I have made a new friend. We have been acquaintances for many years, but now I consider us close. We met in college but didn't really connect until a couple of years ago. Now we spend almost every day together, really enjoying life. They are a huge part of my art practice, and they help me express my creative voice. You could say I’m in love with them.
The friend I’m telling you about is not a person. Rather, my friend is an action. The practice of making tattoo flash. Flash is divided into two camps: market and custom. Most people are familiar with market flash, which is generic, easy to replicate, and easy to finish in one sitting. Custom flash is specific to one artist’s style. For me, making flash is like creating little daydreams about getting tattoos. Tattoos also have a specific visual language that includes line work. My new relationship with flash has me regularly playing around with imagery, improving my line quality, and learning about diﬀerent historic characters within the realm of tattooing. Focusing on line work has opened new conversations in my art practice. With my newfound communication I have made a home in a new community that connects with many of my interests as a ceramic artist.
Tattooing sings many notes parallel to the song of ceramics. Like ceramics, tattoo craftmanship exposes the fluency and experience of the maker. Drawing and putting in a great line is an example of fine craftsmanship. Pairing exceptional line work with the individual’s conceptual engagement of image elevates the craft, just as the potter’s concept of a mug elevates the form. For example, the skull is an image used repeatedly in the tattoo world. There are many types of skulls, but how it’s drawn and how it’s described in its line tells a lot about the artist. Much like a mug. The culmination of the parts necessary to function as a mug are: a vessel, a handle, and utilitarian glaze – these stay consistent. It’s the consideration and mark of hand that bring the parts together in a unique way. The skull can be highly rendered or defined with a few simple, curvy lines, but if it's put in the skin poorly the act is for naught. This connection of concept and fabrication elevates both ceramics and tattooing to a higher order.