattooist and hand paints minute works of art onto crowns. His company, Heward Dental Lab, based in Utah, US, has been established for 20 years and his team of technicians are trained to be artists first, and taught to construct crowns afterwards. Prices for the permanent tiny tooth etchings range from $75.00 up to $200.00 for more complicated designs which include anything from Mickey Mouse, Elvis and Abraham Lincoln to eagles, bowling balls and spiders.
PALATE So far, this BME user is the only person with this type of sketchy star tattooed on his palate. It was done by Franca at Tattoo Way in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
INNER LIP As far as weird places for tattoos this may top them all: the inner lip. Lip tattoos are generally on the inside of the bottom lip, but occasionally on the inside upper lip. These tattoos are generally donned by people who want to have one word, a small phrase, or a few numbers tattooed in a fairly hidden area.
ON CATS A very controversial “body enhancement” was carried out on Mickey – a rare Canadian hair free breed also known as a Sphynx cat. His female owner was said to be delighted with the Tutankhamun design inked on to his chest at a tattoo parlour. She said: “I wanted something new and different for the times we live in.” Horrified animal rights campaigners slammed the sick fad in Moscow as barbaric – and fear it could catch on among wealthy pet owners in the West. The cat was dazed after being anaesthetized for three hours.
ACCESSORIES A man apparently had a pair of sunglasses tattooed to his face and posted the video on the internet. The one-and-a-half minute clip, titled “Guy Has Glasses Tattooed On His Face”, features a man reportedly named “Matthew” sitting back in the tattoo artist’s chair. Matthew already had extensive ink on his arms, hands and neck.
ON PIGS HAIR England-based HiStyl uses what it describes as “a mild form of medical tattooing” to simulate the look of closely cropped hair. The procedure, which HiStyl calls “hair follicle replication,” takes three hours to complete and requires an additional follow up session. Clients have to shave or cut their hair in order to blend the tattoos with their natural follicles.
TONGUE Practitioners admit it hurts a lot and speech is initially difficult. The new technique has the same durability as any regular tattoo, but has the added aspect of eliciting a specific taste to go with the design. “They come in chocolate, vanilla and garlic”
Wim Delvoye has been tattooing pigs since the 1990s. In the early 21st century a tattooed pigs project was set up in the Art Farm in China, where there are fewer strictures regarding animal welfare than in most parts of the Western world. In 2005 his colleague, artist Devos, spent several months at the farm, reorganizing, managing and rebuilding. He is a vegetarian. The tattoos range from traditional flags and lions kind of stuff to Louis Vitton logo patterns. The skins are not used as formal art objects until the pigs die, at which time, the skins are removed and displayed on walls in various art venues.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TATTOOING Matthew Geary
3300 BCE: Ötzi the Iceman dies in the Austrian Alps, where his frozen body is discovered by hikers in 1991 CE, making him the world’s oldest mummy. His 57 tattoos – straight lines and small crosses, mostly – are believed to be therapeutic, possibly used to treat osteoarthritis.
2800 BCE: The ancient Egyptians popularize tattooing as an art form, which spreads from Greece to China.
921 CE: Islamic scholar Ibn Fadlan meets Vikings on a journey from Baghdad to Scandinavia and describes them as covered from neck to toe with tattoos.
1600 CE: Unlawful intercourse by Indian priests is punished by tattooing genitals on their foreheads.
1700 CE: Obeying the letter of the law middle-class Japanese adorn themselves in fullbody tattoos when a law is passed that only royals can wear ornate clothing.
1790 CE: Cpt. Cook returns from the South Pacific with a tattooed Polynesian, Omai. He starts a tattooing trend among the upper-class in London. Omai introduces the word tattoo into Western lexicon, from the Tahitian tatau, “to mark.”
Iraq India Egypt
1802 CE: By now, tattooing has caught on with sailors throughout the Royal Navy, and there are tattoo artists in almost every British port. Especially popular are Crucifixion scenes, tattooed on the upper back to discourage flogging by pious superiors.
1846 CE: Martin Hildebrandt sets up New York’s first tattoo shop on Oak Street in lower Manhattan.
1891 CE: American Samuel O’Reilly “borrows” Edison’s electric pen design to patent a nearly identical machine that tattoos. Its basic design–moving coils, a tube, and a needle bar– is still used to today, so remember kids: That’s 19th century technology they’re stabbing you with.
1944 CE: In one of the first instances of legal trouble for the tattoo world, Charlie Wagner is fined by the city of New York for not sterilizing his needles
1961 CE: Hepatitis B makes the tattoo not cool again, an outbreak of which is linked to tattoo parlors in New York City. Parlors are outlawed in the Big Apple until 1997.
2005 CE: Popular culture helps tattoos become more popular in the West than at any time in recorded history, with more than 45 million North Americans having one.
ANCIENT ART OF THE JAPANESE TEBORI TATTOO MASTERS INK IN HARMONY Kazuo Oguri
This ancient art is still practived in Japan. This woman receives Tebori at a convention in Osaka.
