Friday, April 29, 2011

A Drop of Barney

Name: Jake or Barney- whatever makes you comfortable.

Age: 27 and a half

Tell me about yourself: I’m a Civil Engineer, working at a great firm in Collingwood (don’t pay enough but there is a great culture here- that being said I’m completing this in work time). I live in Prahran, spend a lot of my spare time at the gym, going to gigs, surfing and being “socially active”. Music is one of my true passions, I spend a lot of money on CD’s and gigs, I used to play a lot of guitar- but being a single man, there is not a lot of time for it anymore. I’m a patient type of person, a pacifist of sorts but I have no tolerance for people that do not use common sense.

How many tattoos do you have: I have one moderately large tattoo. If I was going to get one I was going to do it properly.

Age when you got your first tattoo: 26

Do you have a favourite tattoo?: Not particularly. I think a lot of musicians with numerous tattoos (even of clashing themes) have a really good spread of tattoos. I find a lot of people with a lot tattoos look like they have been rushed and they come off as looking like stickers pasted across their bodies.

Any more tattoos planned?: Perhaps in the future. It will either be a small piece (text or something) or another larger piece that compliments my original artwork. I may also get my tattoo tidied up a bit around the edges.

Favourite style of tattooing?: I do like oriental. Although it has been done to death now.

Any other modifications? Piercing etc.?: For me to know you to find out!

What is your tattoo story?: I had wanted a tattoo for around 5 years- but could never afford one. I wanted a koi to start with but this had been done by everyone. I like the blossom trees and saw an energy drink advertisement that inspired me further. It wasn’t until I saw an oriental tiger that the concept clicked - I had my unique tattoo.

I was going through a bit of a rough patch, had to cut back on my partying/drinking a bit and in doing this I realised that it would be the perfect time to get the tattoo. I wanted to do it for myself, and it was something I had wanted a long time. It was quite an emotional thing getting the tattoo because I was one step closer to closing that shit chapter of my life. Once I had the tattoo, I realised I needed this- it was right.

After taking this bold move, my life and thoughts about life have changed a lot. I can honestly say my tattoo has experienced one of the most rewarding, adventurous and amazing years of my life. I’m sure that the tiger and I will have a lot of adventures to come, our next, being a trip to South America.

There is no real significant meaning to my tattoo. I didn’t want there to be a meaning behind it. It is neutral. No one else influenced me. If my thoughts on life change, my tattoo won’t. That being said I’m a fanatical Richmond supporter, if I ever have kids- it makes it easier to explain and I’m never going to stop supporting the tigers.

I love my tattoo but I’m still scared of it. I’m not sure when, or what I’ll get next, but I have never regretted getting a tattoo. It was an adventure and now it is a journey.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tattoos Through Time

5000 BC 
The earliest evidence of tattooing in Japan is found in the form of clay figurines that have faces painted or engraved to represent tattoo marks. The oldest figures of this kind have been recovered from tombs dated to 5,000 BC or older. It is said that the Japanese Samurai would tattoo themselves so that they could be be recognised if their armour and clothing were looted.

3300 BC Ötzi the Iceman dies in the Austrian Alps, his mummified body is discovered in 1991 and has 57 tattoos and markings on his body mostly small lines and crosses believed to be therapudic to treat osteoarthritis.

Source: New Scientist
2800 BC Ancient Egyptians One of the most famous of those early mummies is that of Amunet, a priestess of the goddess Hathor, who was found at Thebes. This female mummy displayed several lines and dots tattooed about her body. The tattoo patterns and markings were still clearly visible on her flesh.

2000 BC Upper-class Egyptian women and priestesses are tattooed with a series of dots over the abdomen, thighs and breasts. Scientists hypothesize that these tattoos are a form of protection during pregnancy, since the abdominal markings would expand to cover the woman's belly as it grew.

1300 BC Mummies dating from roughly 1300 BC are tattooed with pictographs symbolizing Neith, a prominent female deity with a militaristic bent. These are the only tattoos that at this point seem to have a link with male bearers.
Source: Wapedia
Tattoos on right arm of the
Scythian Chieftain.

