Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skull Recipe

Do not make sugar skulls on a rainy or high humidity day. They will not turn out.

Mix together well in large bowl: 1 teaspoon Meringue Powder for every cup of granulated sugar used.

Step 1: Mix dry ingredients well.

Step 2: Sprinkle sugar mixture with 1 teaspoon water per cup of sugar used.

Variation: Colored Skulls Most people prefer white skulls the first time they make them, but if you'd like colored sugar skulls, add paste food coloring TO THE WATER. For a 5 pound bag of sugar, use 1/4 cup meringue powder and 10 teaspoons of water. Yield 5 large skulls or 20 medium skulls or 100 mini skulls or any combination.

For a 10 pound bag of sugar, use 1/2 cup meringue powder and 7 Tablespoons water. Yield 10 large skulls or 40 medium skulls or 200 mini skulls or any combination.

Yield Table

Mold Size
# of Skulls
Sugar (pounds)
Meringue Powder

10 lbs
1/2 cup
7 Tablespoons


10 lbs
1/2 cup
7 Tablespoons

10 lbs
1/2 cup
7 Tablespoons

5 pounds of sugar = approx. 10 cups
10 pounds of sugar = 21 cups
3 teaspoons = 1 Tablespoon

Meringue Powder Conversion Table


Cups (approx.)
4 oz. Jar

1 cup
16 T
48 t.
8 oz. Jar

2 cups
32 T
96 t.
1 lb. Bag

4 cups
64 T
192 t.

Meringue Powder is a MUST and cannot be omitted. It is difficult to find, but may be ordered in 4 oz, 8 oz or 1 pound packages. Meringue powder is what makes the sugar and the icing hard. The main ingredient is powdered dry egg whites and starch, but it also includes vegetable gum, cream of tarter, calcium lactate, malic acid and sodium aluminum sulfate. It's totally edible.

Powdered sugar for Royal Icing

1 pound box = 3
1/2 cups 2 pound bag = 7 cups (do not sift Powdered Sugar)

Measurement: 3 teaspoons make a Tablespoon
4 Tablespoons make 1/4 cup
7 Tablespoons (21 teaspoons) of Meringue Powder = 1/2 cup

Obviously, as stated, this is the recipe for sugar skulls. I can safely say I do not know one American that has made one for eating purposes. However, it seems that tattoo magazines are starting to become filled with tattoos of sugar skulls. Dia De Los Muertos = Day of the Dead. The tradition and celebrations are rooted in the Aztec culture but in the past centuries has been integrated with Catholic customs. Originally the Aztecs, and the Mayans, kept the actual skulls of those who had passed to use for the celebration of their passing (yes celebration). As a tour guide in Mexico told me, ‘any reason to drink tequila is a good one’, Dia De Los Muertos is no exception. The celebration reigned for a month long instead of the two days like it is now.
The incoming Spaniards were a little put out by the partying taking place around random skulls. So they made the holiday ‘more Christian like’ and integrated with All Souls Day. Originally it was celebrated in the beginning of August due to the belief August was watched over by "Lady of the Dead". Today most of the traditions are pretty standard. Candles and flowers on graves, toys for kids and tequila for adults, and food for the dead. In Mexico, especially more rural areas, alters are still built in people’s homes to remember the dead. The sugar skull tattoo is just one of the many symbols of a people celebrating death. There really isn’t anyway a candy could have a negative connotation. Now the detail is starting to become more intricate and the designs are being placed on painted women instead of a basic mask. The original masks worn were usually in shape of an animal or a simple painted mask. The Virgin Mary is also becoming a popular base to put these designs on. The Lady of Guadalupe is seen now as a clash between Mexican culture and Spanish culture brought from Spain. Either way, today she is a major part of the Day of the Dead celebration.

The sugar skull tattoos will probably keep rising in popularity as people become more involved in other cultures and in a way it is a good thing that there more positive influenced tattoos.

sugar skull photo:

tattoo one: Brian Simpkins

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview: Katia B

What do you think about body modifications today?

They are becoming more and more accepted as a regular thing these days, and not as a symbol of evil or a representation of a gang, or prisoners. More and more people are getting tattoos, and they are also appearing more in the work place. Also body modifications, especially tattoos, are starting to be viewed more as an art form than a rebellion, which I think is appropriate.

How many tattoos, piercings, etc. do you have?

I have 18 tattoos and no piercings. I used to have my labret, belly button and ears pierced but over time took them out for various reasons and I'm allergic to most metals now, so ink is my thing.

Photo: Shawn Baker

What are your beliefs about the body modification industry?

The industry is a great outlet for people to express their tastes and beliefs by wearing art on their bodies. Body modification has a long ancient history throughout the world, and has represented the same things for our ancestors. It's just another part of getting in tune with our ancestors and history. Also, I strongly feel that body modifications should be viewed as art and can transform a person into a beautiful work of art.

What are your thoughts on suspension?

It's not my thing, creeps me out.

When did you first get your tattoo and where is it located on your body?

I got my first tattoo when I was 22, I think, 10 years ago, and it's on the top of my back.

What influenced you to become modified?

I don't really remember; I wanted to get something done for a long time, but couldn't decide what. Once I found something I liked and set my mind on it, I did it. However, I didn't get most of my tattoos until about 5-6 years ago. The reason I decided to get covered, is because I thought girls with tattoos looked hot, and wanted to wear my art and art I appreciated on my skin.

Photo: Alexander Finger

How do you feel about people who go to the extreme with body modification?

If they feel it is necessary, than it is. They are not hurting anybody except for themselves and people should let them be. They are doing it for personal reasons, and who is anyone to judge them? You don't have to like it or do it. People are too quick to jump to conclusions about things unknown and strange to them, and to call people names because they are doing something that somebody doesn't understand.

Do you think in some ways it's necessary to cover up tattoos and piercings for a job interview or when performing your job?

