Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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.

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