500-300 BC Scythian Chieftan and “Ice Maiden  uncovered in the Altai Mountains in Pazyryk in Siberian Russia. No instruments specifically designed for tattooing were found, but the Pazyryks had extremely fine needles with which they did miniature embroidery, and these were probably used for tattooing.

400 BC The earliest known tattoo with a picture of something specific, rather than an abstract pattern, represents the god Bes. Bes is the lascivious god of revelry and he served as the patron god of dancing girls and musicians. Bes's image appears as a tattoo on the thighs of dancers and musicians in many Egyptian paintings, and Bes tattoos have been found on female Nubian mummies.
297 AD 
The first written record of Japanese tattooing was discovered when a Chinese dynastic history was compiled. According to the text, Japanese "men young and old, all tattoo their faces and decorate their bodies with designs." Japanese tattooing is also mentioned in other Chinese histories, but almost always in a negative context. The Chinese considered tattooing to be a sign of barbarism and used it only as punishment.
306 Constantine bans tattoos when tattoos were felt to "disfigure that made in God's image"
500 Pilgrim tattoos (a cross with the date of the pilgrimage) get religious sanction
720 Body art goes out of fashion in Japan when officials begin using tattoos to mark and punish criminals normally with a cross on the inner forearm or a straight line on the outside of the forearm or upper arm. The punishment was reserved for those who had committed serious crimes and were in turn ostracized by their families and communities. These outcast men were often discriminated against and so banded together, eventually forming organised crime groups known as the Yakuza. The members, wives and mistresses of these organisations are often tattooed with beautiful and intricate bodysuits (irezumi) which are rarely displayed for anyone other than other members.

Shoko Tendo author of Yakuza Moon
There is still some prejudice against tattooing in Japan because of their association with organised crime. Some establishments will still not admit people who bear tattoos of any kind.

Source: Let's Japan

787 Pope Hadrian bans tattooing banned tattooing (since it was associated with heathen practices) but there was an exemption for religious tattoos since they would “bring spiritual rewards.” 
922 Islamic scholar Ahmad Ibn Fadlan travels to Volga Bulgaria and comes across the Rus and makes some of the earliest recorded observations of the Vikings. "They are described as having bodies tall as (date) palm-trees, with blond hair and ruddy skin. They are tattooed from "fingernails to neck" with dark blue or dark green "tree patterns" and other "figures" and that all men are armed with an axe and a long knife."

1022-1066  King Harold II was the first recorded royal to have had tattoos, it is recorded that Harold's sister Edith could only pick out his mutilated body after the Battle of Hastings from the words 'Edith' and 'England' tattooed over his heart.
1576 Tattooed Inuit presented at Queen Elizabeth’s court.
1691 The English explorer William Dampier brought a tattooed South Pacific islander, Prince Giolo to London. He was known as the Painted Prince, because his whole body, except for his hands and face, was tattooed. He became the first in a long line to be displayed to the public at fairs, markets, and circuses.
Prince Giolo (The Painted Prince)
1700 Obeying the letter of the law, middle-class Japanese adorn themselves in full-body tattoos when a law is passed that only royals can wear ornate clothing.
1769 Captain James Cooks exploration of the South Pacific had his crew, looking for the perfect exotic memento to take home with them, tattoos seemed like the perfect option. He also popularizes the vocabulary we still use today: The Polynesian word tatau (meaning "to strike") gives rise to the Western term "tattoo."
1846 Martin Hildebrandt opens the first U.S. tattoo parlor in New York City, servicing clientele that includes soldiers from both sides of the Civil War. His daughter, Nora, rises to fame in the 1890s when she tours with the Barnum and Bailey Circus as the Tattooed Lady.

1891 Samuel O'Reilly invents the electric tattoo machine, which is inspired by Thomas Edison's autographic printing pen. He had been using the hand method of tattooing before, but it was tediously slow. The demand for more elaborate tattoos led O'Reilly to seek a faster method. Modern tattoo machines are still largely based on O'Reilly's design.
1955 Robert Mitchum makes the tattoo cool again in the movie Night of the Hunter, playing a sociopathic traveling preacher with "love" and "hate" inked on his knuckles. Popular modern variants include "rock/roll" and "love/math."

