Disha: Lukas you are as explained by BMEzine Encyclopedia; body modification artist, nomadic performer, documentor of the contemporary fringes and one of the major figures of the contemporary underground. Do you agree? And what more can be added to introduce you to the audiences in India?
Lukas: It’s quite a flattering introduction! Yes, I have always been involved in many kinds of subculture. I am what we can call a transdisciplinary artist, meaning I work on a lot of different mediums. I started doing different artistic experimentation back in the 90s before starting to work on the body.
I also do photography as well as documentary and spoken word. I think what can describe the link between all my works is the idea of working with the limits, the boundaries, and the social impact of a work.
I thank you for the opportunity to present my work in India which is a country I was always interested to visit and never had the chance to see so far.
Disha: As I mentioned BME, the fallen king’s death was one of the saddest news for me after he lost BME. I think many do not know/remember him, would you like to say few words about Shannon Larratt.
Lukas: I had a complex relationship with Shannon, he was the first one over sea to support & showcase my work. At the time everyone was on BME.
It was good but also had it’s downside. It was the place to meet talk exchange but at the same time, it was a microcosm through which many were living without having a grasp on reality. Many people tried really hard to exist on bme, to be recognised & recognisable. Even the system of IAM (the social network within BME) was pushing this dynamic to get 15 minutes of fame.
We always disagreed on that and on the consequences among Bod Mod enthusiasts, but we always had a mutual respect. Without BME the scene wouldn’t be what it is nowadays. I felt really sad when I heard Shannon got ripped off of BME by his -at the time- wife and staff.
A lot of questions were still pending, that I never had the opportunity to talk about with Shannon, so when he lost the website I decide to take the opportunity to have a fiar talk with “the fallen king”. I did an interview with him, during which I could point out our disagreements and we could share our POV.
Shannon was a father figure for many, who ended up a little bit lost when he lost the website & passed away a few months after. The scene changed and slowly became an industry. It is hard to say so little about a man who did so much, so if you are interested to read more about him, here is the full interview with Shannon.
Disha: Your performances have evolved a lot over a decade. Can you highlight some advancements that can give the depth of the latest happenings and share your experiences from some of your memorable performances?
Lukas: Though my performance exploration took many ways, I mostly explore body suspensions since the past 15 years.
It started as an exploration and slowly became more and more an “in depth experience”. Though the performances were well received and my work respected, it always felt a bit frustrating for me, often feeling the public was often missing the point as no matter what I tried to express most of the people focused on the hooks, the blood, the pain. In 2009 I started to conceptualise a new approach, trying to find a way to share the experience with the public. In 2011 I found a team of hackers from Italie Spectre who developed for me the programme for a bio feedback performance. That was the first version of Danse NeurAle .
With started to monitor different body responses to the experience (heart beat, breath, brain waves) and used it to create an immersive sound and images installation. The idea was to have the public see the changes inside me during the performance. It worked pretty well, but not as I expected. When we did this first representation I was already on stage as people entered the space, I was equipped with a microphone inside the mask to amplify my breath and a stethoscope for mthe heart beat. I noticed the people arriving, speaking, laughing, but very quickly started to hear my breath, then whispered. Then they could heard my heartbeat and so they became quiet.
I was without realising it at first creating a natural organic connection with the public. I had a fantastic feedback of this performance and for the first time they spoke of the “experience” they had, not about the pain and hooks or blood. But still, I noticed that I was losing something as the public was sitting in front of me watching images projected on screen that put them through an intellectual process. So I redesigned this performance in order to emphasize this organic and intimate connection I had with the public. It took me many years to find a programmer who could understand what I was trying to achieve and willing to work on my performance. In 2018 I met David Chanel from Theoriz (www.theoriz.com) in NYC and again few months after in Tokyo with whom I started to develop Danse NeurAle 2.0. In 2019 I found a venue to present the Beta version. Since a month we are working on a new emulation and have added to the team Remi Cambuzat who is developing a robotic part through which a piece will be created live using also the datas generated during the performance.
In this new version I am in the center of the room and we created a complete immersive environment designed with my body responses through which the public can go through. The lights are changing, sound is evolving & there are abstract representations of my datas all around me. The space become an extension of my inner self, through which the public can wander. An organic experience rather than an intellectual one, at last. From the beginning to the end the public is intimately connected on an emotional level with me.
Disha: I want to talk about the music in your performances. Is it truly being derived from brain? Can you throw some light on this for music enthusiasts. [Please, Share some video as example]
Lukas: Everything is generated by the data we collect during the performance.
The algorithm my team created interprets the information collected (brain waves, blood pressure, body temperature etc) and transforms them into different sounds that change depending on how all those information evolves. We created a basic pattern and the algorithm does the rest.
Here is the link to the first version of Danse NeurAle, as well as the beta version of DNA 2.0 we presented last year here
Disha: It’s very rare we’ll be able to find, can I know who and how does Lukas spend his work break at home? You wear bracelet in your hands can you tell what is it made of and it’s significance in your life.
Lukas: Well ! when work and passion entangle, there is never “off of work” time. I have been living a nomadic lifestyle since +20 years, traveling months at time with my daughter Mayliss, it is a constant reflection of life and thoughts. Traveling is part of my work rhythm, going to new places, encountering people, creating content. Rather it be photography, performance, workshops. China, Canada, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, all those places have the same value to me, they are home away from home, traveling means also to get out of the comfort zone, a concept that influenced & attracted me. It is not an easy path, it’s just the only one I know. I am my own walking manifesto and the bracelet among other artefacts are statements of that. It’s often in Avignon I come back too. Enjoy the amazing culinary culture of South of France. I read a lot -on the phone- about many subjects & books, as well as a lot of cinema. Sports daily, photography often, also I am a great cook! (laught) Always on the move, but never stressed. I like to keep busy with creative stuffs !
Disha: Please can you enlist your tattoos and body modification with any symbolism or any event attached to them.
Lukas: My first tattoo was my arm and chest biomechanical tattoo.
