Category: Art

Tattoo inspired art: Alisha Murray

Alisha Murray is a 28-year-old freelance artist from Metro Detroit, Michigan. We chatted to Alisha to find out more about her tattoo inspired illustrations, her own tattoos and she has also created an original piece inspired by Things&Ink magazine.  

Do you have a background in art? Yes, I have been doing art since a very young age. It evolved as I got older and better, and even branched into crochet and the culinary arts. Ultimately, traditional artwork is the most rewarding to me. Most of the techniques I’ve learned over the years are from trial and error, but I also learned some of the fundamentals through elementary to high school, but I never went to college for it.

Where do you get your inspiration? Inspiration comes from all places. Lately tattoos both modern and traditional have been a great source of inspiration. I  get a lot of inspiration from the walls of tattoo shops. I have always been drawn to flash art since I was a kid. My grandfather had some ink from the Navy and it always fascinated me and made me want to create similar pieces. As I got old enough to get tattooed, I really paid attention to details of pieces whether American Traditional or Traditional Japanese pieces. They are both styles I admire very much.

How would you describe your style? Most of my newer pieces are a fusion of tattoo flash and hand gestures. I really enjoy making hand gestures that aren’t very politically correct, but still have beautiful tattoos. It’s amazing how much people accept and appreciate some of my more obscene pieces. It makes me happy to know people are just as weird as I am. There are many tattoo artists that create beautiful hand gestures on flesh and I hope I’m doing them right on paper.

Are there any artists that you admire and that influence your work? There are so many amazing artist out there that I admire, such as Bryn Parrot and Liz Clements. Others such as Garth Hixon, Daniel Cotte, Iris Lys, Drew Linden, Anna Sandberg, and Gareth Hawkins have inspired and impacted my work immensely. Every day I see new work from these amazing tattoo artists and I can’t help but be inspired. Their talents make me want to better my work and my knowledge of the tattoo culture.

What medium do you use? I use many different mediums, but I mostly use pen and ink mixed with digital for my hand gestures. I line everything out and finish the background on Photoshop to give it a clean solid colour. Once in a while I’ll use ink and nib with liquid acrylic and watercolour to practice my line work.

Do you have tattoos? Do they have a personal meaning to you? I have many tattoos. I can’t really count them any more. I’m completely solid from my neck to my knees with traditional Japanese pieces. From under my knees down I have some American traditional pieces that I have created or my artist has. I’ve always wanted a full body suit and I’ve been working on it since I turned 18. I always embraced my grandmothers Japanese heritage and was raised learning some of the traditions. Most of these pieces I have are based on Japanese folklore monsters. I always loved the stories behind the mythology of Yurei and how each Provence has different adaptations of them. I knew it was taboo to get ink and be completely covered in tattoos, but I can’t imagine anything more beautiful that someone could do to their own body. It’s definitely the only body enhancement I will partake in. I also have matching tattoos with my husband of our two dogs that I designed. Definitely the biggest matching tattoos I’ve seen. Garth Hixon of Village Tattoo in Romeo, Michigan is the artist behind 99% of my existing body suit.

Where can people buy your art? My art can be purchased at a couple of online stores such as society6.com/alishaannredbubble.com/people/aamurray, and my very own website, scoobtoobins.com. Society6 and Redbubble also carry my work on apparel, bedding, and more.

Grace Garcia Illustrates No Cure Magazine

Spanish illustrator Grace Garcia  has created a series of drawings for Issue 7 of No Cure Magazine, an Australian indie art culture publication.

GIRL POWER is 84 pages devoted to the many kick-ass, talented chicks out there creating cool shit for those of us who appreciate cool shit.

Grace’s illustrations perfectly capture this notion as the women are covered in self-made tattoos and doing a whole host of sporting activities.

Cultural appropriation and tattoos

Our guest blogger is psychologist, freelance writer and creator of the blog Dream Electric, Ally Richards. In this post she considers cultural appropriation and tattoos. 

Heritage often acts as a source of inspiration for tattoos. It’s also equally common for tattoo collectors to adorn their bodies with representations of other cultures – perhaps memories of places visited or finding inspiration in another population’s practices.

