Early Stick-and-Poke Prison Tattoos Preserved In Formaldehyde

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Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see people with copious amounts of tattoos on their arms, legs, and head. But, it wasn’t that long ago that these permanent adornments were only found on a very specific group of people – prisoners. Tattoos back then were markedly different than their modern counterparts, and some were preserved for posterity in formaldehyde. The tiny pieces of history are an eerie but a fascinating look at the past.

The designs of early tattooing were much simpler than they are today. Instead of the needles we’re familiar with, prisoners would use crude tools like razor blades, broken glass, paper clips, or wires. Ink was substituted for pencil refills, charcoal, watercolor paints, or crayons and mixed with water, fat, or urine.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a study of the prisoners’ tattoos began in the Department of Forensic Medicine at Jagiellonian University, and researchers wanted a way to document their findings. While photography might have been the simpler (and more obvious) solution, prisoners’ tattooed skin was removed and preserved.

The extractions, encased in glass, are small curiosities that don’t really look like tattoos at all. Removed from the context of the body, they are symbols for crimes like burglary, rape, and prostitution. (Via Scribol)

Pascal Pierrou Explores Alternative Feminine Beauty -NSFW

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French photographer Pascal Pierrou takes interest in creating the ultimate ‘modern girl’ photo catalogue. Pierrou, a fashion photographer, is interested in showcasing alternative ‘feminine beauty’, the type that we are not really used to seeing in popular television or mass-produced advertisements. He primarily focuses on girls with short hair/no hair, tattoos, and piercings. While these women’s looks are not uncommon per se, Pierrou is looking to create a fashion-like photoshoot that shows off these women in a way that is uncommon and unexpected. For instance, his way of pairing a naked woman with a sword tells us that he is looking to show off a double-sided profile, one that  shows off a rough edge, and another that features the soft lines of a slender and feminine naked body.

This idea of rough and soft lines is somewhat of a pattern amongst the photos on this series. These characteristics are indicative of what Pierrou thinks about today’s modern girl- often times, a woman that carries a powerful and tough, but ultimately soft appearance and character.

His inspiration for the series was Andy Warhols ‘Factory’ which was popular in the 60s in New York. Pierrou imagined people of a new factory, free women, feminists, artists that would exhibit their skin, hair, tattoos and words without being ashamed.

(via IGNANT)

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Stretched Skin And Gruesomely Flattened Bodies Reveal Human Truths (NSFW)

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What story would your flesh tell if it were splayed and flattened, digitally altered to appear as a work of art, caught between the angled sides of a camera frame? For his stunning series of photographs, titled Skin, the photographer June Yong Lee manipulates portraits of nude bodies, arranging their torsos in such a way that defies the limitations of the muscular skeletal system.

Despite the artist’s deliberate omission of common indicators of visual identity—facial features, body shape, and race—the images are an authoritative and legible document of selfhood. Pointing to the human desire to express what cannot be conveyed with language, Lee’s camera reveals tattoos, tired milky breasts, freckles, and scars.

For the artist, skin operates as a visual diary of experience. Without the guidelines of a more recognizable human form, memories— that range from the mundane to the sexually charged— are kept only through marks etched on flesh. He writes, “our skin never forgets [our past].”

The ideological tensions between body and mind are subverted as the skin organ is compressed; as if they were flowers held between the heavy pages of an encyclopedia, mounds of sin become something to be studied and read. The careful framing of each piece enhances this idea; positioned in relation to a central axis of the navel, the bisected torsos appear bound down the middle like some sort of corporeally historical book.

The phenomenal work is so poignant because in some ways, it confirms the unreliability of a subjective human memory: tattoos are faded or unreadable, and scars are healed. The images seem to blend the antique tonal richness of early Victorian photography with a morbid sense of modern forensics; as if recovered from an ancient autopsy, the slabs of flesh are somehow mournful yet objective and scientific. Our memories erode, and we die; yet through some miraculous marriage of science and art, fragments of our forgotten moments might be archived. (via Feature Shoot)

What Marilyn Monroe And Other Celebrities Would Look Like If They Were Covered In Tattoos

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Ever wonder how your favorite celebrity/fictional characters would look like if they were covered in tattoos? Maybe your overly pretentious, inked hipster friends would be a little bit more accepting of your unhealthy obsession with the royal family…

In that case, thank your friends at Shopped Tattoos, a Tumblr based online gallery created by Cheyenne Randall that curates images of celebrities that were photoshopped to look like heavily tattooed, ordinary people.

ShoppedTattoos carefully selects/creates images that not only look timeless, but that feature celebrities that are relevant, and usually known for their refined, clean look. Some make more sense than others (for instance, Edward Norton in American History X, or Jonny Cash fit the tattoo profile), but for the most part, it is a bit shocking to see the royal family, or the Kennedys for that matter, covered in tattoos.

Although silly, I think that this project brings forth a series of questions that deal with the future of celebrity/fictional characters and their public appearance. Would our future celebrities be heavily tattooed? Are tattoos becoming mainstream, and plain ordinary (not part of a counter-culture)? Those are things we’ll have to observe in the distant and near future.

In the meantime, you can check up on more images on here.

Sarah Muirhead

Hailing from the Edinburgh College of Art, Sarah Muirhead’s portraits of eccentric strangers conjure an immediate feeling of intimacy.  With poignant insight towards her subjects, she offers a sympathetic narrative of their lives by meshing together scraps of the subject’s environment and superficial appearance; these carefully selected details are window dressing compared to the clarity of soul that is depicted. A beer bottle, patch of leopard fabric, facial wrinkles around the eyes, brick with graffiti, a strip of red fence, bodies covered with tattoos – each have their place within the individual’s story. The subject’s gaze is often to the side and aloof; however, this does not prevent the viewer from being captivated. Beautifully painted in acrylic on canvas and board, Sarah’s paintings are compelling representations of passersby easily forgotten in everyday life.

Edie Fake Knows How To Handle a Pen

Edie Fake resides in Chicago.  In his work with zines, comics, and illustration, he applies a unique sense of design to playful postmodern compositions, and creates original musings on eroticism with subtle, deft penwork. He recently received a book grant from Printed Matter in NYC. He does pretty rad tattoos as well.

Made For Glory Sign Co.

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Derek McDonald & Scott La Rock are keeping the art of the hand-painted sign alive at Made For Glory Sign Co.! I had the opportunity to watch these two in action last weekend at the Tiger Rose Tattoo & Music Festival where they demonstrated, in person, their steady hands and their unique art form. This duo hails from the California’s Bay Area but their work can be spotted around the world; from Barcelona, to Spain & even Japan

Geekiest Tattoos of All Time

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Not exactly “art” persay, but I wanted to share this article Huffington Post recently put together of the “geekiest tattoos of all time” featuring inks of hourglasses to Bill Gates. While I admit to being a lover and not a fighter of technology, some of these tats might be crossing my limit. Some of them are actually kind of clever though. What do you guys think? Ps, does anyone know of a good antonym for “Luddite”?