I guess it was some kind of representation of something i had in mind, this hybridization was the first thing that came to me when I did my first piercing. Inspired by comic books & some darker superheroes. Then I started to do bod-mod so it was kind of a logic to do these tattoos, it was really like giving some kind of shape & aspect of this hybridation. After it evolved slowly, I don’t even remember in which order I did the rest of my tattoos (laught).
I know I did my face and hand pretty “late” because it had a lot of impact on the social level. It’s something different. As long as you have a tattoo that you can hide, like under suit -I used to wear a lot of suits- of course I had some piercing and so on, but nothing so visible, there you can still disappear somehow, but when you do the face or the hand, then you go toward something else.
I was in the state for a few months, far from old europe – was then, still isIn the US it was a bit more common to see hand and face tattoos and I knew from my experience it was completely different in europe. I started there to do my implant on the forehand with Steve Hayworth, then tattooed my chin, then slowly my hands – well not slowly actually, pretty fast (laught) Xhead did the work on my hands. He’s one of the pillars of the full Black Tattoo style- When I came back to Europe with really visible modifications, I thought it was going to be something difficult to live with on the regular bases & somehow I discovered it was kind of the opposite.
You know … when you don’t have anything and you start to get tattooed, people try to take you back somehow ”what are you doing?!” “Are you sure?” they always ask. Everybody has opinions about what you should do & how you should do it. Problems & regret you will have because of it, they try to pull you back from it. Somehow, as soon as I arrived with my face & hands I was “on the other side” already, so suddenly I had less problems.
For me these tattoos are important. I use symbolic for everything, all my tattoos have a meaning, something metaphorique i couldn’t say “this tattoo is this, this tattoo is that” but to me they all mean something.
They are all a part of a story I want to tell to myself and also to the spectator, the witness.The people will see my tattoo & Bod-mod, it communicates ideas about oneself Our body communicates: the way we use our body, the way we walk, the way we dress, everything.
It’s like a dialogue through body language, so somehow the tattoo is a part of this, i guess. Or maybe something else, something more.
Yes, my tattoos are meant to create something inside or outside me, something I want to keep forever in my memories, or some coat I want to use to create interaction with others.
Often people say “yeah the problem with tattoos, it closes a lot of doors & opportunities” when actually the only doors that are closed are ones I anyway didn’t want to open. To be honest it opened me much more doors than I could have imagined.
I Am lukas Zpira because of my tattoos & because of body modification, I am answering this interview because I have these tattoos and body modification, I do a lot of things because of that. It opened a lot of doors, the dialogue with many people I would never have had the chance to speak with.
Disha: Bødy hacktivism or body hacking is coined by you (who else could have done that) can you write few words for someone who knows nothing about the world of body modifications or suspensions?
Lukas: That’s a pretty interesting and complex question!
Body modification and body hacktivism are pretty much two sides of the spectrum. The history of Body Modification starts with the beginning of humanity, humans always transformed themself one way or the other: scarification, tattoos, from every culture, every part of the world, people used to transform the body.
Using the body as a tool to other means, the purpose wasn’t to modify the body in itself but to mark something, a rite of passage, done often as a ritual or to heal. To create a print in the mind through the work on the body as a means to get to the soul. All these cultures have been lost, pretty much with the religions of the books arrived, they whipped out those practices to put new rituals and took the sacred we had in us. Decentralising the body. Putting the sacred it in churches, temples, or whatever. We have been ripped off from our spirituality somewhere in the process.
Let’s move forward to back in the 1970’s with Fakir Mustar. A Californian guy, who starts to take all sorts of traditional practices, gathering all the information he could see in magazines such as Nat Geo and books. He recreated practices such as Suspension-For those who don’t know about suspension, to break it down it is about putting hooks in your body and getting suspended by those hooks. The ritual is not about the pain involved but overcoming it to access higher spiritual grounds, this particular form refers to Native American.
From there he reproduces it, kind of instinctively. Out of necessity.
Others were also attracted by that kind of practice, and slowly it created a movement : the modern primitive, which was the first movement to bring back this culture to us. It was interesting, that was pretty much the birth of modern body modification. I don’t feel connected to the modern primitive though I acknowledge and appreciate the movement because it put in light all those possibilities of practices.
For me the problem with the mod primitive is the cultural appropriation, of course it wasn’t met with bad intention, Fakir was bringing back this practice out of a need, a will to express himself, challenge himself but by doing so he was using rituals that belonged to other cultures. Taking the shape but leaving the meaning somewhere lost, still. Meaning has always been important to me, I was looking for my own meaning, that’s how I came to create the Body Hacktivism movement.
When I started to do body modification I never looked thorward the past Though I had been inspired by fakir musafar and by Leni Riefenstahl pictures in Africa, and lot of different thing we could discover through the magazines and book, it was the only hint we had to go by, there was no internet, none of this kind of practices around. So slowly bod mod came to be kind of popular as a white culture. Cause if you look at the it’s mostly white / hispanic.
The bod mod as we apprehend it now is different, is something that came to us not really as looking back to the past and trying to reproduce it, but a way to find something that has been stolen from us, this spirituality we had in ourselves. All these rituals that the tribes and primitive culture were practicing had a purpose. When we lose all these practices & those rituals we lose the purpose, and we all look for a purpose. From there people all around the world started to do/get body modifications. Of course at the beginning olny few around Fakir, a new wave started from there, back in the beginning of the 90s were all these practices started to become very popular. Piercing, tattoo, scarification, suspension. Around then Steve Hayworth created the implants, Sanon Laratt started BME, I started to practice and few around the world. Slowly but surely it became a big movement.
I was searching for meaning; questioning myself, my future and what i was going to become. Understanding my past self and what I am made of, canalyse all these energy in me, get read of what I need to, and go toward what i wanted to become. It wasn’t just the transformation of a body but the change of a self.
