Research Interview Schedule & Ambiguous Flux

As it stands, my interview schedule is in a somewhat tenuous position. The players are there, but the stage has not been set. However, I can tell you this:

Christine from Mean Street Tattoo, NY, will be interviewing with me via Facebook chat on Tuesday, March 15th at 9:30. Christine is an apprentice tattoo artist with a year’s experience under her belt.

Brandee Gordon, of Native Ink Tattoo, has graciously agreed to conduct an online interview with me. I have mentioned Ms. Gordon in several blogs and she has expressed her consent to help me in my research. However, she is currently out of town on business and I am waiting to iron out an interview time.

Update as of 3/8/2011: Brandee and I have established contact and will be conducting our interview via Blackberry Messenger next week at a time to be determined.

Brian Dicola, of Eddie’s Tattoo and Loyalty Ink, has communicated that he would be willing to talk to me at the Philadelphia shop (he is there on Wednesdays). I am trying to nail down the night of the 16th (March), but have not received confirmation.

Erin Kane, of Infamous Arts Gallery, will be unable to interview with me. She is suffering from some wisdom teeth issues and is in major pain.

I took this opportunity to look at the scope of my potential interview subjects and realized they were all tattoo artists. Christine offers a nice perspective as an apprentice, a role I feel is crucial to understand in my forming of trade roles and cultural establishment. It occurred to me that I ought to expand my interviewing scope.

Tonight I sent an email to an old friend of mine and extremely interesting (and knowledgeable individual), Dr. Lucio Angelo Privitello. Dr. Privitello is a professor of philosophy at Stockton College with interests in a variety of genre crossing and pseudo-mystical studies. In fact, he recently created a ran a course last semester focusing on philosophy and the HBO series “True Blood”, using the show to study death and immortality. Immortality, a theme I conceive will take a lead role in my eventual story. I am awaiting a reply from Dr. Privitello.

Dr. Lucio Angelo Privitello

Update as of 3/8/2011: Dr. Privitello has agreed to interview with me. His recent class (and subsequent class composed book length project) explores death, immortality, and the preservation and understanding of the self. These are aspects that are very close to the heart of my project. I will be attending his lecture on Proust, at Stockton College, on March 26th. We will be sitting down to talk after his lecture.

Update, as of 3/8/2011: Alexa Mantell was kind enough to point me in the direction of her friend, Brad Kingett, owner of Risen Industries (A film and photography company with dedicated art interests). Brad is working on a project that has not released any official information yet, and so I will not divulge. Needless to say, it is related to my research project. The following application was posted to Risen Industries Facebook wall:

Brad is interested in my research topic and has agreed to sit down with me for a face to face interview. We are tentatively scheduled to meet Monday, the 14th.

 

As changes and scheduling updates occur, I will post them to this page, maintaining a current interview schedule.

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State of My (Tattoo Research) Union Address

The findings of my research so far (and let me tell you, I still believe myself to be only ankle-deep in research) has been richly rewarding. The sociocultural connections that I have discovered to date provide enough material to fuel several stories. And let’s not be fooled, my direction has been fully plotted for a rich story of darker magical realism. “The History of Tattooing” (Dover Publications, 2009) is rife with incredible real world examples of tattoo history that could easily find itself in the pages of a Stephen King, Clive Barker, or Joseph McGee novel. Yes, I did just put myself in the same company, lol…my blog, my rules.

For instance, there were several early beliefs ( as written in Sinclair’s “American Anthropologist”, vol. X and XI) that the soul was regarded as a tangible object. Upon physical death, the soul, or spirit, assumed an “exact replica of the earthly body”, to include any tattoos or marks. These tattoos served as rites of passage through the afterlife. Take the Sioux Indians for example. They believed that tattoos received in life would allow for their passage to the “Many Lodges” in the afterlife. It was Sioux belief that the spirit, mounted on his spirit horse, would be stopped in his ghostly passage by an old woman. It was her duty to inspect the dead warrior for his marks, or tattoos (often on his forehead or wrists, and sometimes on his chin). If he was discovered without, he was thrown from the cliff, or cloud, to wander aimlessly and melancholy through the mortal world.

Page Notes from "The History of Tattooing"

The Northern Tangkhuls (India) believed that tattoos linked husband and wife in the afterlife. The Abor tribes (Himalayan) considered the tattoo the “poor man’s identification mark in heaven.”  Those of wealth were adorned with possessions befitting their station. Those without were inked up.

These are only a few of the examples that I have begun to unearth in my research. These are the kinds of details that make for great storytelling. These are the kinds of facts that, when tweaked by an overactive imagination, become stories.

As I prepare to move into the interview phase of my research, I have lined up the following potential resources:

I will be conducting two face to face interviews for the story, both with practicing tattoo artists. Erin Kane is an artist at Infamous Arts Gallery in Plymouth, PA.

Tattoo by Erin Kane

Brian DiCola is an artist at Loyalty Ink, in Kenvil, NJ and at Eddies Tattoo, in Philadelphia, PA.

Tattoo by Brian DiCola

Both have agreed to chat with me about themes, concepts and ideas that I have mentioned in my previous blog about the direction my story was going. I am awaiting an answer on speculative times and dates.

I have also requested two of my recent online (Twitter) contacts to interview with me. Christine Murphy

Christine Murphy

(@ChrisMeanStreet), an apprentice artist at Mean Street Tattoo,College Point, NY, has agreed to interview with me. Due to the busy and irregular schedule of their work, we are trying to set up a time for a slower night of the week. Chris is more than willing to help me out and we have been in email communication to establish a firm time. I am waiting to hear from Brandee Gordon

Tattoo by Brandee Gordon

(@nativeinktattoo), of Native Ink Tattoo, Central Indiana. I mentioned Ms. Gordon and her studio in my previous blog.

And, perhaps reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson, as the research begins to develop and I get deeper into this world of ink, I find myself with appointments and invites from the artists I have been in contact with. I have tentative appointments with Erin and Christine. I fancy the thought of one day flying out to Indiana to get work done by Brandee, and Brian is right across the bridge, inking away. In fact, the more I grow to learn about and appreciate the deeper implications of the craft, the art, and the people who do it, the more I find myself intrigued by the idea of traveling to new artists for different pieces.

It seems that this adds another dimension to the piece, in which it is no longer JUST a piece of who you are, it is a tale of where you’ve been and who you’ve met and in this instant (and for every instant after) that inkwork on your skin tells a tale of a person and place with whom you will forever be connected. It is, in this sense, a “talkative thing” (as described by Lorraine Daston in her introduction to “Things That Talk” (Zone Books, 2008)).