I believe it depends on a job. I am a teacher, so I have to cover up some tattoos that are inappropriate for children. Usually I cover them up when I go to an interview, not because I'm embarrassed, but because of people's misconception of tattoos. I wish I didn't have to do it, and think that people should not have to cover anything up. A tattoo does not make the person, does not make them a worse or better worker, or less or more capable or qualified to perform a job.

What do you find most appealing about body modification?

The reason I like tattoos, is because to me they are art. Everything I have on my body has meaning that I project to the world through words and images. My tattoos consist of the artwork I created, and art that I appreciate made by others. I find them inspiring and love seeing them on other people. It's like murals and graffiti on buildings make them brighter and more appealing to me. We are walking living painted up buildings in a way, so much more brighter and colorful that the plain old matchbox houses.

Do you think that today's society become too judgmental about body modification?

I don't believe that it's today's society, but more the previous generation. Today's society is becoming more accepting of body modification, but the people of the past and the people who have old fashioned beliefs are the ones that are criticizing us tattooed up and pierced freaks and associating us with evil and bad things. It's like in the movies - even still to this day, the people with tattoos are usually the bad guys. It's funny, and old-fashioned, and outdated.

Is there anything that you don't like about body modification?

I don't really like scars or suspension, but that's just a personal preference. I don't want to judge anyone for their tastes and their way of expression.

Is there anything that you wish you didn't have or that you would like to change?

The only tattoos that I regret a little are the ones I first got on my back, because they are Celtic and don't really fit in with the rest of my ink. However, I try not to regret things I can't change, and will work them in to fit with the rest.

Has body modification changed you in any way?

Yes, most definitely. It has obviously changed my appearance, and it has changed the way people view me. A lot of people are hesitant to talk to me or accept me because of their pre-misconceptions. Others are more attracted to me because they are into the same things. I'm still the same person I was, but I have developed more of an attitude, and my confidence has grown because I walk the streets looking the way I do without caring what other people think.

Watertight Photography

Do you find enjoyment when getting tattooed, pierced, etc?

For the most part, except for when it hurts really bad. [laughs]

Have you ever had an issue when dealing with any type of body modification?

I had issues with piercings, that's why I don't really have them any more. With tattoos, the only issues I had was my body rejecting certain inks, and certain tattoos taking longer to heal than others.

What hurt the most when dealing with body modifications?

Out of the 18 tattoos I have, the ones that hurt the most were my chest and my feet, especially when I got the second foot done right after the first, ouch!!!

Interview conducted by Jess Angel.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interview: Sage 13

Photo: Saquan Stimpson

What are your beliefs about the body modification industry?

The body is a canvas for art. Some people express themselves through this canvas.

When did you first get your tattoo and where is it located on your body?

My first tattoo was done with a homemade tattoo machine in my beach house when I was 17. It was a snowflake that has been covered up by another tattoo. Now I choose carefully where my tattoos go. All my tattoos have a story to go with them. They are about my personal life struggles. I would have to say that the ink on my lower stomach is my favorite tattoo. It has the most detail, took the longest and by far the most painful one I have gotten so far!

What are your thoughts on suspension?

I will watch it, but I would never do that myself.

How do you feel about people who go to the extreme with body modification?

In some cultures it is necessary. It is all about expression. Some choose to express themselves differently than others.

What do you find most appealing about body modification?

Tattoos can be mysterious. If you talk to a person about their body mods, you can understand their story. Otherwise there is that mystery to the person. To me it's like seeing a book with a great cover and wanting to read it right then and there.

Photo: Thomas Kelper

Do you think in some ways its necessary to hide body modifications for a job interview or when performing your job?

I do. Even though tattoos are very popular, they are not accepted with everyone. There is a lot of close minded people out there still and get offended at the smallest things.

Do you think that today's society has become too judgmental about body modification?

In some places yes. I traveled recently and my home area I see people with tattoos everywhere. But when I was away I only saw a handful of tattoos. When i walked by showing mine there was a certain uncertain look about people who saw my ink.

Is there anything that you wish you didn't have or that you would like to change?

Not really. I chose my ink and artists carefully. All of my tattoos are a part of who I am. I can't change me so therefor I don't want to change my ink.

Do you find enjoyment when getting tattooed, pierced, etc.?

It's a rush. Painful at times, but worth it in the end.

Have you ever had an issue when dealing with any type of body modification?

I have one piece on my back that if it gets too hot, the ink raises up. Then it itches until it cools off. Then I have another that was done twice, and it scarred up underneath. Also, I had more piercings, but with various personal health issues I had to take some out.

What hurt the most when dealing with body modifications?

Piercing pain was over fast. Tattoo pain, depending on the size and location, was more intense.

Interview conducted by Jess Angel.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview: Kelly Fuls aka KY

What do you think about body modifications today?

Each clique has found a way to incorporate them into their culture in their own way. It moves in cycles from rebellion to acceptance, which is why I think some people take it farther than others. If you like it, do it, don't let anyone stop you, but don't just do it because you think it's cool either because that leads to being a phony.

Rietz Digital Imaging

There was a day in American culture when having one tattoo on your arm was considered bad-ass, but these days you see almost every other guy or girl with full sleeves and it's become much more mainstream than it was before. In a way, it's losing its rebellion, but it hasn't lost its roots, which is why I continue to get them.

I'd have to say my human heart is my favorite tattoo, because it reminds me of the things I'm passionate about in life.

What do you find most appealing to you in body modification?

The rights of passage, meaning whenever the needle penetrates your skin, be it for a tattoo or piercing.

When did you first get your tattoo and where is it located on your body?

I got a tattoo of The Crow on my right arm for graduating high school.

Rietz Digital Imaging

What influenced you to get a piercing or tattoo, etc.?

Rock 'n' Roll and motorcycles.

Has body modification changed you in any way?

It's made me fear a lot less than before, and it's also given me the will to live long enough to finish the canvas.

What are your thoughts on suspension?

It takes a lot of balls to endure that much pain and I respect anyone willing to try it. There may even be a day when I have the balls to do it.

Do you think in some ways its necessary to cover up tattoo's and piercings for a job interview or when performing your job?

