The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the influence of tattooing upon contemporary art. I will be exploring different aspects of tattooing and fine art and how they cross over into one another artistically, spirituality, technically, physically, mentally, and mechanically with painting and sculpture. Tattoo imagery is very important to me as well as fine art. I have been a professional tattoo artist for the last eight years and I have been making artwork since I was a small child. I have grown very accustom to tattoo imagery because I see, draw, paint, and tattoo it almost everyday. I feel that this thesis project will give me the chance to explore and expand on tattoo imagery, where it came from and how it is affecting contemporary art. To the outsider, tattoo imagery can be generic but to a tattoo artist these images have come from a long history that has evolved over the years into what they are today. These images have transformed and mutated with every new generation. I will be researching how tattoo artists and fine artists are starting to meld into each other's aesthetic. Many fine artists are starting to draw and paint tattoo imagery, for example the Clayton Brothers, Shawn Barber, and Mitch O'Connell to name a few. On the other hand tattoo artists are drawing and painting more artistically as well as showing works in galleries. Grime, Dan Higgs, and Don Ed Hardy are just a few artists in an ever-growing population. More and more tattoo artists have Fine Art degrees and have gone to art school. Fine artists are getting tattooed and collaborating with the tattoo artist. This thesis will also delve into tattoo imagery and it's growth into what it is today, where it came from and how it is affecting contemporary art. One can master tattoo images and their iconography by molding the images into ones' own personal icons while keeping the integrity of the original image. Don Ed Hardy and Dan Higgs are two examples of tattoo artist that have mastered tattoo imagery. These artists inject their own ideas and meanings into the images original meaning while also drawing from the original energy. I will be expanding my visual vocabulary by harnessing different tattoo images and transforming them into my own. In doing so this will help to enrich my work. Along with the imagery of tattooing and how it has affected modern art I would like to examine the idea of man working alongside machine to create art. Tattoo artists use their machines everyday to make art. A good artist knows how to tune and modify their machines so that they may apply a solid and bright tattoo. The tattoo artist's machines are just as important as a painter's brushes and a sculptor's tools. As we evolve we invent machines that make our lives more comfortable. An example of this is the invention of the computer. The computer not only makes our lives easier but it is also helping to push fine art in new ways. Technology and machinery are evolving along with us. I will be experimenting with electro-magnetism in sculpture to explore the connection of man, machine, and art. I will be exploring the possibilities of utilizing tattoo machine components as sculptural and functional forms. I want to examine the potential of a connection between a paintbrush and a tattoo machine. Both objects are held in an artist hand to produce lines and shape. Both objects must be mastered before an artist can successfully produce images. The relationship between these two worlds encompasses much more than just images and machines. This relationship will be the focus of this thesis by focusing on the connection of the evolution of man and machine, the spiritual bond of art and flesh, and the mixture of fine art with an ancient art.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Tattooing in art; Art, Modern--21st century
Department, Program, or Center
School of Art (CIAS)
Francey, Adam, "Zappers and zingers" (2011). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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