January 2019 has taken me across the pond to kick the year off with a lotta learning. Follow the progress of the trip here!
Workshop- David Allen: Postmastectomy Tattooing January 2019 I have followed the work of tattoo artist David Allen (@davidallen / www.allentattoo.com) for some time. He creates beautiful delicate black and grey botanical tattoos for post-mastectomy patients. The composition of his work and how it interacts with the form of the body in a delicate yet strongly impactful way is simply stunning. He also works tirelessly with the medical, artistic and academic communities to further our discourse and understanding of this sensitive subject. He has worked hard to bring together a varied range of speakers and attendees for this workshop so that we can come together to learn from and inspire each other. I have been tattooing now for fourteen years, and the last five or so years I have worked a lot with covering up scars, ranging from self-inflicted to surgical scars. I love to create cover-up tattoos for people, whether it be purely aesthetic, for example covering up older or badly executed tattoos through to major double mastectomy reworks. The process of creating a cover up holds boundless fascination for me. Technically it is challenging and interesting- working with different skin types, pigmentation etc, alongside working smoke and mirrors magic to trick the eye away from what the wearer wants to be unseen. There is also the emotional aspect for my clients; I can help create something for them that will help to renew their confidence and allow them to reclaim their body for their own. Tattooing is the ultimate claim on your own mortal vessel. It is an experience that you choose for yourself when so much in life is unchosen. Whether the tattoo is seen or unseen by the outer world, it is in, rather than on the skin of the wearer, it lives and breathes with them, and is an expression of self that is with them every moment of every day. To utilise this sentiment in a remedial, often therapeutic way is pure magic for me, and hopefully the client. So, I saved hard to make the long trip to Chicago in order to further my knowledge and insight into the world of post-mastectomy tattooing.
Day One- I had a day to myself to get over the journey and see some of the city. I started the day with a yin yoga class at a local yoga studio. It was a perfect way to restore my body after the journey and to reflect on the journeys both behind and ahead of me. The afternoon was spent in the Chicago Art Institute, a truly phenomenal museum in every way. I was surprised and delighted to find there was an exhibition on Ukiyo-e, art from the floating world. Early on in my tattoo apprenticeship I spent many an hour absorbed in a book that remains one of my favourites- Tattoos of the Floating World. It was a wonderful experience to study the artworks of the floating world up close. To see how they evolved through the ages and represented a culture so far removed in time and geography, yet convey the passions, humour, beauty and joy in life that are so familiar was a joy to the eyes and soul. To represent the joys and passions of life amongst a harsh reality of tough existence is something that resonated with me strongly, and will continue to resonate with many through the ages. Artistically, the combination of intricate detail and stylised simplicity was very inspiring, and I have many scribbles in my sketchbook already. Also the presentation of the paintings on silk scrolls really struck me. I have been working on silk prints of my botanical and nature studies recently, so hopefully I can create some inspired pieces in new mediums in 2019.