the eye of beholder

‘Ugly models’ were already mentioned on here but looks like their popularity is growing and soon there will be a new reality TV show focused on them.

Obviously, what’s ugly for some people, is beautiful to others and here a piece of news about a new photography exhibit focused on tattoo art on Isle of Wight and an interesting interview with my favorite Wim Delvoy where he discusses his tattoo projects and says two interesting things: ‘tattooed pigs live longer’ and ‘tattooed pigs look like tattooed people.’

A local school dress code of students appeared on here a few days back, so time for a dress code of teachers!

A very important question of ethics raised in this one from Australia where allegedly some teenagers go for tongue piercings to get better at oral sex (a link to the shop mentioned).  

Local artists from around the world: Alex of Copenhagen, Denmark (his shop), Rhonda from CO, Natan Alexander from Boston, MA, Tabu of Fiji, Mmesi of South Africa.

Finally, two very interesting and unusual tattoo ideas: ‘explosive cheat sheet’ and ‘extinction tattoos.

lots of … people

This made the news and made me smile: ‘great grandmother gets her third tattoo at age 101’ (another one). It’s really uplifting to see someone who has so much stamina and courage to go against the norms and social conventions and enjoy the life later in life! May she live another hundred years and get more tattoos.

Another piece of good news from FL: ‘The Lizardman cast in plastic for Ripley’s museum‘ (more about the Lizardman and Ripley). The Lizardman is a wonderful mix of intellect and sense of humor, so it’s great he’s getting even more recognition, even in such a form;).

Lots about people-related news today because here’s a piece of news about Ed Hardy’s new selling products (the tile is great: ‘Ed Hardy tattoos the mice!’), here a short article about Billy the Human Billboard (mentioned in this post) who legally changed his name and an interesting one from Turkey where apparently Ataturk’s signature is trendy in a tattoo form.

Dress code-related: golf club’s tattoo ban in South Korea, Columbus police getting stink over ink and something I’m not going to judge: ‘cosmetic tattooing on a 14-yr-old.’

A nice string of unusual ones: datoos (as in tattoos, DNA and computing combo), vatoos (=vagina tattoos) and ‘tooth body art’ in India.

Pretty interesting: ‘men with genital piercing not who’d you think: study.’

Miss and Mister Tattoo Polynesia 2010’ in September in Tahiti.

Finally, something that should be kept in mind at all times: tipping (is not a city in China) or how much to tip who, tattoo artists included.

people mostly

A short post today but with a few interesting links:

An article about Horiyoshi III sheds some light on his life, thoughts and future.

Another one about Ray Bradbury presents some of his works, a.o. ‘The Illustrated Man.’

An odd one about very few ‘interesting tattoo facts’ one of which is related to the news about ‘the value of a tattoo in higher education.’

fashion, rankings and some other stuff

I haven’t found this in English yet, so let’s use it in Spanish (and it’s been a long time since I linked to anything Spanish which reminds me that I should work harder on this language): Scott Campbell will collaborate with Louis Vuitton brand.

Also fashion-related (although it seems that this clothing line lost on publicity): ‘rebel style’ is popular in Philippines now and the Miami Ink guys can expect a few bucks more in their pockets.

Some people show off their body art while others must/ need to/ have to hide it: ‘work zone and possible problems in white-collar jobs’ and a dress code from one of American high schools.

The top 10 most tattooed American cities ranking shows, however, that tattoos are still strong.

An interesting one from Time magazine: soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and their tattoos.

Some other interesting ones: ‘Maori tribesman in Colchster, UK,’ A German professor collecting old tattoos and using them for scientific purposes, ‘ink for a cause’ introducing an energetic, enterprising and tattooed woman, a biography of a tattoo artist known as Phill Sparrow, ‘common tattoo beliefs debunked’ an article about the HanziSmatter blog, local LA tattoo artists showing their anger at BP and the American government and a tattoo(ing) Cinderella (an unemployed Pole gets some government money and opens his own tattoo shop!)

book review: the tattoo murder case

 Post-war Japan, August 1947. A young Ph.D. student of forensic medicine, Kenzo Matsushita, decides to be adventurous and visits a tattoo contest organized by Edo Tattoo Society. There he meets a mysterious woman with a wonderful tattoo on her back who feels that her death is near. Kenzo falls in love with her only to find out that she was brutally murdered and her tattooed torso stolen. His chase after the murderer takes the reader around the post-war Tokyo with its ruined buildings, people struggling to live their lives despite the humiliation of having lost the war and, above all, the tattoo underworld with its secrets, taboos and strange beauty that, obviously, can lead people to murder.

