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Jon Clue's Cosmic Tattoos
With the news of Neil Armstrong's passing this weekend, I thought about giant leaps for mankind and how space and curiosity of what lies beyond earth have not only inspired science lovers but artists of all disciplines, including tattooing. Just a Google image search on "space tattoos" will show how widely popular they are. I also put a call out on Twitter and a number of great tattoo artists sent me photos of starscapes, spacecrafts and astronauts.
One artist whom many associate with cosmic tributes -- as well as bio-organic and trippy dystopias -- is Brooklyn's own Jon Clue. Tattooing since 1993, he became particularly known early in his career for his "new school" graffiti-influenced color bombs. That vivid color saturation is found in his work today, but with less literal and more surreal subject matter. You can see influences of Guy Aitchison, with whom he's worked closely, as well as Aaron Cain and Paul Booth, among others. Prick magazine has a good Q&A with him, although now a bit out of date as Jon is back tattooing in New York.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been posting some previews of tattoos featured in my upcoming books because I'm so psyched (exclamation point) every time I get a new batch of photos and can't wait to share. While the focus has been on the tattoo art of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't give props to the wonderful photographers who are a part of these projects. So today, I'm doing both.
Check the tattoo work of Idexa Stern of Black & Blue Tattoo and photographer Aurora Meneghello who's captured Idexa's clients here (and in the book).
Idexa, who was also featured in my Black Tattoo Art book, specializes in abstract and blackwork tattoos drawn freehand on the body so that the art--whether it be geometric lines or soft flowing patterns--appears organic, just really natural, on the wearer. Idexa is about making the tattoo experience a personal and spiritual one in the belief of self-transformation through art. She says, "One could think of tattooing as a way of making the outside of the body look more the way it feels from the inside."
And so, with this philosophy, it seems such a natural fit to be working with photographer and filmmaker Aurora Meneghello whose mission it is to not only make her subjects look "beautiful in the photo but also feel beautiful inside."
In shooting tattooed beauties, Aurora keeps the art in focus but never loses the crux that it is on a living canvas. There's also a gentleness and serenity in her photos, which is far from the rock & roll candied pin-up imagery often seen today (which I dig, there's just so much more of it).
On her blog, Aurora discusses her collaboration with Idexa:
"Idexa loves what she does, and her enthusiasm is contagious. She told me she wanted to move away from the usual pictures of tattoos in the studio, in front of a black background, so we got creative, looking for a background that matched each tattoo, and shooting outside, using natural light. Luckily the weather cooperated."
The risk of doing this is that the environment can overwhelm the very point of the photo--to show the tattoo. Not so here. You can see more of the images from that shoot on Aurora's blog.
Ok, and it's also cool to see talented women combining super-powers. Idexa's women owned and gender inclusive shop has been around since 1996 and continues to thrive. Idexa won "Best Tattoo Artist" last year in the SF Bay Guardian's Best of The Bay poll.
Aurora has also won numerous awards and her work has been shown at Intersection for the Arts, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and Galeria de la Raza. As a filmmaker, she's worked on fiction and non-fiction projects, including her role as Director of Photography to the multimedia piece Hey Sailor. She's also the co-writer and director of Default: the Student Loan Documentary.
And so for kicking butt--in a loving, gracious way--these are my "hot inked" women of the day!