To be modified was changing a lot of things on a social level. I came across different texte that influenced me a lot, like Stelark. He was more inspired by hybridization, those practices being for him a way to bind with the machine and challenge the body, to become one with the machine. Testing the body in its strength or weaknesses.
I invited him in early 2000 for a conference at my private atelier in Avignon – where I live in the south of France.
The town was one of the cities to represent the European culture that year, the theme of the city was the Body. I was approached by the city as I started to be a little bit known, somewhat “popular”. I proposed to start questioning the body -or maybe to answer- all the questions I had about these challenges in regard to being modified in the modern world.
I invited various sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists at round table over the course of 6 month, to try to question a little bit everything about the body. That was Art-Kør 00.
Even before that, there was a texte from Arthur and Marilouise Kroker she wrote that caught my mind, something about the Data Flesh. As I mentioned before I was always admirative of human hybridization and the data flesh stuck with me. I started to realise somehow we are hacking the body, like on a computer. Going inside the system and changing what we want to. The ideas of hacking became evident, from there I started to use the word Bødyhacking to explain what we were doing. I went to japan for the first time, and met Rihyochi Maeda who was -and still is- the chief editor of Burst Magazine, he was documenting through it all kinds of subculture and of course body modifications.
I met Maeda at the first Mod Con that was organised by Shannon in Toronto in 99. In japan we started to talk about the singularity of my work and about ways to give definition to what we were doing & wanted to achieve with it. In 2004 I wrote the Bødy Hacktivist manifesto to define body modification as a form of hacktivism.
In the early days it wasn’t like I was craving to do a suspension. It came quite later for me. I went to the state and met Steve, who with him did my first suspension, on a rooftop in Arizona. When I was suspended up in the air, someone asked me “How do you feel?”
I said: Like a butterfly. That was the feeling that moment left on me. Afterward I took the process for granted and forgot to take the time & put spirit into my suspension & modification. Then it’s when Iost a bit myself on the way. Doing too much suspension, in not so great places, with terrible vibs.
It took a toll on me, I was washed out. Again in the USA I met an older woman, she was descending from local Native tribes and proposed to help find what I had lost. She was my shaman and it’s her who introduced me to rituals. From there I really embraced the ritualistic approach in my performances, tacking on various forms throughout the years. My latest experimental work DNA is still an evolving piece.
D.Q. The world is going through unimagined scenario of COVID-19 pandemic. Your thoughts about it and how is your world of body modification going through it?
Ans. It is difficult to have an opinion. I am looking at the world falling apart, as I saw it coming and many of us did. Cyberapokalips nightmare That we saw the same books of science fiction that helped us to become cyborg or go toward that, we already knew the world as we know it is going to an end. Can be a pandemic but it can be anything, there is war everywhere around the world, and inside every country. People fight each other, religions fight each other, whatever is different from the other people are fighting for it. We can just acknowledge what is going on and try to do our best to go through all the storm but it is going to be a long storm, but as everything bad it inspires something good so it opens the eyes of some people to other alternatives, giving the will to others to try something new. Anyway that is something that’s going to happen, there is no one truth. The new ways of thinking, of living this world, and with each other that’s what’s going to make the change. Because anyway it’s something that is going to happen, but the change is going to be long and difficult.
The bod mod scene has also evolved with that idea that the human as we know it is not going to be the same, and thinking of this new human identity. It was a lot about that, and still is. The scene is going through this. The bod mod scene is born from that. This re-appropriation of ourselves, of the world, and try to make something new in it. It was through an individualisation, a specification: Become Yourself.
Not against others or without each other, but be good & feel good with yourself then you can resonate in the world in a better way. It is always easier to express yourself in a healthy world when you don’t need to worry about everyday life and you can start to think. Think for yourself, about yourself & the world and so on. At the moment people don’t think about how they survive, they think of going through what they have to, it’s a difficult time for everyone.
It is not really a time of self expression, though everyone as an individual is looking for a solution.
Disha: Explain the process of your performance? How much hard work is involved?
Lukas:It all evolved from a concept, the first version of DNA (see question 3&4) was created in 2009 and presented for the first time 2 years later. It wasn’t as difficult at the time I had a sponsor to back up the idea & a venue to present it.
Changes needed to be made, I searched for ways to evolve in a more organic connection and that involved creating a new setting, re-programming all the sofware, aquire the hardware, that was where the problems started.
Spectre – the digital tech behind the performance- were too busy to be fully invested in the project & will all those changes time was needed. I had to find a new team, new funds, and a new venue. It took me 8 years to be finaly to present the newest version. Then i met David who was willing to work on the performance, and for a few months we chatted about it. After long and difficult searches I found the venue where we could finally test run the DNA 2.0. I self found the whole process and still on my own regarding many aspect of this work. We are in constant evolution of the concept, have hadded members to our team, and though having now few emulation of the performance, havent been able to present yet the concept as a whole.
The constant search for finances to devellop such work or simply to find a venu where to work and present it is a real problem and constant struggle.
The data collected during this performance has immense value for reaserchers from many feild… thats an option we are now exploring.
As of now, there are not many places worldwide that have the will to support, finance & showcase the kinds of cutting edge performance I wish to create. We have yet to find an Artistic residency in a place somewhere in the world where we could work few month on the performance development and present it as I imagine it. I got the opportunity to present Danse NeurAle 2.0 beta version last year at L’Ardenome in Avignon, a place dedicated to digital art, but it was a one shot and had only two days in the venue to make it happen.
Disha: Have you achieved what you wanted to or there are still something pending?
Lukas: I wrote one day : “Which caterpillar would think of flying before becoming a butterfly”. When i started i was still a caterpillar so imagine what becoming a butterfly would be. I couldn’t plan anything, I just wanted to change, to evolve. I didn’t know what was after nore what to expect. Where it would take me. It’s an ongoing process. I change a lot, evolve a lot, but I still have a lot of time for more evolution. (laught) More transformation & Experiences.
The following texte is one of my many writings you can find across my social media, ideas scribbled alongside photos of my avatar floating around in the matrix.
