Photographer Jonathan May reveals a poignant narrative of the lives of former Mexican gang members now united through a love of art and tattoos. This series, titled Desert Ink, explores a compelling story of eight men now leading honest lives away from the troubles of their past. Coming from a background filled with gangs, violence, drugs, and death, the men have set out for a new life to change their fate and future. Now living in Indio, California, these once criminals are bonded together in a different kind of brotherhood, one that is connected through their passion for tattoo art.
The men, Chip, Dreamer, Sinner, Lazz, Assault, Case 1, Angel, and G-Money, all began tattooing due to unforeseen circumstances. Those of them who spent time in prison began tattooing themselves and other fellow inmates. The others were also self-taught, creating homemade tattoo guns to pursue their newfound artistic talent. The eight of them, now working in their own shop, find redemption and purpose in focusing on something as positive and meaningful as tattoo art. It is a chance to make a permanent imprint on someone, almost literally. By rechanneling their efforts and talents into a constructive outlet, these men have found a shared talent that has united them for life. Jonathan May sheds a warm light on men who by no means have had it easy, but have found a way to change their lives for the better. (via FeatureShoot)
Laura Makabresku is a Polish photographer and visual artist who creates atmospheric images that harness the tragedy and beauty of myths and fairy tales. The photos featured here are from Laura’s more recent posts on her blog. Brimming with a romantic darkness, the images include a pale woman lying in a “garden of wounds,” engaged in a subtly violent and erotic ritual with the flowers and a sharp blade. Set against her white dress, the flower petals resemble blood, turning the woman into a mythical — almost sacrificial — figure. Death blends with beauty in a quiet dream.
In another series, the mythos surrounding death becomes darker: in a dingy room filtered with a hellish green moonlight, a cloaked figure stands in a boat overlooking a nude woman. In some scenes the woman is struggling to escape; in others, she is lying prone, pinned by the boatman’s paddle or with coins resting on her mouth, suggesting the River of Styx — the coin shall pay her entrance into the underworld. Elsewhere are images of women communing in different ways with taxidermied animals such as deer, birds, and foxes. These animals emanate with a sense of attentive care over the women they are protecting — but of course, they are dead, troubling us with their simultaneous beauty and artificiality. Speaking of how her works seek to explore fairy tale imagery by highlighting traces of pain and horror, Laura writes:
“My [photographs] are like screenshots from beautiful but cruel fairy tales. Their narrations are not straight. Images that appear are more like feelings that come during a lecture of an old folk-based story – full of witchcrafts and retributions. The structure of my works is similar to the structure of a dream where natural tendencies of collecting and organizing impulses and motivations coincide with irrational clashes of objects and feelings. Isolation and wounds are closed into patterns, uneasy and artificial orders – visual spells created in order to divide beastliness from humanity and dreams from horror.” (Source)
Poetic, grim, and beautiful, Laura’s photographs are truly spellbinding on several emotional levels. Be sure to follow her blog, Tumblr, and Facebook to see what evocative and dream-like images she composes for us next. (Via Art Fucks Me)
French artist Frédéric Fontenoy is enamored with the human form. In his striking photography, he explores different representations of the body and eroticses, or ostracizes it’s different parts. In his new series Metamorphosis, he manipulates his photographic medium and produces images of bodies that are stretched, extended and disfigured. His snaps look like they are of weird aliens passing through earthly landscapes.
Being raised surrounded by artistic and political family members, Fontenoy quickly identified with a particular artist that he felt embodied his own ideals. Hans Bellmer’s The Anatomy of the Image, continues to be a major inspiration for the artist. Here he reflects on his own practice:
I always created erotic work, since I started taking pictures: first more intimate, then evolving into a more conceptual work, a photographic fiction, referring to our collective unconscious. The mindset of my photography is erotic, but a photo itself doesn’t have to arouse lust. (Source)
Throughout his 20-something year career of taking photos, Fontenoy not only works with different narratives that are connected to the body, he also includes himself in the situation and reflects on his own involvement as a fellow person. He sees the relevance of having himself somehow reflected in his images:
[The] crucial point of these “scenes of the darkroom”: the photographer is also in the frame, the main male character. Grand officer of these stagings, this double devilishly imaginative and wicked madness seems to make its most ambitious expression, which is Art. (Source)
In his new series of collages entitled Love is like a Butterfly, artist/musician Wildcat Will delves into the absinthe drenched demi-monde of Parisian cabaret, and uses his own pop art inclinations, and other contemporary elements to create original pieces. This new series in based on the powerful imagery of the butterfly, its transitional phases, and its ephemeral and intense beauty as a parallel for the beauty and tragedy of human life.
His collages combine photographs from the Parisian cabaret Les Folies Bergère with texts. The intricate backgrounds of his collages incorporate elements such as zebra print, oversized flowers and, butterflies. The combination of old photographs with modern typography and colorful, ornate details leave room for the viewers to get lost in his work and examine the world of cabaret from a different perspective.
The clashing of old photographs and typography work together towards creating a sort of punk aesthetic which Will attributes to his cultural upbringing . He equates the ladies of the Folies Bergère to the punk rock movement and, by doing so gives another level of depth to his collages. Through these pieces, Will has created a magical platform for us to meditate on our morals and standards.
The Underexposed series illuminates outsiders of the world, homeless people of our streets. Aaron Draper has made the deliberate decision to literally put in the spotlight a dozen of men and women living on the streets, giving an authentic representation of what could happen to any of us. Not wanting to fall into the cliche of taking black and white photographs or insisting on the harsh features of his subjects, Aaron Draper is applying a commercial tone to the way he envisions their lives, giving the viewers a more positive imagery of scenes not so pleasant to usually watch.
That’s the reason the series has gone viral, the viewer is not in a position of guilt, he doesn’t need to feel bad. He is invited to share that special connection the photographer encountered when meeting his subjects. Inspired by John Steinbeck’s vision on dispossessed families struggling to carve their way into life, he spent a lot of time and money getting to know the personalities behind the facade of their humble lives. Using a camera strobe and a documentary effect, Aaron Draper wants to turn around the false perception one might have about homeless life. He says if he can only initiate that shift, his work will be successful in his heart.
The video below details the photography process of the Underexposed series and shows a passionate Aaron Draper at work. (via Trenf)
What do you get when you combine thousands of toothpicks, glue, and ingenious craftsmanship? You get the work of artist Scott Weaver, who has created a model of San Francisco out of these materials after thirty-five years of creative determination. Nothing more than these two simple materials, toothpicks and glue, forms the intricate layers of this concrete jungle. Scott Weaver began this structure, titled Rolling Through the Bay, in 1974, but has been building sculptures out of toothpicks since he was eight years old. His early work began as abstracts formation, much smaller than his San Francisco masterpiece.
As if constructing such a complex, detailed, city replica out of miniature objects was not impressive enough, Weaver’s piece Rolling Through the Bay is interactive! The structure is kinetic, as it navigates ping pongs balls like tourists through the many infamous sites and neighborhoods that make up San Francisco’s lifeblood. You can see city attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and Chinatown in his mass of toothpicks, but much more is to be seen. The delicate intricacy of this astonishing sculpture speaks volumes to Scott Weaver’s skill and patience. It is not surprising to know that the artist is a San Francisco native, as is many generations of his family before him. The love and pride of San Francisco can be seen in the time and care that Rolling Through the Bay took to create.
(via Colossal) All Photography by The Tinkering Studio
Hikari Shimoda’s most recent series of paintings blends the innocence of childhood with the fears and challenges od adulthood. By combining cute looking round eyed kids with scenes of horror or despair, she establishes a connection between the carefree days of being a child, and the harshness of the contemporary world in which these children grow up. Although her paintings depict children dressed in superhero outfits, playing together, or surrounded by cute looking objects and creatures; a closer look will allow you to notice the dark details, blank stares and distant fires which are also part of the composition.
Shimoda’s use of cheerful, bright colors and manga inspired drawing giver her pieces a mistaken air of simplicity. The beauty of her work lies in the details and, in taking the time to look closely at what she puts in her paintings. Little things like sparkly stickers, and little messages scrawled in round handwriting to piles of toy rabbits, hospitals and burning homes. Through her candy colored scenes she addresses issues of emotion, identity, existence and, our relationships sith others. The children in her pieces are both the messengers and the creators of this message. She has created a magnificent combination of the carefree aspects of childhood and the worries and challenges of adulthood in a mixture of bittersweet portraits.
Chicago-based photographer Evan Baden has captures the world of adolescent sexting in his series cleverly titled Technically Intimate. The word “sexting” was officially added to the dictionary in 2012—that is how common this word and action is. Selfies and nudes being sent back and forth to people via smart phones has become commonplace. The fact of the matter is, these explicit photos never truly disappear. Evan Baden shines light on the privacy issues at hand concerning digitally sent photos, especially ones that are meant to be intimate or private. Interestingly enough, the title of this series, Technically Intimate, refers to a level of intimacy that is perhaps supposed to be felt between the people doing the sharing of sexual photos. Although the intention of these photos may have started out as intimate between two lovers, they remain forever in the public sphere. Therefore, no intimacy can be achieved.
Evan Baden starts each photograph with an image from real life, found online. He then hires a model to pose in a similar way, in a similarly adolescent environment. The final result is a re-imagined version of the original photos that has been shared online, accessible for anyone to see. In this uncomfortably close series, we are a fly on the wall, looking into a both private and public situation. For more amazing photography with an eye on pop-culture and its digitalization, Evan Baden is in an exhibition that will be on view September 19th until January 17th at the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf Contemporary Culture Center titled Ego Update: The Future of the Digital Identity.
Baden delves deeper into his intriguing series explaining this incredibly relevant topic. (via FeatureShoot)
“The poses in my images emphasize the repetitiveness of the sexual images that pervade our society while the rooms that the scenes are staged in and the ages of the room’s occupant clash with those highly sexualized poses, causing an unease in the viewing of those pictured and reminding the viewer that with every leap we take in technology and convenience there is an equally deep crevasse into which we can fall.”