Tag Archives: new york

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.”

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SOME MAPS.

Cartography, sometimes, can be a form of art. It can introduce us to a parallel world where man represents himself under thousands forms. Every map is thus a metaphor of reality, an invention, a creative interpretation of space and things in the theatre of time. Maps give name to the unnamed, chart the uncharted, disclose the arcane. It’s a god-like activity, the blossoming of an inebriated intellect.

Above: A few samples from a series of geological maps of the Moon, plus pictures of Mars’ surface. You can browse the complete collection at the US Geological Survey website and, if you are a map lover, you should check also Radical Cartography. But be careful. The risk is to get lost.

Below: dimensional comparison between the US and Europe. It’s worth to notice that Washington ends up facing Iran, while Miami enjoys the beautiful climate of the Red Sea; California goes back to its Spanish etymology; The Great Lakes mix their sweet water with the salty Black Sea; British Columbia, meanwhile, becomes more British than ever and Texas finds some more oil in North Africa. May this ironic overlay of territories be of good omen for a closer relationship among different countries and cultures.

Above: the US’ contour as it would appear if placed along different latitudes. Below: a tiny section of Antarctica. A barren landscape covered by ice, where mountain’s peaks surface like small islands from a frozen sea.

All maps courtesy of USGS and radicalcartography.net. Many thanks to both of them for sharing a thought provoking point of view on the world we all live in.

The Brandpowder Team.

ON HAIR.

Above: “Me No Blonde” oil on canvas, 55×73 in. (140×185 cm).

I am happy to present a brief selection of jumbo-size paintings from Klaus Kizzinskitz, a Polish artist who is going to be in New York and London (not at the same time, of course) to promote his “On Hair” exhibitions, both on schedule at the Late Art Gallery. Kizzinskitz, 26 year old, is considered one of the new talents of the Art World. One of his paintings passed, unexpectedly, the 1,5 million dollars’ mark at the Shanghai Auction Fair. Half of the profits, he told me, will be donated to support scientific research to solve premature baldness among business people.

Above: “Alive!” a massive triptych stretching, top to bottom, for almost 30 feet. Kizzinskitz’s technique involves women’s hair brushes. He also personally prepares oil colors, following the Renaissance’s antique recipes. Below: “Sexy Keratin”, another huge canvas. To have an idea of its dimensions, the artist is the size of the woman’s nose.

Kizzinskitz’s fascination with hair is not new. While attending the Warsaw Art College, he found inspiration in the work of Botticelli, De Camp, Degas, Kahlo, Truong and Zhang, just to mention a few. “Hair is made of keratin, a fibrous protein produced by our organism. What fascinates me is the fact hair is made of dead cells, yet is the only part which keeps growing after we die.” Kizzinskitz moves his hands while talking to me, filling the air with imaginary volumes; his grey blue eyes look at me as if I were the only person left in the Universe. His work, when you are in front of the canvas, emanates a particular energy, animated by this ‘lively sense of death’. Colors flow like lava on the surface. This effect, he says, is the result of years of experiments and hard work.

Sandro Botticelli: “Young Woman” (oil).

Joseph De Camp: “Woman combing her hair” (oil).

Edgar Degas: “Woman combing her hair” (oil pastels).

Frida Kahlo: “Self portrait with loose hair” (oil).

Winnie Truong: “The Ginger Bread” (color pencils).

Hong Chun Zhang: “Life Strands”, charcoal on paper.

Kizzinskitz draws hundreds’ life-size sketches before realizing his huge canvases.

Above: Mammoth’s hair from the Ice Age. Kizzinskitz bought it from a collector and it’s now part of his Cabinet of Curiosities. He plans to use it to craft his next brushes. “I never painted with an elephant, before,” he said, smiling childishly.

Monica Turlot (correspondent for the Brandpowder Team, Paris 2012)