a question …


what were they thinking?‘ comes to mind! I do hope and pray (sort of of) that not all of them are real. Courtesy of Bastian! 🙂

on a side note, I’d take Matt Gone a.k.a. the human checkerboard, out of this list as he actually seems to have both a concept and a story behind his tattoos!


A few videos and TV news in today’s update:

School is out for the summer but here we have a piece of news about a teacher who got a tattoo done when his students improved their test scores.

An interesting project done in France: animated tattoo created with a little help from facebook users.

TV shows: ‘new web series based on tattoo artists’ (some big names appear on here) and TLC’s new monster: ‘Tattoo School.’ An interesting commentary of sorts: ‘tattoos? Yawns. Just more of the same!

I don’t think I’ll ever watch this one but there may be some fans of the stuff: “Degenerates Ink.

Paul Booth is still alive, kicking and with new ideas: ‘Last Rites Gallery and Tattoo Theatre reinvention.’

‘Tattoo Etiquete’ here.

And nice gem with a priceless quote: ‘a book every teenager should read’ (there’s also a version for girls!) ending on a ridiculuous note: ‘I’m telling you, if just one ancient Maori mother had bought her son “Temporary Tattoos for Guys” and allowed him to get the Ace of Hearts tattooed on his bicep, she might have altered the course of tattoo history.

I’m actually grateful to this one ancient Maori mother for not having bought anything of this kind!

a retro cover, a retro stand?

A June issue of the Polish National Geographic edition is beautiful in this slightly shocking and amazing way, reminding me of the old issues of the NG, back in the 60s, 70’s and 80’s so many people into body modification used to rave about – images of the African tribes with many different, so alien to us, Westerners, looks that we couldn’t think about them without a shudder and disgust. And here it is, the second decade of the 21st century, with millions of people modified in so many ways all around the world and the good ol’ NG looks retro and sounds so as well.

The article devoted to body modification got the title ‘Body can stand everything’ and describes a few ‘exotic’ to us, the average white Westerners, body modifications. ‘Neck stretching’ practiced by the Padaung women is right next to lip stretching of the African Mursi and Suri tribes; tribal scarification is next to teeth filling/ teeth blackening and nostril stretching of the Apatani women.

It starts with a nicely open-minded, anthropological stand: the author discusses briefly the history of body modification, mentions Őtzi and spices it up with the term of ‘social skin’ coined by Terence S. Turner. Obviously, the various forms of body modification have their own meanings in their own contexts and there are, or were, reasons for practicing them. It reads nicely and the introductory words of the editor-in-chief of the Polish edition of the NG also invites the readers to approaching the subject with open mind: ‘mark your own oddities before you’ll pass the judgment on others!’

The problem is that the author of the text somehow couldn’t resist adding a typical, closed-minded stand of the Western old school of thinking about different cultures throughout the text. The Mursi have ‘grotesque discs pushed into their lips’ (although this example may be a quote from an anthropologist who studied this tribe!) and their lip plates are also described as ‘decoration’ (quotation marks included which implies that it’s not seen this way). The women from the Apatani tribe are described even worse: ‘nowadays girls from this tribe prefer to look attractive and unnaturally stretched nostrils can be seen only on their grandmothers’ (the word underlined by me). And there are also a few words devoted to the facial tattoos of the Chin women: ‘allegedly they disfigured themselves to turn off the Burmese kings’ only to juxtapose it with the Chin women’s own opinion: ‘the elderly women who wear traditional tattoos say that they make them feel attractive and feminine.’

The question is whether the author somehow, maybe subconsciously, shared her own opinion on the forms of body modification that are both new and rare in the Western world or if she just expresses a typical to the old Western way of thought disgust toward the Otherness. The bodies of the Others have always fascinated us, forced us to watch them closely only to walk away feeling stronger and better about ourselves (‘we are not barbarians,’ ‘we are not freaks,’ ‘we are civilized and sane hence we do not hurt ourselves!’). An average reader of the magazine would take a look at the cover, experience a slight shock, comment in not a very positive way and then go over ‘disfigured,’ ‘grotesque,’ ‘unnaturally stretched’ and ‘prefer to look attractive,’ feeling that our own aesthetics is the only right one as we do not disfigure, we do not make ourselves look grotesque and there’s nothing ‘unnatural’ about us! And thus once again we get reinforced this old ‘us vs. the Other’ way of thinking, feeling, living. What’s worse, we actually still have it thrive around – all we need to do is to watch a random talk show episode devoted to body modification to see the audience getting shocked and convinced that people showing off and discussing their ‘mods’ definitely are not ‘normal.’

In a way, the NG seems unable to follow the changes in the world – it keeps us updated on the modern science, changes in the world, peoples and species dying out but it is so focused on the ‘exotic’ tribes outside our ‘civilized’ world that it is not observant enough to really notice what’s going on under the cover of Western world. The final lines of the article mention the modern trends in body modification (eyeball tattooing, the ‘Western’ form of scarification and branding) ‘that paradoxically appears in the ‘civilized’ world’ but there won’t be following it up, there won’t be more information on it. Is it not ‘exotic’ enough? Is it too tame and still familiar only because the ‘Modern Primitives’ or the ‘Modern Modified’ look like us? What I would like to see is an in-depth article about modern forms of body modification as practiced in the Western world, reasons behind them and making people not only look, read and experience a mild shock but also wonder why and how literally all of us modify our bodies. Comes to think of it, wouldn’t it be great to let the ‘Others’ speak up for once and let us know what they think of us?

Health, people and what a police(wo)man shouldn’t have on them

The weather hasn’t been all balmy and nice in Europe recently, so no wonder that at least some online newspapers included warnings about it in their daily contents. Here interesting, short articles about body piercings and low temperatures in Dutch.

More on health: a doctor’s take on body piercings, allergies commonly caused by body piercings, tattoos and … cell phones, tongue piercing-related health and social risks, medical alert tattoos again and a Polish one about organ donors and their tattoos.

People somehow related to tattoos: Tattoo Betty (her myspace page), a guy who wants to get 100.000 tattoos tattooed on him for charity and a journalist turned tattooist from Malaysia.

Tattoo industry: Berlin tattoo convention, how to get a career in tattooing (from India, so it’s very specific) and an interesting one about tattoo designs called SIG (sexy ink girls).

Two points of view on getting tattooed: ‘Skin Graffiti’ picturing tattoos as a big no-no (and a pic of a gangsta to make the point even clearer) and a pretty cool one answering the question ‘why I got more ink?

Miscellaneous: tattoo graphics on computer cases and a Polish one about a new police dress code that forbids visible tattoos and other bodily decorations.

small world, nice food

Some local touch for starters: interviews and articles about tattoo artists operating away from the big celebs-filled world: two local artists and an OH-based all women-tattoo shop just opened.

Big world to even things out: Scott Campbell and his Louis Vuitton adventure and a little bit more on Kat Von D and her new book.

This one is a real gem in more than just one dimension: ear stretching a.k.a ear gauging 😉

This one, on the other hand, is really interesting: ‘prototype ‘piercing’ restores man’s ability to swallow’ (more).

An odd article and a pretty nice picture from Germany.

Finally, an article about ‘tasty’ tattoos – food rules, eh?

self-mutilation and a few other gems

Seeing how I’ve recently read, written and posted a review about ‘Word Made Flesh,’ here more links to articles about the book; at least worth checking out.

The Vegetarian Festival still popular and here you’ll find not only an interesting background story about it but also an article with a much-telling title ‘festive self-mutilation.’

Tattoos and (possible) regrets in ‘do you regret your college tattoos?’ and an article about a Canadian initiative ‘Think before you ink!

Tattoos for good cause in an article about an activist (‘every tattoo tells a story’) and ’75 paw-print tattoos for an animal shelter.’

It just had to happen: ‘open your heart and be modified!’ makes fun of Church of Body Modification. Why not? Modified people usually have a sense of humor!

This one, in German, I got from Bastian but here you also have an English version of a story of a tattoo fan having gone for quite an unusual tattoo!

onions, balls and apologies

Many Western tattoo artists say they practised and honed their art on pig skin or grapefruits; Indian artists apparently go a different route: ‘practising on onions makes tattoo art perfect.’ Another one from India here and I categorized it in ‘anthropology/ history’ section because it’s more than just a regular tattoo-related article.