By Carlos Torres

When getting a tattoo referencing a culture that is not your own, issues can arise. We cringe at the (often misspelt) Chinese character tattoos that attracted popularity in the 90s and the use of other cultures as “exotic” or “edgy”. Beyond these examples is the possibility that the tattoo will provoke offense in members of the cultural group referenced and the wearer may be accused of “cultural appropriation”.

What is cultural appropriation? A quick google quickly evidences the controversy behind the term – angry voices making claims of racism and further angry voices proclaiming freedom of expression. In brief, cultural appropriation refers to a majority group who adopts the symbols and signs of a minority group. A power dynamic is inherent; the privileged group (often white and western) takes from an oppressed and marginalised group. This differs from “cultural exchange”, in which the trading between groups is mutual. The power lies in the hands of the majority group – they get to choose which symbols they take on and stand to benefit from this appropriation. This “accessorisation” trivialises and erases the oppression experienced by the minority group.

But I’m not racist, I just think it’s pretty…

Headdress by Ben Klishevskiy

A recent example of cultural appropriation is the wearing of “Red Indian headdresses”, which have become popular accessories. The headdresses (known as warbonnets) have a deep spiritual significance in Native American culture. Native Americans are also a minority group who have a history of oppression and suffering at the hands of Americans. The wearing of the headdresses encourages stereotypes and when worn with skimpy festival-wear it promotes the sexualisation of an ethnic group which already has a high level of sexual assault perpetrated against them. This year Glastonbury banned the sale of the headdresses at the festival for these reasons.

Mandala by Jonathan Toogood

But what about tattoos? Unlike a culturally insensitive costume, a tattoo is usually carefully considered and a lifelong commitment, not a trend to be picked up when convenient. However, by the above definition, cultural appropriation is very common in tattoo culture. Many white people sport tribal blackwork designs inspired by Maori culture. Mexican “sugar skull” designs and mandala tattoos inspired by Hindu and Buddhist practices have become increasingly popular. All of these designs come from cultures that have been historically (and in many cases still currently) oppressed by white people. Is this problematic?

Skull by Mike Harper 

You are free to present your body in whichever way you choose, and your tattoos are your own choice. However, others also have the right to be offended and express this. If you decide to get a tattoo representing a minority culture, you should be prepared for this possibility.  Although your intention is not to be racist, others may see it as such.

If you are in the white majority, it is not for you to decide what is and is not offensive to other groups. Inform yourself of the history and significance around your chosen design and discuss this with members of that community. You may find it helpful to speak to a tattoo artist from that culture. It may be possible to incorporate the aspects of the symbol you find appealing into a more culturally respectful tattoo. Above all, regardless of the eventual choice you make, being thoughtful is key. A tattoo is for life and you don’t want to be spending your later years defending it! Careful consideration of the cultural context around your tattoo may avoid unintentional offense and embarrassment in the future.

 

Carey Fruth: Redefining ‘American Beauty’

Photographer Carey Fruth based in San Francisco has created a series of images titled ‘American Beauty’ featuring 14 women who are redefining the American idea of what beauty is. The images have been inspired by the 1999 film American Beauty and the rose petal fantasy scene in which Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) renders Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) powerless with his male gaze.

The women pictured lie naked in a bed of lilacs and are of all shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities. Unlike the film the women pictured are reclaiming their power and do not fit into the media-created body shape ideal, instead they are embracing their bodies just as they are.

Katie Edmunds Illustrates Things&Ink

Fashion illustrator, Katie Edmunds from London, was inspired by Things&Ink magazine and created the original illustration (below) of blogger Yanin Namasonthi, who she has followed for a while and loves her style. 

We chatted to Katie about her artistic style, where she gets her inspiration and of course tattoos. Katie has also recreated a few of her favourite previous Things&Ink covers… 

Do you have a background in art? Yes I’ve always chosen related art subjects through education and I’ve just recently graduated from London College of Fashion.

 How would you describe your style? I love illustrating people’s expressions through portrait drawings. I have a realistic style, which I tend to juxtapose with playful, and colourful elements through use of watercolours, adding a raw quality to my work.

What medium do you use? Pencils and watercolour. I like the precision and detail of the pencil and the unpredictability and possibilities which stem from watercolour and ink on paper.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I’m hugely inspired by female empowerment. My illustrations tend to play upon women who control and employ power over the male gaze, but with a tongue-in-cheek approach.