A Japanese tattoo artist works on the shoulder of a Yakuza gang member. Photograph by Horace Bristol
There is nothing to replace human skin. you have to learn by using your own body 10
aking off from JFK today for a two week trip that will take me on a quick stop at Tokyo, then on to Korea, China, and finally Hong Kong. The zen and artistry of Japanese tattoo has long fascinated me, and with this trip, this post seemed fitting. Oguri, known in Japan as Horihide, his tattooing name, is a famous artist and highly regarded as the pioneer that brought Japanese tattooing to American tattooists, like Sailor Jerry, and subsequently Ed Hardy, after World War II. Thus setting the stage for large Asian body suit tattoo design to change the face of western tattooing in the last half of the twenty first century. Here in his own words is his story. In the old days, Japanese tattooists worked at their own houses and ran business quietly (without using the ads.). They didn’t put up a sign and list telephone numbers on the book. The practice of tattooing was forbidden in Japan (until the end of World War II). The customers used to find shops by word of mouth. When I was an apprentice, feudal customs still existed in Japan. The apprenticeship was one of the feudal customs called uchideshi in Japanese. Normally, pupils lived with their masters, and were trained for 5 years. After 5 year training, the pupils worked independently, and gave the masters money that he earned for one year. The one year service was called oreiboko in Japanese, the service to express the gratitude towards the masters. The masters usually told new pupils about the system, 5-year-training and 1-year service, when they being apprenticing. I slept at the master’s workplace when I was a pupil. I wanted to be a great tattoo artist as soon as possible. In the middle of the night, I picked up the needles from the master’s tool box, sat cross-legged and practiced tattooing on my thigh without the ink, remembering my master peforming. I continued to practice tattooing without using the ink. I used a thick
bamboo stick for sujibori (outlining), which Watching is the fastest way to learn, rather was about twenty centimeters long. The edge of than listening to the lecture, if people really the stick was sharpened, and 6-7 needles were want to learn something. Even though I was put in order and tied up by silk. The length of full of enthusiasm, my skills were not improved the tip of needles was 3-4 mm. I wanted to easily. I couldn’t see any progress. workas a tattooist soon, and practiced incising One day, the master’s wife asked me to split both my thighs with the bamboo stick every wood. (Pupils normally call the master’s wife night after work. I did not know how to use ane-san or okami-san. The master’s wife looked the tattooing tools and how to adjust the so happy when I called her ane-san. So I called angles. Sometimes I penetrated the skin very her ane-san during the apprenticeship.) One deeply with the needles, and the skin bled and day while I was splitting wood in the back yard, swelled. I couldn’t tattoo by using the bamboo I got hotter and hotter. I was in a sweat, and stick as I wanted. During the daytime I did took off my shirt and trousers. chores. If I had no work during the day, I Ane-san came and asked me to take a would sit down on the left side of my master rest. Then, Ane-san happened to see my traces and watch his work from the distance.Every of the needles on the thighs. She was surprised customer came to the master by appointment and said to me,“How did you get scars on the and got hitoppori. Hitoppori in Japanese thighs? Do you practice tattooing by yourself ?” means to get tattooed for two hours each day. “Yes,” I answered,“but I can’t tattoo well like If a big tattoo was to be done, the customer the master does.” “Have you ever seen my huscame by every third day. I used to keep sitting band’s legs and ankles?” She asked again.“No.” straight for two hours and just watch my I said. She continued, “His whole legs are master’s hands to learn his tattooing skills. The covered with tattoos. You know what I mean? master would say to me, “I’m not going to lecHe told me that he practiced tattooing on his ture you. You steal my techniques by watching legs with the ink when he was a pupil. That’s me work.” why his legs are all black. He also told me that a tattooist needs to learn by tattooing his own body to become a professional tattooist. There Watching is the fastest is nothing to replace human skin. So you have way to learn, if people to learn tattooing by using your body.”
really want to learn. Proper form for tattooing
Modern day Practice
Needles used for tebori
I will never give it up. If I give it up, I will not be a true man.