With Football World Championship just minutes away, English artists decided to address quite important a question: ‘tattoo artists’ warning to England fans.’ Also from the UK, some info on ‘nationwide tattoo removal competition’, so maybe there is soemthing to the said warning after all.

Boston tattoo scene briefly described in ‘get inked for summer’ and a pretty interesting idea for the festival mascots in Vancouver.

There are many editorials on the web that ridicule body modification, especially tattoos, and point out, just like this one, that being tattooed does not makes people original (true enough but repeating nasty things about people with tattoos is not original, either!), so some apologies after having published unpleasant statements are a nice change: ‘undoing a tattooed misunderstanding.’

 And if anyone is interested where the name ‘tramp stamp’ comes from, here you may find the answer.


Some new interesting articles about tattoos:

When done in unsanitary places, tattoos can be dangerous (apparently it’s not that safe to get tattooed in FL) but tattoos can also be life-savers – medical tattoo here.

Tattoo causing an odd problem in ‘knives out over offensive tattoos.’

Not that bad an article from Malaysia about tattoos and stereotypes – those who never had a funny encounter/ discussion with strangers about their modifications should rise their hands now!

I used to read the Revolver magazine, so now I’m kind of bummed that I won’t get to buy this one special issue devoted to tattoos! And since it mentions Paul Booth, here’s an article about one artist exhibiting his art at Booth’s place in NYC.

Finally, cheap and wacky as it is, ‘NBA’s worst tattoos’ – laughing at others, especially when your own taste may prove to be highly disputable, is quite interesting to watch.

ecology and passion

A post-Thanksgiving thought in ‘inkless and thankful’ which I categorized as ‘gem;’ if there is one ‘valid’ reason for getting tattooed, it must be so all the people against body modification could write and whine about it! Personally, I’m thankful for having gotten as many tattoos as I have to date and I’ll be thankful if I get many more.

Tattoos and good cause again in another ‘Ink, not Mink’ ad (Linkin Park singer this time) and an interesting initiative from the UK based Ultimate Holding Company: the Extinked Project.

‘Slightly’ different is, of course, Wim Delvoye’s project and here another article about him, just to remind people out there of him.

 ‘Tattoos are no lost art’ discusses sports and tattoos again – we’ve already heard all about it. And even if many athletes get inked, many sports fans do so as well; here a Polish gallery of ‘football fans and their tattoos.’

 Athletes, actors and musicians have done quite a lot to change the bad image of tattoos; people in the West are aware of that. In Vietnam the process has just begun: ‘celebrities break tattoo taboo.’

 A nice article from Germany about the oldest tattoo shop in the country shows us quite well the history of tattooing in Europe and a few old-timers covered in ink. Worth checking out!

old and modern

I really enjoy reading about body modification from an anthropological perspective; maybe because it adds more depth to my own interest or maybe because it shows time and again that there are so many of us, in different places and times. This time two treats for my anthropology category: ‘art as armor: Cambodian soldiers’ beliefs’ and ‘Beauty and Bloodfaces’ about Myanmar women and their tattoos.

A few articles with tips and advice: ‘what to look for when choosing the right tattoo shop and tattoo artist,’ ‘first steps to getting tattoo’ and ‘ear piercing fashion statements’ (the last one discusses the subject very superficially, though!)

There are many reasons behind our modifications; here’s a sort of outline of a few of them: ‘ink-ing out self-expression’ and ‘do you tattoo?

I remember reading ‘Tattoo Theo’ where there was mentioned a wonderful (and secret) potion used to remove tattoos; allegedly it was very effective. Times changed and yet there are still ‘magic potions’ available: ‘Wrecking Balm tattoo remover.’

Tattoos and social acceptance? Not that simple: ‘students becoming more accepting of tattoos,’ ‘police sensitivity training: don’t judge a person by looks,’ and ‘Facebook’s tattoo crowd in a snit.’

Finally, ‘digital tattoos’ (good point!) and ‘what are the Twitter users sharing?