Tattoo (Fine) Arts

I cannot begin to express how excited I am that Ink Master is beginning its second season. If you have never seen this show, I urge you to check it out on Spike TV on Tuesday evenings. Hosted by Dave Navarro with Chris Nunez  and Oliver Peck as  judges this show is a must watch for artists and tattoo enthusiasts.

During the show tattoo artists compete against each other in timed challenges. Each week contestants are eliminated one by one with the goal of winning a cash prize and the ultimate title of Ink Master. What does it take to be an Ink Master? You must be skilled in a variety of disciplines; line-work, color, shading, portraiture, gray-scale, realism, classic tattoo styles, as well as overall skill.

Although I do not have any tattoos personally, I have always been intrigued with those who do and the artwork they wear on their skin every day. Yes, I know that there are poorly designed tattoos and some that were self-inflicted without much thought, but there are also tattoos that could be considered works of art. The precision and skill needed to accomplish this task is no less accomplished than any of the great masters in the art world. What inspired my respect for these masters of the human canvas is seeing Ink Master and other shows that celebrate this ancient art form.

Tattooing in process. Artist: Damien Bart of B...

In fact it could be argued that the ability of a tattoo artist must be at a higher level than that of other artists. Unlike a conventional artist, a tattoo artist is using a human canvas – human canvas that stretches and moves while it is being “painted” unlike canvas, paper, or other traditional, stationary surfaces. Skin has a variety of colors and texture further complicating what the finished product will look like. Human canvases talk and get emotional while the tattoo is being applied. This is not a stereotypical quiet afternoon of drawing. Tattoo artists must also perform their craft while their canvas is in unusual positions and around body curves, not to mention the hygienic aspects of the job.

For most traditional art if a mistake is made there are ways to overcome it, where as with skin, there is no erasing, although it could be covered up. Still limitations exist. Although I feel relatively confident in my artistic ability, seeing a tattoo artist makes me realize that they are on a whole new level.

Now I take nothing away from traditional art. My intent is only to communicate my appreciation for those who may or may not be normally considered artists. I tip my cap to those who make this profession their own. You have my utmost respect.

For even further exploration of the art of tattoos, check out the documentary below by the History Channel entitled “Ancient Ink”.