After hearing this story, I remembered the master had tattoos from his arms to his wrists but that I had never seen his bare feet. I wondered if I should practice tattooing with the ink. Otherwise I can’t get how the ink was inserted into the skin. I decided to master the techniques until my whole body was black. Since then, I practiced tattooing on any parts of legs from the thighs to the ankles almost every day. In order to keep practicing again and again, I didn’t’ use the ink when practicing tattooing. Today’s young people never understand how tough the training was. I used to wake up 5 a.m., and sweep the whole house inside and out. I also wiped the floor with a damp cloth. In winter, my hands were numb with cold water and got chilblains. My fingers were swollen. At meals, I was allowed to have only one cup of soup and one dish. A bowl of rice was also served. Even though I wanted to eat more, I could not eat enough because I was in training. It was right after World War 2. Due to insufficiency of supplies, it was so hard for us to get enough rice. We would eat a mixture of rice and barley. I was only 19 and always starving. It was tough experience. Sometimes the master yelled at me and even hit me. To endure such treatment needs patience. Because of such unreasonable treatment, most pupils gave up and ran away from the master. Of course, I often wondered why he hit us. Although I had anger towards the master, I could not talk back. All I could do in the feudal period was to obey what the master said. I was so frustrated that I cried in bed so many times. The master sometimes slapped me without any reason. However, I found the master purposely hit me and also forced me to do overwork for my mental training after I became a tattooist later on. I hated him so much during the apprenticeship. Looking back now, I am ashamed of having had such feelings towards my master. When I was an apprentice, my master taught me how to make tattooing needles. Each tattooist has his own preferred way of
making needles. I put 7 needles in order, and curve the tips of them. I put these needles into the shape of a fan. The middle of the needles is set as the top of the fan, pulling the rest of them down. The needles should be arranged like the following figure and soldered up. When incising thin lines, I use 2 or 3 of 7 needles, which are the closest to the hands, by adjusting the angle of the needles with the skin. Normally when tattooing the outline, I touch the skin with only the middle of the group of fanned needles. To tattoo details, some tattooists use a separate tool consisting of only 3 needles. But the professional tattooists can tattoo whatever they want, using only one set of needles for outlining. They don’t have to use other tattooing tools. They can tattoo any thin or thick lines, small circles and so on. The professional tattooists tattoo the designs on the skin smoothly, from up to down, down to up, right to left, left to right. When I need more ink after tattooing from left to right, for example, I do kaeshibari, flipping the needles. Kaeshibari is one of techniques, which is flipping the other side of the needles and tattooing by using the rest of the ink on that side. Horimono means “tattoo” in Japanese. Hori or horu is “to incise” or “to dig” and mono means “things.” Tattooing is similar to engraving a sculpture. A tattoo is not a picture. It is supposed to be appreciated at a distance of several years. What is expressed by a tattoo should be clearly recognized from a distance. If the tattoo is too detailed, it can hardly be seen from a distance. Like sculptures, tattoos need to be rough and drastic to some extent. Such tattoos are more attractive to people. Tattoos need to be bold after the work is finished.
Tattooing by hand, Tebori, requires many special techniques. It should be done by puncturing the skin with the needles gently, adjust the strength of hands. Human skin is very soft and elastic. As the needles leave the skin, I can hear the sound, shakki. If I tattoo smoothly, I can hear a rhythmical sound like “sha, sha, sha.” I dip the needles in the ink, and tattoo a line about one centimeter long. This same step is done continuously during sujibori (outlining). I keep the same speed (rhythm) to tattoo no matter what kind of designs or shapes, such as circles, squares and lines, are tattooed. I draw the outlines step by step on each part of the body, such as the shoulders, the arms and the back, and finally finish the art work on the body. The full body is completed. For bokashibori (shading), sets of 12 and 13 needles are prepared, and each set is made in the shape of a fan and soldered. The set of 12 needles is put under the set of 13 needles and staggered by pulling the set of 12 needles back a little bit. When I do bokashibori , I insert the ink into the skin at an angle which corresponds to the angle made by the two sets of needles. I have to adjust the strength of the stroke by using both 12-set needles and 13-set needles. If I use either one or the other, the ink cannot be inserted into the skin properly. The lower 12-set needles has to be used carefully, like touching the needles on the skin gently. It’s very difficult to master how to use those tattoo needles, especially the lower set of needles. Today, we Japanese tattooists order tattooing needles from the factory. However, when I was a pupil, I would make tattooing needles by using the thinnest sewing needles. Many of them didn’t have good quality points. One package had 25 needles, and half of them were
I WILL PRACTICE until my whole body is black
Photography by Horace Bristol
Traditional Tebori being practiced in Japan
A detailed view of a traditional tebori design tattooed on a Japanese manâ€™s back. Photography by Lauren Bizek
Photography by Horace Bristol
As long as I can move my hands, I will keep tattooing 16
no good. In those days, we used the ink called sakurazumi. Currently we use baikaboku for tattooing, which is made of soot of cooking oil. The ink for calligraphy, which is made of soot of resin, is not suitable. Those needles were often stolen by customers. I assume that some other tattooists asked them to pretend to be clients and to steal my tools, in order to know how I made the tattooing needles. Although I understood that they had eager feelings to learn professional tattooing, I was so angry with the attitudes.
Some tattooists draw a carp climbing up the waterfall together with peonies. Actually, we can see the carp climbing up the waterfall from the late September to October in Japan. It is supposed to go with maple leaves, not peonies. The symbol of maple leaves refers to autumn. When hutatsugoi (twin carp) and huhugoi (a married couple carp) are drawn, two carp (one carp for the arm, for example) can go with peonies, because we do not have to express seasons in these cases. There are many traditional combinations: Karajishi, which is a
Portrait of Kazuo Oguri
I keep the same speed no matter what the design. If I tattoo smoothly, I can hear a rythmic sound as the needle leaves the skin. While I was away (going to the bathroom, for example), they stole my needles. It is not difficult to steal them. After all, I prepare the necessary needles only when I need them. I usually lock the door of my studio after work. Electric machines, color inks, my drawings (about 120 designs) for the back have all been stolen at various times. The tattoo designs were especially important for me. I had drawn many designs and collected them for a long time. I am so frustrated whenever I remember those incidents and think how much time I spent on these drawings. Tattooists who have not been apprenticed and trained by tattoo masters do not know the reasons or meanings of the traditional designs. For example, there are four seasons (spring, summer, fall and winter) in Japan. The seasons should be expressed in tattoo art also. Real Japanese tattoo artists express each season on the skin. However, the untrained tattooists donâ€™t know traditional thoughts on Japanese art. The untrained tattooists draw a snake and cherry blossoms, but this is a wrong way in tradition. When cherry trees begin to bloom in March in Japan, the snake still hibenates under the ground. The snake and cherry blossom cannot be seen in the same period. Other words, it doesnâ€™t make sense if a snake and cherry blossom are drawn together in the same piece.
