Sunday, July 20, 2008

it's summertime

I love summer. The heat, the events, the higher than usual ratio of flesh to clothing. Especially on sweltering, sticky, get me some a/c ASAP days like today, a walk around town means cutoff shorts, tank tops, and for me, the realization that EVERYONE is tattooed. Some are forced to keep their ink under wraps in the workplace, and I would think that during the summer months they take every available opportunity to proudly display their artwork to the world. The subtle sense of liberation this must provide is the same that characterizes my post-work dressing habits recently. I have to wear a corporate symbol-emblazoned black polo shirt to work every day, so when I get home and rifle through my closet to find the perfect evening ensemble, I construct some pretty funky looks. It's like a subconscious rebellion. When off the clock I rock my leopard-print running shorts and acid-washed purple tee, and the secretly tatted office employee bears flesh like a drunk minor at a taping of Girls Gone Wild. I'm blessed enough to reap the satisfaction of double rebellion (tats and wacky duds!), and paired with the abundance of tats finally getting some air, it's pretty obvious why I love summer.
So, today I was lounging on a hammock reading "The Simpsons and Philosophy" and listening to the Flaming Lips, when I got distracted by the calla lily tattoo located on my right arm. I just stared at it, mesmerized for a moment by the colors and the beautiful shading it contains, imagining what I might surround it with once funds are a bit more plentiful. Now, as you might be able to tell from my above spiel about my love of rocking fun clothes, I love clothes. I'm a sucker for super-soft American Apparel tees even though they're ridiculously expensive for a friggin t-shirt, and if I come across a unique piece that catches my eye, I have to have it. Labels don't matter much to me, and actually, the more obscure the better. In any case, this little obsession makes it quite difficult to get any saving done. I've been working for about 2 months since I got home from school, and I have a depressingly low savings balance to show for it. Granted, I went to Miami for a week and have been taking a lot of trips into NYC, so it hasn't all gone toward clothes, but I'm certain that the $42 I shelled out recently for a pair of zebra print leggings could have been better spent, perhaps on a tank of gas or a phone bill payment...
In any case, as I'm lying there staring at my tat, shining in the sunlight, I made a decision. I need my half sleeve, more than I need any more shit in my closet. It's already overflowing, and I love most of the stuff I have. So, I've entered myself into SHA, Shopaholics Anonymous, and am finally on my way to recovery. Now excuse me, I need to make an appointment...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

i heart art.

I’m horrible at art. Whenever I have to draw something it usually comes out in the exact same style I used for my artistic endeavors in middle school. However, despite my lack of artistic inclination, I still feel like I know good art when I see it. Not that there’s a universal criteria for what’s “good” art, but especially in the realm of tattoo art it’s usually pretty easy to separate the Dan Dimattias from the guys whose shops line South Beach and are open till 3am.
I’m personally a huge fan of both realism and new school tattoo art, mainly for their saturation, use of unusually bright colors, and all-around wow-factor. I especially love new school because many designs are either cutesy as fuck (in a good way) or inappropriately grotesque. I’ve always been attracted to juxtaposition in art and fashion, so that aspect of new school tattoo imagery really appeals to me. And realism? I mean…c’mon, who wouldn’t take a tattoo that looks so freakin scary-real?
As more and more people enter the world of body modification in the West, the prominent style of tattooing here is definitely shifting. As tattooing becomes more respectable, more and more art school graduates and serious artists in general are trading in their brushes and pastels for a tattoo gun. Many of these newcomers bring their unique personal style to their tattoos, keeping only to clients who are willing to leave the entire process, from style to design to application, up to the artist in order to get a phenomenal custom tat. Others are simply so talented that they can work equally well with a number of different styles, making for a massive clientele base and a waiting list to match. However, the popularity of tattooing also means that there will be lots of shitty artists out there just looking to make an easy buck. These are the guys who intentionally tattoo random Chinese characters on drunk girls’ asses, getting a good laugh with their boys about how she wanted “Protection” and he gave her “Condom.” They’re the reason why rather than moving forward, tattooing technology is essentially moving in reverse. By this I mean that there are far more developments in tattoo removal technology than in tattoo application. While industry specialists are busy creating easily removable ink for those who, um, apparently already know they're going to regret their tat, I'm still awaiting the invention of some seriously long-lasting, no-bleed ink!
Anyways, happy thoughts - back to the more adept artists for a second. I’ve been thinking, when you compare tattoo art to fine art, they aren't all that different. I mean, one uses skin as a canvas while the other uses, well, canvas as a canvas (depending on the medium of course), but in both realms there is the good and the bad, the old and the new, the meaningful and the just plain silly. But as an artistically challenged chick, there is one huge difference between the two that I find pretty damn intriguing. Since tattooing is, in the end, all about the client, who is indeed the most important viewer the piece will ever have, serious tattoo artists are inclined to cater to the client’s preferred style. Thus, as tattooing evolves, unlike the evolution of fine art, it is increasingly in tune with what the viewer wants to see. As a passive admirer in an art gallery I can’t really have an effect on the world of fine art, but by supporting the cream of the tattooist crop and having them create custom designs in my favorite styles, I can change the trajectory of tattoo art. And that's a beautiful thing.