Monday, November 30, 2009
In the beginning.
This is a Painting by Jeff Rassier.
I recently came across some old tattoo magazines I had collected while still in high school. At the time a lot of my friends were getting tattooed, mostly the hardcore kids I hung with were getting tattooed by Mario Desa since he was in the scene back then. The stuff he was doing has always interested me and still does to this day. But when I got the November issue of International Tattoo Art Magazine I saw my first Jeff Rassier paintings in an article and I think that's really the point where I said to myself, "This is what I'm gonna do!".
I think Jeff is really a "tattooers tattooist", meaning his stuff is in a language that most tattooers understand immediately upon seeing it. It's not exactly crowd pleaser stuff but damn it's good. Sometimes I think that he gets overlooked because of this, but if you talk to most tattooers who do offbeat traditional work and asked who their favorite tattooers are his name would be on everyone's list, especially if they are from my generation of tattooers or a little earlier. I've actually talked to him about doing my chest but actually getting my ass to SF to get tattooed has been a problem.
Just his paintings lit a big fire under my ass to get out there and get tattooed as soon as I could and start trying to get more entrenched in the world of tattooing. I started trying to emulate his drawing style early on, with varying degrees of failure, but I think the value was found in that it taught me to think of traditional tattooing in a different sort of way. Mixing images and source references together in different ways was definitely something I took with me in those early days of learning how to draw.
In that same issue of ITA there's an article on Chris Treveno and being able to look at these old magazines really got me thinking about what I was initially exposed to that got me excited about tattooing before I had even gotten my first one. Now ITA is a joke as far as covering the real deal of what's happening in tattooing now. They'd rather cover lowbrow art people who paint toilet seats and bowling pins. Skin & Ink is more concerned with people who hand poke tattoos on their faces in the jungle somewhere than covering anything about the direction tattooing is going in today. I sometimes feel like there's a large void where ITA used to be. Showing the general public good tattooing and good art. Of course there's Tattoo Artist Magazine but that seems like more just for tattooers. It's more of an insider sort of thing, sure I'd love to read a 40 page interview with Scott Harrison, but the average casual customer could probably care less.
I hope sometime someone will get their shit together and make a decent magazine for good tattooers to show their work to the general public, but the way things are going it doesn't look like that's gonna happen anytime soon.
Jeff Rassier again