Almost all tattoos on almost all people are either representational or decorative or words. As usual, I find people's imaginations to be extremely limited, they can't think outside of their subcultural norms.
I decided to get a series of tattoos that would just be splotches. Since I've had a fair amount of friends who're tattooists I figured I'd give the beginners a chance to tattoo something that it would be very hard to do wrong. After all, all I was asking them to do was put blobs of color on me. A part of the idea was that I would just be changing my skin color - becoming more of a 'colorful character' than I already was.
I don't really remember what my 1st splotch tattoo was but it was probably this one on my leg done by my friend Dave Scheper in the summer of 1994 shortly before I moved to CacaNada. This was exactly what I had in mind.
From 1994 to 2004 I worked for a museum where I repainted the walls of the galleries for almost every show. For awhile the blue on my hand above was approximately the same blue that we often used on the job. Because of this people frequently pointed out to me that I had paint on my hand. It never occurred to anyone that it was a tattoo.
This one on my upper left arm amuses me because it looks like I have fungus or some such growing on me. Again, I doubt that many people are even mentally capable of seeing it as a tattoo because it's so out of the tattoo norm.
I think of this one on my back as looking like a skin disease - better that than an actual skin disease. My intention isn't actually to look diseased or to be diseased but I like the perceptual challenge that something like this offers the perceiver: are they able to see it for what it is? A tattoo? Or will they project their negative fantasy onto it?
Daniel Higgs did the eyebrow tattoo. This is another one that seems to provide a perceptual challenge for people. I've been told, for example, that I still had my drag queen make-up on.
I used this image, taken by photographer Michelle Dunn, as the main image of my N.A.A.M.C.P. (National Association for the Advancement of Multi-Colored Peoples) website ( http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/naamcp.html ). I'm an anti-racist & I liked the idea of being against any negative prejudgment against anyone of any color. Unfortunately, I've never done much with the website.
Remember when I wrote that a splotch would be very hard to do wrong? The above example is an unsuccessful splotch. When I moved away from BalTimOre in 1994 I bought tattoo equipment thinking I might be able to make a living as a tattooist. However, I never pursued that so several years later I offered up the equipment to people on the basis that they could use it as long as they kept it sterile & didn't move without telling me so that when I wanted to repossess the gear I could. Finally, they had to give me a free tattoo.
The 1st woman that I loaned the equipment to signed an agreement with me that specified the above terms. She then did this tattoo. She couldn't even do a splotch. I'm sure she could do a star or a Celtic knot just fine. Then she moved without telling me where she went to. I found her & got her to give me the equipment back.
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