First impressions are important, but skill is always the most important asset to any company. If the work is good and makes the company money, they're going to loosen their noose that much more. On the flip-side, yeah an actor is going to have to cover up their tattoos when they're playing a role, but that doesn't mean they can't rock it off-camera.

Rietz Digital Imaging

Do you think that today's society has become too judgmental about body modification?

I'm going to have to quote a friend of mine who said that "so many of our generation have tattoos." Then again, she doesn't have any herself, so it's coming from a totally outside perspective, which is where I think the judgmental attitude originates. There are some that are simply afraid to get body modifications, either because they think it will hurt too much or they care too much about what others will think of them. The days of the clean-cut All-American as we know it are long gone; wholesome has a new face, and that face has some body modifications, so get used to it!

Is there anything that you wish you didn't have or that you would like to change?

Maybe add a little depth and shading to one or two of my tattoos, but every piece I have tells a story about me.

Do you find enjoyment when getting tattooed, pierced, etc.?

These days, I get a new tattoo more than I get a haircut, so sometimes when my artist asks how the family or the dog is doing, it's cool because it takes away from the pain. That, and whenever I conceptualize a new design and it comes to life.

Have you ever had an issue when dealing with any type of body modification?

Nope, I took care of them all.

Interview conducted by Jess Angel.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Free Uriah and Quentin

Ordinarily, I do not get involved with personal matters, nor make them a part of such a public forum. However, I feel that this situation deserves all the attention that it can get.

Band members charged in Orange rape; incident occurred at house party after New Haven concert

To be honest, I have no affiliation with either of the gentlemen, nor have I ever met them personally. In fact, the first time I even saw the Goddamn Gallows was last Tuesday at Kung Fu Necktie here in Philadelphia. They were, without a doubt, one of the best 'billy bands I've had the pleasure of seeing in a long time.

When I read the above article, my jaw literally dropped as I went from one sentence to the next. While there are certainly two sides to every story, and the only people who really know what happened are those who were there, something wasn't sitting quite right.

It seems all of the comments have disappeared since yesterday, but there were a few that seemed quite rude and even judgmental of Uriah and Quentin. Part of me felt this was due to their appearance, since apparently having tattoos automatically means one is guilty of whatever accusations another throws at them.

Punk rockers dispute rape charges

Thankfully, there is a large network of supporters, as well as numerous eyewitness accounts that do not fault Uriah and Quentin. However, false claims certainly damages a reputation, and the two men are still currently behind bars while everything gets sorted out.

Farmageddon Records is looking for bands who would like to submit tracks for the Free Uriah Baker and Quentin Price Compilation CD. Please contact
if you would like to help out.

One of the easiest ways to aid Uriah and Quentin is via the Facebook page, or by making a donation.

Personal letters are also highly encouraged, but please be advised of what else can and cannot be sent via mail.

Uriah Freedom Baker inmate #377470
Quentin Price inmate #377472

Bridgeport CC

1106 North Ave
Bridgeport, CT

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Interview: Samura

What do you think about body modifications today?

I think they are amazing. The industry has come a long way, and everyone like to express themselves in different fashions. As long as the industry stands tall and grows, everyone will continue to push and see how far they can go with it.

How many tattoos, piercings, etc do you have?

10 tattoos and 6 piercings. I was 18 when I got my first tattoo, and it was the rose above my right breast! I'm planning on getting more tattoos. It's addicting! I just always wanted tattoos and piercings, so I really can't pinpoint what influenced me to get them. Body modifications has made it easier to express myself.

For me, getting pierced or tattooed is like a void being filled. I have never had any issues dealing with body modifications, though the healing process is what hurts the most.

Tattoos are my favorite. Your body is the canvas and you can paint whatever you want on it. I think it's amazing how a simple picture can come alive with the right artist.

Is there anything that you wish you didn't have or that you would like to change?

The Kanji on my was a mistake.

What are your thoughts on suspension?

It's amazing to look at, but I'm too scared to do it. [laughs]

Unlike today's industry do you think in someways its necessary to cover up tattoo's and piercings for a job interview or when performing your job?

I think it all depends on the position you have with a company, and yes, I do believe you should at least look more professional at job interviews.

Interview conducted by Jess Angel.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Can't Hold Me Down

Have you ever had something hold you back from your hobbies or maybe even your dreams? Everyone, from one time or another has dealt with something that has made it harder or slowed them down from reaching their destination. One man from Thomaston, Georgia has a very unique story himself.

Cris Black has been piercing since January of 2007, but has very few himself. This is bizarre to most people, because of the popular stereotype that body modification artists having a lot themselves. Cris doesn’t have any piercings because his body rejects them. “I have an auto-immune condition that caused a kidney disease. I was originally diagnosed when I was 18 and was given a life expectancy of not seeing my 21st birthday. The drugs that I have taken to treat the disease knocks out my immune system rather effectively so, my body can't handle the stress of healing a piercing. It has a very, very tough time healing tattoos,” Cris says.

Since then, Cris has been taken off of these medications and is going to get his first fresh skin piercing in 6 years. He will be getting both conches punched at 2g, and have glass jewelry placed inside. He says he is not so much worried about the healing, but more concerned of the pain.

Besides starting his own collection, Cris also does piercings. He works a lot with his “bill paying” job, but tries to pierce during his free time. He “rents a chair” at a studio in the town where he lives in, where he has some paying clients and also does play piercing. [Below is a photo of one of his clients and “Chest Play”.]

By: Samantha Thacker


Profile: Stacy Wolf aka Lady Pixie

Photo by: Image Factory

Body modifications today are getting more extreme and also more accepted. The industry is very big now as a result, and I think as time goes by, it will end up being very strong and even more successful.

