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KING OF TATTOO

Opening picture: “Ass Auto”, the last masterpieces by Jack Carb.  The Volkswagen Beetle‘s curvy shape perfectly fits with the sexy buttocks of Irene, a young model from Munich who now lives in New York. “I was homesick and wanted to carry a piece of my Country with me,” she told us.

JACK CARB: THE KING OF TATTOO.

Jack is a living myth. Each one of his tattooes is considered a unique painting on epidermis, a bravado in skindeep art that meets the most demanding customers in the world: Women! Jack Carb, curiously enough, doesn’t tattoo men. According to him, males’ skin texture is too thick, and the bigger pores impede to work on minuscule details. “Working on a young women’s body is like painting on silk,” Jack says. “But there’s another reason for my choice: tattooing is an art where you get very intimate with your customers and, honestly, I prefer not to have physical contact with same sex clients. My strategy cuts half of my business off but that’s not a problem, since I already can’t keep up with female clients’ requests and the waiting list is getting longer everyday.” Jack is exclusively specialized in cars and bikes’ tattooes and doesn’t accept to work on any other topic. “If you want a Maori symbol, a mermaid with big boobs or a flaming heart with the word MOM written on it, go somewhere else. I don’t do that kind of crap!” Jack says with a grin of self confidence. He lights a Partagas cigar with the dying embers of the previous one. The tropical smell of burning hand-rolled tobacco leaves fills the open space of his studio in Uptown New York, with wisps of blue smoke slowly dissolving in midair. Jack Carb is a chain smoker, drinks rhum as mineral water and doesn’r disdain five course meals in posh restaurants and yet, you easily picture him, fifty years from now, still alive and kicking asses.

The Brandpowder Team was called for a quick assignment. Jack was looking for a new name and logo. His shop opened in 1979 and never closed its doors ever since. Originally it was called “Tattoo On Wheels” but Jack  didn’t like it anymore: “too corporate,” he told us, and since he was looking for something stupid, he thought to give us a ring (we told him he couldn’t have done a better choice).

We discussed together the concept of “body shop”, a name that refers to the space where cars are repaired but also winks an eye at a sort of market for human spare parts, but it was still too vague. Then we came up with the name “Nice Body”. We suggested the name provided a tangible end benefit with an ironic, sexy twist, and Jack loved it. The next step was to create a simple, funny logo with a vintage flavor and, to add that extra touch, we proposed to have his business cards printed with tattoo inks. And that’s what we did, in the end.

Above: Beatrice is a BMW cafè racer and asked Jack to have her ’72 emerald green, custom made “brot-mit-wurstel”, tattooed on her back. Below: The King working on Helena, a web designer with a weakness for Cadillacs. Jack Carbs builds his own tattoo machines out of dentists’ high-tech props, ultrasound needles (no pain, no bleeding) and space age equipment. He produces his own colors, mixing high quality natural pigments with vegetal melatonin and minerals. It’s this secret recipe that gives his images their velvety, ultra-detailed finish.

Above: Nice Body’s headquarters in New York. The studio also includes a reading room, fumoir, Scandinavian sauna and a pool table. At the ground floor Jack Carb plans to open a private bar with a garage and repair shop where his beautiful customers can hang around.

Below: the Nice Body business card is printed with tattoo inks on hand made Kozo Washi Japanese paper. The girl’s pretty face was inspired by Shayna Texter, a girl who made history in flat track motorcycle races.

Above: one of the cahier where Jack Carbs carefully plans his tattooes, collecting information, stories and photos for inspiration. “They say a diamond is forever” Jack says,  “but most women get rid of them at the end of a love story.  A tattoo is forever. That’s a real fact. And it’s my responsibility to make sure my customers are happy with it.”

Below:  Mary Rose, from Madrid, wanted a 1968 Ford OSI (Officine Stampaggi Industriali). The Italian/German sport car is a collector’s item, and very hard to find all over Europe.  When Jack Carb told her how much she was going to pay for the tattoo, she replied: “You are telling me I can’t even afford this Ford?” Jack liked her sense of humour and decided to make it for free.

Above: This young woman who chose anonymity asked for “Big Red”, a 1960 Studebaker Champ light truck, featured in the Gold Catalogue of American Icons. It’s worth to mention no other tattoo artist in the world can obtain white overtones on skin; only Jack’s artwork bears the unique brilliance of polished metal.

Below: Another photo from Jack Carb’s portfolio. Sarah, a girl from Brooklyn, asked for a BMW logo with a different acronym. Alv was the name of her Norwegian boyfriend and also the three preceeding letters of BMW (as HAL computer stood for IBM in the movie “20o1. A Space Odyssey” by Kubrick).

