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