Currently, I have eight tattoos, twenty five piercings, and one micro dermal implant.
I remember the exact day I got my first tattoo it was April 10th, 2006; I was 14 and I got a Gothic Tinkerbell on the back of my left shoulder. Also, I do have a bit of experience with piercing, as I did all of my own, and started learning the trade at a younger age. Tattoos are more appealing to me, because they are beautiful works of art, and enable me to tell my story on my canvas (skin) that I can take with me everywhere. My main influence was my uncle. I saw his tattoos and thought 'That is awesome and different'. It's like he was a living piece of art. I loved how it was an expression of him, and it was very intriguing to me. Suspension is very interesting, and I would love to try it one of these days. It is very amazing what our bodies can withstand.

Photo by: Image Factory

Body modifications are about how you feel and think, not about other people's opinions. Your body is yours, so do what you want with it. Some people go overboard with judgment, but they are entitled to express themselves, though it seems that they are just scared. Everyone is a little different, and some of us just embrace it. Each type of modification is beautiful in its own way. I just don't like the the way people react towards heavily or even moderately modified individuals. My favorite type of modification, however, would have to be tied with tongue splitting and tattoos.

Yevgenia Fedorov Photography

My favorite part of body modification is the joy of adding a new piece of beautiful art to your collection. The worst part of getting modified is the after care of tattoos. It's not painful; just the itch when they start flaking and scabbing. The only issue I have ever had was some piercings rejecting, but other than that it's been good.

I always feel I have to remove my jewelry and cover my tattoos when I go for a job interview, because for every person who accepts the way I look, there are five who disapprove. Truthfully, it makes it hard to find work, but I'm me. I love all my tattoos, and even if I didn't like one, I wouldn't get rid of or change it for the world. I look at it this way: if an image means enough to me to put it on my body, there is always something about it that will make me happy.

Yevgenia Fedorov Photography

I have become more confident and happy with myself, because I realized when I started my modifications, that people would stare or make rude remarks or ask lots of questions, and I couldn't take it to heart. I had to be me and feel content, or I could not enjoy life. When getting a new modification, whether it's a tattoo or piecing or implant, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and relaxation; it makes me feel free and strong and I love it.

Thanks to Jess Angel for conducting the interview!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Art Machine Productions - Grand Opening

"We are a small artist community out to redefine the public's perception of what art is. Regularly scheduled visual and performing arts events, lectures, workshops, and all around awesomeness."

Art Machine Productions is an upscale private tattoo studio where Tim Pangburn [featured in Aesthetic Evolution Issue 1] takes full advantage of being able to lay down some of the best art on skin that can be found in Philadelphia. This not your ordinary street shop, and one can expect to be treated as a valuable customer from the moment that you enter. Boasting a steady influx of world class tattoo artists, live hobby art, workshops, and events, A.M.P. is aiming to set the new standard in the tattoo experience.

This Saturday, the public is invited to come check out the space for themselves. The first Group Art Show entitled "Stigmata" will feature works from over 20 local artists in a wide variety of mediums. The majority of the pieces are also available to purchase if something happens to catch your eye. Live music and refreshments should help get you get into the groove of things. If you happen to want more permanent artwork, be sure to book an appointment while you have the time.

Feature performance by Guinness Book World Record holder Lenore Lovelace!

Photo: S. Jenx

Saturday, June 12
7pm - 10 pm
2424 East York Street
Philadelphia, PA

Questions regarding art, sex, and violence can be forwarded to:

For all tattoo related inquires call the studio or hit Tim up at:

Check out the coverage in this week's edition of City Paper!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lucky Stars

Go down the beach this summer, or any other place where people are half-naked, and you will see stars. Not the tanned celebrity kind of star but on people’s skin. They can go from a little star on a wrist to a long string of stars going down ribs to a whole piece centered around them. Stars are not limited to one sex; women and men both seem to sport the celestial symbol. Stars have been a sign of mystery and fortune for centuries. Their elusiveness can be captivating, even though we know now they’re just burning balls of gas.

The most popular star seems to be the five pointed star, otherwise known as the pentagram. The pentagram's origins go back to the beginning of human history where they were etched on cave walls and in stone. As centuries passed, the pentagram started to take on different meanings for different people. Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher, used the star as a symbol of the five visible planets, while early Christians used the pentagram to represent of the wombs of Christ. The five pointed star has been adopted by military branches and some communist countries. Fifty-nine country flags are adorned by the five point star; America, Turkey, China, and Vietnam are just a few.

Then we have the Pagan stars, with the most popular being the Pentacle. The points of the star are supposed to represent the four elements (earth, wind, fire, water) and the fifth is for spirit. The pentacle has roots in Ancient England, Greece, and Rome. The Roman Goddess Persephone (Kore in Greece), has a story similar to Eve in the Christian religion. She was tempted with an apple and gets taken to be the wife of Hades. She was considered to be the Goddess of fertile land and associated with Spring. According to the story, when she bites into the apple, a star shape was formed. The Pentacle was also originally used in many religions, but now is specific more to Wicca then anything else. In the more modern centuries, Satanists decided that they should invert the Pentacle to be their symbol; in this form, it can sometimes represent a goat head.

Almost just as easily recognizable as the five point star is the six point star. Today people associate the star as a symbol for the Jewish religion, the Star of David. However, this did not come into effect until after the Middle Ages, between the 1600’s and the 1800’s. In the Middle Ages, and in decades before, the hexagram was to represent the unity of a man and a woman. The triangle pointing down represented the woman, the one pointing up the man. Hexagrams were displayed largely on churches but only one a select few synagogues. Like the five pointed star, the hexagram represented some magical elements and protection against demons. When the 20th century finally came,the Holocaust really sealed the identity of the Jewish people to be symbolized by the six pointed star. It was used as an indicator to the Germans on who was Jewish and who wasn’t.

The most popular star tattoo today seems to be the nautical star. There is more than one theory as to what the exact history of this symbol is. It is almost unanimously agreed that the nautical star (given the name) originated with sailors, who navigated the oceans by using the placement of the stars. Another is that the Military popularized the nautical star tattoo as a symbol that sailors will get home safely. Talk to any sailor today, and you will understand how superstitious they are, and in previous centuries this was even more prevalent. No stepping onto the boat with your left foot first, no women aboard the ship (made for a long voyage), swallows were a good sign, and if someone died on the voyage, cannon balls were tied to his ankles so he wouldn’t follow the ship after he was thrown overboard.