“Everyone who witnesses it, from close or through the image they create of us has an opinion about our life. What we should do and have done or not, how we should do it or have done it or not and so on. But at the end, we are the one living it, the one facing the consequences or getting the benefits of our choices.
Though we should pay attention to those opinions as they give us the big picture of our social appearance, they shouldn’t be more than a parameter, an echo reflecting the vibration of our existence, but they should not guide us on the path we follow.
Yes I made a life of radical choices that made me see the best and the worst in myself, in others and of the world I’m living in. I have been as often admired for what they see as my success than blamed for what they imagine to be my failures. I have had friends or often people I never had the chance to meet supporting me when needed the most and expecting it the less – I have had supposed to be friends, people I thought were on my side – sometimes “forever”, some I wish i would have never met, some I hope I won’t ever, praying hard or at least expecting me to break. Here I stand.
Whatever path we follow eventually takes us to the same point. Maybe when we cash out, life presents us the bill.
Then what ? The answer may lie in the ability we have to keep our integrity and live as close as possible from our dreams even if we never managed to achieve them. Because at least we tried, no matter what, and managed to transform the good and the bad, everything that could have felt as regrets into unforgettable life experiences from which we shape ourselves and the world around us. “
We were privileged to be a part and sponsor of the 20th annual art exhibition by Bama Academy of fine arts where over 100+ artists participated and displayed their hidden talent.
It was an honour to meet Mr Vivek Atray (a well known bureaucrat and motivational speaker), the chief guest of the event, who with his amazing words brought lustre to the event.
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On this auspicious occasion, we would also like to congratulate the team of Bama Academy for their efforts to bring out such a budding talent in front of the world. Each year they make their presence felt in the world of art and craft with tremendous amount of hardwork.
However, the laurels go to these artists who presented their remarkable art in front of us. We would like to highlight a few of the stars of the show who provided us with great insight on their art works:
1. Artist Bhumika Talwar shared some amazing words for her painting –
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“A picture can paint thousand words.” I found the one picture in my mind that does paint a thousand words. “A birth of soul” that struck my mind. How a creator (all mighty) creates his best art and put soul in it and Send to take birth in a human body. The arrival of this beautiful art is celebrated by other creatures by great enthusiasm. Tried my best using oil colours in to picture. These words in the form of painting on canvas. I (Bhumika Talwar) teacher by profession started painting in year 2016 when, i got a chance to join BAMA ACADEMY where got to learn so many techniques of expressing my ideas.
2. Artist Sakshi – This painting depicts the balance in nature by exploring all the negative and positive aspects of nature . It is one dot balance in the sea of different extremes manifested only through this magnified sign of balance .
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The materials used are:
3. Artist Khushi Rajpal feels excited with the natural beauty and natures colors of beauty in the form of flowers, rivers gives her a meaning of life. She depicted her happiness beautifully in the acrylic medium titled natures wonderful gift.
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The artefact is made using pencil colours and acrylics. The motif behind making this artpiece is to show the worries on a grown and experienced face about the changing scenario of today’s world.
4. Artist Shivani Rajpal wants to take the people focus to be alert for the future society – may it be climatic changes or emphasis on today’s young talent
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5. I, Aparna Jindal, have been associated with Bama Academy since 2014 … though i have learned all sorts of painting i luv making portraits (basically realistic painting) .. For this painting I was really inspired by a poster which I saw . Titled ‘ WE ARE THE WORLD ‘ I have tried to show that kids are the true inspiration who make us understand the true meaning of happiness … no matter whatever the condition , whether we are happy or not makes all the difference. The medium used for this painting was OIL & have even used some wood waste ( coloured) to give dust look & it took me around 15-20 days to finish it.
Sorry Friends, for not posting anything for you in last month, guys what to say the life got so busy that I din get time to be online to write something for you. The fact was that I had been on a trekking trip to the hills of Kullu-Manali, India, and there was no cyber café over there to post something for you. Anyways, please forgive me and read further an interview with Anabi of ‘Anabi-Tattoo’, Szczecin, Poland.
Eloping from home to become a tattooist is something interesting and this interesting story is about Anabi, who ran from home at the age of eighteen and today he is a master of tattoos. Know his work and him better in this interview.
Disha Singh: Let’s start with your first rendezvous with the art. When did it started and how?
Anabi: Since I was a kid I used to like drawing 🙂 I was reading a lot of books and comic books, drawing my favourites heroes and make my own histories 🙂
Disha Singh: What’s the inspiration behind your creative tattoo designs?
Anabi: Inspirations for me is a lot of things… paintings, sketches, photography, digital art, etc…
Disha Singh: Are you a perfectionist? Are there any tattoos, paintings, etc. that you wish you could change?
Anabi: My clients know that I will sit with them until every little thing will be done as good as I can 🙂
I finish work in first approach very seldom, I spread sessions on instalments most often, I have perfect control as tattoo over due to healed and where I need to correct something to make him beautiful.
Disha Singh: How did the idea of becoming a tattoo artist come to your mind? Were your parents comfortable with your decision to become a tattoo artist?
Anabi: When I was 18 years old I ran away from home, I have taken up residence in catholic internat, one of colleague had self made tattoo machine, He knew that I possess drawing skills and he asked me about design for him. I looked for a while how he tattooed himself, then I said “give me a try” …and that’s how it began 🙂
Then I searched hints in tattoo studios.
Between 2002 – 2004 I was practicing two years in “alien tattoo studio run by Joseph” in my hometown – Szczecin. Eight months ago I opened my own tattoo studio, and it’s first custom tattoo in Poland.
I don’t have albums with tattoo flashes, every design is individually made for each client.
Disha: What we see Anabi doing when he is not tattooing?
Anabi: I spend whole day in my tattoo shop…when I’m not tattooing, I spend my time at drawing, making new tattoo designs, working in gym and spend some time with my girlfriend and friends.
Disha: Which machine and ink do you use?
