Sunday, October 30, 2011



Long time no post!

The reason for this posting delinquency is that I just spent this past year exploring people's tattoos and the stories behind them as a side project at work, with an end goal of displaying this work in the 9th floor gallery space. I wanted this to be very story telling, and to communicate my findings through a mix of photography, design, illustration, and lettering.

First up, getting the stories. I had everyone e-mail me their tattoo's meaning with no set guidelines. I wanted this to be real; any length, no editing. The smallest tattoo ended up being the longest story in the end, which made for a fun display solution.

Next up, getting everyone photographed. I had the great pleasure of working with photographer Jane Kortright on numerous studio and location shoots that fit the concept of the story, then took the raw photos and integrated design and illustration to further push the concept. Lettering all of the stories became an overwhelming task at first, but when they seemed to take on a look and feel over time, the process started flowing nicely. I felt the stories were equally as important as the photos, so I wanted them to visually carry as much weight as well.

There are 6 display windows around the outside of the gallery, and I decided to use them as a way to integrate the inside with the outside. My final solution was to paint tattoos morphing out of spilled ink on mannequin limbs, and have pulled quotes from different stories that had impact in one way or another floating in front of them on the glass. I then experimented with printing on low tack vinyl, making it appear that ink had spilled from the body parts to the ground, out of the windows.

Making everything work in a set space to hopefully transcend people passing through the gallery into their world for a moment was my last challenge. I wanted this to be multi-sensory.. I had an oil fragrance made to give off the scent of a sterile tat shop using a mix of patchouli, clover honey, and amber.. I wanted the reception food to communicate ink and pain, so I served chili pepper infused chocolate, cracked pepper crackers with blueberry jalapeno jam for a subtle sting, and the clear cups with chilled water were partnered with a variety of 'Mio' flavorings, which when squirted in, produced a flowing ink visual. I also had plead the case for music being an important emotional layer to the overall experience, and very graciously I had surround sound installed. I fussed over the music for a bit, but in the end put together an ambient mix that had texture, imperfection, a slow pace to it.. collectively the sound just felt right when viewing the imagery and reading the stories. And a last minute decision to loop behind the scenes video footage of some of the shoots turned out to be the center piece of the interior.

I sent a call out to the Hallmark community in October 2010, asking if anyone was interested in being photographed and sharing the meanings behind their ink. 26 participants and one year later, STAINED has finally seen the light of day. I put together a little slideshow sampling of set up/reception pics. Thanks again to everyone involved! -C