The star has also been adopted by the gay community and became a sign of the punk movement. Whether or not people know these legends and historical reference is erroneous. The history behind the meanings of the star shape can be, and is debated upon, greatly. Most see a pretty shape or just a symbol of the peace of the night; which is no way a bad thing. Either way it seems star tattoos are not going to become less popular any time soon.

Interview: Soul Blackened

What do you think about body modifications today?

The Mod industry has expanded so much in so many ways. We can do things to ourselves now that people could not do before, or at least not unless you lived in a tribe in Africa. It's amazing to see so much expression of self everywhere in every body modification.

How many tattoos, piercings, etc. do you have?

Currently I have 2 tattoos, though I am going in for another here within a few weeks (I am becoming an inkaholic already), and have 10 piercings and counting.

I believe that people should be allowed to express themselves in any way they see fit. If they want to have their favorite art printed onto their bodies forever, awesome. If you want to brand designs into your body with a scalpel and cauterization, more power to you. I know that I am proud of what I have, and intend to add more. Even if the older generation (at least most of them) tell me that I need Jesus when I walk into the room.

While I have a number of piercings, I would love to have just as many tattoos. Sadly, in this economy it's a little rough to pursue this goal. It is almost like a kick in the backside though, because within a 2 mile radius of my house is three different tattoo shops, and feel they are taunting me.

My forearm tattoo is my favorite. I have always been in love with dragons, and I plan on eventually getting folded dragons wings on my back to look as though they are curled against me, ready to be unfurled. This tattoo is the best expression of my interests and of me thus far.

When did you first get your tattoo and where is it located on your body?

My very first tattoo was a chest piece, which is a ballsy place for a first experience under the needle, and it is still unfinished. The girl who did it was a friend of mine, and she had never done a chest piece before, but definitely inked many people prior to me. She was one of my best friends, so I said the hell with it. It hurt like hell in the middle to be honest, but out towards the sides the sensations felt very pleasant, nearly erotic.

What is your experience with body modification?

I have a friend who is a scarification apprentice, as well as learning suspension, and I watched her put giant hooks through people's backs. It was a crazy but amazing and fascinating experience to see what people will do and what they get from it. If I had the money for the classes, I would definitely love to get into the industry as a body piercer or micro-dermal surgeon (piercer).

What influenced you to get a piercing or tattoo, etc.?

Seeing all these people with this art on their bodies that I wish I could have and carry around with me all the time. Always wanting to have something that means a lot to me, that can be with me forever. I wanted to have the freedom to express myself even more than what society's norm would allow.

Has body modification changed you in any way?

It has not changed me so much as made me more confident in myself in all reality. It makes me feel like I am "somebody" in a sea of just "people". I like being different, as I mentioned, and it makes me happy. Happiness breeds confidence and I have needed that in my life.

What do you find appealing about body modification?

Gauges, tattoos that tell you about the person at first glance and interesting things. I thrive on being "different" and body modification is the best way to be such. People who are open about it are great people to meet and talk to, and I am certainly drawn to those individuals.

What are your thoughts on suspension?

Like I said, I have seen it done. Watching what it's like to have those hooks pierce through the skin, I would not do it myself. However, I have wondered what it would be like, and I can just barely imagine the high they must get from it. Once the hooks go in, I am told that all you feel [once suspended] is the sensation of weightlessness. Wow.

How do you feel about people that go to the extreme with body modification?

If the person doing it believes its necessary, if that is what they want, sure. Once you get half your body covered in metal and plastic and holes, why would you stop there? The government complains about its citizens half-assing everything, so go for it all the way. Who cares once you have gotten that far? [laughs]

Is there anything that you don't like about body modification?

I am not too fond of the people who have 5+ lbs of metal in their mouth, and I don't see the need of a 000 gauge labret or tongue ring. You could eat a hot dog without opening your mouth and how do you drink? I mean, if that is what you like fine, but ow?

Is there anything that you wish you didn't have or that you would like to change?

To be honest, I would like to redo a bit of my chest piece, in order to make it more colorful and add to it, but I just don't have the money. I am sure eventually that will change, and so I am content in the meantime.

Photographer: Maura Housley

Do you find enjoyment when getting tattooed, pierced, etc.?

Yes, I do. The pain is relative and brings you to bear on the fact that you're still human, we all bleed. That is why it is fun to get them when your stressed out, the best form of masochism, so to speak. [laughs]

Have you ever had an issue when dealing with any type of body modification?

Not really. I was cussing a bit during my first tattoo, but it wasn't completely unbearable. To be honest, my first piece is technically over one of my birthmarks. She tattooed over a freckle to show me what it felt like, and I thought okay cool, that's not too bad! [laughs] Then she moved on to my breast bone.

What hurt the most when dealing with body modifications?

The star in the middle of my chest piece. It felt like my heart and soul were being pierced. I cussed and thought of everything I could to hold still. Her chihuahua kept coming near me and barking at us. I told her if she didn't move him he was gonna be launched across the room. [laughs]

Photographer: Maura Housley

Do you think in someways it is necessary to cover up tattoo's and piercings for a job interview or when performing your job?

It depends on your job. Wish I could say that it's fine to show extreme body modification in the public work environment, but not everyone has that frame of mind on the subject, and doubt they ever will. There will always be people to judge you instantly, and not always in a good way. So unfortunately, sometimes it is necessary to avoid both hassle and heartache in the workplace.

Do you think that today's society has got to judgmental about body modification?

In some ways, yes, it's a trend that is coming and won't be going for a while, if ever. People are going to have to become more accustomed to it. You would think since we modify our cars, technology and lifestyles, that modifications of the body could be just as acceptable. Alas, it is not the human way to accept everything.

Interview conducted by Jess Angel.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Art Without Age

In the town of Egg Harbor City lies a little tattoo parlor with a big heart. Owners Barb and Doug are married and have found a shared passion. This passion ignited ambition and love to open a tattoo shop, but this is no ordinary parlor that is just found in the yellow pages.