Anabi: I use several machines… at this moment my favourite is Shader from SUNSKIN, I use it for colour works too. Another good for colour/shader machine is “SWAN” from “WORKHOUSE”
For outlines I’m using custom machine from “VIKING TATTOO POLAND” which I won as an award in contest for best tattoo flash.
Last one is shader from our live tattooing legend Piotr Zurawski, who got first tattoo shop in Poland.
Ink that I use is Intenze and Starbrite for colour works and Indian ink and destilled water for shading.
Lately, I bought set of 21 ink concentrates made by Waldi Wahn from Shockin’ City.
Disha: Which is the strangest request you have ever had for a tattoo?
Anabi: 38 year old woman want a cobra on her face. She always dreamed about it, so I did it 🙂
Disha: How much does a piece cost?
Anabi: It’s belong from piece 😉 If It’s a piece that need more then two session, I Usually take charge by session…
How much is belong how long session is, and how big is progress at session.
Disha: How have things changed regarding your inking over the years?
Anabi: Over years? I just started and I’ve got a looong way to go 🙂
Disha: Who is Anabi in flesh and blood? Anabi: You need to ask my friends!
Disha: Finally, what suggestions do you have for the newbie in the industry and especially to those who want to get tattooed?
Anabi: Choose good artist and show him your satisfaction with a fat tip 😉
Wow! a Graphic & Web Designer, turns to be a tattooist. Todd Dumas thinking to do something different has starting practicing tattooing on himself and here is one of his efforts.
The first tattoo by him on himself is very different which was he made just to create it. He says,
“I am attempting to teach myself the art of tattooing. Right now, I am just doing some “freestyle” experiments with lines, colors and shading. As I get farther along (and more skilled), this will turn into a neo-tribal, abstract piece. This represents about 5 different 20-minute sessions. This tattoo is damn embarrassing in its current state. The lines are shaky and the shading is terrible.”
However, he agrees to the fact that most new tattoo artists practice on themselves, and mistakes are expected. Though most new tattoo artists have spent a great deal of time in tattoo shops. He thinks that a lot can be learned from just being in the environment and getting work done. Before this, he only had a tiny, black piece that he got over ten years ago.
Thus, I make more mistakes than most would. But each session gets a bit better, and my lines are getting cleaner. Hopefully, I can salvage the design before I have to ink my entire foot black , he added.
Colin Dale of Kunsten på Kroppen Tattoo Studio, Denmark, inked this Søren tattoo.
Talking about the tattoo he says,
Søren’s tattoo was hand poked using traditional tools of a type used in the Scandinavian Bronze Age. The design is also inspired by petroglyphs and rock art from the same age. The warrior is meant to move and fight as Søren does… protecting his back.
Søren is a Viking who trains and competes in traditional sword fighting.
The first time I saw this tattoo I just fell in for it….after digging deep my heart became heavy to know this great piece is in a memory of someone who left this world to rest in peace. Beautiful lines, worth reading….Don’t miss.
William Schaff, an artist by profession, etched this memory tattoo on his back by TJ Mcinnis of Mcinnis Tattoo, Rhode Island, US.
William got this tattoo after the death of someone he cared for, he explains this tattoo as,
“It is a piece of writing that Josh Spinelli did, in an effort to describe himself. In reading it after he died, I felt strongly about the words, as though I could have written them myself and my own search. Knowing they were from him connected me that much more to a man I did not get to know long enough.”
Disha Singh: Your comment about the tattoo.
William: I miss you Josh, and hope you are at peace.
William wears many other tattoos among which there are many words/ lines on his arms.
When you think of a tattooist an image of a funky guy striving to add oomph in his life strikes your mind. Earlier we interviewed to Nick Baxter living a vegan straightedge lifestyle and today please welcome Lokesh Verma of Devilz Tattooz, 35, Basantlok, PVR PRIYA complex, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. He doesn’t like parties and is over five years in tattoo industry.
“There are those who are born artists, others who accomplish their dreams by earnestly toiling behind closed doors. Lokesh Verma is both.” Let’s not stretch his introduction more and we leave you here to read about him yourself.
Disha Singh: First of all Lokesh tell us about the significance of tattoos for you and do you also wear any tattoo? Lokesh Verma: Tattoos have a lot of significance in my life, I cannot imagine my life without tattoos….I don’t know what would I be, had tattoos been not there….I think I would have been some kind of artist only.
Disha Singh: Who inspired you to take up tattooing as your career and when you inked for the first time? Lokesh Verma: I always wanted to do something different….took up a lot of part time jobs after I finished school, while doing graduation I did a lot of part-time jobs like at Mc Donald’s and stuff…..also worked as a DJ to earn some money which helped me to buy the Tattoo kit which was very hard to get at that point of time when I was 19…..started tattooing on myself and then friends were interested in my artwork, today here I’m…. going strong everyday, there’s a lot to come.
Disha Singh: Tell me frankly, what is there in tattoos, despite all the pain, that drive people crazy? Lokesh Verma: I believe tattoos are a kind of identity, people want their own identity and get their unique tattoos done which mean something to them, few people get tattoos just to flaunt around and their designs are mostly off the wall.
Disha Singh: What do you think about the tattoo industry in India? Are you looking forward to make it more popular and acceptable here? Lokesh Verma: Tattoo industry in India is growing at a rate which was never expected 4 years from now…..I’m doing my best to bring it up to the international level and I can see myself growing with the industry everyday. It’ll take sometime to be at par with the International legendary artists, most of famous International artists have 15+ years so I think after few years we’ll be in their arena. Disha Singh: How far would you like to take your tattooing? Lokesh Verma: As I said It’s a part of my life….its hard to tell and set any limits….even the best artists are improving everyday…..only time will tell….it’ll go along with me all the way…..
Disha Singh: Which is your favorite tattoo and why? Lokesh Verma: The Buddha backpiece is still an old favorite….I’ve worked apprx 18 hours on it but sadly it’s not complete yet……I think 12-15 more hours to go…..it’s my first backpiece and people don’t get huge tattoos here in India so that tattoo is still fun to work on…..the guy who is getting it doesn’t get enough time and I have appointments sometimes so we are not able to complete it fast…..hope to finish that soon.
