The practice of tattooing the human skin has been a documented practice for thousands of years, crossing lines of race, gender and culture. To tattoo is defined as the placing of an indelible ink or pigment into the dermis layer of the skin, usually with a sharp instrument or needle, thereby creating an image or design, either for ritualistic or purely decorative purposes. Throughout history, whether in Japan, Polynesia or Cambodia, across Africa & India, in New Zealand and Europe, from the Celts to the Samoans, peoples the world over have adorned their bodies as permanent works of living, breathing art.
When I was a young man, tattoos were the artistic provenance of sailors, bikers and those on the margins of society. Today, you are as likely to see a tattoo on a young doctoral student as you are on a Marine going off to Afghanistan, body art proudly displayed on a young woman heading out to her job on Wall Street or on the sommelier presenting you with a rare bottle of $1,000 wine at a leading Michelin rated restaurant. The tattoo parlor has been transformed from a dark and seedy back alley room to a modern, high concept artist’s studio, prominently and proudly displaying its shingle in the trendiest neighborhoods in town. Today’s illustrated man, & woman is a walking, talking public canvas for some of the most talented and visionary artists working today. …..and, like my job documenting the great art of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum here in Washington, D.C., I consider it a challenge and a joy to visually archive the body art that I see on the street, at music festivals and, of course, here in the studio. There is nothing more rewarding than to see the smiles on the faces of a tattooed woman or man when I stop them on the street and ask to admire their living art. In a society that often forgets to acknowledge or patronize the contributions of individual artists, the current renaissance in body art gives an outlet to thousands of vibrant, creative individuals and small businesses. Job Creators! After all, do we really need another Thomas Kinkade, “Painter of Light”? So support your local artist, express yourself, save up and get a truly original and unique bit of body art, then give me a call and document your collection of personal ink with a photographic record of your investment in the arts. Just like the deMedicis you might go down in history as one of the great patrons of the arts!
SLEEVES OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
EVERYTHING FROM EASTER ISLAND TO ALPHONSE MUCHA TO FRANK FRAZETTA