Barb is an older woman and got her first tattoo at the age of 48. She fell in love with ink and was determined to share this with many people. With full support from her friends and family, she opened B & D Tattoos. While she has only been tattooing for 9 years, Barb has the mentality of tattooing her whole life. Her inspiration comes from Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and others, which has led to her falling in love with doing realistic tattoos. There are countless books of flowers, oriental symbols, etc. to be found on the shelves of this shop.

"I like my customers to choose something they would really love, not just something off of the wall. I like to talk to them and pick their brain to understand them and the art they will want on their body," Barb comments.

When asked what her favorite part of the job is, she replies, “I love seeing the customer happy. I will bend over backwards and spit nickels to make sure that they are content with the art on their body. Sometimes people joke with me after I have finished with their tattoo. They say that it’s just too good for a hand shake, and that makes me happy."

Barb loves the freedom of putting whatever art someone chooses to put on their body, but there is some work she just will not do. This includes gang signs, racist symbols or phrases, and things of that nature, as she prefers to just steer away from hate. She also mentions that she will not perform facial or genital tattoos.

This artist tattoos for the love, not the money. This is a woman who puts not just her heart into body art, but her energy and mind power. If anyone is looking to get a tattoo from someone who is friendly and who wants to hear the story behind the work, B & D Tattooing is the place to go to.

Article & Photo: Sam Thacker

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tattoos On Cloth

What does Carmen Electra, Chris Brown, Jessica Alba, and Madonna all have in common?

They all got caught by the paparazzi sporting Ed Hardy clothing.

The fashion line has expanded from being clothing for tattoo enthusiasts to apparel for everyone. This growth in popularity only furthers the idea that tattoo culture and art is becoming more mainstream then ever. It’s known that in previous decades, tattoos were for sailors and convicts. With the negative stigma now becoming faded, tattoo culture is more accepted.

Tattoo inspired apparel gives the customer a way to wear designs that they like without having to get them permanently inked on their body. Ed Hardy was inspired greatly by Sailor Jerry Collins when Hardy began his tattooing career. Not until 2004 did Ed Hardy’s art become a clothing line when French designer Christian Audigier became licensed to produce the line. On top of his shirts, jeans, hats, wallets, and other apparel, Hardy has also started his own fragrance line for both men and women. Some of his products have extended to what could be seen as an extreme way to sell his products with air fresheners, shower curtains, and even candy.

As with any clothing line that gains popularity, there has been a string of counterfeit websites and brands appearing. Some people are critics to just how mainstream Ed Hardy has made tattoo inspired apparel, and that due to his success his prices seem to run higher then other companies. Some of his long sleeved men’s T-shirts can run from $45 to $150; purses from $70 to $160. Ed Hardy is one of the most popular tattoo inspired clothing lines but definitely not the only one.

Other tattoo artists have tried to reach the success that Hardy has created. Small clothing lines started by artists have emerged like Paul Berkey’s line Warped Clothing. Like many other artists, he does not rely solely on his clothing line but also works in graphic design, fine art, and obviously, tattooing.

Smaller lines are also catering to different styles of tattoo designs and different audiences. While most seem to prefer old school designs, new lines are appearing such as Fly Fresh that target more urban buyers. Even they have to disclaimer on the website that they are not Ed Hardy knock offs, but an authentic brand.

Another trend in tattoo apparel comes from the rise in pin up clothing. Many lines have been started to support women who want to embody that image of being a pin up. Hanah Reed, who started The Rockit Roost, dedicates a whole section of her website to tattoo culture Of course the main purpose of the website is to view and purchase her 1950’s inspired pin up clothing, but it has taken on a life of its own. What used to be just a sexy idea for a Halloween costume is now another type of tattoo inspired apparel.

Though not all pin up outfits sport tattoo designs like a skull or swallow, they still seem to embody that retro feeling of old school tattoo flash. The trend coincides with a rise in this style of tattoos, which includes pin ups, while skate clothing brands have been using tattoo designs since the 1990's. Companies like Etnies have moved from just printing their logo on their shoes and clothing to adding tattoo like designs (with skulls seeming to be the most popular).

Tattoo apparel not only sports designs inspired by tattoo art, but also considers the locations of the images. A standard T-shirt has a print on the center of the front or the back, while some tattoo inspired apparel has changed the location of the image based on where a tattoo might go. For example, shirts will have the image going up the side, forming to fit where a rib tattoo would lay. The same is true for some having small designs on the lower back like the infamous ‘tramp stamp’ or designs on chest and shoulders.

There are critics who oppose this rise in tattoo culture, and place some blame on the popularity of apparel. However many feel that this rise only further supports what artists have been pushing for since the 1950's, and that is that tattoos really are art.

Article: Brittney Herz
Facebook: Brittney Dianne

Deck Art Show

In an effort to make this space as interactive as possible, I decided to give the opportunity to be a writer to pretty much anyone who wanted to volunteer their time. So far I have had a great response and look forward to seeing what people have to offer. The whole point of being in a community is to share news, ideas and other information in the hopes of educating, enlightening and otherwise opening up the mind to accept body modifications [as well as those who enjoy them] as a popular culture and not just a fashion trend.

This article was submitted by Brittney Herz, a recent graduate from Salisbury University with a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in History. She is a tattoo enthusiast and hopes to expand her freelance career (very soon) as a photographer and has hopes to be a novelist.

In Ocean City, Maryland, Dimensions held the annual Deck Art Show that displayed skateboard decks painted and designed by various artist in the surrounding areas on May 26th. There was mass quantities of beer, food, people, tattoos, and of course decks. The turn out was impressive, maybe maximum capacity for the two story retail store which usually specializes in apparel, decks, and piercing.

Downstairs people were crowded together stuffing their faces with food from Mother’s Cantina while the upstairs displayed all the deck art on the brightly painted red walls. Most people just came to enjoy the atmosphere, and the alcohol, like Casey Johnson (pictured below) who usually comes to Dimensions for her clothing but came the 26th for the art. The decks weren’t just to be gawked at, they were also available for purchase.