Above: Jack Carb on a pause between two cigars. To get this picture we had to hide his box of Partagas. Jack didn’t like the joke and told us not to do this again.

Below: one of the most ambitious tattooes ever done by Jack Carb: the exploded view of a V-engine in full colors. Sandy, a 29 year-old from Alaska married to a truck driver, asked the drive shaft to coincide with her navel (the tattoo was awarded a third place at the World Skin-Inx Competition, last year).

Before leaving New York and the Nice Body Studio, we asked Jack Carb if there ever was a request by one of his female customers he refused to do. He thought about it for a sec. “Oh yeah,” he said. “Once a Hollywood star came to my studio asking to have a tiny Toyota Prius tattooed on her ankle. I told her: tattooes are not meant to be tiny, and there’s no way I’m gonna ruin my reputation with a goddam’ Prius.”

SMILE AND DIE.


Charles Inottum has been studying bones all his life. The topic is unusual and interesting, but what makes it also intriguing is the fact Mr. Inottum is not a scientist but a philosopher. His almost naive dedication to the subject unearthed some controversial and, sometimes, creepy theories.  The bone-white brilliance of his reasoning, so far, has only been balanced by the obscurity of his persona. Most of his books are still unknown or unpublished. Which is a pity, given the originality of his ideas and the extravagant, random poetry of his writing. So, when Mr. Inottum showed up at the Brandpowder Studios asking for help, we truly did our best to promote his work.

Opening picture (top): Poster for the premiere of “The Visibile Skeleton”, an essay on the multiple metaphors of teeth: in the foreword the author suggests that “every time we smile, the only visible part of our skeleton comes to surface. Teeth are the epiphany of death and there is nothing to laugh about it.  At ancestral level, back to the primordial  night, man was certainly more hunted than hunter. The moonlighted teeth coming out of darkenss represented the fear of the wild beast, its power to inflict death by tearing human flesh apart.”

Below: “At The Roots of Laughter and Pain”. In this book Mr. Inottum speculates about the ambiguity of joy and sorrow saying that, at the very bottom, they are the same thing. Teeth are, again, central to his theories. He compares them to “enamel trees building a fence around the lying tongue, placing tenacious roots into the bed rock of blabbering jaws.”

“Fight, Feed, Fuck” is perhaps the most controversial book by Charles Inottum. The idea, here, is that the body can be imagined in three sections, or Mouths. Each one is specialised in one activity, indispensable for our survival. The three “F”s represent our need to Fight, to Feed (ourselves and our offspring) and to Fuck (for reproduction). We suggested the author to change this last word, a bit too graphic in our opinion, but he insisted to keep it: “it helps people to fix the concept”. The original work included also a section dedicated to Fugue, another key element for survival. Fugue, allegedly, is associated with the anus, which is a back-mouth. This explains why animals, before running for their life, literally  empty their bowels in order to be lighter and faster. The way of saying “I’m shitting in my pants” is also a reminder of this biological trick.


Below: concealed weapons. Charles Inottum speaks often of  “latent aggressivity” as a natural and permanent state of mind of human beings. We think we are civilized and in control of our emotions but, at the very bottom, we are wolves disguised as sheep.

COMING SOON:  “Sex and Bones”.  Charles Inottum’s new book, due to come out next January, starts with a provocation: how about if we look at lingerie as an extra layer of bones? Isn’t it an exoskeleton, after all? The author argues that female seduction, as a strategy, finds in lingerie not precisely a weapon but an elegant self defense. In other words: every piece of corsetry mimicks the inner skeleton (corsets were made of whalebones). We asked Mr. Inottum why should we be allured by such scary symbol, and he told us men are attracted by danger and fear. Lingerie, to him, is not a playful, sexy thing. It is imago mortis.

Below: The way of saying “dressed to kill” is revealing for Mr. Inottum. Behind every courtship leading to carnal knowledge there is an intricate world of symbols. White lingerie is linked to the bone. And probably to the boner.

Above: this bustier is reproducing the interwoven complexity of tendons, muscles and bones. Inottum thinks the visible skeleton is a haunting presence, and he wonders why people refuse to see such evidence.

Below: Skin Deep? This tattoo tries to get underneath. But alas! – says Inottum – the exploration is not exactly reaching the inner body but only a scientific representation of it. Probably this is an unconscious, failed attempt to open up and reveal what’s inside.

Above: “Rose” by Christophe Gilbert. Once again, according to Mr. Inottum, the flesh is a thin coat of paint, a fragile membrane that barely holds us together. The body is filled with flowers, an unconscious allusion to antique embalming.