Disha Singh: Which are the most popular designs you are frequently requested to make and why? Lokesh Verma: Angels and butterflies…..also a lot of Tribal flash. A lot of people are also getting religious tattoos done now days.
Disha Singh: Do you think tattooing have changed over the years. Lokesh Verma: A lot……initially I used to get a lot of Tribal tattoo requests which had no meaning….just to flaunt around……now more people are getting meaningful tattoos done which is a positive change.
Disha Singh: How much do you charge, approximately, for a piece of art? Lokesh Verma: It depends on the intricacy of the piece so it varies a lot.
Disha Singh: Please throw some light on your tattoo parlor and also share how you approach towards a piece of art. Lokesh Verma: My studio is a compact studio, the approach is very conventional and basic…..but we do a lot of custom pieces….I like to draw unique pieces for the clients….I love free handing too….we trace the stencil by hand…..no thermal fax, it makes the tattoo easier to do when you know the flow and curves of your stencil….I’m tattooing for five and a half years now and I’m at this place since the last three years…..I opened up with my friends who were planning to open a beauty-spa that time, I was looking for a tattoo studio, we collaborated….all went well….now the work is increasing everyday so we are planning to renovate and make it lil’ bigger so that I and my assistants/students can work easily….
Disha Singh: As we have seen many people in India get tattoos by road-side tattoo hawkers. We know this is risky and please can you reveal some facts which should be kept in mind about tattoo ink/machine before getting tattooed whether it is a hawker or a tattoo studio. Lokesh Verma: I’ve seen a lot of bad tattoos and few of the studios also do the road-side job….so its very necessary for people to check the work of the artist before they get inked…there is no other way…you cannot rely on anyone…see it yourself,, I know about few wannabe artists who show you someone else’s work just to get the client, so make sure you see some live work if possible…..also make sure the needles are opened in front of new and the Inks are branded like Starbrite , Kurosumi and Intenze to name a few and not some cheap quality…see the place yourself and make sure its clean and hygienic….do a lot of research before you tattoo anywhere.
Disha Singh: Your words for newbies in this industry? Lokesh Verma: As Chris graver said “ ITS EASY TO BECOME A TATTOO ARTIST BUT ITS VERY HARD TO BECOME A GOOD ONE” The only thing you need to start anything is passion for that work, for tattooing if you have passion try to find a good mentor, if you are not passionate about a thing like tattooing and just seeing the money part of it……just forget it, money comes a lot later, when you are established your work speaks for itself, you have to give your days and night into it, there is no substitute for hardwork.
Disha Singh: And, finally, who is Lokesh in flesh and blood? Lokesh Verma: I’m just another 25 year old guy who is chasing his dreams everyday and proving myself everyday, when I drive back home after work I feel I did better then yesterday but still very far from where I want to be…..everyday I’m struggling to be like my idols Chris graver, Alexander dallier, Brandon bond, Sean Herman, Josh woods, Guy and Hannah Atchinson, Anil gupta, Paul booth, Bob tyrrell, Katherine V drechenberg and many more……I look at their work whenever I find time (which I rarely find)….I don’t like to party a lot and my idea of partying is to sit at a friends place, cook with friends (as I don’t like to eat out also) and have fun.
Nick Baxter one of the iconic figures of tattoo industry was interviewed by Piercingntattoos.com to reveal his mind and soul inside and outside the tattooing world. He’s not only a tattooist but an actor, a painter, photographer as well as a writer. He’s the most eligible bachelor in the tattooing industry, who’d not like if you won’t wish him on his birthday i.e. on 5th September 😉 Born at New Haven, Connecticut, now plans to move from Transcend Tattoo, CT, to Austin, Texas, with his friend and fellow artist Jeff Ensminger, Dallas.
This winner of many tattoo convention awards: best sleeve, tattoo of day, etc., will be now seen off and on in CT. Let’s hear more about him in his own words in this interview.
Disha Singh:It’s been about eight years in the tattoo industry, how does it feel and how have things changed regarding your inking over the years?
Nick Baxter: Being 8 years into it feels great, I feel like I have accomplished so much of what I originally set out to do. I love having a network of friends and colleagues whom I travel the world with, work on fun art with, help inspire, and be inspired by. Pretty much everything has changed since I started, it’s completely different now‹a lot has changed in the industry, too, it’s really exploded in popularity and talent level. However, in some ways nothing has changed – I still feel like I’m just me, doing what I love to do, just like always. I till have so much to learn and experience and I still feel young, and like a beginner at times, because there are still many goals I haven’t reached yet and aspects of my art and technique I want to improve.
Disha Singh: How did it feel when you did the first tattoo?
Nick Baxter: It was completely nerve-wracking. I was scared and excited, and overwhelmed with all the things you need to remember to do while tattooing. It felt great though, I had a real sense of accomplishment.
Disha: What’s the inspiration behind your creative tattoo designs?
Nick: It could be anything, really. Life in general is inspiration, all the experiences and memories and emotions and thoughts and interesting things that comprise it. I try to tap into whatever type of inspiration I need for the particular project I’m working on.
Disha: Who are some of your influences, inside and outside of tattooing?
Nick: I have many influences and try to be eclectic, so it’s hard to form any kind of complete list, so just a portion of them I can think of right now are Salvador Dali, J.P. Witkin, Simen Johan, Mark Kessel, H.R. Giger, Guy Aitchison, Tim Hawkinson, Nikko Hurtado, Cindy Sherman, Richard Estes and all Photorealist painters, Charles Santarpia, Megan Merrell, Todd Schorr, Alex Grey, Caravaggio, Michaelangelo, Ron English, Eric White, Leonardo DaVinci, Adrian Dominic, Jeff Ensminger, Russell Mills.