Some boards were designed more intricately then others, making the prices vary. Many were based on humor while others were representing Maryland pride.

Trevor Howeth (pictured below), an apprentice at Explosive Tattoos in Salisbury, Maryland, designed a board that had a Maryland flag, a skull face, and of course "Maryland: We Got Crabs". He said the whole idea took a few hours from paper to the board. Another board sported an Oriole on Black-Eyed Susans underneath a bright blue crab in the sky.

Deck Art Shows seem to become ramped during the summer months from Philly to Vermont to California. There’s even a day, June 21st, dedicated as National Skate Day. Skateboards have evolved since their beginnings in the 1950's, in California, when the idea came about that you could surf on land. The emphasis on art came in the mid 1960's when skateboarding was losing popularity and people started having to make their own boards due to the collapse in retail available.

The Deck Art Show at Dimensions, besides being a good excuse to hang out and drink, showed that tattoo art is not just popular on people’s skin. Traditional and new school tattoo designs are showing up on clothing, wallets, shoes, stickers, and obviously skate board decks.

Right Coast Tattoo will be opening soon in Fenwick, Delaware and an opening party is taking place June 26th showing the tattoo culture is growing on the Eastern Shore.

Dimensions is located right on the Ocean City Boardwalk on South Atlantic Ave.

Article & Photos: Brittney Herz
Facebook: Brittney Dianne

Friday, May 28, 2010

Issue 1 is On-Line Now!!!

There has been much consideration behind the choice of whether or not to put Issue 1 of Aesthetic Evolution on the Internet. Partly due to the fact I am overly paranoid, which stems from past problems with people copying, stealing or otherwise making theft of things I have written. However, in an effort to promote the [eventual] print version of the magazine, as well as this space, I decided to upload most of the issue into a gallery on Facebook. Which will be the only place that the issue will be available for viewing.

This project is all about interaction, and I would love to hear from various people from all corners of the globe. Also, if you have an Internet connection [or hey, even if have to borrow it from a friend], it takes but mere minutes to leave a comment or submit something you would like to see in the blog. The more people make their voices heard, the more the rest of society will realize that being tattooed, pierced and modified in general is far more than trend, fad or fashion statement. It is a culture rich in history that has survived thousands of years and continues to evolve.

Stories, photos, news articles, and product reviews are all welcome!

If you are interesting in submitting content for either the magazine or the blog, please do not hesitate to e-mail me:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Aesthetic Evolution is not the run-of-the mill body modification magazine. The main focus is on educating the general public in order to cut down on stereotypes. Each article is comprised from interviews and utilize the subject's own voice for a more personal feel, along with striking photographs that depict their chosen body adornments.

Issue 2 is currently in production, and as a single person writer/editor/publisher team, it would be nice to have some extra hands working on the project. The interviews are being taken care of, but there are plenty of other subjects that can make riveting articles. While the main theme is body modification, there is room for more than coverage on tattoos, piercings, scarification and so on. Rituals, suspensions, tattoo conventions, shop openings, band interviews, music/movie/product reviews and beauty/fashion are all elements that I feel would make wonderful additions. Interviews with individuals with more extreme modifications [amputation, cosmetic surgery, waist training, muscle building, etc.] are also welcomed.

When replying, please include a little information about yourself and why you are interested in contributing. It would be preferred if you have writing experience, and having an example of your previous work definitely gets the right attention.

Tattoo Collages

The inspiration for my first collage came from wondering what to do with the collection of assorted tattoo magazines I had acquired over the course of several years. Some of the issues were given to me by Jon Cobb before he left for Hawaii, so I felt it would be a waste to allow them to sit and collect dust.

My partner had a plastic mannequin sitting in the basement of our former South Philadephia residence, and said I could use it for any kind of art. It did not take long for me to decide what I wanted to do.

The first collage began in the Summer of '08, spending numerous hours cutting out various tattoos, with the larger photos being the main focus. There was no real plan in pasting them to the mannequin, and in the process of doing so, I began to really think about what I was doing.

Tattoo Collage I

Completed over the course of a few months, the collage included work by artists such as Paul Booth and Guy Aitchison. It was put on display for an art show at I. Brewster Gallery [Philadelphia, PA] in '09 and sold for $250.

The second collage came about by chance when I found a discarded plastic mannequin on the sidewalk in South Philly. There was certainly no shame in carrying it back to my house, as I had been collecting tattoos from the magazines once again and just was in need of a canvas.

Much thought was put into placement of the numerous individual pieces, coordinating both color and subject matter. I also made more use of flowers and other assorted things, some of which were smaller than my pinkie nail. Obviously, a great amount of time and effort were put into the piece.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of an 'incident' that occurred. I chose to seal the collage with a Bob Ross product, which in turn created massive dark spots in the collage. It was a bit devastating, but I still managed to sell the piece back in January for $450. While I did not get the chance to photograph the collage prior to selling, it can be seen in the I. Brewster Gallery located at 22nd and Market in Philadelphia, PA.

Not wanting to give up making this kind of art, I certainly had the intention of doing it again. The only problem was, I did not have much access to mannequins. Let's face it. Unless one is willing to rescue them from the trash, they are not easy to come by. However, fortune smiled upon me when I relocated to North Philly, and my friend/landlord said I could have the mannequin that someone had left in the house. Absolute joy filled me, as this was not a torso with missing head, arms and half the legs; it was a very detailed torso with head.

The collecting of clippings from magazines began in April, and this time I was going to be very organized, creating little folders for specific subject matter, such as 'Scary Stuff', 'Ladies' and 'Flowers'. This definitely made the pasting process easier, as I started with the larger pieces and would work my way to the ridiculously tiny ones.

Honestly, I have no idea how many total hours went into making this piece. From painting the mannequin to give it a smooth finish to going cross-eyed carefully placing tiny tattoos with tweezers, this collage [like the others] is purely a product of a labor of love.