Above:  Dissolving Beauty. In this case, the skeleton becomes the ornament.

Queen. A black card from Gareth Hedges’ album (author is unknown).
Above: teeth are the hardest and most durable part of our body, a mixture of dentine and enamel. To anthropologists in the distant future – Mr. Inottum says –  a molar will provide all sort of information about the way we lived and loved.


According to the author, moose’s bones are the living proof that horns and teeth are strictly connected. Their evolution is linked, again, to the three “F”s theory.

Above and Below: Mechanical and Make up. The mouth opens to a whole range of interpretations and Inottum, like an enthusiastic writer-dentist, can’t wait to plunge into deep analysis, coming out with always unexpected answers.

Above: two images by Jason Freeny. The artist creates hilarious supporting structures inside objects, characters and everyday’s icons. The Empty Society, according to Charles Inottum, digs into the void, desperately seeking for a soul.  What we are left with, in the end, is just a smiling skeleton, a handful of bones.

Below: the way of saying “are you nuts?” is well interpreted by this sweet treat (or trick?). The similarity between brains and walnuts – Inottum explains – is not coincidence, but a clear sign of a vegetative state of mind.

The Brandpowder Team.

HYPERLINKS WORLD RECORD

BRANDPOWDER SETS A NEW WORLD RECORD WITH THE MOST HYPERLINKED TEXT ON THE INTERNET. CLICK ON EVERY LETTER TO VIEW ONE OF BRANDPOWDERS POSTS AND HAVE ACCESS TO A SELECTION OF THE BEST WEBSITES IN DESIGN, FASHION, ART, PHOTOGRAPHY AND INNOVATION, HANDPICKED FOR YOU BY OUR TEAM. THIS IS THE POWER OF HYPERTEXT AT ITS BEST. ENJOY.

Above: the mathematical model of Brandpowder World Record Hypertext. The black dot shows our URL. Starting from the 273 letters composing the text, the software calculated through a logarithm the number of potential ramifications on a power-of-4 basis (average of pages opened by people from an original link). The result is 5,554,572 billions pages. A minblowing figure. This is the power of the web.

OFFICE IS OFF.

Our New Headquarters.

After much thinking, we decided to leave our office on W 65th Street and move into the country. Who needs an office in Manhattan, nowadays? I mean, we are living the digital revolution and, with a laptop and a bunch of weed, anyone can work virtually anywhere. Why not choosing a cheap, nice place? Mister Bernbach, who is still considered the father of modern creativity, once said the best ideas come up when you sit on a wooden chair. Nothing truer. Comfort is a distraction and opulence is obtunding.  So we scrapped off the stucco and we established Brandpowder’s headquarters in m.o.n.a., short for Middle Of Nowhere Alaska. The premises bear (the verb, not the animal) a gold rush atmosphere, but without the gold. The place needs a touch here and there but it’s cozy and spacious enough, and the view is fantastic: blueberry hills, crystal clear lakes reflecting a reversed landscape and, in the distance, the snowcapped mountains. And we have a gas station, with bar and pool tables only a hour drive away. Would you ask for anything more?

The Glasshouse for the Creative Dept.

The Meeting Room

The Cafeteria (without wi-fi)

The Library, with a Med-Kit Corner and Spare Parts Room (in the background)

Cool ideas need to stay cool.

Plenty of laughing gas (also for our clients).

Downtown of the Wilderness.

Brandpowder’s HalfTruck.

Our new vision on frugality couldn’t be complete without a thrifty vehicle. The HalfTruck is a great way to go around (once you learn how to keep it on two wheels). This buddy drinks conservatively and it’s extremely easy to park.

All photos © Brandpowder Team 2012

FINGERPICTURES 2

Impossible Love

Gulliver

Rocky Horror

Spartan Goddess

Enlightenment

Cheating

Tickle

The End of Black and White

In the “Photography, Photographed” project (this is the second essay on Fingerpictures) we kept investigating the limits of paper, only to be surprised by its endless possibilities. The starting point is always a photo of a photo where an additional element taken from reality, let’s say a finger, is placed into the picture. The result is a crossbred image playing between two and three dimensions, a mix of paper and flesh at times so convincing that, once you reach the last image of the series (dedicated to the advent of color in photography) you can’t immedaitely say whether the hand is a real one or part of the photo (or both).

Many thanks to Van Cleef & Arpels, Tom Ford and Jimmy Choo for the images we started from as an inspiration for this experiments, plus two pictures we took from Miles Aldridge and Craig McDean, featured on Vogue Italy. To all of them our respect to their work which we wish to promote through our personal contribution. The Brandpowder Team.