Harper’s Annotation Take 2

After falling short with my first prospective annotation object, it was time to withdraw and regroup. I’d originally considered the tattoo machine as the perfect image to represent the research that I was immersed in. What better object to anchor the many facets of my project than the tool that bridges the artist and the customer, making the creative process possible. It would be like annotating the sword of the duelist, the gun of the gunslinger, the skateboard of Tony Hawk…you get the idea. But I thought that was too simple, too limited. But it’s not limited, and it’s only simple in its straightforward delivery of the topic. Bill Wolff suggested the machine as did several of my peers.

As fate would have it, as has been the course of my research this semester, I fell into an awesome picture. Brandee Gordon, Native Ink Tattoo, posted a picture of her holding her favorite tattoo machine.

Brandee's Machine (original picture)

It’s a bright pink tattoo machine. I emailed it to Bill and he suggested I get the machine alone, but loved the pink as it opened up discussion for gender issues and representation in the tattoo industry. I asked Brandee to take a separate picture of it, which she was more than happy to do. She has been incredibly receptive and helpful, providing me with a lot of additional information and media upon request.

Now, it just so happens that Brandee just had some new ink done on her own body and posted a Twitpic. I saw it and knew in an instant that it spoke volumes about what I was working on. Her new tattoo demonstrated the connection between art and tattooing. Again, Brandee was more than happy to let me use the picture for my potential Harper’s annotation. Here are the images I intend to use:

Brandee Gordon (new ink)

So, I’ll look to tackle the following themes in the call out boxes of my annotation:

  • [Brandee’s Ink Photo]: The move/dichotomy from tattooing as a trade to a fine art, along with the recognition as such and acceptance as a legitimate business.
  • [Brandee’s Ink Photo]: The fact that women represent the majority of people being tattooed right now and the dual struggle that women had to fight as far as gender discrimination AND perceived deviance as having tattoos
  • [Brandee’s Ink Photo]: The idea of aesthetic expression and the wearing of our “soul” on our sleeve (skin)
  • [the pink machine]: The rapidly growing tattoo industry. 6th Fastest growing retail industry, 20 shops in a 12 mile radius of my house.
  • [the pink machine]: Progression of tattoos from tapping dye under the skin to new technology, including the ability to laser remove them
  • [the pink machine]: mainstreaming of social media: TLC shows, books, etc..societies fascination with tattoos and celebrity artists.

I think that the two images compliment each other very nicely and provide a concrete base for definitive facts and solid research. Again, I am grateful to Brandee, who is on the road again…in NYC, guest tattooing and visiting there for a few days. Always on the move..lol.

I’d like to present this short film clip of Brandee at work, creating a memory on a customer’s arm and acting as the vehicle of love and a family’s embrace of generational divide. This video had a tremendous impact on the direction that my final genre piece will take. Enjoy.

3 comments on “Harper’s Annotation Take 2

  1. nativeinktattoo says:

    I have enjoyed working with you! I am looking forward to more of your blogs and your book!
    I really believe all that u write will give ppl a diff view of the Tattoo industry! Its an awesome business, I get so much personal gratification when I know I make pol happy w my art!
    Thanku for all that u r doing! Brandee

    • josephmcgee says:

      Brandee, you are very welcome. What has started out as a grad research project has really taken on a life of its own. It has been a pleasure. The process of researching and writing about the tattoo industry has given me all kinds of great insight and an understanding that I never had, and that I am sure a majority of society does not have. It has also allowed me to meet great people like yourself, from all over the country. I have received a wonderful, open reception from everyone I have spoken to in the industry, demonstrating that tattoo artists are very proud and very protective/supportive of their art. This openness and welcome expressiveness is something that those who reserve the right to judge negatively should seek to emulate. Yours is an art that affords the individual the ability to share a bit of their soul with the world. Keep on inking!

  2. BW says:

    Joe, that’s awesome. I’m so pleased that Brandee has been so receptive you to your project and that the project has allowed you to build an extended community of tattoo artists.

    Regarding the call-outs, the only thing I would suggest is to add one or replace one of the ones you have with tattoo’s socio-cultural history. There is a wonderful tension there with the use of it by native tribes, Holocaust tattooing, and so on. That is what makes tattoos so talkative. Engage it.

    Perhaps you are thinking about doing this with bullet 5 above. If so, be sure to have an extended discussion of these issues.

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