Saturday, May 30, 2009

Learning. Listening. Experimentation. Collaboration.

Lately I've been really trying to expand my horizons. Reading, following instructions and listening to people in an effort to improve and sharpen my artistic edge. When I first started tattooing there where times where I wouldn't produce anything really legitimate for weeks or months. I blame it on complacency or just outright laziness on my part. However recently I've felt a wave of creativity rush over me. I don't think I've really been this productive in my entire life. Maybe it's the people who I've been lucky enough to work around over the past 12 or so months. Maybe since taking over the shop with my friends the stress of owning a tattoo studio has forced me grow up and put my artistic nose to the grind stone. Maybe I'm starting to finally "find my voice" or hell, maybe it's a brain tumor growing inside my head. Whatever it is I feel compelled to really get to work and put brushes to paper and work my ass off. I'm not satisfied with simply doing names all day to make a living. I honestly desire to see what it is I can essentially create from nothing but hard work and imagination. What else is there to life? Having fun? vice? There's already too much of that in today's society. And I've rejected that entirely. Besides, Painting and tattooing IS fun after all anyway. And far more gratifying on top of that. So that said, complacency is no longer an option for me. Now there is only results. Taking ground. Hard work and striving for perfection.
A few weeks ago A friend introduced me to the Japanese concept of shuhari. Simply put, it describes the stages of learning to mastery. "Shu" Meaning to obey. "Ha" meaning to break with tradition. And "Ri" meaning to transcend. I pondered this for many hours to myself. What does it mean to follow? To do A B and C. To really listen? Why was that concept so foreign to me? As an apprentice a few years ago I was always taught to strive for originality and to develop my own "unique" style. But now it seems the more I read and study and draw and paint, the more direction I want to obtain. The yoke of order and discipline seems more of an attractive aesthetic in my mind. And so the journey goes.....

The first painting I put up was a collaboration with Marcus Mancini who works with me at Flying Tiger tattoo, myself and infamous Rick Brown of Empire tattoo in Asheville NC.
We did this over the week Rick was with us tattooing. I had such a good time. Rick Brown and Marcus have some serious moves up their sleeves. I learned a ton.

The second painting is of a rose of no man's land that I did as a gift for Shawn McDonald of Magnetic tattoo in Loveland Colorado. Later I was lucky and got the chance to tattoo this on the girlfriend of a tattooer at the Philadelphia tattoo convention.

The last painting I put up is a sneak peek of a project my shop is doing for Shawn's shop as a gift. TC Williams, Marcus Mancini, Jae Audett and myself have been working on this painting for many many many hours.
Rick Browns myspace page-
Marcus mancini's Myspace page-
TC Willians Myspace page-
Jae Audett's Myspace page-


  1. yeS!
    the super chop...hope the paintings are all close enought to fuck eachother...its good for them


  2. That is a good thing to ponder. Why is there such a strive towards originality that it seems that people feel empty afterwards all of it. Is it because they seperate themselfs from all the actual history that tattooing has in it?

    I was going to say that it is a real western society approach, to just focus on ME, but the old time tattooers lived and breathed flash, something that someone else was doing before them. They might have updated them and expanded, but the idea was the same. Just like in Tradtional Japanese Tattooing. Ukiyo-e prints and such are the guidance.

    Custom tattooing. Does it mean that trough it you get more deeper relationships with the customers and perhaps other tattooers, but the imagery begins to die?...

  3. I think basing your work on a bedrock of ideas and artistic concepts, which is something most artist do, whether they are aware or it or not, gives you a solid foundation to build and explore from. At least for me. If there is no harbor, there is no ship to set out in. There is only undefined shoreline. I feel like in my culture the focus is on always being in the next stage, being the next "big thing". Being new. leaping into the situation and the environment blind. I reject that. I prefer authenticity over those common practices. Tradition, understanding, premeditation. Those are key values for me.

  4. I am in complete agreement with you Murray.