combination Shishi (lion) with botan (peonies) and ryu (dragon) with kiku. Those images are particular sets for Japanese traditional designs. I am very happy with my job and love it. As long as I can move my hands, I will keep tattooing. I thank my master very much. With out his teachings, I could not have been a tattooist. I will never forget the gratitude towards the master forever.
INKLING OF CONCERN chemicals in tattoo inks face scrutiny Brett Israel
Photograph by Emily Watson
The End is Near Tattoo Shop, located in Brooklyn, NY
he End Is Near tattoo parlor in South Park Slope could pass for one of the neighborhood’s upscale boutiques. Local artwork covers the light blue walls. Ornate body jewelry fills a glass showcase. A stuffed badger greets visitors. There’s just one thing that gives the parlor away – the unmistakable electric hum of a tattoo needle. “We’re not the seedy underground that used to be,” said Trischa, the shop’s one-named manager, whose fair skin, revealed by a black tank top, is almost completely painted with ink. As tattoo shops turn chic, ink’s allure has spread into the mainstream. Despite the well-known risks of infection, allergies and scarring, an estimated 45 million people in the U.S. – including 36 percent of adults in their late 20s – have at least one tattoo, according to estimates by the FDA and a Harris Interactive Poll.
about more serious, long-term risks such as skin cancer. As tattoo shops turn chic, ink’s allure has spread into the mainstream. An estimated 45 million people in the United States, including more than one-third of people in their late 20s, have at least one tattoo. One of the chemicals found in black tattoo inks – benzo(a)pyrene – is a potent carcinogen that causes skin cancer in animal tests. Dermatologists have published reports in medical journals on rare, perhaps coincidental cases where melanomas and other malignant tumors are found in tattoos. Could these chemicals increase the risk of skin cancer in people with tattoos? “It’s possible and definitely warrants additional investigation by the FDA,” Tanzi said. Recently, the FDA launched new studies to investigate long-term safety of the inks, including what happens when they break down in the newfound chemicals raise unanswered body or interact with light. Research already has shown that tattoo inks can migrate into people’s lymph nodes. For now, long-term health risks questions about more serious, long from tattoo inks remain murky. term risks like cancer “The short answer is we don’t know if the chemicals in tattoo inks represent a health hazard,” said Joseph Braun, an environmental epide Although sleazy “scratcher shops” with unskilled artists and dubious miologist at Harvard University in Boston, who was is not involved in safety records are becoming a thing of the past, scientists are growing the new studies. Scientists reported that their discovery that chemical concerned about what’s going into tattooed skin, not just how it got dibutyl phthalate, a common plasticizer, along with other substances, there. New research has turned up troubling findings about toxic chemi- are found in black tattoo inks. In the study of 14 commercially available cals in tattoo inks, including some phthalates, metals, and hydrocarbons inks, they found low levels of dibutyl phthalate in all of them. that are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. The inks have caused Tattoo ink trouble is nothing new. The inks, injected into skin with allergic rashes, chronic skin reactions, infection and inflammation from small needles, have caused rashes, infection and inflammation. But now sun exposure, said Ms. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington scientists say the inks contain chemicals that could have long-term Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C. effects.“The substances found in the inks might be partially responsible A new study published in July suggests that phthalates and other for adverse skin reactions to tattoos,” wrote the dermatologists from chemical ingredients may be responsible for those problems. More Germany’s University of Regensburg. For phthalates, which can mimic concerning, these newfound chemicals raise unanswered questions estrogen or disrupt testosterone, exposure of fetuses and infants is the 24
major concern. In infant boys, prenatal exposure to dibutyl phthalate has been linked to feminization of the reproductive tract. In men, phthalate exposure has been linked to sperm defects and altered thyroid hormones. But phthalates in tattoo inks may not carry the same risk. “Phthalates are cleared from the body within hours, and unlike many phthalate exposures, those from tattooing will not be continuous,” said Shanna Swan, a reproductive epidemiologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York who studied the effects of phthalates on infant boys. Phthalates applied to the skin in a lotion were absorbed and
carcinogen. The FDA and scientists say colored inks often contain lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, titanium and other heavy metals. Some are industrial grade colors suitable for printers’ ink or automobile paint. Black tattoo inks often are made of soot so they contain known carcinogens called PAHs. “Tattooing with black inks entails an injection of substantial amounts of phenol and PAHs into skin. Most of these PAHs are carcinogenic and may additionally generate deleterious singlet oxygen inside the dermis when skin is exposed to UVA (e.g. solar radiation),” wrote the study authors.