Tattoo Collage III

This is definitely my favorite of the three collages, mostly due to the fact that there was a plan for every piece, in order to make the overall color and design flow. Pretty much every inch of the mannequin is covered with magazine tattoos, except for the bottom [which no one will see anyway] and the very inside of the nostrils. Every little nook and cranny of the eyes, ears and mouth has been filled with a tattoo, which was definitely challenging.

The collage will be on display and available for purchase next month at Art Machine Productions, located in the Fishtown section of Philadephia, PA.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MTV's True Life

While there are plenty episodes of MTV's True Life that are more entertaining than educational, from time to time there are a few that really give the viewer a glimpse of the struggles that some people go through.

The following three episodes are ones that I felt reflected various forms of body modification. Whether one hates the ink scribed in their skin for life, the surgical alterations to their body or the image that greets them in the mirror on a daily basis, these are all results of a personal choice. Many are made on a whim or without taking into consideration the long-term effects.

I Hate My Tattoos

To be honest, I had a hard time getting through this whole episode. Larry obviously had issues to deal with, including getting wasting and thinking that is a prime opportunity to get some new ink. There are a number of reasons that this is a bad idea, and judging by the few pieces he was sporting, it should have served as evidence of such.

Ali made the unfortunate mistake of getting her fiance's name inked into her skin. Listen, I have no problem with what people want to do with their bodies, but more likely than not, the tattoo will outlast your current relationship. Yes, even I thought it would be cute to have someone's initial put on my finger [and thankfully it is covered up now], so I understand the mindset that a person could have in this kind of situation. The point is, if you are going to have a name scribed on you for the rest of your life, choose a relative or best buddy or child...or even your own. Anything is better than being angry at yourself and having to be forced to look at someone's name every day that you have only negative feelings towards.

Jayson was the biggest disappointment of the bunch. First of all, it was his girlfriend who wanted him to removed some of the more visible tattoos. Second, he already had a job, despite what it paid [money is money these days], so obviously they had no problem with his ink when they hired him. Finally, it should have been his choice as to whether or not he wanted to remove certain tattoos. Laser surgery is quite painful from what I hear, expensive [sometimes the cost can outweigh that of the tattoo being removed] and can leave nasty scars behind. Oh, and it seemed that Jayson's girlfriend was very concerned about him making more money. There is definitely other issues in the relationship than this. One should never feel they need to change to make someone else happy. True happiness begins with yourself.

Over one third of all Americans currently sport at least one tattoo. But what happens when you come to hate the markings you've permanently etched into your skin?

Larry is now sober after years of abusing drugs. He believes his ink will keep him from getting a decent job -- so Larry's mom has agreed to pay for their removal as long as he remains clean. Will Larry be able to fight his destructive urges -- or will his addictions prove too hard to overcome?

Ali was devastated when her fiance left her -- and now the sight of his name on her arm is making her skin crawl. Ali wants to get the tattoo covered up but is learning that the process isn't a simple one. Will Ali find a way to hide her ex's name -- or will she be forced to live with this painful reminder of her past?

Jayson's fiancee wants him to get his tattoos lasered off so he can land a higher paying job. But Jason is terrified of the pain involved and is having second thoughts. Can Jason endure this excruciating process so he can build a more solid future with his wife-to-be?

The mistakes of their past are indelibly inked on their bodies. Will they find a way to wipe the slate clean?

Watch this episode now:

I Hate My Plastic Surgery

According to, 12.5 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2009, with about half of them being reconstructive. People age 13-19 had the least amount, while people age 40-54 make up the largest portion. Females receive 91% of all cosmetic procedures, and breast augmentation is still number one in the list of tip five procedures. Half of those are done with silicone implants.

With so many people going under the knife, eventually, something will go horrible wrong. In the case of Nikki and Amanda, they come to regret the choice of plastic surgery. In my opinion, neither of these women seemed to be overly flawed. However, I also understand that people often see something very different in the mirror than what an outside perspective can.

Nikki came across as one of those women who would never be satisfied, and the doctor even told her that there were pieces missing that had to be replaced. There is only a certain amount of times one can fix a body part before the risk grows to epic proportions.

On the other side was Amanda, who felt her breast implants were causing her to feel sick. While that has got to be quite aweful, I am glad she made the choice to take them out.

In the end, one must find beauty on the inside before that confidence can be carried on the outside. It is definitely not easy, and everyone will have an opinion of what they do or do not like. Some will even make a point of letting you know exactly what they think, and unfortunately this can be done in a very harsh, negative manner. Not everyone has a 'thick skin', and people do not stop to think that their words can have an impact on the psyche. Plastic surgery is also not the 'quick fix' to deeper problems, and should never be used as one, or surely the regrets will come quickly.

What if you underwent surgery to fix a part of your body that you didn't like and woke up with even bigger problems?

Nikki thought having a nose job would land her bigger jobs in her modeling career. But, when the surgery didn't turn out the way she wanted it to, Nikki had no where to turn than back to the drawing board -- another surgery.

For the past year, Amanda has been seriously ill. What may be the cause of her illness? Amanda thinks it all boils down to her breast implants and she plans to have them removed. Will she return to her old self after the removal?

Will Nikki and Amanda be able to feel secure, inside and out?

Watch this espisode now:

I Hate My Face

This final episode is slightly different than the first two, as it deals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. However, I felt it was important to include, as the two individuals featured were considering plastic surgery to 'fix the flaws'.

As you watch the stories unfold, it becomes apparent that the girls really hate what they see in the mirror, and cannot understand why others see something different. One girl obsesses over every minor flaw in her face and uses a giant gem to distract people from looking at her nose. The other chooses to flaunt her body in order to keep the attention away from her face.

Surgery is definitely one of those permanent modifications to the body that carries with it numerous risks [including death] as well as a high cost, physically, mentally and emotionally speaking.

What if the very sight of your own face made you disgusted every time you looked at it? That's the case for many people who suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a mental illness that causes individuals to obsess endlessly over perceived defects in their physical features.

Watch this episode now: