The Importance of Tattoo Placement

Meet Angela Angela Jordan is a personal trainer and owner of Camp AJ Athletic Conditioning. When I interviewed Angela for my book, she emphasized the importance of tattoo placement. The body is the canvas and tattoos are art, so where it goes on the body is very important. She explained that a tattoo can make the body look better or worse. For example, a poorly placed tattoo on the thigh can actually make the leg look bigger, whereas certain shapes of tattoos can make the body look leaner.   At the time of the interview, Angela didn’t have nearly as much ink. As a trainer, she felt it was important that people could see her physique. Several months ago, when I saw that Angela had added a glorious lion neck tattoo to her collection of body art, I decided to reach out to her. Even now, it’s rare to see neck tattoos. She first seriously considered getting a neck tattoo when she saw a photo of herself with a large necklace that covered most of her neck. She liked the look and quickly decided to take the plunge. While she has received reactions from people, Angela says that there hasn’t […]

Zach, US Navy: Tattoo Interview

In the past decade, tattoos haven’t just artistically evolved, but they have become so popular that many industries have changed their policies regarding body art. The military is no exception. In honor of Veteran’s day, I’m posting a portrait from my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Zach got his tattoo in honor of his time in the Navy as well as his love for the sea. The tattoo on his chest is the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Zach also enjoys snorkeling and spear fishing.   I’m always grateful to have the opportunity to speak with soldiers and veterans. I know that as a civilian much of what veterans experience is outside of my paradigm. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for me as well as everyone else to be a good listener and honor what they have done for this country. Thank you for your service, veterans!

Gatekeepers Talk About Tattoos

The Gatekeepers is a neutral motorcycle club of professional and retired fire fighters who frequently host fundraising events. Five of their members were kind enough to come down to my studio to talk about their non-profit organization and how tattoos have evolved in the fire department. Today it’s so common to see fire fighters with tattoos, but there was a time when tattoos in the fire department were not as accepted as they are today.   “There was one point in the fire department you couldn’t have any. If they showed, you had to cover them,” says Rob. “Now it’s a matter of what it is. If it’s offensive to anybody, you have to cover it.”   When I interviewed each member, I was amazed at the different styles of tattoos and how varied the stories were. While all of them had a Gatekeeper emblem tattoo, each of them had ink honoring what was important to them. For example, Bill (red shirt) got tattoos celebrating his family’s Scottish heritage. Pappy (far left) explained that the Celtic Crosses on the inside of his forearms were to remind him of his own inner strength when times got tough.   My interview with the […]

The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden

A couple of years ago I read an article about the talented and world renowned sculptor, Ray Villafane. In 2016, he transformed 24 tons of sand into a realistic sculpture of an elephant playing a game of chess with a mouse.   Villafane’s work is ephemeral, which means that his sculptures don’t last for a very long time. The elephant sculpture exhibit lasted for six months. I was intrigued by the idea of someone creating art that would only be temporary. I thought about all the hours that must have gone into the sculpture, only to eventually be eroded by Mother Nature. At the time, I was working on Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. When I saw that Villafane had tattoos, I decided to reach out to him for an interview.   Villafane explained that most art is essentially ephemeral. For example, tattoo artists create art that leaves the studio once they’re done tattooing their client. The tattoo may be permanent, but for the tattooist they will probably never see that piece again.   If you’re interested in checking out Villafane’s amazing sculpture’s, The Town of Carefree is hosting it’s annual Enchanted Pumpkin Garden from October 18 – 27. […]

Tattle Tales: Making the Book

Considering the fact that Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits was first photography book, I definitely went through a learning curve. Looking back on the process, there are things that I wouldn’t do and other things that I would do again. Creating a sample book was one of the best decisions I made. I feel with most things in life it’s a good idea to really know and understand what you want, but remain flexible and open to other people’s opinions. For my sample book, I used Mixbook because it’s fairly easy to use and they frequently have sales, which makes it more affordable. There are many websites that allow people to create photo books. I just happened to hear about Mixbook, and I felt pretty happy with their quality and customer service.   My book was pretty easy to organize because each spread was about one or two people. However, I wanted to make sure that my layout wasn’t too text heavy or stylistically repetitive. Initially, I wasn’t worried about the page order. If you try to make all the decisions at once, you’ll feel overwhelmed. I created the page spreads first. Afterwards, I took a few days away […]