Do you have tattoos? So far I only have one, it was in the spur of the moment with my friend during St Patricks day in Dublin- a small celebration of a shamrock on my wrist. I keep illustrating different designs but as an illustrator I keep altering and changing what I want.

Are there any artists you admire? In terms of tattoo artists I really admire Keely Rutherford, like my own work hers is very colourful. I like her use of pastel colours and the way in which she translates that into tattoo art. I also like her fantasy aesthetic; it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.

What drew you to Things&Ink? I was drawn to Things&Ink magazine as I feel it takes a look at both tattoos and the wider tattoo culture. Being an illustrator I really respect the artwork of tattooists so I love that it profiles the very best tattooists and shines a light on their illustrative skills. My work really focuses on feminist ideals so I was drawn to the strong women that are represented in Things&Ink magazine.

How did you decide which covers to draw? The first cover I chose to illustrate is my favourite of all the issues so far, issue 11 The Fruity Issue to me perfectly represents female empowerment. I love the bright and colourful aesthetic, which is something which I try to achieve in my work and I’m also really drawn to portraiture so I always tend to illustrate detail in faces.

 Can people buy your art? Yes,  I also do commissions and can be contacted by email katieedmundsillustration@gmail.com
Follow Katie on Instagram and Twitter for more art work

Offline Dating Film

‘Offline Dating’ is a short film created by Bafta-nominated filmmaker Samuel Abrahams, which shows actor Tom Greaves in Hackney, London, attempting to persuade women to go on a date with him. His advances receive a mixed response and the film shows how women respond differently to a unknown man approaching them in public.

 

The film acts a social experiment, showing how social media and online dating have affected how people interact in everyday “real” life. The differences between online personas and how we are in real life are highlighted as the film supports the idea that we edit how we chose to present ourselves in a world of social media.

Watch the film below, what do you think? Has the online world ruined real life interactions?

Interview with a tattoo artist: Holly Astral

We chatted to 31-year-old tattoo artist and jewellery maker Holly Astral from Hertfordshire about her painting style, her inspirations and the art shows she has been involved in. 

Do you have a background in art? I studied art at school and college before doing a degree in model making and special effects. With regards to painting and drawing I’m self taught, just figuring things out as I go along.

How did you get your apprenticeship? Why did you want to become a tattooist? I am trained as a model maker, and spent the first ten or so years of my working life prototyping toys and products for manufacture. To cut a long story short, I realised I wasn’t in love with what I was doing any more and decided to make a change. I love to paint and draw, and I had been thinking about expanding this. I wanted to learn to tattoo for years, but it was always a kind of distant far away dream. It occured to me that the only way to learn would be to make that dramatic change and immerse myself fully into learning to tattoo. I was working for myself at the time, so I stopped saying yes to model making jobs, closed my toy making company and got cracking with finding an apprenticeship!

How long have you been tattooing? Just over a year, but it’s gone so quickly! This year has flown by. I am loving every minute of it!

What kinds of things do you like to tattoo? I love tattooing animals and flowers the most so far! Flowers look so lovely flowing across the body. I am still just working on smaller, simple pieces right now.

How would you describe your tattoo style? I’m still just getting started, so my style is still very much in the developing stages. I’d say it’s pretty girly and some times cute but not too cutesy-poo. And more spacey, dreamy and magical when it comes to my art. In terms of painting I love to paint spacey pin up style ladies, and I hope my tattooing takes me in that kind of direction once I’ve built my skills up further to do larger pieces.

What mediums do you use? Oil paints mostly, sometimes acrylics. I always add some gold leaf to each painting, too. I like a bit of sparkle

Where do you get your inspiration from? Magic, nature, films – I love fantasy films and anything with ghosts or aliens in it. I am also really inspired by the vast loneliness of space, it kind of depends on how I’m feeling that day. Usually I start by sketching away in my sketchbook, I draw every single day, and then I see which ones start to flesh out and feel real to me on their own. My favourite part of any drawing is adding all the tattoos and long swishing hair.

