Whats up crew? Long time no see, taking a break is something I recommend to my loved ones in times of self-reflection, so why not myself? Now with that being said, I’d like to talk about an art form that I really think is really cool and doesn’t get enough love; the art of the scribe. Tattoos are a huge part of our culture and I think that to be so dedicated to something is only a sign of love.
It takes guts to openly show the world what you love and I don’t mean it in an overly emotional way, but more so pure admiration. I’ve seen people get dogged on for their shitty tattoos; a lot of people have time to hate. let’s hope you are gripping what you love because they are coming to steal your joy, you’ve gotta have heart to deal with what people will say.
Let’s move on to the history of the art, scribes have been around for thousands of years. 25 years ago scientists found the remains of a mummy that was in the Central Eastern Alps of southern Austria, the body was covered with 61 tattoos. Its mind blowing that tattoos have been around 5400 that’s years but still carry a negative stigma, so much that it causes people to lose job opportunities, girlfriends and respect from their loved ones.
During my deep dive into the tattoo arts, I’ve ran across people who have put dough into their tattoos, but they don’t even have a half decent story to go with them, that seems a bit of a waste.
In 1769 some cat named James Lock sailed to New Zealand from England, upon landing James ran into a group of people calling themselves as the “Maori”. When Lock saw the Maori’s tattooed heads he was so intrigued that he brought one of the Maori back to England just to show him to other people, but also to show the Maori his people’s customs.
Unfortunately by the 1820’s it became sport to collect the tattooed heads of the Maori warriors, soon after, the chiefs of Maori Villages would be trading the tattooed heads of Slaves and commoners to the Westerns for goods. The supply of guns & ammo was inexhaustible, but that couldn’t be said about the Maori warriors, as a result the Maori’s population was on a steady decline unit 1831, when the English government made it illegal to import human heads.
I mentioned earlier that Lock brought one of the Maori people back to England to show his people the customs of the Maori people, the young aristocrats thought highly of that tattoos and decided to get their own, which brought the culture to a higher class. Instead of just pirates and sailors having tattoos, royalty and commoners started to get them, bringing tattoos into the mainstream.
But you know how trends go for the higher class and soon enough it was only gang members getting tattoos. From Compton to New York and everywhere in between, from hood gangs to outlaw bikers, japans Yakuza’s gang houses to in the punk rock basement shows. Only the real wore them out for the world to see.
When I first moved to town ten years ago I became friends with a tight group of people made up of Skaters, hippies and punk kids. Because of those friendships I got invited to go to all types of local music shows, you would see me at hippie jams bands, rap, screamo and shitty punk shows. The punk shows were always the sickest, just because of the people I would meet there and the energy they carried.
It was rare but sometimes I would see this cat [pictured above] covered in tattoos standing in a corner only talking to a select few.
I’ve been so hesitant on making this tattoo post because I wanted to get portraits of this cat, for the last year and a half I’ve been asking around trying to figure out how I could get in contact with him. It was as if no one knew who I was talking about, or they would say he just lives in the woods and is impossible to reach. I recently became friends with a tattoo artist and one night of drinking at her house had the idea to ask her if she knew about a guy who had a bandana tattooed over his jaw line. Of course she knew, she led me to find his Facebook. After messaging him telling that I was working on a series and that I’d like to take his portrait.
Taking photos of Jon was dope; we actually hung out for 2 hours bullshitting about philosophies and world values before I even took my first photo. I learned that he did live in the woods for three years, doesn’t own a smart phone, and used to sponsor felons after they were released from prison. What was eye opening about the experience was that afterwards, while I was at home looking at the photos on my laptop, I remember being anxious about meeting Jon and hanging out with this cat by myself, before I got to know him. I mean he easily has 100+ lbs on me and is covered in tattoos. Anyone who would see him would think, “Holy shit, this is a bad mother fucker,” but I had nothing to worry about. It was just my imagination. I do believe those thoughts of worry came from a place of fear. I am always judged when I walk into a store or when I am meeting new people, and sometimes I’m on the opposite end of the gavel: judging people who I have never spoken to before (which leads me to question myself and my discernments). It’s difficult not to though. It’s just the way the human brain works. We try to figure out who someone is before we invite them into our lives; we do this to protect ourselves
This is a world of many alternative motives, a place where real intentions are hidden behind a couple Social media post and a cool tee shirt with a progressive witty saying. I am a firm believer that actions speak a lot louder than words and getting a tattoo is one of the strongest forms of commitment.
Sure you can get it removed, but why would you even waste the artist time and your money.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, hopefully it will inspire you to not get a meaningless tattoo, Or at least give you the knowledge of the weight a tattoo holds to some.