Coast Guard Eases Up on Tattoos

Sometimes we hear things that we don’t expect. I was getting ready for bed when I heard on the news that the Coast Guard was easing up on their tattoo policy. Last Thursday the Coast Guard announced less stringent tattoo regulations so that more candidates could apply for employment. For example, chest tattoos are now allowed, as long as they don’t show above the collar. Additionally, hand tattoos are accepted, but with certain restrictions.   Over the last couple of years, different military branches have also adopted less strict tattoo regulations. Those who are old enough to remember what it was like when tattoos weren’t popular can appreciate the significance of this evolution. Because tattoos are common, it’s easy to assume that ink is unconditionally accepted. It’s hard to say whether tattoos are more accepted or tolerated, and there is a difference between the two. After interviewing so many people with tattoos, I came to the conclusion that tattoos are more accepted and tolerated and it really depends on the environment. As one person explained to me, “it’s following the culture of the customer service.”   Maybe twenty or thirty years from now people will be so used to seeing […]

Tattoos: Art for the Masses

  Body of Art Even though I’ve always appreciated body art, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about the world of tattoos. While interviewing people for my tattoo book, I developed a deeper appreciation for tattoo artists. Reality shows and social media have done a lot to share the work of these incredible artists, but sometimes these platforms glamorize the industry. I learned about the sacrifices these individuals make to be a part of this industry and community. For example, I never really thought about the fact that they have to work very different hours than most people. In order for them to be available to their clients, they have to work when most people are off work. That means weekends and long nights. Sometimes they have to miss out on family events and vacations. Sometimes their marriages suffer because they have to spend long hours at the studio. Despite these challenges, however, these tattoo artists remain passionate and dedicated to their work. They continually push themselves artistically, and they create amazing art for the masses.   There’s also another aspect about tattoos that I’ve learned to appreciate since studying this burgeoning art form. Over the past […]

Tattle Tales: Making the Book – Proofreaders

My book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, has been my first foray into the world of self-publishing. The learning curve has been huge, but I’ve learned so much from other people through social media platforms and blogs. While I don’t consider myself to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I like to use my blogs to discuss some of the challenges I faced and share what things have helped me.  In this post, I’m going to explain the importance of a proofreader.   My book doesn’t have a lot of text. It’s mostly portraits, but there’s nearly 16,000 words in the whole book and most of that were from interview excerpts. Although I think it’s a good idea to have someone you trust look over your work and get their feedback as a reader, it’s absolutely crucial to use a proofreader. My eyes spent so many hours scrutinizing this book that I could easily overlook an obvious error. For me, it wasn’t an option to not use a proofreader. Even when a mistake is minor, it distracts the reader and takes away from the work. Plus, having a professional review your work takes some of the […]

Themes

I enjoy all my shoots, but I particularly had fun with this one. When I first mentioned doing a photo series for the 7 Deadly Sins, a lot of people told they thought it was over done. In some ways they’re right, but I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could come up with my own interpretation, despite the fact so many people have put their own stamp on this theme. This photoshoot was Gluttony, which involves an excess of food usually. I got the inspiration for this shoot from an old Gwen Stefani video called “Luxurious.” There’s a scene where Stefani is lying on colorfully wrapped candy. I loved the colors and the concept, and so I adapted it to my shoot. I certainly did get weird looks at the store when I picked up bags and bags of candy. Though I bought quite a lot, it still wasn’t enough. During the shoot, I made sure to arrange the candy so that I would be able to go back into Photoshop and clone the candy so that the entire background would be covered. The editing was a little more difficult than I thought it […]

Tattle Tales: Victor

Even though I have completed my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I still like to collect stories of people and their ink. I met Victor while he was working for my parents. Of course, I immediately noticed the art on his sleeve. It’s no surprise that  Alice in Wonderland is one of his favorite movies. However, one thing that I was surprised to learn from my conversation with Victor is how tolerant religious communities have become in regard to tattoos. Victor is very active in his church, and he has not encountered negativity towards his tattoo. During my interview with Victor, I came to realize that tattoos give people the ability to keep their artwork and memories with them no matter what. In the past year, we’ve seen horrific environmental disasters affect many cities all over the country. Sometimes, in a matter of a just a few hours, people lose everything that they own. People with tattoos don’t have to worry about losing the art on their bodies. As tattoos have become more mainstream, our idea of art has evolved. Art is no longer exclusive. Art belongs to all of us.