Sunday, 16 June 2013

More Than Skin Deep

Why does someone make the commitment of using their body as a canvas?  How do they choose their imagery or designs?  How do the images reflect taste and society?  Where do the individuals - a growing number of them women- choose to put their tattoos?  Tattoos are both private and public and the narratives are endlessly engaging.  I've talked with young men who have brought their own drawings to ink masters and it appears that some are even doing their own inking in a version of the Do-It-Yourself movement.  I think I've stumbled into an area of contemporary craft with huge accessibility and the energy and edginess of street culture. 

Tattoos, as a combination of visual culture and deeply felt personal meaning, have fascinated me for years.  It has always struck me that in tattooing we had a world of visual meaning that did not have the commercial and ego laden baggage of the fine art world.  Make no mistake about it, a good tattoo takes time-tested skill.  And the labour is rewarded with a suitable price tag. To me that's the craft part.  Like working in a precious metal, working on human skin is not an area for the faint of heart and mistakes are not easily tolerated.

For several months now, I have taken great delight in talking to complete strangers on the streets and cafés about their ink. People have been consistently positive and generous in sharing their stories and passions.  The more time went on the more it became clear that I needed to do a tattoo themed exhibition and publication.  To my delight, photographer Ned Pratt stepped forward at a party and asked if he could get involved.  Ned Pratt is someone with whom I've done some of my best work and I welcome his partnership with enthusiasm.  This is a link to Ned's site:

Dave Munro the ink master and owner of TROUBLEBOUND STUDIO in St. John's has been a spokesman for the  professional tattooist and is widely respected in the field.
The majority of local tattoos that I have most admired have been produced by TROUBLEBOUND STUDIOS and the name I have come to recognize is Dave Munro's.  I am trained as a visual art critic and a scholar in the field of fine craft but the culture of tattooing is new to me.  I would be foolish not to try and find an expert to tell me when I've gone wrong in my theorizing.  This week I was profoundly fortunate to be granted an hour+ interview with Munro.  It was informative, intense and positive; my mind was going so fast I  left  feeling giddy.  I am at my happiest when I am learning something.  Hell ya, I am one happy camper.  Here's a link to TROUBLEBOUND'S site:

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