If you ask me, art is hard. Not everyone can do it, and even fewer succeed at it. Fine art is a very difficult industry to make a living in, hence the well-known phrase, "starving artist." Many creative artists who love to paint, draw, sculpt, etc. also pursue "practical" careers to gain a steady regular income, such as graphic design, furniture making, or tattooing.

I enjoy and appreciate the intricacy and complexity of tattoo art. I have known for a long time that I wanted a tattoo, but knowing it was both painful and permanent, I waited for years until I had something in mind that I would be willing to wear for the rest of my life. (Not to mention accounting for growth spurts and weight changes that can stretch or sag art—you don't want a rose tattoo to look wilted!)

As an artist and designer myself, I know how to develop concepts, and create symbols to fit those concepts. After 30+ years of thinking and planning, I finally drew out a design I would be willing to carry around forever. I created an arrangement of abstract shapes that represent some of the things that were important to me. I chose brown ink to appear more natural, the way a freckle would appear on my own skin. It also is the color of henna, traditionally used in India for ceremonial “temporary tattoos.” Then I had a tattoo artist put it on my shoulder:

As it turned out, a very talented local Fort Wayne artist named Jeff Stumpp was the one who gave me my ink. At the time, I was very particular about the design, color, placement, etc. and really, just about any tattoo artist could have done it. It was literally a transfer that he traced and filled in, requiring none of his own creativity or artistry.

A few years later, I became friends with Jeff, and came to appreciate his personal artistic style and talent; and while I still love my original tattoo, I wish he was still inking so that now I could get something more uniquely in his style. And I wish other tattoo artists were appreciated by people the way I now appreciate his work. 

So, I have begun a new personal project: to become, in a small way, a tattooed canvas, a living gallery supporting talented artists in Fort Wayne that happen to use the human body as a medium. In the same way that I would like to have a Picasso on my wall, I would like original art by talented tattoo artists on my skin. I will still stick to subjects that are meaningful to me, and symbolic of important aspects of my life, but I am passing the creative baton to them, allowing them to express these subjects using their styles and talents in a way that maybe they don't get to do every day.

It's one more way that I can support local art and culture, and I hope you'll follow along as I set off on my quest to receive body art from some of the best tattoo artists in town. I'll keep you posted as I add to my gallery!