Can you tell me about the gallery shows you have been involved in? I’ve exhibited at galleries in Europe and the USA, including The Sho Gallery Wales, Forbidden Planet London and the Japanese American National Museum in LA.  A lot of the shows in the states I sent my work over, but I always prefer to go to the show and getting to meet all the other artists involved. My art has taken me all over the place, all around England and Wales, and LA. I used to run my own line of collectible plush toys called Cavey, I produced a small numbered run of them each month in a different design, a bit like beanie babies. For Cavey’s birthday each year I would put on an art show where other artists and toy designers would contribute their own interpretation of the Cavey platform. The show was held at a pop up location each year in London, but one year I put the show on in LA. That was a lot of fun!

In April I put on my first solo show at Toycon in the UK and I’ve also curated shows at pop-up locations in London and LA.

Were the pieces you created for the galleries based around themes? Often the show will have a running theme that the artists are encouraged to work to, and I really like to work this way. Having a little bit of direction as to what to produce really gets the creative juices flowing!

A favourite show of mine was ‘Dragons’ which took place in Wales. Each artist was given a blank plastic dragon toy to customise, and everyone made their own interpretation of he platform. I made mine in the image of Falcor from The Never Ending Story. It was such a fun night!

Where can people buy your art?  I have a small online shop where I sell my silver jewellery. My artwork is available to purchase privately by emailing me at hollyastral@gmail.com

Holly is currently doing guest spots in Hertfordshire, if you’d like to get tattooed by her email: hollyastral@gmail.com

Follow Holly on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr for more artwork and tattoos.

One Day Young: Mothers and Babies

Photographer Jenny Lewis has created a collection of photographs showing mothers and their babies, one day after the birth. These portraits have been published as a book by Hoxton Mini Press titled One Day Young.

It’s really quite simple — I wanted to tell a story about the strength and resilience of women post-childbirth that I feel goes largely unacknowledged in today’s world. To reassure women that childbirth is ok; yes it’s painful but it is a positive pain, one that has purpose and is just part of the journey, a rite of passage into motherhood. To make visible other emotions that are far more powerful: the joy, the overwhelming love and the triumphant victory every new mother feels. In my mind this is the supportive message we should be passing on to future generations rather than paralysing them with fear.

Very early on in the project I knew I wanted to concentrate on the first twenty-four hours, when a woman’s body is engulfed by hormones, to capture the unrelenting physicality of the moment, straight from the battlefield. Sweat still glistening on the mothers’ skin, the translucent umbilical cord, freshly severed, and wide-eyed wonder as the women come to terms with the magnitude of what they have achieved and survived.

Saffron Reichenbacker at Axios Tattoo

Saffron Reichenbacker solo exhibition at Axios Tattoo studio.
Private View: Friday 17th July, 6 – 8:30pm
1 Hove Park Villas, BN3 6HP, Hove
Axios Tattoo studio opening hours: 10am – 5:30pm, Tuesday – Saturday
Exhibition runs until 3rd August.

Saffron Reichenbacker is a Brighton based artist inspired by a dream world of silver screen vampires and Weimar Berlin ghosts. She works primarily with ink sketches, which are then scanned and developed digitally. Using strong lines and bold colours, her pieces commonly take the form of imagined portraits. In these, she creates a mood that brings to life her dark dream vision of the 1920s. She loves cats, aerial circus and damn fine coffee.

Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more art.


Axios Tattoo is run by Ade and Nigel,  the studio creates custom work with a high degree of freehand tattooing. Ade and Nigel are  both artists outside of tattooing, specialising in painting. Axios are unique in that they ‘want the shop to represent artists both inside and outside of the tattooing community, to become a hub for ‘outsider-lowbrow’ artists to show their work’.

Follow Axios on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more art work and tattoos.

Beautiful old photographs of Tattooed Ladies

Here at Things & Ink we are constantly being inspired by photographs of beautifully tattooed women throughout history. These women, who were perhaps some of the first to be heavily tattooed, have paved the way for all of us tattooed women…

‘Nora Hildebrandt—Tattooed Woman’ by Charles Eisenmann, Ronald G. Becker Collection of Charles Eisenmann Photographs, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries.

Unidentified Tattooed Woman’ by Charles Eisenmann, Ronald G. Becker Collection of Charles Eisenmann Photographs, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries.

Unidentified Tattooed Woman’ by Charles Eisenmann via Syracuse Special Collections Research Library.

‘Unidentified Tattooed Woman’ by Charles Eisenmann, Ronald G. Becker Collection of Charles Eisenmann Photographs, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries.