Featured Tattoo Articles from Bound By Ink
Photos are a unique art form; they represent a visual moment in time while doubling as tunnels that connect the captured image to the beholder in a way that transcends time, space, religion, race, color, or creed. In the same vein, tattoos can be considered even more intriguing, as the commitment is a much more painful and personal process followed by immediate permanency. Tattoos are the gateway to one’s soul and as each piece showcases triumph, tribulations, and sometimes tragedy, it also reflects an in-depth philosophy and world perspective on anything such as relationships with one’s better half or tales of one’s neighborhood. Bound By Ink is proud to connect these two spiritual art forms in a way that attempts to do justice to the visual majesty, and regardless of how you interpret the photos or the tattoos, they are much like dreams in the simple fact that they act as windows to the soul. Each photograph in this issue tells a unique tale, connecting with our readers on different levels of consciousness; whether you appreciate these images for their sheer artistry or their mystical composition, the artwork here shares no common ground — aside from the fact that they’re all printed on paper. With that said, we’ve compiled some of the best photos we’ve orchestrated and assembled a limited edition look book which further promotes the unadulterated vivaciousness of tattoo culture. With a visual history comes a clearer future.
In closing we’d also like to send out a special thanks to Andy Hartmark for his creative and compositional prowess when it comes to photography. To say that a picture speaks a thousand words is truly an understatement when it comes to his work, but in the same breath he’s the creative power that separates a snapshot from a photograph. Much respect and admiration goes out to Andy from our entire staff.
The beauty of being a true artist is that over time, your body of work represents your journey through life. Every sketch, tattoo, or painting becomes a moment suspended in time; snapshots of where we’ve been and more importantly, where we are headed. The career of budding artist Nobu Isobe is one such testament to artistic growth. A scholar of fine art and social commentary, Nobu’s world is a world filled with progress and pain, and his works speak to those unable to see the darker side of humanity. How a 24-year-old entertains such a deep connection to the woes of the world is Nobu’s gift, and how he translates that to canvas is nothing short of extraordinary.
Born in the countryside of Japan, it was Nobu’s emigration to the United States, specifically Los Angeles, which marked his true artistic beginnings. Influenced initially by American music and album art, it was his indecision in choosing a major while at Citrus College that sparked his artistic revolution. “I’d never done any painting in Japan, but when I came here five years ago, I had to declare a major in community college. Art major sounded kind of cool to me, so I took a few basic drawing classes, design classes, and such,” he says. Nobu absorbed this relatively new world like a sponge, soaking up classical paint influences from Renaissance-era masters, and he began to apply those principles to his own contemporary works of art. “In college, it is all progressive, so the higher I got up in the classes, the more I loved what I was doing,” the protégé says with a smile.
Reputation is the cornerstone of power. It is also the key element to the success of the life of a tattoo artist. While you can read The 48 Laws of Power if you wish, any veteran of the tattoo scene would tell you that building your reputation is obviously the key to longevity in the game. This notion becomes second nature, common sense. Beyond the word-of-mouth of your satisfied customers, gaining respect within the close-knit circle of veteran tattoo artists is priceless and cannot be bought. Luke Wessman understands this better than anybody, and not only does it apply to his own niche and identity in the world of tattooing, it is relevant within the context of Luke’s life in general. A product of a rough upbringing, the concept of standing on his own two feet as a man has always been Luke’s objective, even when the odds were against him. “I was a poor white kid living in these super-organized ghetto areas in between the Latino and black neighborhoods and trying to find my identity,” Luke says regarding his formative years growing up in Oceanside, California. “Luckily I had an older brother who got into a lot of trouble with gangs, and I know it sounds bad, but he kind of showed me what not to do through his actions. It made me keep my nose clean and start working hard from a young age.” Like any adolescent boy bred in a rough neighborhood, Luke sought the respect of the streets, but he did not want to become the product of them and refused to become another tragic statistic of wasted talent.
The human brain is a fascinating myriad of nerves, synapses, and passageways that act as the epicenter for human thought and emotion. Studies have shown that the brain is divided into two halves, and not just anatomically either. It is widely believed that the left brain and right brain have vast differences when applied to each human being, with some being more reliant on one side than the other. The left brain is your “rational” side; a side in which verbal expression, organization, thought process, logic, and explanation rule. The right side is your “creative” side; a side defined by free association, intuitiveness, and randomness. While the left side is objective and the right side is subjective, most personalities show a clear dominance in one way or another. You are either “Type A” (left-brained) or “Type B” (right-brained). The balance between these sides is rare, and those able to find a happy medium are usually very interesting people. Take the case of modern artist/tattooist Nick Baxter. He’s one of the rare breed of individuals as interested in science as he is in art, and his works speak volumes to his viewing public.
Making artistic fantasies come true is nothing new for visual aesthetician/photographer Justice Howard. In fact, it is second nature, old hat. Something innate drives her to tip-toe the fine line between the sane and the deranged, pulling out images that are more modern works of art than they are mere photographs. Point blank? The woman is a badass, a nod to the throwback days of the Sunset Strip, when rock ’n’ roll was rock ’n’ roll, and living for the moment was paramount.
Fetish and music photography are just two of this artist’s muses. In a portfolio that exceeds some 300,000 images, Justice Howard’s works pull from a number of different styles and influences. This sense of artistic diversity is stunning, as evidenced by the fact that you can find her works in publications like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Life, and People, and in the same breath, find her spreads in Playboy, Savage, and Heavy Metal. Justice has seen and done it all and has the visuals to prove it. Her works evoke the spirit of empowerment and her subjects embrace that concept wholeheartedly; with the fervor of reunited lovers. “I shoot for the people who ‘get it.’ I don’t explain what I do,” Justice says unabashedly, with the rawness of her statement only matched by the sense of coolness she exudes while saying it. And “get it” they do. Justice’s subject resume is every photographer’s bucket list, boasting a who’s-who of musicians and celebrities. Still, as egotistical as she would have the right to be, she’s cool as shit, moved only by one simple concept in life: beauty. “I was one of the first women to start shooting erotica, and I think I got good at it because I could understand the empowerment angle. It’s all about beauty to me. I think men shoot for sex, and women shoot for beauty.”
In the modeling business, there are few absolutes. Shady photographers, fly-by-night opportunities, tough working conditions, behind-the-scenes drama, and tough competition abound, but all of that becomes irrelevant when the camera falls in love with you. “The camera doesn’t lie,” and that is the one industry rule that both models and photographers alike abide by. Clearly, no one knows this better than alternative model Carly Lyn Terrell, whose penchant for capturing the heart of the lens is matched only by her business acumen and grounded work ethic. Once a successful child model, the modeling business actually came knocking on Carly’s door, not the other way around. “My husband and I were going to hot rod shows because he likes those cars, and I decided to dress like a typical cheesecake cute pinup girl,” Carly coos via telephone from her Arizona home. “People started taking pictures of me there, one thing led to another, and next thing I know, the photos ended up in a magazine. I started getting emails from clothing companies and magazines, and it became something I loved to do again.”
“Sugar and spice and everything nice; that’s what little girls are made of.” Starting from birth, the traditional model of a woman is sculpted and molded into the demure Donna Reed–version of a housewife. Cooking, cleaning, supporting her husband and raising her kids is all a woman is supposed to do in this dated model of feminine expectations. Well Suzy Homewrecker is certainly not one for tradition. Unless of course that tradition is the culture and sport of the roller derby; a long lost ’70s spectacle that pitted beautiful women against one another in a glamorous and dangerous competition to separate the best from the rest. “It’s like rugby on skates,” Suzy says matter-of-factly. “There’s no tripping, no hitting, no punching, and no hand grabbing, so there are actual rules.” While there are rules, there are also injuries; Suzy herself has suffered a broken bone in her hand and a dislocated shoulder, the latter stemming from a postgame night out on the town. The roller derby track isn’t the only place this courageous woman sees blood and guts; she’s worked in phlebotomy and is currently pursuing her bachelor’s of science in the hopes of being accepted into a program to become a pathologist’s assistant. “That’s the ultimate goal for me, but it’s a lot of work. You have to have the same working knowledge of the human body as a physician.”
Some artists are content with pushing the envelope. That phrase simply doesn’t do justice to famed color portrait tattooist Nikko Hurtado. No, he’s more likely to take that envelope and shove it down the throat of contemporary constraint. Renowned for his stunning 3D color portraits and Dia De Los Muertos–themed pieces, Nikko is revolutionizing the color tattoo world, one sitting at a time. Timeless author Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Mere color, unspoiled by meaning and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.” By this logic, Nikko Hurtado is a 10,000-watt bullhorn blaring at your inner spirit through his phenomenal ink workings and shaking the foundation of what you thought a color tattoo could look like. Don’t get it twisted though, just because “Nikko” rhymes with “ego,” be clear that vanity is not this artist’s muse. “I just never dreamed in a million years that someone would pay me to draw something on their bodies,” Nikko says from his Hesperia, California, studio. “I get so much support from my girl, my friends, even past clients, and I just appreciate it so much; I’m honored every time I’m asked for work.” After a glimpse into his world, it is evident that his clients reciprocate this honor. Travelling the convention and private studio scenes heavily for the past four years, Hurtado has seen clients come from thousands of miles just to receive his one-of-a-kind color portraits.