Monday, August 25, 2008

Modified gear? Hard(l)y.

Over the years I've watched tattoo culture get appropriated by various clothing designers and brands. At first I was pretty pumped too see that the general public was becoming more open to tattoo imagery, even if only in the realm of fashion, but that initial excitement wore off as soon as I began to pay attention to what kind of stuff was actually getting produced. Ed Hardy, I'm looking in your direction! I mean, c'mon dude, you brought Japanese tattoo art to the states!! You're a legend in your own time! Why the need to partner up with Christian Audigier (of Von Dutch fame) and agree to have your John Hancock scribbled on such gaudy-ass shit? I know it can't be about the money...I know people who would give their right arm to get their left one tattooed by you. Is it possible you're THAT greedy? I mean...look at some of the stuff you endorse:

I found these while trying to scout a b-day gift for my older sister, Portia (who once told me that she thinks Ed Hardy doesn't really exist and that his name is just something Christian Audigier came up with. I swear I almost bitch slapped her). I kept trying to find something NOT bedazzled to the max and finally came upon a simple pink tee with an old school mermaid graphic on it. But honestly the majority of shit was just TACKY. I've seen guys decked out head to toe in Ed Hardy getup and I can't help but wonder if they looked at themselves in the mirror before leaving the house or if they just figured they couldn't go wrong sporting a loud, overpriced, rhinestone-encrusted ensemble. Poor guys.
And it's only getting worse. In July Hardy and Audigier unveiled their new line of swimsuits as well as - get this - a line of Ed Hardy tanning lotions. Seriously? Oh, and the next time you're feeling a lil sluggish, perk up with an Ed Hardy energy drink. Or down an Ed Hardy WATER!?! Yup, really, they exist. This is getting overwhelming...I don't think I can even keep looking for Hardy brand stuff anymore. Shit though, it's like driving past a gruesome car wreck...I can't look away! Oh no...I just found a site featuring Hardy's new line of homewares and bedding. In case you're too appalled at the idea to click that link, I'll tell you that the ad for this line actually tries to deter people from getting a "small Ed Hardy tattoo," and instead cop some bedding. Because, fuck, why would you want a lameo, painful tat by an artistic genius when you can just fuck in sheets designed by some random dude using graphics loosely based on his art? Fortunately the bedding is actually pretty rad (especially the white/navy one that flaunts a china-esque design). But that's besides the point...
I don't know, I mean I guess all this can't hurt tattoo culture, but it pisses me off to see the work of a legend dumbed down so severely. Hardy schwag sends the message that tattoos are just a fashion accessory, a temporary way to alter your image to fit the current trend and perhaps look a little badass. ::Sigh:: I guess we'll just have to wait for the storm to pass. Once this fad fades things will be back to normal and the only people rocking tattoo imagery will be the inked themselves.
"Sell out, with me oh yea. Sell out, with me tonight. The record company's gonna give me lotsa money and everything's gonna be alright."
Well I've got news for you, Hardy: shit's not alright. Not even close. Get a clue and stop letting some money-hungry 60 something dude who wishes he was 19 sully your name. I swear, Don, unless this is A) some goodwill attempt to make a guy who was NOTHING only few years ago into a billionaire, B) a way to make dills while you're on sabbatical, or C) an honest attempt to bring tattooing farther into the mainstream and improve social/workplace tolerance of the inked, I'm selling all my Tattootimes on eBay. 'Cause this is bullshit.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Vibes 08!

Last weekend I took part in The Gathering of the Vibes music festival at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT. You may remember my mention of this fantabulous fest around this time last year, as I did indeed attend, but wasn't able to camp out. Well, after witnessing the glorious madness of last year's Vibes, there was no way in hell I was gonna miss out on the full experience this year. I camped ( my car...), consumed far too much alcohol, and best of all, listened to some amazing tunes. And in between it all I was, of course, on the lookout for the hottest tattoos the Vibes had to offer. My Tat-Dar was set to high and, despite my vision being a bit blurry for the majority of the weekend, I managed to spot some stellar mods. Mind you, I scouted the following tats while under the influence of substances that make everything seem awesome, so take the sampling with a grain of salt. Nonetheless I think the ink I captured was definitely some of the more beautiful work on display at the fest. So now I invite you mod lovers to take a gander at some of the tats I was able to score pics of and occasionally interviews about, and their proud owners. The pics aren't all that great, but it's really the stories that make them come to life anyways...
First up is Paul from South Windsor, whose tats are both by Tim Brewer from Body Graphics in South Windsor, CT. Referring to the stunning and intricate number on his left shoulder, Paul explained "It's a fractal, and a fractal is infinite chaos that creates beauty - that basically explains me."
And as for the grim, melty face on his right arm, "This is what I saw right before I went into a coma." Wow. Intense. I wish I hadn't been on the run when I met this guy - his tats suggest that he probably makes for some pretty interesting conversations!
I met the lovely Rachel from Sussex County, NJ while on a stroll down Shakedown Street, and ended up getting separated from my crew for a good 2 hours after running the opposite way to catch up to her. Totally worth it, she had a truly trippy and quite personal explanation for her half sleeve by Tony at Tattoo Factory in Ledgewood, NJ. "This is my castle in the sky and each puzzle piece is a different part of my life that I'm missing. Like I was missing this wall for awhile that I needed to put up around myself. There are a lot more but obviously I haven't discovered them yet - they'll go on different parts of my body. The owls represent me and I was married so this is me and this would be my daughter April Sky. And what I went the cactuses represent that it hurts but beautiful things come out of it like the flowers."
We also chatted about how it sucks to be young and unable to afford tattoos that might help us cope with life difficulties better than any therapy or medication could.
I didn't get this chick's name, she was with some friends who kinda kept walking when she stopped to have a word with me. So, I really don't know much about her tats other than that her chestpiece is related to her veganism, but I thought they were worth posting solely because of the color saturation and striking detail of both.
This is Alex, and I spotted his arm piece while walking through the tent jungle. Little did I know he was hiding an extension of the piece on his ribcage!! Even better, I found out that this tat was done by an artist at a shop owned by a good friend of mine! This piece was done by George at Shelton Tattoo in Shelton, CT, and these snaps just don't do it justice. It was almost hypnotizing in real life! I hope George puts this in his portfolio so I can peep it when it's finally done.
Here we have Miss Ellie from Guilford, CT, who was camping out right next to me! Her tat is by Sean Zee at Transcend (one of my favorites!) in Branford, CT. At this point she's undergone 4 sessions of 3-4 hours each, and plans to have one more to give the leaves some color and touch up any lil flaws. I'm not usually a big fan of black and grey, but I think this one could even go sans color. It's really eye-catching.Ok, last up is Christine from southern New Hampshire. She was helping out at the "chill down tent for people who are spun too hard" when I first saw her, but later on she was kind enough to let me take some shots and hear about the meaning behind her colorful work. All of her tats are coverups done by Doug Mendoza at Artisan Tattoo Federation in Concord, NH. According to Christine, Doug saved her life, and since first getting tatted by him they've become close friends. "I just went in there and I was like I would like something colorful, floral, and a coverup. We hit it off real well, and I really think he spent extra time [on the tats]." In regard to the significance of her tats, Christine says that she was "shedding an old phase of [her] life." "I was having trouble with drugs and alcohol and becoming a new Mom, and I don't know why but [the tattoos I had were] the first thing I had to change. I had lived with crap tattoos for like 15 years, just poorly done." The coverups have helped her immensely in recovering from substance abuse as well as transitioning into life as a mother. Now that she finally feels comfortable in her own skin again, Christine says she's ready to get fresh, non cover-up tattoos that represent her new life.
I love attending events where mods abound. I hit up my first roller derby earlier this summer, and there was an extraordinary number of heavily modded folks there as well. Now, I would typically be opposed to generalizing about modders (or any group of people for that matter), but I can't help but notice that from my experience they tend to congregate at places and events that are pleasantly out of the ordinary. I don't know what this might say about the people themselves, but I would expect people who go to such places would be pleasantly out of the ordinary themselves, or what one might refer to as "interesting." I know the people I met at the Vibes certainly were just that. Tats have come a long way. Some people are still stuck on the idea that tats signal a disturbed mind or a rebellious lifestyle, but it's just not true anymore. So if you run into someone with a great tattoo, tell them so! They won't bite (unless you like that kinda thing...), and if you ask they'll likely be happy to tell you about their ink. Or about that time they went into a coma after a base jumping accident. Okay, so maybe modders are a little crazy. But aren't we all?