Tattoos featured as fine art at museum

OCEANSIDE — Wearers of traditional American tattoos walked the runway at Oceanside Museum of Art for the Master Works of Body Art V3 exhibit that featured tattoos as fine art on Sept. 24.
“We’re excited to showcase this genre of art and educate the public about it,” said Danielle Susalla Deery, Oceanside Museum of Art director of exhibits and communications.
This is the third annual tattoo art show. In past shows Asian inspired tattoos and the religious significance of tattoos have been featured. This year traditional American tattoos were the show’s focus. American style tattoos have clean bold lines and nautical and patriotic symbols such as swallows, ships, skulls, pinup girls and eagles.
“American traditional style was coined by sailors back in the day,” said Chris Winn, renowned tattoo artist and exhibit curator. “In the United States it was the start of tattooing. It has bold lines, colors and patterns.”
The history of American tattoos, from the hand applied military tattoos of the Civil War, to the invention of tattoo machines by Paul Rodgers in 1928, and the recent resurgence of tattoos bearing patriotic symbols after the Sept. 11 attacks, was shared by USD professor Dr. Jade Winn.
Tattooing has always been an artisan craft taught through apprenticeship. It was briefly banned in New York City in 1961 because of health concerns and later legalized with required health and safety regulations in 1997. Once legalized tattoo unions and conventions followed.
Oceanside Museum of Art holds a place on the history of American tattooing timeline by exhibiting tattoos as fine art since 2009.
Nowadays, tattoos are chiefly applied by machine. A great deal of work goes into creating the design before it is tattooed to the body. The flash design is stenciled to the body as a starting point, and then the tattoo artist completes the outline and finishes creating the tattoo.
“There are a lot of mechanics in the application of tattoos,” Winn said. “Unless you’re an artist you cannot get any feel or style. A lot comes into the actual layout of the design and consideration in its placement on the body. You have to take the curvature of the body into consideration.”
Tattoos are unique in their personal nature to the collector and their permanence.
“Our clients are our canvases,” Winn said. “That they want to wear our art is an honor. As an artist you’re always growing and trying to outdo your last piece of art. Once you create it the art is going to be there forever.”
The Inspired by Ink exhibit of flash design sheets and watercolor paintings by tattoo artists was also on display. The exhibit featured works by Chris Winn, Sam Phillips, Sarah Spinks, Hunter Feirich, Rob Benavides, Ben Grillo, Jackie Dunn Smith, Micah Caudle, Dominic Vasquez, Luke Wessman and Gini Walker.

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