After taking one look at this exquisitely tattooed mug, it’s safe to say that our cup runneth over with dozens of new ideas to elevate and showcase the fascinating art form we all know and love.
Photos by Edgar Hoill & Henry DeKuyper
Aspiring tattooists make their early marks on everything from napkins to oranges to grapefruits to pig ears, although many up-and-comers are now learning their trade on sheets of “practice skin.” While the preferred learning canvas varies from artist to artist, the one thing they can all agree upon is the fact that once they get to working on human skin they rarely stray from it. What if skin wasn’t the last bastion of tattoo creativity? What if there were other canvases that could be permanently etched with a tattoo gun and made to last a lifetime?
We posed this question to a few artists and received our answer from one of them in the form of this amazingly designed thermos-style cup. This one comes to us from behind bars and carries a 12-hour workload drawn out over the span of a few weeks thanks to the limited free time our artist had to spend working on this “contraband.” The tribute and inspiration behind the planos-style artwork came from the inmate’s father, a self-professed pit-bull lover, who was raised in the classic Mexican ranchera setting. Rest assured the entire composition was done with a crude homemade gun, a feat that wasn’t easy for that and a couple of other reasons. “Of course I could only work on it during free times, so it took me much longer than it would have had I been on the outside and using a legitimate tattoo gun,” our source says. “The cup also doesn’t absorb ink the way that human skin does, so I had to go over the lines many more times and use twice the amount of ink I would have probably used on someone’s arm.” This technique can be comparable to etching and engraving, but with a tattoo twist.
While this intricately designed mug may have been the result of prison boredom, what it represents is far more artistically interesting than the artist could have imagined. It raises the question of just how far beyond the skin tattoo artwork can go and how many different ways this medium can be expressed artistically. Obviously human skin can only last one lifetime, while this plastic cup could last for many lifetimes. The possibilities are endless.
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