sunlight breaks ink down into colorless components of unknown toxicity, potentially putting people at risk metabolized in a 2007 study, and the same thing is likely to happen with the phthalates in tattoo inks, Swan said. “While this is a potential source of high exposure, it might not last very long and may not present a risk to health,” Braun added. Nevertheless, Swan said pregnant and nursing women should minimize any exposure to phthalates. In addition to phthalates, heavy metals such as lead, which can harm the reproductive and nervous systems, also were found in a study of seventeen different black inks from five manufacturers. Colored inks often contain lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, titanium and other heavy metals that could trigger allergies or diseases, scientists say. Some pigments are industrial grade colors that are “suitable for printers’ ink or automobile paint,” according to FDA. Black tattoo inks, often made of soot, also contain products of combustion called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAHs), according to a 2010 study by German scientists. In addion to phthalates, heavy metals such as lead, which can harm the reproductive and nervous systems, were found in a study of black inks. The PAHs in the inks include benzo(a)pyrene, which was identified in an Environmental Protection Agency toxicity report as “among the most potent and well documented skin carcinogens.” It is so potent that it is routinely used in animal tests to grow tumors. Also, it has been linked to skin cancer in shale oil workers, and the EPA has classified it as a probable human
45 million Americans have tattoos
They said the PAHs could “stay lifelong in skin” and “may affect skin integrity,” which could lead to skin aging and cancer. Scientists are debating the possible tattoo-cancer link, based so far on a handful of malignant skin tumors found in tattoos and reported in some medical literature.“Even though cases of malignancies such as melanoma, basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and keratoacanthomas have been reported for the past 40 years, it remains unclear what role tattoos play in their pathogenesis,” wrote scientists from France’s University of Montpellier in a 2008 study, “Skin Cancers Arising in Tattoos: Coincidental or Not?”
most of these pahs are carcinogenic and may additionally generate deleterious singlet oxygen inside the dermis wheNskin is exposed to uva
Dr. Wolfgang Bäumler, a dermatology professor at the University of Regensburg who was involved in the phthalate and PAH studies, said that “substances such as phthalates and also PAHs should increase the health risk” for chronic health issues like cancer. But the extent is unknown, Bäumler said, because “epidemiological studies are missing. ”Epidemiological studies won’t be easy. In theory, scientists could track a large number of tattooed people and see whether they developed problems such as skin cancer near their tattoos. But that’s impractical, said Geoffrey Kabat, an epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. That’s because getting a tattoo still is considered a risky behavior, and following a group of people who may have risk-taking behaviors – smoking or riding motorcycles – would compromise a study. “This would also make an epidemiologic study a fool’s errand,” Kabat said. The FDA has the power to regulate tattoo inks and any added colorings under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. But the agency has never flexed its regulatory power, citing lack of evidence of safety concerns and other public health 24% 0 tattoos priorities. “Because the dyes and inks used in tattoos have not been approved by FDA, we do not know the 22% 1 tattoo specific composition of what these inks and dyes may 18% 2 tattoos contain,” an FDA spokesperson told Environmental Health News. “Therefore, we are unable to evaluate 18% 3 tattoos for chronic health concerns, such as cancer.” Eric 11% 4 tattoos Blevens, who has nearly a dozen tattoos, including 7% 5+ tattoos this one of his pit bull Kweli, has never had skin
problems except a slight reaction to one color ink. Now, the FDA is getting more and more curious about the ingredients. In 2003 and 2004, the FDA received its largest cluster of complaints, more than 150, from people on the giving and receiving end of tattoos. Since that time the FDA has begun more research on tattoo inks to answer fundamental questions, according to the FDA spokesperson. One major question investigated by the FDA is where does the ink go when the tattoo fades over time or from sun exposure? Preliminary results show that a common pigment in yellow tattoo inks, Pigment Yellow 74, may be broken down by the body’s enzymes, according to the FDA.
because the dyes and inks used in tattoos have not been approved by fda, we do not know the specific composition of what these inks and dyes may contain
Sunlight also breaks it down into colorless components of unknown toxicity. Also, when skin cells containing ink are killed by sunlight or laser light, the ink breakdown products could spread throughout the body. Previous studies have shown that tattoo inks move into people’s lymph nodes, but “whether the migration of tattoo ink has health consequences or not is still unknown,” according to a 2009 FDA consumer update. Lymph nodes are part of the body’s system for filtering out disease causing organisms The FDA said “as new information assessed, the agency considers whether additional actions are necessary to protect public health.” Because of the chemicals involved, California requires all tattoo shops to warn customers. A state law, known as Prop 65, requires warnings whenever people are exposed to chemicals linked to cancer, birth de-fects or other reproductive harm. The warning is
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YELLOW GREEN BLUE
What is in your ink?
included in the release forms that people sign before getting tattooed in California. The lack of FDA regulation and the California warnings haven’t slowed the tattoo business, where respected artists comm and between $125 and $200 per hour. Artists today build relationships with dedicated clients, who rarely ask about long term risks. “I don’t have any clients that ask me that,” said tattoo artist Jorell Elie of The Honorable Society in West Hollywood, CA. “I don’t really tattoo as many one-time clients anymore so most of my clients are fully aware of any – if any – risks that go into getting tattoos.” One of Elie’s clients, Eric Blevens, of Brooklyn, has nearly a dozen tattoos. His latest, done by Elie, is a tribute to his pit bull, named Kweli, and covers most of the left side of his torso. During a recent vacation, Blevens said Elie constantly bugged him about keeping his tattoos shielded from the sun, which could cause the art to fade. Through his relationship with Elie, any safety concerns he may have had in the past have faded.“I genuinely trust him,”Blevens said. “He shows a lot of concern and care for his work.”California requires all tattoo shops to warn customers that they are being exposed to chemicals linked to cancer. The lack of FDA regulations and the California warnings haven’t slowed the tattoo business, where respected artists command between $125 and $200 per hour. Even people with more simple tastes don’t seem concerned about the safety of tattoo inks. Melissa Taylor, a 30-year-old mom and banker in Warner Robins, Ga., said she hasn’t worried much about her ink. She got a small butterfly tattoo, on her left hip when she was 19 and hasn’t had any problems. “I did a little bit of research because I wanted to go to a good, reputable place, not some hole-in-the-wall,” Taylor said. That kind of research is exactly what Jordan Bayley, manager of Fly Rite Studios in Brooklyn, recommends. Every artist is different, and cities and states have different regulations since the act of tattooingis regulated at the state and local level.The dangers of putting tattoo needles to your skin
have been widely publicized and been taken seriously by tattoo artists. Disposable needles are the norm. Surfaces are sterilized with hospitalgrade cleaners. Most customers, however, are more concerned with how the tattoo will look years down the road. “People don’t come in worried about health concerns,”said Mario Delgado, the owner of Moth and Dagger Tattoo Studio in San Francisco, California. “People just want a good tatoo.” It seems there are an awful lot of really bad tattoos these days. We live in an inked up world of bad tribal designs, rusty-looking barbed wire, crooked writing and far too many butterflies and roses. Every spring breaking 21-year-old wants one for an ankle or shoulder blade, and celebs sport some of the worst offenders, from Mike Tyso to Amy Winehouse. I once saw a large shirtless man at a theme park sporting a scaredy cat design… sliding precariously down his spine. Few of those who steel their nerves for the artist’s chair probably think about the risks. (Obviously there is some risk of disease infection from unclean needles and equipment, so make sure you are seeing a knowledgeable pro-vider, and not your uncle’s friend in an alley). As the Bradenton Herald (Florida) points out, state and local authorities do oversee the practice of tattooing and inspect the conditions of shops, so sterile conditions are required. However, the paper notes that in the past no one has been checking up on the safety of the actual ink and pigments used in tattoos. In 2003 and 2004, the FDA received its largest cluster of
complaints, more than 150, from people on the giving and receiving end of tattoos. Since that time the FDA has begun more research on tattoo inks to answer fundamental questions, according to the FDA spokesperson. One major question investigated by the FDA is where does the ink go when the tattoo fades over time or from sun exposure? Preliminary results show that a common pigment in yellow tattoo inks, Pigment Yellow 74, may beBecause the dyes and inks used in tattoos have not been approved by FDA, we do not know the specific composition of what these inks and dyes may contain broken down by the body’s enzymes, according to the FDA. Sunlight also breaks it down into colorless components of unknown toxicity. Also, when skin cells containing ink are killed by sunlight or laser light, the ink breakdown products could spread throughout the body. Previous studies have shown that tattoo inks move into people’s lymph nodes, but “whether the migration of tattoo ink has health consequences or not is still unknown,” according to a 2009 FDA consumer update. Lymph nodes are part of the body’s system for filtering out disease causing organisms The FDA said “as new information assessed, the agency considers whether additional actions are necessary to protect public health.” Because of the chemicals involved, California requires all tattoo shops to warn customers. A state law, known as Prop 65, requires warnings whenever people are exposed to chemicals linked to cancer,
california requires all tattoo shops to warn customers that they are being exposed to chemicals linked to cancer.