There are a few reasons why to read this novel! First, it takes place in the post-war Japan and shows us how the Japanese people dealt with their losses and hard war experiences. Written by a Japanese writer in 1948, it’s a first-hand account of living there and then! Secondly, it introduces us to a Japanese way of thinking and perceiving the world that flows slower and more meditatively than the Western one. Chiseled and polished over centuries, the Japanese culture is famous for its simplicity, beauty and attention to details and you can find it not only in the works of the long-gone pen masters but also in this popular fiction book – its writing style is very detailed, the narration is quite fast-paced and yet slow enough to be able to admire the style and images of scenes and characters the author creates in the reader’s mind’s eye. Finally, for all tattoo fans out there this book gives a wonderful insight into the world of traditional Japanese tattooing, with its official ban, ambiguous social attitudes toward tattoos, popular motifs and taboos associated with the art.

What really struck me while reading this book was how modern the author’s reflections on tattoos seem to be. Among many interesting statements uttered by several book characters, at least a few could just as well be said today by a Western tattoo fan (although probably in not that beautiful a form!): ‘there are two things about getting tattooed that seem to impress people: the money it costs and the pain it causes’ (p. 106-107), ‘tattooing is like narcotics. You become fascinated, then addicted, and the next thing you know you’re ruining your own skin with ink and dyes’ (p. 166) or ‘the philosophical observer was tempted to view them [tattooed people] as an independent race, separated by their immortal tattoos from the transience of life on earth’ (p. 24).

Although the author, by means of the characters he created, takes different stands on tattooing throughout the book, it’s also quite obvious that he did thorough research before writing his book and is able to see differences between the Japanese and Western tattooing styles. Moreover, he is also quite proud of the artistry and consistency reflected in the Japanese tattooing. Now and then he comments on it: ‘unlike the Japanese tattoo, which flows over the contours of the body like a river over stones, the Americans cover their arms with a hodge-podge of unsightly, obvious designs … there’s no excuse for the total lack of artistry’ (p. 10) or ‘the art tattoo is one area in which Japan can still claim to be the best in the world’ (p. 319).

As the plot of one murder after another develops, Takagi takes us deeper and deeper into the world of tattooing, sharing scattered pieces of the history of the Japanese tattooing (Yokohama and tattooing the Western crowned heads mentioned as well as ukiyo-e roots of tattoos), showing the vast variety of tattoo motifs and richness of the Japanese folklore and pointing out how polarized were opinions on tattooing in the Japanese society (and many modern articles on the subject show clearly that this ambiguity still holds). In Takagi’s book murders and sensationalism somehow are pushed to the background while people’s disappointments, daily struggles and hidden passions take place in the spotlight.

Takagi did his homework when it comes to tattoos but he also knew enough Western detective novels to blend them skillfully into his work. There are many references to such novels throughout his book and he names two of them: The Maltese Falcon and Farewell, My Lovely. In the background, however, never named but always present is another great detective figure, Sherlock Holmes, here disguised as a young genius, Kyosuke Kamizu. The main character, Kenzo, might enjoy more attention from his creator but it doesn’t change the fact that his role is this of Watson, not overly bright but sometimes helpful sidekick of Holmes.

‘The Tattoo Murder Case’ is a nicely complex detective novel that shows that reading this genre not always is a waste of time. It’s beautifully written (and well translated, I guess) and fascinates with its insight into the tattoo world of the old Japan. The modern tattoo fan might be surprised by the depth and complexity of the author’s stand on tattoos but it only adds to the value of this novel and shows how much we owe to the past and traditions we pretty often don’t even know about.

Akimitsu Takagi, The Tattoo Murder Case, Soho Crime 2003;

making the cut or not

The past Friday was quite important to all who are either superstitious or horror fans or tattoo artists as, quite traditionally by now, many of them had ‘Friday the 13th tattoo’ action going on in their shops, here a few examples.

A week ago there was another tattoo convention in Poland (not an unusual event in this country these days); here’s a short article about it. Sadly, it lacks information on the convention itself and instead goes the sensational route and focuses on the freaky side of such events.

Local touch and some info on how to become a piercer in an interview with a Canadian piercer from Fredericton, NB. And since taking  a look at various shops around the world might be a good thing to do, here’s a link to the shop in question!

Beyond tattoos, piercings: the art of scarification makes the cut’ is a rare example of article focused on a more extreme form of body modification (link to the shop here). There were quite a few attempts to make scarification appear more and more popular in the past but somehow it always ends not to be true.

Quite an interesting piece of news from Scotland: ‘jail chiefs to consider setting up professional tattoo parlors in prisons’ (comments are worth reading, too).

Are tattoos at work really that acceptable?’ poses a good question (especially in the light of the recent articles I posted on here about tattooed/ pierced hotel staff and how they are perceived by customers and general public). And let’s juxtapose it with an article from OH that shows how an entertaining column focused on tattoos can get under fire from the readers only because its focus is tattoos.

celeb glitter and local touch

Much to my both surprise and delight there were quite a few interesting articles on tattoos to read today, so here for others to enjoy:

Apparently the season 4 of LA Ink was launched on TV yesterday, so there’s a lot of Kat Von D-related information floating around; here a slide show of her favorite tattoos on others, an interview with her that sheds some light on the new season and a video teaser showing one of her star guests on the show. And straight from Amazon some info on an upcoming book by Ms Von D.

Two other slide shows: chefs from Kansas City (some of their tattoos are really interesting and quite clever!) and athletes (this one’s in Polish, though).

Tattoos in ads: Beyonce and her new image.

Some interesting people featured in an article from Australia about Janne Kearney, a painter who depicts people with body art (her art gallery here), this one from Seattle discusses an upcoming event but also features and quotes Vyvyn Lazonga while this one focuses on ManWoman whose life goal is to reclaim the symbol of swastika.

To make it more diverse and international, two articles about local tattoo artists: one from Delhi, India and another one from Germany.

Finally, something for my history/ anthropology section: ‘Tattoo culture of Li ethnic group at Expo in Shanghai.’

‘in’ and ‘out’

Let’s start with ‘body mods for a good cause’ and this time there are two interesting examples from Australia: to help a victim of an accident and a body mod fundraiser in Darwin (Darwin City Tattoos and Vogue Body Piercing mentioned, so check out their websites, too!).

Body Modification’ is a loose essay on subject of tattoos and personal experiences.

The Girl with The Moustache Tattoo’ is an obvious play on this book/ film and it’s also worth checking out as it features several Canadians and their tattoos and also lists what’s ‘in’ and ‘out’ as far as tattoos go now. To make it more international, here a short Polish article describing what’s ‘in’ in Poland now (obviously, it’s gangsta tattoos (?!)).

The new world record (the most people being tattooed at the same time) in England last weekend!

This one from India presents ‘world’s most interesting hobbies’ and lists body piercing as one of them! I quite like the idea, actually, as I use it myself – when a nurse at the local health centre was giving me a shot and got startled by the sight of my sleeve, I explained that like many other people I also have hobbies and tattoos are just one of them. 😉

not so healthy perhaps but not that ugly, either

According to the recent study by UBC, tattooing is linked to a higher risk of hepatitis C (more) which prompted an article ‘guidelines for tattoo artists in Canada need to be revised.’

In less scary news, another article about the first tattoo convention in Nepal and some pics from the event.

Religious beliefs and tattoos in an interesting article about ‘history and symbolism of traditonal Thai tattoo’ and (mainly) Christian tattoos in NE.

For those who think that tattooed women are ugly, here two articles, in German and English, about how heavily tattooed women can successfully model!

Tattoos also aren’t in the way of working as a policeman, at least in Poland, as points out this article.

If everything fails, you can always get more tattoos and try to be eligible for a world record – this Indian man has some ideas how to use tattoos for his advantage.