Before anything else, Jen Hernandez (while she’s still developing her formal site) and I would like to personally thank and dedicate this to the City of Vancouver (and that one amazing lady from England) for being the coolest people in the world. For being gung-ho and sharing with us their art, embracing 2 curious arts students running up and down Granville & Davie and giving us a smile when we ask for your photo, and for wishing us luck in this tiny project.
Also a special thank you to the kind awesome folks of Adrenaline, The Fall, Urban Outfitters, the Arts Institute.
For all the wonderful contributors in this project, if you stumble upon this blog and would like to have a copy of your omg-amazing photo, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will most happily email you your photo(s).
I was invited by Jen Hernandez, a fellow A.I. Graphic Arts student to work with her on her final graduating thesis, which fate had it, were about tattoos. God only knows how long I had been wanting to take photos of people with tattoos, even back in the Philippines… it’s just that 1) there aren’t that many people who blatantly wear their ink for all to see, 2) It’s still taboo, 3) They aren’t as amazing as what Vancouver has….
Writing about the whole 2 month experience (and a thousand or so pics that we have taken) needs a little reflection too. Being someone who loves arts and culture, Tattoos are a fascinating human and social subject. And coming from a rather conservative (vis a vis body arts in general) city like Manila, seeing all kinds of tats in Vancouver boldly displayed like badges of honor is an eye opener. First, they are truly amazing works of art, and second, there’s always a great story behind it, and third, the people are some of the funniest, most down to earth, and accommodating subjects I have ever met. It also tells a lot about the Vancouver culture of being open to all kinds of self-expression…
And after all the random strangers we’ve met and photographed, I can honestly tell you 4 things:
1) Tattoo’s are probably the highest form of self-expression
2) They should be also categorized as a branch of fashion
3) They should be respected as a field of arts. There is nothing more challenging than a living, breathing, aging, moving piece of canvas.
4) Expect the Unexpected.
In Photo: Micheal Blinsky, Adrenaline
Everyone we had photographed had a quip or a passionate story about their tattoos. Whether it’s the names of their family members done in aboriginal art, or the tribulations they have witnessed, or as a result of one drunken night, or even because they love something so much that they paid their highest respects to it by having it inked on their bodies.
The story is JUST AS FASCINATING as the art, artist, and wearer. We’ve heard too many variations, and still the process, planning, designing, and execution of it still entertains me every time we ask, “So what does your tattoo mean to you?”
In Photo: Chee Lai and her flight of birds
This may probably be a weird way of looking it. But just as we all love to get earrings, our nails done, our hair done… tattoos are just the same thing as make-up… only this time, it’s a permanent investment. It is also something YOU own for the rest of your life.
A lot of fashion designers have incorporated this culture into their body of work. From Ed Hardy, to Gucci, to Chanel’s temporary skin art (don’t believe? http://www.wmagazine.com/w/blogs/editorsblog/2010/02/17/chanel-tattoos-for-reals.html they go for $75).
So in a way, tattoos are aspirational fashion. and they say, once you start… you cannot stop adding and adding to the collection.
And guess what? IT NEVER GOES OUT OF STYLE.
A FIELD OF ARTS
Photo: Vancouver Pride Parade
Watching tattoo artists do their thing can be both nerve-racking (that ear jarring sound of the machine) and entertaining at the same time. They are also topnotch illustrators. Imagine putting your trust on someone who will etch a permanently identifying mark on your body. It takes a whole lotta research, trust, and collaborative design for someone who’s wanting to get a tattoo. Some people have said it took them 5 or even 10 years of planning. And why not? It’s a lifelong commitment.
There is simply no trial and error when in comes to tattoos.
As I’ve said, meeting the tattoo community is one of the funnest things I have ever done. 99% of the people we’ve talked to are gung-ho and proud of their skin art. Not a bad statistic at all.
They are also some of the most unexpected people around. Sometimes you meet someone clad in leather and chains, and you would think, ah! That guy has a tattoo. And it turns out he doesn’t. And then comes along a guy in a Ralph Lauren suit and he has tattoos all over his arms and legs. I sat with this fellow on the train on my way home from school, and too bad I didn’t have my camera with me, because he showed the tats on his arms and calf. It was work-in-progress mural that tells a story about his life and family. And he works as a banker.
I also met a woman on a wheelchair on the train and she had a huge beautiful, amazing monarch butterfly tattoo that spanned the entirety of her upper chest, just above her breasts. Sadly she suffered from a stroke and couldn’t speak very well. But her husband proudly told me what she was intending to say. She said that she got her tattoo in LA, and the butterfly symbolized her 2nd chance in life. She also said she was planning to get another one soon in Vancouver to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. To be honest, I was truly humbled by her. Here she was paralyzed forever, but her optimism was just inspiring.
Again, I didn’t have my camera. You meet the most amazing people and you had no way of documenting it. Dangit :D Wish i can shrink the D300 to a pocket size camera.
So here goes, just some of my personal favorites :D ENNNJJJOOOOOYYYY!!!!
The photographs on this blog are subject to copyright and in no way can be reproduced or copied for personal or commercial purposes without the consent of the authors.