Mario Delgado applies ink to a tattoo of an octupus for Vien Tang at Moth and Dagger
Josh Evans has been a client of Jordan Bayley for the past 4 years and has experienced no issues
tattoos are my passion. i don’t regret a single one, even if the inks are dangerous. birth defects or other reproductive harm. The warning is included in the release forms that people sign before getting tattooed in California. The lack of FDA regulation and the California warnings haven’t slowed the tattoo business, where respected artists command between $125 and $200 per hour. Artists today build relationships with dedicated clients, who rarely ask about the long term risks of tattoo inks. Few of those who steel their nerves for the artist’s chair probably think about the risks. (Obviously there is some risk of disease infection from unclean needles and equipment, so make sure you are seeing a knowledgeable provider, and not your uncle’s friend in an alley). As the Bradenton Herald (Florida) points out, state and local authorities do oversee the practice of tattooing and inspect the conditions of shops, so sterile conditions are required. However, the paper notes that in the past no one has been checking up on the safety of the actual ink and pigments used in tattoos.In a world riddled with toxic toys, Salmonella tomatoes and other scares, how much thought should we give to body art? Although inks can technically be regulated as cosmetics by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s no surprise that the agency has ignored them, given chronic staffing shortages. Still, the Herald reports that in December, chemists at the National Center for Toxico-
logical Research in Arkansas began investigating inks to determine their composition, how they react in the body and how safe they are. Sunlight also breaks it down into colorless components of unknown toxicity. Also, when skin cells containing ink are killed by sunlight or laser light, the ink breakdown products could spread throughout the body. Previous studies have shown that tattoo inks move into people’s lymph nodes, but “whether the migration of tattoo ink has health consequences or not is still unknown,” according to a 2009 FDA consumer update. Lymph nodes are part of the body’s system for filtering out disease causing organisms The FDA said “as new information assessed, the agency considers whether additional actions are necessary to protect public health.” Because of the chemicals involved, California requires all tattoo shops to warn customers. A state law, known as Prop 65, requires warnings whenever people are exposed to chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. The warning is included in the release forms that people sign before getting tattooed in California. The lack of FDA regulation and the California warnings haven’t slowed the tattoo business, where respected artists command between $125 and $200 per hour. Artists today build relationships with dedicated clients, who rarely ask about the long term risks of tattoo inks.
controversy and the new zealand moko International Influences and Appropriation of the Maori Tattoo Rachel Sawaya
Aboriginal New Zealander sporting traditional Maori.
had survived the giving of it, also far from a certainty. Controversy began with introducing European methods of tattooing. Needles in particular became more popular and eventually overtook the traditional chisel. The moko made with needles could be of a finer design, as well as healing faster and cleaner. However, in Michael King’s book Moko: Maori Tattooing in the 20th Century, he explains that some families, as late as 1970, did not consider tattooing with needles the ‘real thing’. An even greater con-troversy, with implications reaching into the modern era, concerns the historical trade in Maori heads, mokomokai. Often when someone with moko died, the head would be preserved by the tribe. It would be dried and kept as a tribute to the mana of the previous owner. European museums and private collectors of colonial times wanted these heads and would pay high prices for them, leading them to a grisly trade of heads for guns. The heads were often of slaves that had not been tattooed in life, but were given full moko after death to increase their price, or people as late as the 1970’s, SOME did not consider killed in raids purposely engineered to collect heads. Many of these heads are still in museums tattooing with needles the ‘real thing’. in foreign countries and recently there has been a movement to return the heads to their des It was considered part of the ritual, and a cendants. Many moko mokai have been already demonstration of the recipient’s mana (spiritual brought home as a result of this, but many are strength or courage) that he or she not display any discomfort while their skin was being broken. The design of each moko was unique, and although much of the symbolism is lost now; it would usually display tribe and status of the wearer. It might also tell of battle wounds, or ancestors or in the woman’s case, her right to marry, or her job, such as midwife. It told of the plain fact that the wearer had been given the right to wear moko, something that was not granted to everyone, and that the wearer ne of the visible and spiritual aspects of Maori culture is the moko, or traditional tattoo. This very beautiful artwork has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, with both Maori and non-Maori people receiving it on their skin, as well as using it as inspiration in other artistic trades. Traditional methods and purposes are often lost or ignored in these modern interpretations, which leads to great controversy. The moko is a sacred part of Maori tradition. It could only be given by certain men, who had considerable prestige and training, and the act of giving the moko to a person was surrounded by tapu (a state similar to holiness or sacredness, or the forbidden) There were many rules governing the act, including that the recipient could not talk to others who were not receiving the moko, and could not eat with his or her hands during the process. Tattooing the moko was a long and painful process, particularly as the marks were not made with a needle, but with a chisel which left a grove in the skin.
still overseas. There is debate over the validity of giving moko to non-Maori. Several celebrities have had Maori designs tattooed on themselves recently, notably Robbie Williams and Ben Harper. In the case of Williams, although his tattoo was made by a Maori artist, it was not meant to be meaningful in the traditional sense. Pita Sharples, a known Maori cultural authority, objected to the design, claiming that it was the intellectual property of his tribe.