Disha: In a true sense you are an artist who paints body and canvas, as well as a photographer. Please can you throw some light and reveal yourself in all these different roles?
Nick: These are all different aspects of my one driving creative energy. I get to express different parts of myself in each medium, and explore different themes and concepts. I also get to develop and refine different artistic disciplines and physical skills, or crafts. My painting and photography is very meticulous, refined, almost clinical in its approach to technique and subject matter, which appears often to be the opposite of those qualities‹very organic, warm, visceral. My tattooing is more spontaneous, loose, and holistic in its approach.
Disha: You have received many awards, what are the memorable conventions you’ve gone to and is there any target in your mind to be achieved?
Nick: I’ve always loved attending the Hell City tattoo conventions every year, because they are really well put together, organized, fun, and especially accommodating to the artists. I don’t have a target in my mind to achieve at conventions aside from just having a good time and producing some good work if I can.
Disha: What’s your imagination like? How long will you sit and think about a tattoo design before you actually ink it? Do you just bang it out in one shot or do you chip away at it on paper until it’s perfect and then on skin?
Nick: My imagination is a constant back and forth tug of war between the right and left brains, opposing urges for order and rationality and structure, and the opposite attributes of chaos, feeling, intuition. It’s like a never ending lottery-ball machines I definitely feel like I think too much. My tattoo conception process usually involves much more thinking at first than actual drawing. I’ll picture things in my mind, then look at reference materials for ideas and inspiration, then when I sit down to draw it usually gets completed all at once. I don’t bother with making the drawing perfect, in order to allow myself the freedom to create more on skin, and leave the tattooing process open to intuition and spontaneity.
Disha: Are you a perfectionist? Are there any tattoos, paintings, etc. that you wish you could change?
Nick: I am, for better and for worse, an unrelenting perfectionist. There’s a saying that makes me laugh at myself that goes: Perfect isn’t good enough. I analyze everything after I do it and always find something I could improve or try to do differently.
Disha: How much do you charge for a piece?
Nick: I charge an hourly rate for tattoos, and my paintings are reasonably priced as far as fine art prices are concerned, considering the amount of time and effort I put into them.
Disha: What are your likes and dislikes?
Nick: I like the outdoors and nature, creativity, positivity, problem solving, meeting challenges and goals, learning, nice people, animals, hardcore/punk music, freedom, living a vegan straightedge lifestyle. I generally really dislike any form of coercion and violence in order to control other people, or animals, as well as war and fighting, intolerance, suffering and despair, and all those associated ills of the world.
Disha: How did the idea of becoming a tattoo artist come to your mind? Were your parents comfortable with your decision to become a tattoo artist?
Nick: I was always fascinated by body art because it was rebellious, somewhat mysterious, and a really unique way to express yourself. I started to become interested in pursuing it in my mid-teens, and my parents were very unsupportive of that at the time. I think they were uncomfortable with me being a tattoo artist at first, but once they saw that it could be a legitimate, respectable career that could do positive things for me and my life, their opinions changed drastically. Now they support and respect me.
Disha: What we see Nick doing when he is not tattooing?
Nick: Usually I’m making some kind of other art, like painting, drawing, photography, or writing. I also like to experience the outdoors, play sports, read, listen to music, go to hardcore/punk shows, go to art galleries and museums, eat awesome vegan food, meditate, hang out with my cats and human friends.
Disha: Which machine and ink do you use?
Nick: I use mostly Pulse tattoo machines, and 3 brands of tattoo inks: Eternal, Starbrite, and Unique.
Disha: What do you think about FREEDOM -2 ink?
Nick: I’ve never tried it, and haven’t heard much about it. It seems like a great idea. I don’t have much interest in it as of yet, but I am curious to see if it works and if it stays looking great over time.
Disha: Finally, what suggestions do you have for the newbie in the industry and especially to those who want to get tattooed?
Nick: For new tattooists or apprentices, I recommend to stay focused on your art at all costs, be willing to put hours of every single day into study and practice, and stay disciplined. Be honest with yourself and develop a good sense of self-critique. Be hungry for knowledge, but don’t be too proud or afraid to go back to basics whenever necessary, whenever you feel stuck, or frustrated. For potential tattoo collectors, I recommend to be patient and do your research and homework first. You can read an article I co-wrote just for new tattoo collectors, at this address: http://www.offthemaptattoo.com/get-the-perfect-tattoo.html
Thanks for your precious time Nick, it was great to know your better!
He says, “The basic idea behind the ‘BEGEMOT’ tattoo is to carry on the number of tattoos I have based on fictional and/or mythical animals. Begemot (or Behemoth) is the name of the talking cat in my favourite novel ‘The Master and Margarita’ by Mikhail Bulgakov, in which the cat is Satan’s companion when he descends upon Moscow in the 1920s.”
“Other animal tattoos I have are ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ original artwork (my favourite tattoo), and the Tortoise and the Hare.”
Regarding the satisfaction of his tattoos he added, “So far I am happy with the way the tattoo is holding up, although I was concerned about losing a lot of ink in the first fortnight, because of the near-continuous movement of the arm on a daily basis.”
This is his fourth tattoo, but the first to feature text. He also plans for more text tattoos in future and if he gets some picture tattoo then it’ll be a monkey.
On 1st of this month Larry Silverman released his latest independent feature documentary, “Flesh & Blood.” Doing several stories on people modified by Steve Haworth for the television series, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”, Larry got inspired to make “Flesh & Blood” – a film Larry thinks will surely change people’s outlook towards body modification and “will have a greater understanding about the more extreme side of body modification.”
Not taking your more time you read the interview yourself to know more about the movie.
Disha Singh: First and foremost are you a body modification freak. Do you wear any tattoo, piercing or any other body modification on your body?
Larry Silverman: I love art and personal expression of all kinds. And I love people. But it is not my choice to wear tattoos, piercings, or even jewelry for that matter. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate great art, even if the canvas is human skin.
Disha: What inspired you to make “Flesh & Blood”?
Larry: I was a director/producer/writer on the television series, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” and did several stories about people who Steve Haworth had worked on. When I proposed doing a story just about Steve, it was rejected. So I decided to make the documentary on my own. I really like what Steve is doing and wanted to show it in a non-judgmental way.
(Steve Haworth showing his fresh Scarification)
Disha: Why only Steve Haworth, when there are so many other body modifiers around the globe?
Larry: As a documentary filmmaker, I prefer smaller stories about individuals. I was not trying to make a documentary about everything in the body modification realm. That’s been done before. I think it’s wonderful to be able to talk in detail about a subject so that the audience really gets to know them.
Disha: How the title Flesh & Blood came?
Larry: I often have a difficult time coming up with titles. The working title for this film was originally “Thick-Skinned.” But when I finally had to choose, I picked a title that has a double meaning… first, and most obvious, is that Steve deals with both flesh and blood. Second, at the end of the movie, when Steve’s daughter says she wants to be a piercer and do implant procedures like her Dad, she says, “It’s in the blood.” So flesh and blood refers to family ties and specifically to a daughter who wants to carry on in her father’s footsteps.
Disha: Can you throw some light on F&B? Especially it’s presentation, storyline and what does ‘Deleted Scenes’ cater?
Larry: I will answer this backwards… the Deleted Scenes are scenes that I like that were in an earlier cut of the movie, but for one reason or another slowed the movie down or didn’t quite fit. However, I felt that fans of Steve and body modification would like to see them.
Regarding the storyline, here is the prepared description I like to give…
Every artist needs a canvas. For Steve Haworth, it’s human flesh. He’s one of the most controversial practitioners operating in the world of radical body modification. He sculpts Teflon and stainless steel implants into horns, stars, and other objects, then surgically places them under people’s skin. Some of the most extreme looking people in the world have spent time under Haworth’s knife. They’re people who’ve become bored with even full-body tattoos and piercings. They’re people willing to endure the pain. They’re people like David, who’s on a quest to cover himself with stainless steel objects that are not only ornamental, but can be screwed in and out of his body.
Some come for a sexual charge, some for the pain, and many just to be different. “Flesh and Blood” is an unflinching glimpse into an intense and mysterious world Haworth helped to create, and the obsessed people who inhabit it.
THIS MOVIE IS NOT RATED. IT CONTAINS NUDITY AND MATURE SUBJECT MATTER. VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED.
Disha: Do you think this film will change people’s outlook and increase their knowledge towards body modification?
Larry: I do think that people will have a greater understanding about the more extreme side of body modification, but it’s important to understand that this a story told in Steve’s own words. The film makes no judgments for or against body modification. I do not hold the hand of the viewer. I take a very even-handed approach. It’s up to the viewer to decide if they like it or not.
Disha: What was the biggest unexpected pleasure you got while working on the film?
Larry: Some of the subjects of the film have become lifelong friends. You can’t ask for more pleasure than that.
Disha: How was the five year life in shooting F&B?
Larry: I shot the film while living in Los Angeles. From time to time, I would travel to Phoenix, Arizona where Steve lives and stay there for up to two weeks at a time. Steve and I would keep in touch and whenever I sensed something happening in his life that I wanted to capture, I would go back. During that whole time, I had other projects that I worked on at the same time so it was hectic travelling back and forth.
Disha: In recent years we see several documentaries made on body art whether tattoos, body piercing and body modification, which is something of new topic. Why do you think it’s on people’s mind?
Larry: People throughout time have always looked for new ways to express themselves, both inwardly and outwardly. Today, we are inundated with so much stimulus that it starts to wash over us and often has the effect of making us numb instead of inspiring us. Body modification offers many a way to feel again, and connect with both the world around them, and themselves.
(Steve performing 3D surgery)
Disha: How has working with Steve and others been?
Larry: Working with Steve has always been a pleasure. We have such terrific mutual respect and admiration towards each other. That’s goes for Beki, John, and others in the film.
Disha: Someone on net accused you of “leading the audience into sharing your disgust for those featured in your documentary.” What do you have to say?
Larry: I’ve never heard that before. That person sounds like someone who has never seen the film. The only criticism I’ve heard is from a few people who think the Preview Trailer comes off like a horror film. I admit I wanted to get some attention with that trailer, but the movie itself is nothing like that. All I can say is, why do all the people in the movie love it so much? They would be the ones to be angry if I made them look bad. I get lots of thanks from people in the body modification community who tell me that the movie inspired them to do more with their bodies, participate in suspensions, and so forth. The only people who’ve actually seen the movie who think it’s negative are people who have never seen these kinds of mods before and are scared of it.
(Francis Sand) Disha: Another wonders if the man thrives on the flesh he modifies or feeds on the innocence of those seeking ways to be different?
Larry: Steve neither thrives on the flesh he modifies, nor does he feed off innocent people. Steve talks about this in the film. He has strict rules. He will not modify anyone who does not already have a lot of very visible tattoos and piercings. He doesn’t want to be the first person to put them in a position of having society judge them. He usually tells people to think long and hard about their decision to alter their bodies. He’ll have them wait weeks or even months before he’ll perform a procedure on them. If after all that time, they still feel strongly about the modification, only then will he perform his artistry. This is what I love about Steve. He really cares about the impact his work will have on the lives of his clients.
Disha: Who is Larry Silverman in flesh and blood?
Larry: I am the teller of other people’s stories. And I’ve tried to stay true to each and every one of them.
Disha: What would you say to encourage people to check it out?
Larry: I think the movie is a fun ride. It’s intense, it’s beautifully photographed, and it’s even funny at times.
Disha: Is there anything else you’d like to pass on?
Larry: I love telling stories about people who I love and admire.
(Trailer of Flesh & Blood)
Thanks Larry for sparing your precious time and clearing the haze from our reader’s eyes.
Purchase DVD from www.fleshandbloodmovie.com/ Price: $19.95 (without shipping) and $24.79 (with shipping)