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)
When we get tattooed, our flesh becomes an elastic canvas, and it’s only a matter of time before we start hearing, “but what will it look like when you’re old and wrinkled?” As we age, our skin stretches, sags, and becomes marked by time and gravity; our ink moves in unpredictable ways as black fades to blue and linear shapes begin to blur. Part of the magic of the tattoo medium lies in this accidental metamorphosis or art and body, and reddit user “clevknife” hopes to challenge the idea that time breeds unsavory, attractive ink. His project, titled “What about when you get old?” showcases elderly individuals embracing their well-worn tattoos and proving that there truly is no expiration date on good art.
Clevknife’s shots maintain a casual, offhand aesthetic that might seem amateurish but is somehow allied with anti-conformist tattoo culture. The curated images lack a ready coherence, jumping from black and white to color, from professionally lit to unpracticed and unfocused. While some appear to be the result of standard portrait sessions, some are reminiscent of the from-the-hip style of early street art.
An otherwise unassuming older man stands in a grocery store, fists raised and forearms emboldened by ink; the limited depth of field serves only to heighten the drama of his pose. Another subject is cast in nostalgic blacks and whites as he mimes, slicks his hair back. No two subjects are alike, but one thing’s for sure: these human canvases don’t regret a thing. Our bodies may age and morph, but our art will adapt to the changing landscape of our flesh. (via Lost at E Minor and My Modern Met)
Korean artist Kim Joon fabricates images of fragments of hollow porcelain that resemble nude bodies. Through a painstaking digital process, Kim coats the anthropomorphic forms in bold patterns from ceramic brands such as Villeroy & Boch, Herend, and Royal Copenhagen. What results are deceptively convincing surfaces complete with reflection and shadows.
According to Kim tattoos are not only physical inscriptions on the body but also signifiers of mental impressions left on the consciousness. Alluding to society’s weakness for material objects, Kim’s tattoo imagery reflects our obsessions and deep-seated attachments. The artist’s exploration of tattoos stems from his experiences tattooing his peers while in the Korean military. In his earliest works, Kim grappled with the notion of tattoos as socially taboo in Korean society. He created sculptures that mimicked tattooed portions of flesh. Using water-based markers, he embellished latex-coated sponges, creating anonymous parts divorced from the human form. In recent years, Kim’s work has neatly overturned the negative connotations surrounding tattoos in Korea. In his hands, not only do tattoos reflect social habits and desires but they’re also a vehicle for transforming the body into a highly aestheticized object.
Directed by Ryan Hope, Skin is a dark, stylish examination of tattoo culture as high art, and a film that tests the boundaries of art and the human body. Featuring contributions from Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Raymond Pettibon, the film is a beautiful visual essay from the frontiers of contemporary British art. Watch the full documentary after the jump.
I can’t look at Warwick Saint’s portfolio without blushing. His Ink series is dripping with bad girl sex appeal that will have you clicking the next button over and over to see all 85 images from the series. If that’s not enough reason to check out his work he also is an accomplished portrait, music, and celebrity photographer.
Amanda Wachob swathes tattoo ink permanently into flesh in such a soft, ethereal manner it calls to mind not rose & star flash art off the wall, but more the way an Impressionist might dabble watercolors across paper en plein air.