Some praise this sort of international attention as a means of showcasing Maori art to the world. Others condemn it for devaluing the sacred nature of moko. There were cases of Europeans being given moko (or having moko forced upon them) even before the decline of moko tradition. John Rutherford, for example, was a sailor who was captured by a tribe and forcibly tattooed. So the controversy today lies not with the idea of non-Maori being tattooed, but with non-Maori people appropriating the traditional designs with out understanding them, or giving them proper respect. This has also been demonstrated on the catwalk, with several cases in the last ten years of moko art used as a theme in designer collections, such as Jean Paul Gaultier’s collection
THE DESIGN OF EACH MOKO WAS UNIQUE, ALTHOUgh MUCH OF THE SYMBOLISM IS LOST NOW SPRING 2012
On this page,: Illustration of the traditional moko tattooing process On the opposing page: A Maori man wearing his earned moko proudly.
there is no real continuity in the craft, only decreasing value 46
in 2007. Aesthetically, the bottom is a very sensual area to look at. Traditionally, it links the back design to the designs on the backs of the legs. The spirals accentuate the roundness of the buttocks, enhancing the body. A moko on the face is the ultimate statement of one’s identity as a Maori. The head is believed to be the most sacred part of the body. To wear the moko on the face is to bear an undeniable declaration of who you are. Women wear moko on the face too. Moko is a name for Maori tattoo and the culture that surrounds it.
This, along with global appropriation of local designs, has led to debate over the purpose and respect due to modern interpretations of ta moko. It is the skin art form of the Maori. Tattoo is the English translation of the Tahitian word tatu. Tattoo is the tradition of marking the skin with ink and needles, whereas moko is the practice of scarring and marking the skin to reflect the whakapapa (genealogy) of the Maori wearer. Moko can be seen as a cultural affirmation. All symbols have meaning, usually a tribal link that tells the background and stories of the wearer. Moko is a visual language that connects the wearer to their whakapapa. Needles are forced into the skin to insert ink into the puncture, so it’s inevitable that it does hurt, although some people have a higher tolerance for pain. Most designs have a traditional base, but there have been many changes to what was traditionally used. New moko traditions are being created to sit alongside the old. The break of a century or more means that there is little or no real continuity in the craft, and practitioners today must go on with merely fragmented, unreliable knowledge. A woman’s moko is worn on the chin, as well as occasionally appearing on the forehead, upper lip, nostrils, and throat. Sometimes facial moko is unfairly seen as intimidating, regardless of the wearer’s intentions, but this can depend on the countenance of the wearer. The lines of a moko accentuate the lines of the face so emphasise the expressions. They say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. In many cases, this is true. Imitation is important in many cultures. Children learn by imitating their parents. 48
Teens seek acceptance from their peers by imitating fashion trends, choices in music and even linguistic phrases. Even adults will often imitate their mentors to show their respect and admiration. But there are situations when imitation is actually an insult, not flattery. Ta Moko is one of those situations. Ta Moko is the tapu (sacred) form of family and personal identification among those of Maori whakapapa (genealogy). Genealogy is so important to the Maori people that they know their family history back 2000 years. Moko is the process of carving (cutting deep grooves) and coloring a family history story telling pattern into the skin of a Maori descendant. It is not limited to facial tattoos, as many mistakenly assume, although it certainly can include partial or full facial patterns. It is not surprising that members of other civilizations have come to admire the beauty of Ta Moko. Some have even gone to the extent of copying tattoo patterns and language phraseology taken from Maori tanga (Maori culture). This is a very serious mistake, and one that has members of the Maori culture very upset. Most of us are familiar with the horrors of identity theft. Someone lifts your wallet, and the next thing you know they’re parading around with your name, your credit card and your reputation. But maybe the thief was just imitating you because they liked you so much! Aahh......not so flattering now, is it? Copying a Maori’s Ta Moko is nothing less than identity theft. It’s disgraceful and it’s immoral. The only difference is that the Maori really don’t have any recourse against anyone who is thoughtless enough to rape them of their individuality. Ta Moko is as unique to the wearer as your own fingerprints. How would you feel if someone stole those from you? “Kat” is a Maori who shares her views on Ta Moko imitation. “Pakeha (whites) are distinctly known for not asking, and for assuming that how they see the world is how others do so also...They bastardize our spirituality and culture and claim it as theirs...Non-Maori wearing it as a form of body art are generally considered wannabees, fakes and frauds that show not only a disrespect for our culture, but lie about their own. (How can you respect your own family when you wear the traditional family signature of strangers?) Even if non-Maori do it in a ‘respectful’ fashion (according to what their non-Maori values
dictate is respectful), this is still rude. There is not, in other words, any sense of being ‘okay’ for non-Maori to wear Maori Ta Moko.”If you are dead set on getting a tattoo that is fashioned in the style of Ta Moko, consider instead kirituhi. Kirituhi is a form of pattern art that looks like Ta Moko, but deliberately does not make any reference to Maori symbolism. Kirituhi literally means “skin art” and the patterns are designed to meet the demands of non-Maori wishing to have similar tattoos. There are many forms of splendor in the world that we admire from a distance. It is not necessary to kill an animal and display it in your home to enjoy its beauty. Flowers are best appreciated when left alone, rather than picked and allowed to wither and die in a vase. And the sanctity of Maori culture, along with their Ta Moko, is honored most when respected, not imitated.
What once was a very spiritual and sacred ceremony for Maori people has become a common happening among young people today. Traditional tools have been replaced by modern needles while all meaning has been replaced.
Original photo of Maori tribespeople participating in a traditional moko ceremony.
Tattoos with Integrety | www.Origink.com
ORIG SPRING 2012
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