I’m a person who loves supporting worthy causes and projects, tattoo related or not. So, when a friend sent me a link to The Tattoo Project, I fell in love instantly and wanted to help. After speaking with the creative genius behind the project, Vince Hemingson, I decided I would talk about the project in the next issue of Things & Ink, and try to spread the word about it, help bring attention to the Kickstarter fundraising campaign, and just increase awareness about the project and how worthy it is. To help accomplish this and to give me a more concrete idea of what the project was about, Vince sent me a copy of the book. My first reaction after opening the box was how heavy it was (it’s 240 pages of thick, glossy, high-quality paper, and a lovely hard cover), the superior construction of the book itself (it’s very well-made and will hold up to lots and lots of perusing), and the images are absolutely, incredibly, gobsmackingly stunning. I was in bliss, and it has been a long time since I felt that with a contemporary book featuring photographs of tattooed people. My Things & Ink article will speak more to this.
I spent just over 2 hours just turning pages, taking everything in the book had to offer visually. The book consists of images shot by 11 fine arts photographers (both men & women), of several tattooed subjects of both sexes, and the photographs were shot over a 3 day period in Vancouver, B.C.. There are over 200 full-page images in the book, plus the forward by P. J. Reece, documentary director’s notes by Jack Silberman, a description of the 3 days of shooting the project by Bob Baxter, details about Pennylane Shen who curated the exhibition for The Tattoo Project, and then photos of the exhibition event, and then the acknowledgments (you can see all of this in the shot of the table of contents in the gallery below). Also, each photographer has a small write-up on their introduction page that includes details about them and sometimes their thoughts and/or approach to the project shoots or what they hope to demonstrate through their images. A very lovely personal touch that gives you some insight into the photos that follow and the personal style of that photographer. The way the book is assembled, the contrasts in style between all the photographers is highlighted and their uniqueness is celebrated. There is a wonderful flow from one photographer to the next, and the effect is just immensely aesthetically pleasing. I enjoyed and really liked the works of each photographer for, and for different reasons. I loved the subjects too, their tattoo styles and bodies so unique and all so lovely for their own natural reasons. There’s a lot of diversity in age, body size, and tattoo style. The tattoos in this book are also very lovely in and of themselves, apart from the skin they are on.
Every image is overflowing with artistic expression and passion; whether the subjects are male or female, naked or clothed, each is photographed in a way that communicates an intention for beauty, respect, celebration and adoration of the tattooed subject. There’s no smut in here; there’s no extreme sexualization; there’s nothing derogatory or demeaning or sexist. One photographer has a retro pin-up style, but it’s rather lovely, cheeky and sweet, not pornish at all. Vince told me in a conversation that the pursuit of beauty is its own reward, and that is very evidently on the minds of the photographers for this volume. He also said that he feels it’s important for everyone to be a feminist, and that sentiment is also very present and loud here too. The photographs of these tattooed folks are at times reminiscent of paintings I’ve seen in galleries or books, that classical celebration of beauty and the human form you see in pieces by artists like Botticelli, Delecroix, and David. Some of the men’s shots, the body poses, remind me of classic ancient Greek sculptures. It’s so wonderful to see modern photography, tattooing, and a classic sense of artistic beauty brought together in a project.
Honestly, this book is a must-have for anyone who adores, celebrates, and seeks to be part of the positive elements and energies of the tattoo culture. It’s tasteful, it’s very artsy (and classy) and it’s just so damn beautiful to look at. It’s tattooed people photographed in a way that anyone can look at and enjoy: adults and kids alike. I will proudly put this on my coffee table, maybe with a chain on it as someone might take it. It’s tattoo culture at its highest form.
Be sure and visit the Kickstarter page for the Tattoo Project, check out the video and all the wonderful things you can get for donating. Please share this post or the links below with friends, family or those you know who are in or who adore tattoo culture. This project is so amazing, this documentary MUST be made.
Here’s everything important you need to knowing about The Tattoo Project:
The Tattoo Project takes a journey to the heart of “who we are.”
“Beauty is skin deep, but a tattoo goes all the way to the bone.” ~ Vince Hemingson
The Tattoo Project is Hemingson’s attempt to prove that his apocryphal quote is true. Experimental photo shoot, gallery exhibition, and coffee table book—so far The Tattoo Project has made waves in the photo and tattoo worlds. But where’s the documentary film? – It’s one Kickstarter campaign away.
The Tattoo Project documentary team is turning to the tattoo and photography and art communities to help them over the final financial hurdle of editing the over 24 hours of amazing footage captured from the original three-day Tattoo Project Photo Shoot and the opening night of their one-of-a-kind Gallery Exhibition. If successful, the crowdfunding campaign will result in a one-hour broadcast quality documentary, and for the Special Edition version, another hour of behind the scenes footage and interviews with the creative team.
The film is the chance to tell the stories revealed by The Tattoo Project. To go beneath the skin and behind the eye to explore the zone where tattoo art meets portrait art. It’s a journey to the heart of “who we are.”
In this short video, Director Jack Silberman explains the vision for the film and gives a sneak preview at some of the amazing footage that will be used.
Says Hemingson: “I have always been struck by the extraordinary power that tattoos have to reveal a person’s inner self. What we wear on our skin is an outward reflection of who we are on the inside. So the symbols people choose to decorate their bodies with, they’re proclaiming to the rest of the world, “This is who I am.”
Can photography capture both the external self and the inner self? That’s the big question, and the heart and the soul of The Tattoo Project. As Hemingson says, “If the body is a temple, then our tattoos are its stained-glass windows.” Tattoos tell stories. Our film reveals those stories to you.
Kick Starter Project: http://kck.st/1mXYFTY
The Tattoo Project Promotional video: http://youtu.be/gBLBmFnrJaU
Media images from The Tattoo project for download: http://bit.ly/1u41WDN
The Vanishing Tattoo Documentary: http://youtu.be/ql7xxYxSag8
Media coverage of the Tattoo Project
Marisa Kakoulas, Needles & Sins, Review of The Tattoo Project: http://ow.ly/x7Vbu
Bob Baxter, Review of The Tattoo Project Weekend: http://ow.ly/x7V2X
Bob Baxter, Review of The Tattoo Project Gallery Exhibition: http://ow.ly/x7V5n
For more information please contact: Vincent Errol Hemingson
Vince Hemingson is an award-winning photographer, screenwriter, best-selling author, filmmaker and the creator of www.vanishingtattoo.com, one of the internet’s largest, most popular and critically acclaimed websites related to tattoos and body art, which is visited by some ten million visitors every year. He co-produced, co-wrote and co-hosted The Vanishing Tattoo documentary film, which was broadcast on National Geographic International and was seen by tens of millions of people in over one hundred countries around the world. Hemingson is regarded as one of the world’s leading researchers into tattoos and their place within popular culture and he is often called upon to comment about tattoos and body art to the mainstream media.