Robert Mitchum's tattoos in Night of the Hunter

1911 Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins was without doubt one of, if not the most famed tattooists to have ever lived. And is one of the fathers of American tattooing and was mentor to Don Ed Hardy and Mike Malone. Sailor Jerry learned his craft while travelling the country jumping between freight trains and hand tattooing drifters and the like. He was taught to use the electric tattoo machine by a man called, Tatts Thomas. While enlisted with the Navy, he sailed through the ports of Asia he began a life long fixation with Asian art and imagery. Sailor Jerry settled in Oahu, Hawaii where for the next forty years he practised his infamous style of humorous bold and colourful imagery on the passing military men. 

Sailor Jerry images: The Selvege Yard
1920 Photographs emerge of prisoners with highly elaborate tattoos in Russia, the popularity of these rose among the Thieves (vory v zakone) during the Soviet era such that there was an subculture associated with them. You could tell a fellow prisoners entire life story from his tattoos. Interest in Russian prison tattoos peaked again with the release of Alix Lambert's 2007 documentary The Mark of Cain.

1961 An outbreak of Hepatitis B which is linked to tattoo parlors in New York City causes tattooing to lose popularity again. As a result,  tattoo shops are outlawed in New York City until 1997.

1965 saw a resurgance in the popularity of tattooing with the anti-war, hippie, civil rights, gay and feminist movements. These groups leaned away from the traditional tattoo flash and toward more gentle images which dominated the mainstream tattoo market with designs like yin and yang symbols, flowers, astrological signs, and dolphins.

2005 The TV show Miami Ink airs for the first time, featuring the work of Ami James, Chris Garver, Darren Brass, Chris Nunez, Kat Von D and Yoji Harada and brings tattooing to the forefront of popular culture. This helps tattoos to become more popular in the West than at any time in recorded history, with more than 39 million North Americans sporting at least one.

2006: Scientists at Harvard University develop an erasable tattoo ink. Though it won't wash off in the shower, the ink's structure makes it easier for lasers to remove tattoos. Erasable tattoo ink gains popularity among those who stencil their sweetheart's name on their bicep, as the design is less regrettable after a breakup.

2009: Belgian teen, Kimberley Vlaminck, 18, claimed that she asked for only three stars to be tattooed near her left eye as a present "my father wanted to pay because in our family everyone has a tattoo," she said. As her father ate an ice cream outside, Miss Vlaminck claimed that she fell asleep before waking up to find her face covered in the "nightmare" tattoos. 56 stars to be exact. She later retracted the statement saying that she had lied and said that she fell asleep after her father's angry reaction.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011


This is a blog to fill what I, and on further consultation a number of my friends, have discovered in my searches, is a void in the market for tattooing.

I should explain in advance that I am not myself a tattooist and while I have tattoos I am not by any measure an expert.  I am a person who enjoys tattoos. The history, the art and the unexplored beauty, which is so often underappreciated and lost behind a screen of misguided perceptions and long history of negative publicity.

A girlfriend of mine said it perfectly; “tattoo sites seem to be about ‘typical’ kinds of tattoos, on ‘typical’ kinds of tattooed people. The thing that I like about having tattoos is that most people don’t expect me to have them because I don’t fit the traditional mould as such, and I think that most tattoo sites focus on tattooed people, rather than people with tattoos, tattoos as an art form.”

And she is right, I have spent much time searching and looking for inspiration, countless hours of research and referencing to find something that I liked. I trawled website after website and found that my biggest problem lay in that I was not looking for a big piece, I was after something that probably wouldn’t make it into a portfolio. The problem with looking for inspiration for smaller pieces is that unless the owner has posted it themselves, or you know exactly what you’re after it is near impossible to find a resource that provides you with a diverse collective of different styles.

This is what I’m trying to do.

To change perceptions and open up tattooing to a new audience. To make them non-intimidating and accessible to people like me. To provide a platform for people to share their own tattoos and the stories behind them and a place people can find answers to their tattoo questions.

This is about tattoos and the people who have them.

*Please respect that the photos on this blog are either taken by me or are posted with the permission of the owners and will be credited, where possible, to the artists who did them. 

All other images will be credit where possible, obviously with the amount of reposting that occurs on the internet it can be difficult to credit the correct source. In these instances if you come across a picture which is your own or that of somebody you know please email me and I will credit it correctly.

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